The old Manchester United are back – terrible football, but just about enough to claim a win at the end. It doesn’t win you fans, but it does push you up in the table, making everyone forget how awful a start David Moyes has had, with Danny Welbeck suddenly becoming the most reliable scorer on the team.
There seems to be quite the misconception about Alex Ferguson and the football style his teams played in. Sure, there were some brilliant teams during his 20-something years at the club, but the last four years without Cristiano Ronaldo rarely had that kind of “beauty” people keep associating with him. People forget about the championships in 2011 and 2013 which were quite dull and boring. Not that Manchester United fans should care – winning is all that matters, but it’s not surprising to see this team playing badly, nor should it be considering the players.
The best news for David Moyes from his 1-0 win in Norwich was that he played with something of a B team, especially up front, and got away with it. Manchester United barely tested John Ruddy, as the Javier Hernandez – Shinji Kagawa duo looked awful. Ashley Young on the left wing was probably the team’s best player, and the changes made in the second half didn’t make the football better. Danny Welbeck scored a goal and worked harder than Chicharito, who is really nothing but a good finisher in the 5-yard box, but there was no real change to the team’s style or ability.
Kagawa is an interesting case, with many sides and claims to the reason for this failure so far. Some suggest it is Moyes, who benched him early in the season, then used him in the wrong position and is now putting him in and out of the lineup, usually using him with the weaker selections. Kagawa, a player’s whose greatest asset is his passing and pressure up front, needs better players around him.
There’s the Kagawa’s fault version. He might not be up to the physicality necessary from a player in his position in the Premier League. In Germany he succeeded in a specific system in a league that isn’t as punishing as the one in England. Maybe Moyes hasn’t used him in the correct way, but Manchester United can’t stop and change everything so it suits Kagawa, who is clearly the inferior player to Wayne Rooney at their respective positions.
Except for Robin van Persie, Manchester United will be at full strength when they play against Tottenham on New Year’s day at home, ready to make another leap forward into the top 4, where it seems like they’re headed. They don’t have a super scorer like Luis Suarez, not the midfield quality of Arsenal, not the impressive force Manchester City usually display, or the managment superiority of Jose Mourinho.
Even with David Moyes and a squad that might be inferior to a lot of others that are after the same goals and prizes, Manchester United are back on the track many feared they’d return to, which is playing awful football but not dropping any points because of it.