Manchester United’s poor start to the season continued today as they were undone by Newcastle United at home - to leave David Moyes hoping for a mass improvement at the club over the next few weeks.
But I think that in some respects Moyes is not to blame - he has been left a team that is clearly not as strong as the likes of Manchester City, Chelsea or even Arsenal.
But then again the counter-reaction to that is simply - ‘why didn’t he buy in the summer?’
Because today it was once again clear that the team is lacking in the central midfield positions.
Phil Jones and the out of form Tom Cleverley got the nod for today’s game as part of a midfield double act continually overran by the likes of Moussa Sissoko, Yohan Cabaye, Vurnon Anita and in particular Cheick Tiote.
Last season the Ivorian lost his mojo somewhat and was frustrating Toon fans to the point of exhaustion with his presence. But recently his firm has picked up - with today the peak of such performances so far.
He did the job that Jones was supposed to do for Manchester United - but did it with much more proficiency throughout the game.
Don’t believe me? Well the stats prove it.
Jones and Tiote were both even in aerial duels won - perfect in fact winning 100% of such battles.
But that is about it when you compare the performances of these two players.
Tiote made more tackles in the game. The difference of five to Jones three may not seem like a lot - so that is hardly just cause to pull out these two for special consideration.
But when you consider the fact Tiote had 90% passing accuracy to Jones’ 79% you soon realise that Jones is not adapted to play this position in the same way Tiote is - and that United seriously miss Michael Carrick’s presence in the middle of the park.
Tiote also had more touches than Jones by a long shot - 31 more touches in fact with a ratio of 92 to 61.
He simply had more influence on the game and won the midfield battle for Newcastle - building the platform for their victory.
And it just shows that Moyes must invest in the midfield, above all else come January.
image: © nasmac