Manchester United’s 4-1 defeat at the Etihad on Sunday at the hands of archrivals Manchester City was a huge disappointment and a shock but David Moyes must lift his player ahead of their midweek clash with Liverpool in the Capital One Cup.
United host the Merseyiders at Old Trafford on Wednesday evening and whilst Moyes may feel it’s a chance for him to rest some of the players who played 90 minutes on Sunday and, furthermore, give a chance to some of his fringe players, this clash is now a ‘must win’ game.
Brendan Rogers’ Reds already defeated United at Anfield earlier this term and the Red Devils have suffered their poorest start to a season in almost a decade. Their confidence will have been shaken by such a comprehensive defeat at the Etihad but Moyes must rally his troops and use it to galvanize them ahead of the game in midweek.
Shinji Kagawa has yet to feature for the Red Devils this term, Javier Hernandez has yet to start and has played just 31 minutes in the league over two substitute performances, Nani has featured just once in the league for 28 minutes, and Wilfried Zaha has yet to feature at all.
Moyes will likely opt to rotate his squad for the League Cup and given that Rio Ferdinand, Patrice Evra and Nemanja Vidic have featured in every league game for 90 minutes.
Wayne Rooney was United’s best player on the pitch on Sunday by a country mile but Marouane Fellaini and Antonio Valencia were very poor. Fellaini has yet to really impress since his arrival and it’s clear he is undergoing a transitional phase at United.
Danny Welbeck has been looking sharp this term but he was almost anonymous on Sunday and in fact it speaks bounds that Tom Cleverley, when he came on, was a breath of fresh air in the second half.
Moyes will draw a line under the defeat, do his best to lift his players at Carrington this week and get them focused and prepared for Wednesday but a defeat in front of the home fans that would send them out of the Capital One Cup would make a poor start go from bad to worse.
If Robin van Persie is available, he may well get the nod up front and, given Rooney’s contribution on Sunday, he ought to keep him place in behind the frontman but Moyes might be tempted to throw in Chicharito and Kagawa, perhaps Nani too, as they’ll be looking to impress and force their way back into the team on a regular basis.
The problem is, if some of the regulars sit Wednesday’s game out and United win, their confidence may take a further knock and they won’t have the opportunity to get Sunday’s defeat out of their system.
However, the most important thing is that United win the game – the team and the manager cannot afford another defeat that would only serve to further damage their belief and morale. Against a Liverpool side that was unbeaten in the league until Saturday and will, themselves, be looking to bounce back, Moyes must play his best XI and he must ensure a win at all costs.
image: © Jason Gulledge