Why David Moyes missed Tom Cleverley v Fulham

Tom Cleverley 2

Here's how David Moyes missed Manchester United midfielder Tom Cleverley v Fulham.

Tom Cleverley's absence was confirmed as being due to injury by Manchester United manager David Moyes, and given his recent form, it didn't appear like much of a loss.

On the pitch, it's hard to argue whether it was one way or another - but for the manager, it could have far more critical implications.

Cleverley has been the whipping boy for supporters, critics, and neutrals alike who have seen his weak performances this season in United's problem central midfield position as reason to slate his contribution to the team and inclusion.

For his manager however he has been effective - as a shield.

Not a shield for United's defence, but a shield for David Moyes himself. A sponge if you like, who has been soaking up the pressure and deflecting it from the boss.

Cleverley has been the main target of criticism this season, but against Fulham - there was no blaming him for the ineffectual performance and dropped points.

Instead the focus bore down on David Moyes himself, as his seemingly single tactic of crossing the ball into the box became painful to watch amid it's ineffectiveness, 81 attempts in total, just 18 accurate.

It's seen as the game where the pressure on the manager cranked up, with regional newspaper plastering 'Not good enough Moyes' on it's front page for Monday's edition:

Transfers and refereeing decisions are problems Moyes can argue is not entirely his own fault, but when it comes to his tactics, there is no hiding.

After the game he backed his approach, stating: "You've got to keep trying to make it work and the players did that today, they tried everything they could, they kept getting the ball into the box... And eventually the goals did come."

Never mind of course that neither goal came from crosses from outside the box.

Moyes has a huge game against Arsenal at The Emirates on Wednesday, from which The Gunners are also desperate for three points.

Against central defenders in Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker, the duo have made 185 successful headed clearances this season, so repeated crossing attempts into the box are likely to be lapped up by the pair.

Once again providing he is absent, and if the manager does not change the approach, there will be no blaming Tom Cleverley for United's downfall.

image: © joncandy

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