Man United were rightly slated by media and fans alike in the aftermath of the 4-1 thrashing at the hands of title & local rivals Manchester City on Sunday (which this writer refuses to acknowledge from this point onwards), and with another match against Liverpool on the horizon knees began to jerk left right and centre.
Opposing fans began to celebrate the ‘fall of Fergie’s empire’, #MoyesOut quickly trended on Twitter, and many began questioning how this squad could have romped to such an emphatic title win last year.
Moyes’ boys needed a win, no matter how small or unimpressive, to stop a stumble turning into a free fall and silence the critics who have been revelling in the supposed beginning of the end for the boys in red.
A 1-0 home win, although far from comfortable, dominant, slick, or any other adjective synonymous with ‘good’, was just what they got. Moyes reacted strongly to the result at the weekend and made eight changes to his starting XI, and the risk certainly paid off.
Not only did the manager get the win against a full-strength Liverpool side boosted by the return of loveable Luis, he got it whilst handing starts to players that had up until now been foraging in the Old Trafford bins for what little scraps of game time they could get.
Kagawa, Hernandez, Giggs, Nani, Evans, Buttner, and a fit-again Rafael all started the match, with goal-scorer Hernandez and the ball of confused rage/joy that is Buttner among the pick of them.
But hang on, isn’t this a group of players that were ‘lucky’ to win the title last year, and have no real strength in depth to win anything this year?
The truth is, those suggesting that this United squad are overpaid and under-talented are just plain wrong.
The mere fact that some of the players starting tonight have been warming the bench for much of the season is testament to the quality of the players fighting for their positions. The likes of Kagawa and Hernandez have been kept out of the squad by a rejuvenated Wayne Rooney, a world-class RVP and the non-stop hard work of Welbeck.
Barring Ashley Young, whose footballing career seems to have gone as flat as a hedgehog on the M60, the United midfield is starting to resemble... well... a proper midfield. Fellaini was poor against City, but in his second game at his new club, he can (begrudgingly) be forgiven.
Carrick still sits at the centre making United tick, again the less said about Sunday the better, and Cleverley who is much fancied by England manager Roy Hodgson is a solid if not-particularly-able member of the midfield pack.
Add to that the youth of Zaha, Januzaj and Lingard who are yet to properly break into the first team, United’s midfield is well equipped with players who can change the course of a game.
Rio Ferdinand and Vidic started their season well, but recent performances have been error strewn and as a result, the manager may well change things up at the back. But with the likes of Smalling, Jones, and Evans all ready to step into the side when called upon, Moyes has the kind of defensive cover that any coach in the world would love to have at their disposal.
Okay, maybe I’m getting a bit carried away. With just one win against Liverpool, Chelsea, and City so far, the performances against the big teams this season have clearly not been good enough. But with the side still only three months into the ‘New Era’ after the unparalleled success of the Ferguson years, isn’t it only natural that it is taking some time for things to click?
With so much talent still gracing the astro-turf of the ‘Aon Training Complex’ on a daily basis, and with a man who is undoubtedly a very good football coach keeping an eye over them, those who have already planned the MUFC funeral might just get a bit of a fright.
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