Here are five he should look at...
1) Defensive Focus
Manchester United conceded a number of late goals this term – goals that have cost them points and goals that may end up costing them European football if they don’t improve their defensive focus, especially in the late stages of games.
The Red Devils have conceded the highest percentage of their goals in the period between 70 minutes and full time (24%) – there must be attention paid to concentration, fitness, shape and team defending.
2) Attacking Crosses
Meanwhile, the reigning champions’ 2-2 draw with Fulham at Old Trafford last weekend saw the Red Devils put in 81 crosses with just 12 of them being met by a teammate.
Whilst Moyes’ tactics have been criticized in the week since, there is nothing wrong with crossing – it was one of Sir Alex Ferguson’s best weapons in the days of David Beckham, Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs. Back in those days, however, United had players like Dwight Yorke, Andy Cole and Ruud van Nistelrooy to get on the end of those crosses.
Robin van Persie was not necessarily bred that way under Arsene Wenger at Arsenal but you can see from his headed chance against the Gunners on Wednesday night that he has the ability to emulate those United legends. Chicharito, Danny Welbeck and Wayne Rooney can also contribute effectively – if Moyes wants a target man in the box, he’s certainly not short on quality options. They just need to work on their movement.
3) Cross Delivery
The other half of that battle, of course, is that the delivery of United’s crosses needs to be better. Those legends and treble-winners mentioned were capable of pinpoint accuracy. The film’s called ‘Bend It Like Beckham’, right? At Everton, Moyes was successful with his tactics via the likes of Leighton Baines who is an exceptional passer of the ball.
Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs should be able to impart some wisdom to the younger generation about delivery – they are two of the finest pass technicians world football has ever seen. They coach the kids at the La Masia academy in Barcelona to pass like them. Moyes has to get his widemen especially working harder to delivery with more threat and accuracy is the best place to start.
We all saw the shambles that was the Capital One Cup semi-final shoot out with Sunderland. Both sides were woeful whether it was senior players fluffing their lines or youngsters overcome by the pressure of the occasion. That’s not going to happen every week – Van Persie and Rooney will invariably take spot kicks, as can Juan Mata, but that penalty shoot out was an indicator that both confidence and finishing technique are missing.
Which leads me onto finishing – Moyes has started to sound like a broken record in his post-match interviews and press conferences – every week United have the chances to win the game or take the points and they haven’t on a number of occasions where they dominated the game completely and just could buy a goal for love nor money.
We know that Van Persie and Rooney have been out for spells and we know that they are two of the best strikers in the world. We knew what Adnan Januzaj was capable of on his debut this term at Sunderland and Michael Carrick has got a great shot at long range but the likes of Welbeck, Ashley Young, Antonio Valencia, and Nani all need to be chipping in more goals. Van Persie scored 26 goals in the league last term but United had more scorers than any other team, let’s not forget.
We’re more than halfway through the season and Van Persie has less than half that tally because of his time out injured but players like Tom Cleverley and Nani haven’t scored one goal in the Premier League and they’ve undoubtedly had the chances to do so.
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