Moyes begins to mold his United side

David Moyes has made mistakes since he arrived at Old Trafford last summer, let’s make no bones about it. Some have been simple and slight in the grand scheme of things, like the negative substitutions that disrupted his back four whilst winning 1-0 at home to Southampton resulting in two dropped points due to a scruffy late equaliser. Some, like the insistent use of Alexander Buttner whilst the more-capable Fabio presumably decays on the sidelines have proven consistently upsetting and the re-elevation of Wayne Rooney to the top of the club’s Important Players tree have provoked a more palpable distaste.

david-moyes-shouting Yet even in a month as joyless as this January has been on the field, Moyes has begun to make the kind of changes that point to a manager attempting to take control of his team. The transfer of Juan Mata for a club record fee of £37.1m appears to have unified the club’s fanbase during a particularly fractious season and offered hope that something tangible can be salvaged from it, too. Six defeats in seven January games have left United seventh in the league, out of both domestic cup competitions and looking exceptionally unlikely to triumph in a Champions League filled with European giants in far ruder health than themselves. But a transfer on this scale, pinching a jewel of a domestic rival in mid-season and one capable of the sort of incisive creativity that will have Moyes’ strikers itching to play alongside him could do wonders for United’s confidence.

Admittedly, the reaction from last Wednesday’s threshold defeat to Sunderland in the Capital One Cup, passing up an opportunity for an all-Manchester showpiece final in the process, ticked all of the same boxes as the defeats before it. The club’s word in defeat has often been one of disappointment, without panic but shorn of a sense of urgency, which hasn’t helped to ease the frustration surrounding a collection of poor performances. It’s a testament to the gravity of the signing and the excitement it’s generated that United will approach another potentially troublesome match against Cardiff City with renewed vigour, despite not having played since that midweek penalty shootout defeat.

wayne rooney

If such a coup was a shock to the system, then his work to turn Rooney into United’s vocal point has been brave. If it wasn’t already clear that Sir Alex Ferguson’s successor is his own man, it’s never been more blatant now news of a contract extension for the club’s number 10 has done the rounds. Ferguson would’ve had the England striker out of the door after another perceived challenge to his throne if he was still in charge; Moyes approach has seemingly been to elevate him to the status of demigod.

It would take a strong man to challenge the entirety of United’s match-going fanbase and allow talk of new contracts and captain’s armbands to surface unchecked, but the reception afforded to Rooney has been surprisingly hospitable for the most part, making talk of a new deal and contract extension easier to digest. Fact is that his work rate, desire and effort has out-shone practically everyone else around him, including a number squad members supposedly more committed to the club. Moyes can’t be utterly lambasted for indulging in such qualities when they’ve been in such short supply since last August, even if he risks some wrath as a result of rewarding a player who has twice wished to leave for better-paid pastures.

There have been a number of low points for United in the wake of Ferguson’s retirement, and Moyes has been sobered and stung by the size of the task ahead of him with the squad in his possession. Given the players he inherited had just sown up the title at a canter, perhaps there was a feeling that he owed them all a chance last summer, and admittedly, every player has been given an opportunity to show what they can provide. That we now approach the end of May expecting a mass exodus shows that Moyes has wisely ditched plans to stick with a number of perennial underachievers, with Anderson the first major casualty. This, the signing of Mata and the expected retention of Rooney all point towards a manager finally standing on his own, making big decisions and chasing the kind of players that will hopefully keep the club competitive. Not all of his choices will be universally accepted, granted, and this feel-good factor will quickly be lost if United don’t arrest an alarmingly poor run of form tomorrow night, but there’s a sense that the man in charge of the England’s biggest club is finally starting to get to grips with his work off the pitch. Just needs to sort things out on it, and we’ll all be happy.

9 Comments

  1. I think most fans, if told last season that our midfield this year would include Fellaini and Mata as well as a youngster who is out shining the more established stars, would be ecstatic. If fellaini can put in the performances he did for Everton and Belgium our midfield would no longer be too lightweight. I’m hoping for big things from now until the end of the season… Top 4 and Champions League winners would do 😉

  2. I am really excited about having mata…. but the most important thing is how moyes will field the team!!!!

    firstly i hope mata starts centrally!! and my dream would be for kagawa to play alongside him! with janujaz and valencia on the wings!

    i want all out attack… for a team like united… four defenders should be more than enough!

  3. The truth is David Moyes is basicly not the best manager Man Utd can have. But he is the guy most less likely to give the board any trouble. Fergie and his board gang sorted the Mata deal, ok they let Moyes handle Rooney but Moyes in my opinion did well to keep Rooney. I mean just look at Feleini and you see what Moyes can do in the Transfer market he probably bring Naysmith from Everton for 20million or pay psg 50million for Cavani…so trust me we all know what Rooney can do even at his worst times why let him go when www can pay him more to stay here he is like the longest serving player besides giggs…so why not make him the star man he has had to sit back n watch bus loads of others come in n take the praises so it’s his turn to be the Man.

    • The truth is that SAF trusted Valencia/Young as wings, the worst wing-pairing ever to were our shirt, I dare you to name a worse.

      It took Moyes 6 months to replace them both, Valencia with Mata, Januzaj with Young. Before Valencia arrived SAF played Beckham and Ronaldo on right, world-class players who offered far more to the team, not glued to the line. With Mata now in the team, we are back at that level.

      SAF refused to listen to the fans, you can not find one red who thinks Ashley Young has any right to were our famous shirt, not one! Having Adnan Januzaj in the team just proves that the Mata deal is 100% Moyes. They are both to bad defensively to be a trusted member in a SAF team, as they would be in a Mourinhino team.

      But with dithering Dave, it’s attack attack attack. I wonder if the Stretford End will like that philosophy.

  4. The truth is David Moyes is basicly not the best manager Man Utd can have. But he is the guy most less likely to give the board any trouble. Fergie and his board gang sorted the Mata deal, ok they let Moyes handle Rooney but Moyes in my opinion did well to keep Rooney. I mean just look at Feleini and you see what Moyes can do in the Transfer market he probably bring Naysmith from Everton for 20million or pay psg 50million for Cavani…so trust me we all know what Rooney can do even at his worst times why let him go when www can pay him more to stay here he is like the longest serving player besides giggs…so why not make him the star man he has had to sit back n watch bus loads of others come in n take the praises so it’s his turn to be the Man.

  5. When we get to see Mata, Rooney and Van Persie (+ Januzaj) on the pitch at the same time, then hopefully our winter of discontent will give way to a spring of optimism.

  6. It’s fair to say that if Fergie were still at the helm and Rooney had the temerity to point that loaded gun yet again, he would be out on his ear, no question.

    Clearly Moyes values Rooney as someone special and very important to his team. I would imagine that they have a good, perhaps even a strong relationship and the signing of a new five year deal looks like going through.

    As long as Rooney performs on the pitch, and he has done very well so far this season, there are plenty of fans who will support him and turn a blind eye to the off-field shenanigans, especially if Moyes makes him captain.

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