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The Month: November

November is the focus so, naturally, it’s worth looking at a game played in December. The 2-2 draw at White Hart Lane was a disappointment, though, yes, it doesn’t much sound like one: but, given the points Manchester United dropped prior, a win was as necessary as one can be around this point of the season. It was also frustrating because United struggled to build on their win in midweek, the particularly pleasant 5-0 at Bayer Leverkusen – a game that was definitely played in November.

Even after great things happened in Germany, Patrice Evra couldn’t help but rue a little: “We didn’t make the most of the Arsenal win and that was why we were so disappointed about the Cardiff draw.” The Frenchman had a point, as usual: Arsenal, along with Leverkusen, were two of Manchester United’s most satisfying performances under David Moyes to date. They were a lot different from each other, but pleasing anyway. It was unfortunate, then, that United failed to build on them.

Moyes, as expected, is settling into the job by the month. United’s football hasn’t been irresistible, and probably won’t be by May, but they’re certainly more than ‘resistible’. If that’s not a recognised word, it would have been by now had United’s September carried through. The Arsenal game saw one of Moyes’ less-appealing-but-appealing qualities shine through, a well-drilled United side as obdurate as possible in denying the league’s in-form outfit from scoring.

If edging past Arsenal didn’t come us a complete surprise, the mauling of Bayer Leverkusen did, perhaps to Moyes most of all. “We’ll be trying to win it,” he would tell MUTV pre-match. “If we end up with a draw then we’ll take that if that’s the case.” The Scot just wanted qualification: another 1-0 might have sufficed. To put the win into “perspective” after the game, Moyes couldn’t help but point out Leverkusen’s standing in the Bundesliga, sandwiched between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund. Playing Shinji Kagawa off Wayne Rooney proved to be a masterstroke – though not as much against Spurs – with the two wide men, Nani and Antonio Valencia, achieving the rare feat of having good games whilst both on the pitch. Some night.

It might have asked a lot to play as well against Spurs, but, given where United are in relation to others (though still not a crisis), it’s perhaps fair to ask of more. The draw at Cardiff, for example, was clearly avoidable, though it was what United deserved. But deserve’s got nothin’ to do with it, and United should have won. Dropping points is to be expected, but not expected often. There was also the Champions League group stage game against Real Sociedad, one of four away trips that month, ending goalless, United failing short once again. The midfield, though barely present, took most of the blame. (Like they had in Cardiff, actually; there, you would hope, should be better news where that’s concerned in two monthly reviews time.)

Before Sociedad, United won 3-1 at Craven Cottage, the hapless Fulham giving up after just 20 minutes. Shame, then, that a draw had followed it. From November 2 (Fulham) to December 1 (Spurs), United’s form guide reads: WDWDWD. Evra deems it fair to ask of more.

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79 Comments

  1. Tommy says:

    Dissapointing November even tho we are unbeaten, too many draws and even against Arsenal we werent great, Too many draws is always the sign of a caucious manager, time to play more expansive football that we are used to at Old Trafford!

  2. Sparkz says:

    Zaha will follow the Nick Powell route. Spend 6 months getting used to the club, then go on loan for 12-18 months.

    What you have to remember is that going from the Champo or lower leagues to MANCHESTER UNITED is a huge step up. Especially for a youngster. So no way in a million years were these guys gonna walk straight into the first team squad

  3. martin the nairobian says:

    I hope rooney refuses to sign a new contract.
    It’d make me sick having him as our all time record goalscorer.

  4. sir matt martin says:

    A player that was voted championship best player shudnt be that bad.. thats why sir alex ferguson bought him for 15m. and not only united that was gonna sign him. am talkin about Zaha. he brought crystal palace to the EPL.

  5. John says:

    I don’t understand why it is such a big deal to give some 15 or 20 mins to Zaha here and there and integrate him this season.

