First Team Match Reaction News

What We Learned: West Bromwich Albion 0-3 Manchester United

United looked better after Van Persie’s substitution

There’s nothing good about Robin Van Persie being unhappy at Manchester United. The Dutchman’s clear discontent with life under David Moyes has added another negative aspect to an already trying season, and it will most likely lead to a summer exit that the majority of United fans do not want to see. Against West Brom, however, Van Persie looked visibly frustrated and uncomfortable with his lot to the extent that he was exceptionally lucky to stay on the pitch. Late challenges on Morgan Amalfitano and Steven Reid were not encouraging, to say the least.


The Dutchman was happy to voice his disappointment with his colleagues playing in ‘his’ areas after the game in Greece, but on this occasion, United benefited greatly from Danny Welbeck’s mobility in the second half. Not that Van Persie was in the midst of a stinker, he was clearly frustrated and lost his cool. It happens. But Welbeck’s introduction seemingly opened things up, affording United greater pace, bringing quicker interchanges and a renewed sense of purpose. It was a visible step up from that point, and one of the best periods of play in United’s season. The only downside is that the Dutchman wasn’t a part of it.

Moyes has a system that works. Now he needs to stick to it

Given what we’ve seen of David Moyes this season, it’s unrealistic to expect the United manager to simply drop wingers from his plans a regular basis even when all logic dictates that he should. Even so, the evidence behind continued use of this 4-2-3-1 formation is difficult to ignore; five goals scored, none conceded in the last two league games that it’s featured, and a big fat capitulation in Greece when it didn’t.

Of course, United’s next opponents in the league could tear right through any weak link in this set-up but the comforting aspect is that this set-up offered more rigidity and creativity than anything Moyes has picked all season.The combination of Carrick and Fellaini in midfield offers protection and a coherent link with those at the business end of the pitch, aiding a faltering back four and a stuttering attack at the same time. It’s seemingly the formation that will draw the best out of Juan Mata, it allows Adnan Januzaj the freedom to flit between deep crossing and central interplay whilst also utilising Patrice Evra and Rafael’s attacking abilities. All signs point to its use as unilaterally positive, but you have to wonder whether Moyes will make the same attack-minded choices against such prolific, bitter rivals.

Fellaini is starting to fit in

It’s taken some time, and due to the incredibly high price tag slapped onto the Belgian due to Ed Woodward and David Moyes’ combined dithering, the standards that Marouane Fellaini has been expected to obtain have been perhaps unrealistically high. His first few months at the club after that £27.5m move were hardly incendiary. Yes, injuries played their part but he also looked lost with alarming regularity and frequently appeared to be on another wavelength to his colleagues. But since his recent return to the side, there’s a spark and focus to his play that has been otherwise absent during his career in a red shirt. He’s protecting his back four, breaking attacks down and providing United with a comfortingly solid platform with which to attack themselves. Twice in the last few weeks he’s come close to scoring, too, which is tremendously encouraging considering how hesitant United’s midfield have been to add their names to any scoresheet this season.


Perhaps the greatest aspect of Fellaini’s performance was that it was simply treated as business as usual. There was no bravado, just solidity, and a sense that the Belgian simply felt at ease with his role in the side. It’s taken a while to get to that point, and a rather large amount of money, but a fit, confident and combatitive Marouane Fellaini is worth feeling good about.

United need to learn how to cope without Vidic

The clock is ticking to a far more definitive end to Nemanja Vidic’s United career now his next destination is known. It rankles a little that a club captain would be happy to be photographed smiling whilst signing his new contract with Inter Milan considering the ten weeks of the season still to come with his current club, yet the away support still offered a warm welcome when he appeared with full time in sight. The Serbian’s legacy won’t be too damaged by this week’s images, such is the impact he’s had since arriving in 2006. He has been a great servant for the club and has put himself on the line for its shirt with comforting frequency. But David Moyes is right to think about phasing him out of the side.


Of course, there’s nothing to suggest that Vidic should simply be put out to pasture in the same way Rio Ferdinand has been this season, as he’s the club’s best centre back on his day. But prolonged use for the rest of this season does the three centre backs vying to take over no favours at all. There’s little chance that Phil Jones, Chris Smalling or Jonny Evans are going anywhere when the summer reshuffle arrives, so giving them the best possible chance of staking a claim for a permanent slot in United’s defence is vital, even if another centre-half arrives after the season ends.

United could get ripped apart by Liverpool, but they have to take that chance

In amongst the numerous things we’ve learned about Manchester United under David Moyes this season, one of them is that they are ill-suited to a pensive approach with more possession than you can shake a stick at. It seemingly gives them too much time to think, and their opponents too much time to adopt a rigid stance. Push up too high too often on Liverpool and they will simply counter lethally; Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge have 45 goals between them this season in all competitions, and a vitriolic atmosphere will not blunt their attacking prowess. A repeat of the same formation and line-up that put West Brom to the sword gives United the best chance of victory, but given how fragile Moyes’ position could be should United flounder in these upcoming weeks, every member of that starting XI must be made ready for the far sterner test awaiting them next Sunday.

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8 replies on “What We Learned: West Bromwich Albion 0-3 Manchester United”

Nice article there. Pls what is cleverley doing on the pitch and kagawa on d bench. We nee to stick to a winning 11 and if possible let RVP go dts only if we cn gt Cavani. He is becmin distraught n its affecting the team. For me, I m nt a fan of Moyes n I want him out bt I just hope we willnt blunder durin d transfer season d way we did d last tyme.

Keep the same starting eleven, with perhaps a return of Vidic, but I fear that Moyes will bring back: Young, Cleverly and Valencia and that would be a disaster

The best team Moyes has at present is one which is chosen from the eleven which started against WBA plus the three which came off the bench ie. Kagawa, Welbeck and Vidic.

Jones and Smalling look the immediate new centreback partnership and should be allowed to build a relationship together, with Vidic as back up.

Against Olympacos next week, Kagawa must come in to replace the cuptied Mata.

RVP is a class player but things are not quite right with him at present and Welbeck should get more game time.

Don’t want to see Young or Valencia at all. Nearly added Cleverley to those two, but he is much criticised and the poor guy only gets to play alongside Carrick which is a job and a half for anyone.

News circulating that we are about to offer Cleverley a new y year 55 000 pounds a week contract. United rewarding mediocrity again. What has he done to justify a new 5 year contract? I thought we were supposed to be rebuilding and shipping out the deadwood?

You a idiot! Once we sign Tony Cruise from Bayern Dortmund and ditch Robin Van Percy we will dominate the EPL for many years to come and scumbag Chelsea and City and Villa will be the wilderness years HAHAHA!

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