First Team Match Reaction News

What We Learned: Manchester United 2-2 Fulham

For anyone questioning if things could get any worse for Manchester United under David Moyes, lest we be reminded that there’s still the small matter of the Manchester derby to navigate before the season’s end. So yes, the situation could undoubtedly worsen. But a shocking, dispiriting and crushing 2-2 draw against Fulham having dominated against the Premier League’s bottom club is certainly as low as United have sunk under Moyes’ stewardship. 81 crosses, a share of possession fit for a pack of lions and another late goal conceded; it did not make for pretty viewing, and it leaves many wondering if a push for fourth place is unrealistic as early as February. Here’s what we made of it.

Insert Crossing pun here

Rene Meulensteen had every right to be besides himself with glee at the end of yesterday’s match. How many teams have escaped Old Trafford with a result like this having spent the best part of three quarters of the game without the ball? It was a possessional, territorial hammering but they still left Manchester with a point. Is that down solely to those 81 crosses? Nope, but they certainly helped.

Fulham were committed, determined and showed valiant effort yesterday, but the truth is that United made it far too easy for them by repeatedly crossing the ball into a heavily guarded box. To Meulensteen’s credit, he kept his side composed in the face of United’s almost unending pressure but it wasn’t nearly as difficult for Fulham to defend as it should have been. Crosses frequently either missed their intended targets or were flighted into the area in the vain hope that someone would reach them. Yet this was not a strategy that has reaped dividends for United all season, with its failings exposed even further after United scored twice from central positions after, wait for it, passing the football to each other.

Strange, that.

The Late Goal Reverse Curse

If David Moyes is stuck for things to do before United’s next home game in March, a relocation of the black hole that appears to have inexplicably moved from the Stretford End to behind the East Stand goal would be a start. Darren Bent’s late header was yet another late goal conceded in a season that has seen Everton, Southampton, Swansea and now Fulham leave Old Trafford with something to shout about due to a last-gasp strike. There is a sense of karmic justice to it given the frequency with which United used to steal victories late on, but almost every goal has come from a defensive lapse or hopeful probing as opposed to any sort of sustained pressure. Not that the teams haven’t deserved their results or their moment of glory, they were just incredibly avoidable.


Yesterday’s goal wasn’t an exception; Nemanja Vidic and Michael Carrick were sleeping and David De Gea’s wild parry from Richardson’s shot allowed the ball to fall into Bent’s path. These lapses  are causing United a huge amount grief, doubly so when considering that every single game they play continues to feature such tight scorelines. Scoring belated winners isn’t a priority at this point; shutting down such a surprising, undermining trend is.

How do you utilise a player like Mata?

The transfer of Juan Mata for a club record £37.1m last month was an exciting moment in an increasingly disappointing season, offering a feel-good factor and potentially invigorating both the club and its fans. Still, there was a niggling sense that perhaps Mata wasn’t completely aware of quite what he was getting himself into. Three stuttering games into the Spaniard’s United career that have provided just one victory against struggling opposition should give him a decent idea, however.


It’s not as if Mata has underperformed since his move. Far from it; he’s laid on three assists already, most recently crossing for Van Persie’s equaliser yesterday but he began the game on the right wing. The problem appears to be that David Moyes isn’t quite sure how best to utilise his star signing, with another rigid use of 4-4-2 practically nullifying his talents. Plenty were quick to appropriate a joke comparing Mata’s treatment to an old man being given a smartphone. The joke’s originator has a point, though and prolonged exposure to positions that don’t involve a decent role behind the striker will not help matters at all.

United can’t afford a prized asset to misfire. Rooney can

At present, Wayne Rooney holds all of the cards in regards to his contract situation. He might have been told that he won’t be sold under any circumstance; nevermind. He’ll run out his contract and move on next year. United, of course, want to make him the highest paid player in the club’s history in order to retain his services, regardless of how many games it takes for him to get back up to a decent level of form. Rooney has, of course, only just returned from a lay-off and typically takes some time to get his performances back up to scratch. This isn’t a damning indictment of a player that has frequently shown more passion and desire to keep United ticking over than those deemed loyal to the club, more a point at the club’s desperation to placate a player who now has all of the power in a rather unconventional relationship. He doesn’t need to worry about playing close to his peak, or rushing back to form; he can simply do as he wants because he knows the club wants to keep him. That, at a time when United needs its players to be pulling together should be noted.


