The Scot was always going to have an impossible task on his hands to replace Sir Alex Ferguson after 26 years in charge at Old Trafford. The ‘Chosen One’ has been criticized by the media, the pundits, his own players and supporters – in fact pretty much everyone but the board who have backed him all the way.
My question is, would the fans (and the players too) be quite so disgruntled with the Red Devils’ poor form and subsequently league position if they were playing more attractive football?
Moyes has taken a lot of stick for his tactics and his team’s persistent crossing to no avail – if that were succeeding and Manchester United were winning week in week out, I very much doubt people would be so up in arms about his style of play and tactical setup.
Synonymously, if United were playing Barcelona-esc expansive total football, I believe there would be a lot less huffing and puffing from the fans and the players would likely feel a little more optimistic too.
That was largely what happened at Anfield under Brendan Rodgers last term in his debut season in charge after signing from Swansea – it was a work in progress but it was progressive in terms of its style.
Liverpool weren’t getting the results but they were playing well and it was at least for the fans on the Kop a spectacle to behold – now look at the Merseyside side this term, they’re flourishing in new found optimism and rejuvenated spirit, full of confidence and challenging for the title.
In my estimation, the fans and pundits would have completely understood and stood behind the manager if United did not win the title this term under Moyes, and even if they didn’t make the top four and perhaps even if they finished in seventh place in the Premier League as they are presently, on the condition that the football they were playing looked like it was just in need of a little time to refine.
But the football Manchester United are playing is not progressive, it is not expansive, and half the time it’s not even attacking or ambitious. It’s not the stuff of technical brilliance or intricate moves or bursting runs or even powerhouse force – they have not kept it tight enough at the back for anyone’s liking, they haven’t dominated in midfield even against lesser opposition, the haven’t even showed any particular threat playing direct as Moyes has set them out predominantly.
They have played on the counter-attack (or tried to) as Everton used to against the top teams which worked for the Toffees because of their inferior technical quality in midfield but United have Juan Mata and Shinji Kagawa and Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie and Adnan Januzaj – these players are anything but inferior in terms of their technical ability with the ball at their feet.
These players love to spend time on the ball and create moves of quality and, what’s more, the fans love watching them do that. None of those players want to be getting involved in aerial duels or even particularly firing in crosses every two minutes – it lowers their passing accuracy rates, for one thing.
The only player who relishes the type of style Moyes wants his side to play is Marouane Fellaini and he has been very poor since he signed, for one reason or another.
Moyes is not getting the best out of his players, I believe, because he is not playing to their strengths and he is playing right into the hands of the opposition in the Premier League who will gladly clear their lines all day long. It’s mind-numbing to watch for the fans and it’s frustrating and boring for the players whose shoulders have been slumped all season.
If Manchester United were in eighth and playing the kind of football on display at Southampton, I think the fans would be more in favour of him staying that they are at present. It’s not the league position or the poor results that are angering the Old Trafford faithful, it’s the boring uninspired football on offer as a spectacle.