  6. Blacksocks says:

    @ Sparkz – The guy cost 15M, was the standout player in the championship last year and Valencia (despite showing glimpses of form) has hardly been consistant. With United looking pedestrian when attacking this season I think he should have been given a chance. Ok, it might not have paid off, but would we be in any worse a position than we currently are.

    United have a rich history of young players breaking into the team and make a difference and in the week Class of 92 is deflecting some headlines away from the current team, perhaps the time has come for another first team debut this season. His recent form in the reserves/U21 suggests it is.

  7. Tommy says:

    @Blacksocks

    I have seen him play a few times this seasons and he looks off the pace for this level at the moment, The Under 21s is no barrier to determine if somebody is ready or not as its playing against kids, I read where hes overowed about being at United, United are not in a position to be trying out new players, He will go away on loan in january to see how well he does their

  8. John says:

    @martin the nairobian…Great article interms of backing it up by facts and interesting to know the influence of Rafael for us this season. However, the most important thing there is that it explains the reason why Moyes was desperate for combo of Felliani and Bains and the JOINT bid for them…So the purchase of Felliani was not panic buy that most of us thought!!!!…and he could be used behind the striker as the season progresses…as for tactics, overloading the wings stuffs, we all know with moyes all we are going to get is 4-4-2 (or 4-4-1-1 sometimes) and the tactics explained in that article is nothing but the way 4-4-2 is executed effectively…he may set up the starting line up in different formation in paper but that outdated formation and style are what we are going to get basically. In premiere league, it works still but just watch in later stage of champions league when we come across teams that use 4-2-3-1, 4-3-3 and 4-1-4-1 formations having the type of players required in that midfield triangle of these formations…than we will know why 4-4-2 is date expired system until and unless we have combo of keano + scholes type central midfielders to face 3 CM of those formations or very good wingers…or else we will be always dependent on that someone to bail us out instead of winning as a team through tactical superiority.

  9. Sparkz says:

    @blacksocks – We paid for potential though, and it’s highly unlikely he’s ready for the step up yet. You’re forgetting that the academy players are already used to United, they know what it’s about. Lads who come from outside don’t….and if they’re young and have come from the lower leagues, it’s unlikely they’ll make the step up immediately.

    I’d love to see more of Zaha but it’s not a disaster if we’re not. put it this way…I think SAF would have done the exact same thing Moyes is doing.

    @Martin – agree with that piece on Rafael. SO important to us, need him back ASAP

  10. Sparkz says:

    Moyes isn’t silly, latter rounds of the CL he will alter his system.

    Look at our away matches against shaktar and Leverkusen – would have been so easy to go with 2 up front but in both games he wanted control of midfield so he played 4-3-3/4-2-3-1

  11. Tommy says:

    @John

    How can people say its a panc buy when he made his first bid for him at the end of July, A panic buy is making a bid for a player on the last day of the window when you havnt shown any interest in him before then, Bids for Kherdira, Coaentrou and herrera would be considered more in panic, Fellani was like Berbatov chased for weeks but the selling club wanted to get as much money as they could! Whether people like Fellani or not he was not a panic buy from Moyes!

  12. John says:

    @Sparkz…on paper it was 4-2-3-1 Vs Leverkusen but we had 2 wingers and Giggs and Jones behind kagawa…and I don’t think with 2 traditional wingers and a centre back who doesn’t have enough midfield qualities can execute 4-2-3-1. Moyes isn’t silly but too cautious which we have seen against big teams already this season bar leverkusen.

  13. samuel - united WE stand says:

    No way would fellaini be found behind a striker. Kagawa, rooney, januzaj, welbeck.. All better players than fellaini in that position.. Only way to justify fellaini’s purchase and moyes knew that was to play him as an all round central.midfielder.. A position he barely played at everton and is struggling to step up.

  14. John says:

    @sparkz..it was actually 4-4-1-1 Vs leverkusen if you revisit that match in actual play although on paper we started as 4-2-3-1. Two flat banks of 4 and kagawa as no. 10 behind Rooney.