Moyes is currently incapable of leading this club

Forget every single one of the club’s issues and allow the club’s current plight to be boiled down to one simple question;

Is David Moyes capable of turning things around at Manchester United?

At present, the answer has to be no, and that’s not a conclusion that followers of the club should reach with glee. But given an adherence to repetitive and ineffective tactics, watching a side visibly drained of spark and spirit lumber through poor result after poor result and watching post-match interviews filled with comments ranging from deceptively complimentary to downright wild, it’s difficult to come up with a counter argument.

Most United fans accepted that this would be a season riddled with the word ‘transition’, and were prepared to watch another side lifting the league trophy in May, but to be now so far off the pace of Champions League qualification without any signs of improvement and results failing to improve since the New Year is unacceptable. There has been too much talk of bad luck or players hurting but there has been no response to back up any claim that Moyes can turn things around. Yes, he will be forever hampered in the sense that he is not Sir Alex Ferguson, as anyone in his position would be, but the sense that he is continually shooting himself in the foot with his tactics, misuse of key players and ill-advised statements is inescapable.


Moyes had a mammoth task to get to grips last summer, no doubt. Taking over a club so vast in scope was never going to be simple, and the board’s patience where others would surely have given him his marching orders by now is laudable. But continuing along this path with the team in such poor spirits, with support waning and Moyes appearing so incapable of inspiring his charges simply runs the risk of doing far more damage in the long term. How many of United’s leading lights will stick with the club into next season if this is all they can foresee?

No decent Manchester United fan will have wanted David Moyes to fail from the outset, but we have seen nothing to suggest that he has what it takes to turn this season around, let alone the club’s fortunes. It’s more than making a few key signings, and it’s more than a bit of luck; it’s that inescapable sense that Moyes is fighting a battle that he is ill-equipped to win. That feeling, that fear should keep a few key men at the club brooding well into the night.

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18 replies on “What We Learned: Manchester United 2-2 Fulham”

I hate this article for this simple reason that the underlying problems i feel are hinted… I have been talking about from the beginning!!

and it relates bak to Kagawa!

Mata shud never be on the wing, and neither shud Kagawa!

and if anything you have failed to highlight the uselessness of Fletcher and Carrick! They don’t do enough!!

so replace them with Mata and Kagawa in the middle, and 2 natural wingers.

we played like amateurs.. Only plan was cross from the wing!

Kagawa and Mata in the middle provides the central drive and penetration we need!!

so your solution to the defensive issues it to replace our defensive midfielders with 2 number 10s? both who are ‘luxury’ players who are at their best in the hole between the other sides defence and midfield? If you saw the game against Fulham you can see Mata being outside the box when Sidwell made the run, what did he do? nothing, why? because he does not have the defensive attributes to see that danger and do anything about it

I’m a big fan of Kagawa and don’t think his been used correctly however i find it ridiculous when i see people say he should play in midfield… playing as a number 10 is NOT THE SAME!

Kagawa does not have the defensive attributes to play in midfield, watch him play and see how easy it is to ‘shove’ him off the ball. we cannot afford a lightweight in our midfield. that does not solve anything it just creates more defensive problems

some will argue he done it well in Germany, agree HOWEVER this is the premiership and it is much competitive, fast paced and physical.. something Kagawa cannot deal with

Moyes.We,ve just got to go into the next game,thats what happens.I dont think there,ll be many teams keen to take on ManU.From official ManU site.He really has never said the TACTICS are not working it,s allways,we played badly,defended badly,had bad luck,had all the play,deserved to win,we were the winning side even though it was a Draw.The players are now hurting.It just goes on.He might get a brainwave Wednesday.

What’s seriously the worst that can happen now? Relegation! Well that’s not going to happen. So more likely the board will just stick with Moyes and his clueless staff and that’s the end of it. This season was always going to be omitted as any form of success. We’ll lose some more players. Probably not attract any of the worlds elite and we’ll start from scratch with our younger players. That’s the inevitable I fear.

