Everybody makes mistakes. Even Alex Ferguson, even Miley Cyrus. David Moyes, however, can’t take a step without stepping into dog turd. A professional manager, you wouldn’t necessarily believe it. However, it’s apparently too early to call for his head – regardless of whether or not you thought he was the wrong choice in the first place. Anyway, enough whinging about David Moyes, let’s discuss David Moyes’ top 5 mistakes.
This beautiful man is having his reputation besmirched and his name traduced. It is a disgrace. There is no other word for his treatment. Kagawa proved himself to be a superior player to Wayne Rooney, Michael Carrick, Danny Welbeck, Javier Hernandez and Tom Cleverley in his two years at Borussia Dortmund. He offers simple, neat passing, incisive through-balls, natural creativity and is adept at thrillingly direct attacking. If you were an idiot about tactics, you would rave about his verticality, but none of us here are, so we won’t.
Rooney should not be in the team and is obstructing Kagawa, but there’s a lingering suspicion that Moyes simply doesn’t rate Kagawa regardless of the fat Liverpudlian striker. He’s played Ashley Young ahead of him on the left wing on a number of times, and even worse than that, he gratuitously insulted him by removing him at half time against West Brom, thereby turning a limited display into a hapless on. His behaviour towards Kagawa suggests he simply doesn’t understand football, and that he is taking far too long to recognise the weaknesses in the squad that he could resolve at stroke. But he’s not.
Linked to Kagawa is the terrible approach he has to substitutions. Against West Brom he put on Adnan Januzaj, an 18-year-old, placing inexcusable pressure on such a young player to be the man to turn round the game. For a manager to do that to a player is totally unreasonable, as shown by Januzaj visibly struggling to keep it together for the first 20 minutes of the half. Against Manchester City, is a vital match without Robin Van Persie, his sole change was to replace Ashley Young with Tom Cleverley. Young. Cleverley. One. Change. Against Southampton he introduced Ryan Giggs, who can no longer play football, to calm the game. Obviously all it served was to reduce the side to 10 men. He introduced Chris Smalling in the 87th minute, thereby admitting he was panicking and disrupting a settled central defence that had defended in such a way as to suggest nothing close to any severe problem. He managed Manchester United as if he was managing Everton. Surely there has been enough coverage in the paper for him to have realised that he’s actually taken the job? At this point, his substitutions indicate he hasn’t actually noticed he’s started at Old Trafford. Maybe the presence of his coaching staff and Phil Neville have confused him, and everyone is too embarrassed to say something.
This relates to Shinji Kagawa, as it demonstrates the kind of players that Moyes has prioritised over the winger. Antonio Valencia appears to have given up on life. Whether that’s because of his phd into the futility of existence, or because of a serious problem we are unaware of, he gets a pass. He’s such a mensch that there’s no reason to suspect any moral failing in him. What is unacceptable is that he’s been playing throughout. The alternative, the superior Luis Nani, had been frozen out at the start of the season and United suffered for it. The other alternative, the more promising Wilfried Zaha, has been similarly frozen at the start of the season and United suffered for it. David Moyes has elected to choose a clearly defective player, with no plan as what to do when it inevitably failed.
As for Ashley Young, oh boy. Young has been playing poorly for two years, and with his diving, more embarrassingly than Valencia. There is no excuse for giving the player a game anymore. Yet Young has been given one game after another, only recently being dropped. This suggests that David Moyes was trying to work out how good Ashley Young was. If it has taken him this many games this season to work out how bad he is, then it implies that he really hasn’t prepared well enough for the job this summer. Or been watching any football for two years. A dereliction of duty, and his most unforgivable mistake, with the exception of…
The man Rooney is a washed up recalcitrant who apparently has no interest in performing well for Manchester United ever again. It is fairly easy to believe that he’s biding his time until the World Cup, ensuring he gets game time, only to then put in an explicit request once the whole thing is done. That’s fair enough – he wants out, and we’ve all wanted out of a job we hated. Whether he’s correct to hate playing for Manchester United, well, that’s up for discussion, but that discussion only matters when he’s having it. Fans aren’t going to change his mind and make him stay, they can only make it easier for him to leave.
Moyes, of course, knows all this, and he is the man who chose the plan of action this summer. He chose to indulge Rooney at the expense of Shinji Kagawa, the man likely bought to eventually replace him. He chose to play him after a series of lacklustre performance. He was the man who chose to play him in a 4-4-2, handicapping the balance of the side and allowing them to lose to weaker sides who lined up with three in midfield.
4-4-2 is an OK formation if all your players are world class and able to outshine almost any other opposition. The problem here is that Manchester United’s players are not world class, with the exception of David De Gea and Robin Van Persie. The rest are made up of a mixture of sick hack joke, and very good. For the record, the sick hack joke is Alexander Buttner, and the very good is Rafael. Everyone else is in the mix.
If you play with a 4-4-2 then your midfielders have to be some of the greatest in the world. For all their qualities, and there are at the moment very little, Michael Carrick and Marouane Fellaini are not some of the greatest in the world. Carrick looks disaffected and about to embark on his worst run of form in two years, and Fellaini clearly hasn’t got to grips with his colleagues. Now, to continue with this formation, with these players, is dense, and that is what David Moyes has done. There are alternatives. Both Phil Jones and Tom Cleverley have flaws – Jones is a clumsy goon in midfield, and Cleverley evidently lacks spark. But they can have their uses. The former can disrupt play and the latter can retain possession. More than that, against other teams playing three in the middle, they have the advantage of actually existing. By choosing one of these or, preferably, Shinji Kagawa in a three to add dynamism and ambition, Moyes would prevent the side being so easily overrun. He hasn’t, and they keep dropping points. Oh, David!