  15. samuel - united WE stand says:

    Sparkz – zaha’s barely played though so u’m not sure how we can truly analyse his ability to step up instantly. I agree, he is still a bit raw but only more game time to develop. Zaha is another nani, we discussed this on here, an unpredictable footballer with bags of ability. He will hopefully come good but he feeds off confidence, moyes needs to give him more game time. I think he is ahead of powell in development to be fair athough nick is looking strong at wigan and will hopefully return to start for united. He has the attributes to an all round central.mid for united.

  16. samuel - united WE stand says:

    Kagawa played behind the forward and was marked out by a solid sandro and dembele… Exactly something I highlighted. A team cannot have one source of playmaker or that player will be shut out. United need more fluidity and interchanging, all the forwards should be playmakers as well as match winners. To be fair though, when you.lack sufficient quality central.mids who are able to control the tempo and find incisive and progressive passes behind the opposition midfield, a further attacker like kagawa struggle to influence things. Saying that, kagawa must step up..enough excuses.

  17. John says:

    @Tommy…I think Fabregas was Moyes 1st choice player back in summer…If Felliani transfer was like Berbatov then why didn’t he activated his release clause early on, if he wanted him so much??..fact is, the combo of (felliani + Baines) was moyes target if in case fabregas bid didn’t went through…which didn’t so we bought Felliani and Baines may follow him in jan to complete the whiping combo package for that last 5 or 10 minutes of match if we desperately need to equalise or win at the business end of season + we need a left back anyway…tbh, I think we had maximum 30 millions as our transfer budget no matter how big they talk, coz just look the way they bid for fabregas…if we had got Everton combo early then the money wasn’t there for fabregas..so Woodward in collaboration with PR depart of club played and tried to fool us… In the end, fabregas decided to stay, Everton combo was too expensive, Herrera was a risk with that amount coz from different league, felliani release clause was over and fans were furious already…thus Felliani in last hour with the other half of combo to come in jan (Baines)…It was to do with LIMITED TRANSFER BUDGET. I think even Ronaldo rumors were fuelled by both sides to fool us from club side and Ronaldo wanted new contract from real madrid…fact is, we are broke compared to madrid and oil clubs.

  18. swaggersho says:

    Samuel,I don’t comment on Rom,I just come here to read the article/news and also views/opinions of other utd fans all over the word,but I have notice that you particularly have a personal agenda against Kagawa. Everytime “kagawa must step up” Lw or Lb,you want him to “step up” but I don’t see ur campaign for Nani,young,pea,Rio,smalling,cleverley,danny,Anderson hell! 85% of the TEAM need to “step up” not only Kagawa. Thanks. Just my opinion

  19. John says:

    @Tommy…tbh I even think that the case of Fabregas was intentionally planned coz fabregas wanted playing time assurance from martino and was booed by Barca fans last season…so he wanted to show his worth to fans and playing time and woodward wanted to fool us by making us believe we are not broke by linking us with big name players..and Moyes wanted Everton combo desperately in package not just one of them…if not why they didn’t went for Thiago and Strootman if not fabregas??…they were never in for them as they say, which supports my claim..khedirea (spelling check !!), De Rossi and so on were panic targets…fact is moyes likes roboust players in midfield instead of creative midfielders and good full backs and and wingers…we have riches upfront anyway..that type of players suits his tactics for 4-4-2 formation..the reason he begged Rooney to stay, the reason he finds compelled to play kagawa coz of fans demand and the way he ignores Anderson unlike cleverly further supports my claim..look the wingers subs and use of welbeck against spurs…

  20. sir matt martin says:

    But if Zaha was from other league in europe lets say Germeny, he wud have been givin a chance to show wat he can do; so why not do thezsame wit Zaha.. remenber Ronaldo wen sir alex, got him from sportin.. he was no diffrnt from zaha.