My point is Kagawa actually can defend, and Carrick and fletcher cant!

highlights of kagawas most recent match, defensively ge deserves more credit, and he can distribute to draw out players and create space. Kagawa can controls the midfield area!

he may have to adapt slightly, but his core abilities are far more valuable than what Carrick and fletcher offer! Are u really happy to finish the rest of the season with Carrick fletcher or cleverley in midfield???

my point is attack more cleverly and with greater variation!! That’s our problem!!! Failure to defend is due to stupidity which can be worked out. Inability to attack and score due to rubbish central midfield to open space to help things out!

i have just watch that clip again myself… seriously!!! how can you watch it and not see kagawa can be our solution in the middle!!!

distributes soooo well…. attacking and accurate passing!!! and great defensive work rate!! come on!!! waaaaay more effective than any of our other central players!

the reason w struggled in that game is because welbeck had to drop wide left to occupy the vacant left wing!! fletcher and carrick were both surplus in that game!

there is your proof of why kagawa can be our central solution!!! what more do you need???

A youtube video can make Bebe look good.

Can you honestly tell me Kagawa has played well enough in any game to deserve a first team start? Not a chance. Fergie didn’t play him and now Moyes isn’t and i can’t blame either of them.

Carrick is miles better at mopping up play. Im sick and tired of you banging on about how amazing Kagawa is. He is great in the No. 10 role and we dont need that right now. We need someone who can play in the CM and i would rather have 1 of the youngsters given a go than a player who has no desire to defend.

The bottom line.

Moyes isn’t up to the job. His cluelessness becomes more painfully apparent with each passing game.

On every level he is failing: team selection, player roles, tactics, motivation, philosophy, analysis etc. Whatever criteria you choose he isn’t coming up to United standard.

The archaic, robotic get it out wide and get in a cross tactic is mindnumbing. His inability to use Mata correctly and now the misuse of United’s rising star, Januzaj against Fulham by sticking him on the wing and having him get yet more crosses in (like Mata) is as depressing as it is inexcusable.

If you’re a fan of Shinji Kagawa you won’t be weeping for him much longer. Come the summer he will be rescued by the Germans and taken to a happier place.

If you’re a fan of United, the tears will flow for much longer.

The United way has always been 442 and it has served them well. I’m not sure but the 442 way has been probably has been taught starting at the youth teams. United have won many times using this system.

If I remember correctly, SAF commented in his book that 2 in the center of midfield isn’t going to cut it anymore.

If you are a star player, you have to strive to improve. For example, Michael Jordan, as he was getting older he changed his game.
Kobe Bryant, change his game. Tiger Woods, kept on tweaking his golf swing to improve. The point is to stay on top, you have to change to improve yourself.

The 442 way needs to be improved. Moyes is a 442 guy.

I’m not really for sacking Moyes. But he has to accept that he needs help and the whole MUFC footballing way.

In order to take MUFC to new heights, Moyes has to go to Ajax of Amsterdam, hire 2 coaches/consultants that are well skilled on the total football concept. In the end, MUFC will come up with a 442-433 hybrid way. Then MUFC will reign supreme for about 5 to 10 years all over the world. After that, competition will come up with a new footballing system and MUFC again has to change.

Moyes is clueless. He is tactically inept and is unable to read the game.
He could be a good motivator but we are not looking for a cheer leader.
We need a real football manager.

United will go down the drain with Moyes unless he is sacked immediately.

Simply Moyes is clueless tactically, team selection and formation. He can’t just do the job. And what’s is in the brain of those technical assistant?

The thing is and I aint no Expert,one would think against Fulham that United would also try and get them on the counter attack,which a hell of a lot of teams have done against United this season.We can only hope on Wed aganst Wenger that Moyes; football brain opens up.We all know United have got to reconstruct the team and get a new Vidic and Ferdinand and a couple like Teves,even so.It,s not that United are seventh in table.It,s the impotent way they have played,not all that bright.Moyes says he can see a good team when training.CAUSE.Tactics and moral come from the trainer,not the other way round. EFFECT:combination of bad tactics and bad players.

