It’s been a rough two months in the Premier League for David Moyes and his Red Army. As Sir Alex’s biography took the spotlight off Old Trafford for a few days it was up to United to put in an inspired performance midweek. Now, following a strong, gutsy outing against Real Sociedad at Old Trafford in front of an experimental singing section of fans, United is unbeaten and on top of Group A. By Max Holm.
Manchester United is back on track after a strong outing against Real Sociedad.
In its 3rd Champions League game United finally found a way to kill a game off. Sure they still aren’t at a point where they can find a 2nd decisive goal to do that and sure they only won on an own goal, despite hitting the woodwork on a few occasions, but it is still progress nonetheless. However, it is still discouraging how wasteful Moyes’ men have been in front of goal; thankfully Real did not pose too many threats.
In front of their home faithful following two subpar performances against West Brom and Southampton, United played loose and with a lot more vigor and energy. The only way Moyes and United can turn their season around is to consistently play with grit and belief; they simply need to remember they are Manchester United players and play that way. It is crucial for Moyes to win games against Stoke and Fulham, not only to establish that United are not going to just roll over, but to instill a confidence in his players that he is the right man for this job. The ability for Moyes to win 3, 4, 5 games in a row will do wonders for his players’ confidence as they will want to fight for him more, like they did for Fergie.
The game saw Danny Welbeck, Tom Cleverley, Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand and Robin van Persie all unused. Yet it was Shinji Kagawa and Antonio Valencia who were given starts and both put in good games, with the former starring as the man of the match. Moyes was quick to praise Kagawa’s performance and despite whatever problems there have been in the past playing Kagawa against Stoke would be in both Moyes’ and United’s best interest. Wayne Rooney collects most of the attention in United’s attack so someone else with Wayne’s vision and ability to retain the ball is critical. United fans would love to see a front four of RVP, Rooney, Kagawa and Januzaj on Saturday in a must win game against Stoke.
United are actually unbeaten in their 4 games outside of the Premier League with 2 wins and a draw in Europe and a 3rd round Capital One Cup win over Liverpool. It has been a haven for the Reds to escape their League woes. And with a bit of luck this United team could emulate Chelsea’s success in 2012. Chelsea were out of the title race mid-way through the season and ended up outside the top four, which despite it being early days, is very possible this year for United, given the depth of quality in the top half of the table. Yet that Chelsea team went on a Cinderella Champions League run, knocking off Barcelona and Bayern Munich in the process and won a place in the following year’s competition by winning the whole thing. That’s not to say Chelsea was not trying to finish in the top four, or that United will not either, but if the knockout stage of the Champions League has taught us, it’s that once a team is in, like Dortmund last year, anything is possible.
A top four finish or even getting into the top would be a remarkable achievement for Moyes’ United given this start to the season. Yet, this season does not have to be a trophy-less failure. United will play in three different competitions outside of their league season: the FA Cup, the Capital One Cup, and the aforementioned Champions League. So, if things go for the worst in league play, there are three trophies still to play for. And for United fans looking ahead, they can be assured that Woodward and Moyes will get their act together over the next two transfer windows because at Manchester United, failure is not an option so there will be changes no matter what.
So, with that in mind every game is important going forward, and like the great Sir Alex Ferguson said, there’s only one team in England capable of erasing any gap, and it’s United.