Blog by: Srihari
A 2-1 defeat against West Bromwich Albion at home meant that Moyes had gone from hero to zero in no time. The home defeat also meant that it was Manchester United’s worst ever start to a Premier League campaign. So let us take a look at the five major talking points from the game.
Nani shows United what they have been missing
There were times in the first half, when it looked like the Portuguese winger would be the man to solve Moyes’s problems. There times when Nani toyed with the defender, lulling him into a false sense of security before beating him and whipping in a delicious cross, which no one was able to capitalize on. Much of United’s problems in the first few games stemmed from the fact that he could settle on a set of wide men who were capable of delivering the final ball.
Even in the last 15 minutes, when United went for broke, it was Nani who looked most likely to score. Moyes would certainly do well to give him an extended run of games and give him some much needed confidence. And whilst the Portuguese winger can be infuriating at times, he certainly looks like the man best equipped to provide something out of nothing.
Moyes shows that he isn’t averse to taking a chance
Moyes surprised a few by starting the game with Nani and Kagawa on the wings and Rooney and Chicharito up top. After impressing in the game against Liverpool in the Capital One Cup, Chicharito was given the nod ahead of Robin Van Persie, who was on the bench, recovering from his injury and there was also no place in the starting line-up for Fellaini. Nani and Kagawa also started ahead of Young and Valencia, both of whom haven’t had terrific starts to their seasons.
The inclusion of Kagawa in the starting line-up meant that Moyes was just waiting for him to come back to full fitness before playing him completely. But, the Japanese playmaker was substituted at half time and was replaced by the Belgian youngster Januzaj, who again showed glimpses of his extreme pace and incredible close control. All of which, showed that when push comes to shove, Moyes wasn’t shy of making changes and ensured that everybody in the lineup was there on merit.
Is age starting to get the better of Rio?
Right throughout the game, Rio Ferdinand came second best in almost every aerial duel with Victor Anichebe and didn’t have one of his better days for United. Rio was also nutmegged by Morgan Amalfitano in the build-up to the visitor’s first goal and there were times when it looked like he was easily beaten for pace and his positional sense went awry.
Rio was also easily beaten in the air by Olsson, who hit the bar just before West Brom scored their goal and it looked like United were having a tough time playing Rio in defense, because it meant that they couldn’t play a high line. On a week when Moyes said that Vidic was the best defender he ever worked with, it was plain silly to leave him out. On the back of his recent performances, it might well be time to slowly ease Rio out of the side.
Morgan Amalfitano – Man to watch out for
Have West Brom unearthed a gem in Amalfitano?
After scoring in last weekend’s defeat of Sunderland, Amalfitano has certainly grown in confidence and against United, the Frenchman had one of the games of his life. He scored a stunning solo goal that opened the scoring and gave West Brom the lead at Old Trafford. Minutes before providing a splendid assist for West Brom’s second goal, he almost scored another one courtesy a brilliant free kick, which was expertly saved by De Gea.
His layoff for the second goal, was a thing of beauty and the 28-year-old was a constant thorn in United’s defense, which just couldn’t cope with the silky skills of the Frenchman, who might yet prove to be invaluable as the Baggies look to stay in the top flight for one more year at least.
Moyes still has a lot of work to do
Coming into the game against West Brom, Moyes had the best ever start enjoyed by a United manager since Sir Matt Busby. Whilst that might have been a misleading statistic, what is not, is the fact that, three defeats in his opening six games means that United are in the bottom half are currently off to their worst start in the Premier League era.
The game against West Brom would have both pleased and angered the manager in equal amounts. Whilst he would have been excited by Nani and Rooney’s performance, he wouldn’t have liked the way in which his defense was cut open so easily on the counter. United looked pedestrian in their attacking forays and looked defensively suspect, every time a ball came into the box. All of which, means that Moyes still has a lot of work to do, before convincing the world that he is the right man to succeed Sir Alex.