  21. John says:

    @sir matt martin…I don’t like to believe this nationality stuffs but type of players and I like creative players esp in centre midfield trying to get ball forward through middle mostly instead of Usain Bolt type runners running on wings and may beat 1 player maximum, run upto corner flag and cross the ball with hope that the ball may fall onto head of our strikers like valencia and Young do…if wingers are like Nani (at his ON days), Bale, Ronaldo or potential with zaha who atleast tries variations and tricks then in 4-3-3 alongside a striker they would be perfect to me…so I agree with you that Zaha should be given chances with playing time…look at Barca and spanish players there, so even if starting 11 players are English and good enough then it is even more better to me personally.

  22. John says:

    @swaggersho…Bang on!

  23. tallestreD says:

    I think it does no harm to give Zaha, Anderson or even Nani a run of games. I mean it will gives us a different look from what we are now. I believe Moyes will come through eventually.

    I do concur with most of Samuel’s post. But that of Kagawa is due to the system that makes him seem uneventful whether LW or AMF, the system needs to flow through the middle I think. Too much sideways movement

  24. Sparkz says:

    @Samuel – Yeah I know but I just think it’s rare for someone from the Championship to be capable of stepping up ASAP. Not saying that on the basis of his performances (coz he’s not really played!) – more saying that on what usually happens. And maybe that’s what the coaches see in training.

    Ronaldo, aside from being an incredible talent, already had some experience in the Portugese top flight (and maybe Europe as well?). Adnan had spent 2 years at the club, so he was used to the environment.

    @John – Yeah maybe Leverkusen was 4-4-1-1 (although Nani was always touchline hugging) – but it was a lot more fluid. I saw Kagawa’s heat map after the game and his main position was very close to Giggs and Jones. Getting the ball and linking midfield to attack.

    In comparison, 3 days earlier at Cardiff it was very much a 4-4-2….Rooney’s heat map showed him practically next to Chicharito.

    As I said – Moyes could have gone to Leverkusen and playes Rooney and Hernandez, but he chose a system and personnel designed to control the game better.

  25. John says:

    @Sparkz…yeah, credit to moyes re team selection coz it worked and it will be silly to criticise him after that performance and result…however, was it more to do with compulsion of circumstances??..I mean, if RVP was available then??coz he doesn’t start chica often anyway..I would argue he would have gone for flat 4-4-2…Again, Kagawa was unavailable against Cardiff so he could have started/tried Anderson as 10 if he had belief in that formation in Germany..however, the way Kagawa and welbeck were used against Tottenham and the way he substituted wingers as last resort shows his belief in 4-4-2 as his default system…yeah that second striker (or one of them in 4-4-2) is replaced by that link (no. 10) between lone striker and centre midfield in 4-4-1-1 and basically thats the only difference between these formations..but, atleast I am convinced, with the central midfielders and wingers we have the midfield trio of that triangle of other formations would simply outplay our midfield when we play those really top teams…unless, of course, THREE MEN ROO and RVP produce some magic,or unless it is another happy birthday of one of our attackers, who are great to have of course..but I just want to see us playing the right way with players we have. Mate, just my 2p as a fan, of course!!

  26. martin the nairobian says:

    Most united fans I talk to loove valencia.
    Personally my heart dies a little when I see his name in the starting eleven.
    What do guys see in him that I don’t coz I simply don’t understand???
    For example,valencia vs leverkusen and spurs attempted 22 crosses.
    Only two were successful with one finding a teammate.
    How guys are are in awe of such mediocrity is a big mytery for me.
    I’m 100% sure zaha couldn’t do worse than this. is this the standard zaha is meant to reach so as to get into the team???surely hop not

  27. Sparkz says:

    Typo in my last post – I meant to say Nani WASN’T always touchline hugging. So it wasn’t a rigid midfield 4

    But yeah it will be interesting to see what he would have done had RVP been available.

    Although I remember when Rooney was injured for Shaktar away…I could be wrong but didnt Moyes say he wouldn’t have played anyway? Does that maybe mean Moyes was always gonna play 1 up top for away european games? Time will tell I guess

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