Manchester United were once a team who could destroy the best of them on the break...but not anymore.
Manchester United were once famed for things that do not currently come naturally to them. One of those was scoring late goals - in the mystical realm known as Fergie Time - and another was swarming forward on the counter-attack, striking before the opposition knew what had happened.
United were once famed for their speed, with the likes of Ryan Giggs, Andrei Kanchelskis, Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney turning defence into attack in a split-second.
Even Nani briefly got in on the action, during his long-forgotten spell of living up to his considerable potential, while Antonio Valencia certainly has the speed to break away with a simple kick-and-run.
But that is not the case currently, with United one of only five clubs not to have scored from a quick breakaway in the Premier League this season.
Liverpool lead the way with five, which is no surprise given the front-line at their disposal. But United should be doing considerably better.
|Team||Goal From Fast Break||Games|
|West Ham United||1||24|
It is one thing not scoring from a fast break, and quite another to rarely have those breaks in the first place. But in another indictment of United's form of late, the reigning champions have had just four attempts from breakaways in 24 matches.
Only five teams have had fewer swift attacks, with Manchester City and Liverpool out in front with 18 and 16 respectively.
|Team||Attempt From Fast Break||Games|
|West Ham United||7||24|
|West Bromwich Albion||3||24|
So what does this all mean? Well simply put, Moyes needs to rediscover the United of old. He needs to add swiftness to their games. He needs to alleviate the pedestrian play and replace it with a swashbuckling style that their forwards are more than capable of.
For that to happen, he needs to find a quality defensive midfielder, a consistent and effective back-four and settle on a formation that brings the best out of one of the most exciting attacking quartets in Europe.
Then they may start hitting sides on the break again, and ultimately enjoy everything that comes with that.
image: © eirikref