Man United: It's Damning That We Celebrate Small Victories Like Cup Finals
When your manager is under pressure everything seems to go from bad to worse. Tactics become more basic, good results come in one’s and two’s but never in three’s and four’s, and your key players’ body language looks more and more like they are longing for the transfer window to re-open.
During this time patience are tested - the patients of fans, board members and playing staff. A fan's natural instinct is to support and chant songs of praise for their under-fire manager. As time goes on a more damning thought comes into play - is supporting this manager counter-productive to what the fans want for their club?
These are all the major follies of having a manager under pressure, especially at a club where an under pressure manager has been an alien idea for 20+ years. What is also alien is the lesser problems in this situation, some many Manchester United fans weren’t aware of until the pressure increased tenfold on David Moyes since the turn of the year.
An hour before Man United’s match against Crystal Palace was due to kick-off the team news started to filter out before it was confirmed. Excitement was abundant as for the first time Juan Mata, Adnan Januzaj, Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie were going to start together. Excited eyes scanned further and saw Marouane Fellaini make a return from injury. Finally the defence came into view and it was the first sign of discontent regarding this XI. Neither Jonny Evans nor Phil Jones made the trip and Chris Smalling was in the right-back slot ahead of Rafael. The Brazilian wasn’t on the bench either, and as he is comfortably are best full-back it was odd to see him not included at all. There was no mention of him being injured but then again, why would there be?
When it comes to the media covering United this season, their column inches that are dedicated to United aren’t going to be wasted on a right-back picking up an injury. It also wasn’t mentioned during Friday’s press conference and the only team news that was mentioned was David Moyes saying “like every team we have injuries too” with no specifics added.
Rafael was out of the game and we didn’t know why or when he might return. Also missing without reason was Danny Welbeck. Danny hasn’t featured much since Rooney and van Perise’s made their return from injury but it could only be inferred that he missed this game through injury too, although like Rafael nothing was really know.
Another absentee was Nani. Absent since the start of December we’ve been getting monthly updates from David Moyes, but again the manager is only pressed for the minimum amount of information. The latest information we have got is that Nani’s hamstring injury persists and that he would be out for a further month.
The minor annoyances continue, as off the field contract extensions are being celebrated with as much enthusiasm as club record-breakers. Wayne Rooney’s contract extension was given its on hashtag on Friday with it continuing on Sunday as Man United’s Instagram account was taken over by the new £300,000-a-week man. Most journalists are hailing this as a big win for David Moyes keeping Rooney away from the lusting eyes of Chelsea, but in reality all the club were celebrating was the fact Rooney maintains his luxurious pay package well into a stage of his career when he won’t be remotely close to being worth the six-figure sum.
We also seem to be playing less and less. United have been knocked out of the FA Cup in the third round before and have had time to go on warm weather camps before too. But when you’re team has no identifiable form, 10 days becomes a lifetime. Thankfully this time the wait didn’t end in despair as United beat Crystal Palace 2-0. Today they fly off to Greece before playing Olympiakos but then it’s back to having to wait another 10 days before the teams next game against West Brom.
These little annoyances build up and they go a long way to highlight the stark differences in United under Ferguson to the one they have now. Before you look at the league table, before you look at the results you could just watch David Moyes’ press conferences throughout the season to show he is not in control. You could just look at the gaps in the calendar to see United aren’t the force in all competitions as they’d like to be. Or, just check their feeds on their social media outlets; be it celebrating contract extensions or posting a picture of Gerald Pique a couple of hours before his Barcelona take on rivals Manchester City.