I dont agree with the whole David Moyes is Inept. I also think the squad is alot better than everyone is saying. However I do feel David Moyes should have better people around him Steve Round/Philip Neville/Ryan Giggs the two latter VERY in experienced coaches in fact its there first every coaching role. This is where it falls apart. Moyes doesnt have anyone to turn to and is carry the team on his own. Why couldnt he keep the old coaches? Or why not try to recruit experinces coaches. Manuel Pellergrini has kept Brian Kidd, and Chelsea have also kept there backroom staff. Moyes needs to get added support team in to assist him in what appears to be at the moment to big of a job for him. We are not making ground on any above and Newcastle and Southampton are now very close to use. We still need to play Man city and Liverpool. Worrying times indeed. Glaziers wont accept this form forever not for one minute. I hope there team bonding session works.

Tom what exactly do you hope for a CM player to do?? I expect them to either support defensively or support in attack. Imho Kagawa has shown he is good enough to play, and im dazzled why he hasn’t played more!!

you say u trust moyes judgement in excluding him… The same person that still relies on young? Has the only tactic of crossing from the wing? And clearly is pissing off all the players?

what is your right now solution to try and get 4th spot?? Everyone says we need someone more creative in the middle, well why not see if Kagawa can adapt slightly. The point of that video is to show ge spends a lot of time deep, he doesn’t only play advanced!

he fills in the middle, which ppl are to missing that currently is always completely vacant. In those clips roo ey spends more time around the penalty area allowing him his stronger role of being a striker. Without Kagawa Rooney has to drop deep and be more defensive.

i mean seriously how many defensive players do u wanna see us field? Look at the top teams, there central midfielders create and attack! They don’t sit back!!! That’s what midfielders of bottom teams do!!

and Carrick, only mopping he has done is to spread more dirt. Hes played a big role in us conceding two goals over the last 2 games! Due to a lack of strength i might add aswell! And that clip and many others show Kagawa does get stuck into tackles!

fergie actually mis-managed Kagawa, and moyes is continuing that! The Dortmund manager said from the beginning Kagawa shudnt be played as a left winger!

Thanks to torrent seeders, I watched the game again. What did I learn?

Other than the defensive lapses that resulted in goals, I think ManU played well.

It’s not entirely a 1 dimensional play. There were long range shots from outside the box that either went wide or up high. Plus shots from the outside would have been difficult because the front of goal was crowded.
So, the next option was to cross the ball.

It’s not entirely Moyes’s fault. Maybe 10% of it. Majority of the blame is on the finishing touch. There were more than enough crosses to score more than enough goals. There were crosses that only needed 1 touch to score.
I think the recipients of these crosses that needed only 1 touch were rvp, young, rooney, vidic, mata, januzaj, rafael, etc. Finishing these kinds of crosses seems to be a problem.

There were awful crosses too. But I would not consider an awful cross if it is delivered in the strike zone even though sometimes nobody is there.
Wingers sometimes don’t have time to look up, it’s there job to cross the ball into the strike zone. It’s the job of the center forwards to meet the ball and score. If the cross is directed towards you and its projected to land 1 or 2 meters away from you, as a scorer/center forward/striker, it’s your job to move your ass and meet the ball. You do not wait for the ball to come to you, you attack the ball.

This lead me to wonder, are our forwards better at scoring with their feet or with their heads? How many headers has rvp scored compared with his feet? Perhaps Fellaini would have headed the ball better?

Lmao Darren!

i know i keep biggin up Kagawa, but seriously in comin up with solution to a horrific travesty!!

are u lot seriously happy with how things are?

and in all honesty i have continually complained about many of moyes decisions. Jones in midfield has hampered his development this season, along with smalling at right back. Lack of opportunity for zaha and definitely misuse of Kagawa lol.

ppl can continue to say my opinion is rubbish, and to be fair no one at Utd will probably see this… But as a Utd fan you cant seriously want to just ride this out and hope we just win games against teams in relegation spots?

and mybuse of Kagawa is such that we have more creation from the middle. And what everyone is effectively saying without actually saying it… Is that Carrick and fletcher in the middle is insufficient.

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