Many of David Moyes’ post-match interviews this season have sounded like playback messages. “I thought we played well today, but we just didn’t get the goals” or something about not having any luck. In fact I was tempted to make that my voicemail greeting at a certain point but thought better of it.
But every so often, Manchester United turn the screw away and put in a genuinely good performance that takes us fans back to the glory days (e.g. anything but this season). So I wanted to give a shout-out to what I thought were some good decisions and just my general thoughts from what I saw against West Brom.
First 15 minutes: West Brom started better, and our clearances were extremely shaky. This would be my ideal back 4 given the players we have, but due to injuries they just haven’t played together much. Phil Jones really struggled in his first game back
’16-’34: United had a few great chances. Fellaini’s shot cleared off the line. Shows what you can get when you dominate possession effectively. Jones scores from a van Persie free-kick. Things are looking good. Fellaini’s tackling helps Mata, Januzaj, and Rooney flourish.
’34-halftime: United continued to create chances, which they haven’t done enough of this year. Januzaj and Mata have something promising in the works.
2nd Half restart: United again defend poorly. Carrick’s not picking up runners and nearly cost us as Gera went through. RVP nearly sent off which would have led us down the slippery slope towards David Moyes’s pained facial expressions.
’58-65: Subs being made. Moyes takes off RVP to protect him from being sent off. Stephane Sessegnon comes on for West Brom. Kind of worried because United simply couldn’t handle him at Old Trafford. Rooney scores and puts the game away
’65-Full time: A rare Shinji Kagawa sighting! He’s alive! He’s actually real! But in other news, United were comfortable and resisted West Brom’s late surge. Fantastic build-up to Welbeck’s goal. We need more of that and less crosses.
Earlier this week, Earlier today, I published what I thought would be Man Utd’s best team for the rest of the season and it seems that Moyes agreed with some of my suggestions. The back 4 of Rafael, Smalling, Jones, and Evra had a couple rough patches for a total of maybe 30 minutes with botched clearances and just withstanding pressure. But after United scored the second goal, they hardly allowed a shot at de Gea’s goal. Plus all four of these players are more comfortable on the ball. Useful if we wanted to break a team’s pressing game. Fellaini offered more tackling quality and an aerial presence. Januzaj and Mata combined very effectively with Rooney throughout as well. van Persie looked a bit tired from the international friendlies, but otherwise looked more lively even while defending.
Overall, United survived a couple of tough spells and managed this away fixture the way Sir Alex would. They’ve looked fluid in back to back games against Crystal Palace and West Brom, but they’ll probably need to make some special defensive plans to deal with Liverpool’s counter-attack.