An away draw at the Emirates isn’t a bad result, but given the wider context of Manchester United winning only twice in their last ten matches, of David Moyes not even being creative enough to make up new excuses and Juan Mata finding it difficult to understand why on earth would he be used as winger makes the result a lot worse than it would have been in previous years.
A 0-0 draw with two chances for Manchester United. Alex Ferguson played compact and defensive on tough away matches as well, there’s no shame in that. But the continuing tendency to keep the ball up in the air, even through counter attacks, is yet another way Moyes is influencing this team in the wrong manner. Nothing new from each match as this season progresses except for a record or two broken when it comes to results visiting teams at the Old Trafford haven’t been used to getting.
Robin van Persie was rusty, but he was involved. The same goes for Rooney, who played a lot deeper than he’s used to, but with the failures of Michael Carrick and Tom Cleverley to become a formidable or even decent midfielder duo this season, there’s no choice for Rooney but to drop down and help out, being the only player delivering any sort of creativity to the pitch.
But what about Mata? Surely being a £37 million signing means he has some football and creativity of his own to contribute? Well, it turns out David Moyes works in mysterious ways, or at least the logic behind his decisions is tough to explain. Buying a player he doesn’t really need makes sense if that player is great, which Mata is, or was before Jose Mourinho landed back in London. But turning Mata into a winger so he’ll fit Moyes’ failing system that is turning Manchester United into a pale version of Everton?
Adnan Januzaj on the bench makes sense sometimes – the wonderkid isn’t as good as some thought after watching play only a couple of games, but he’s the only winger on this team that happens to know what to do with the ball at his feet instead of just hopelessly crossing it. Making him a predictable change off the bench hasn’t really helped Manchester United get better results, stuck on two wins, two draws and three league losses since 2014 began.
There’s a famous Albert Einstein saying that goes like this: Insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results. David Moyes thinks that his 4-4-2 system will somehow work, but we’re 26 matches into the season, and Manchester United have regressed, not improved. Moyes thinks that at some point insisting on using Mata as his winger will work out, but there’s nothing new under the sun. Attacking midfielders won’t succeed where they shouldn’t be playing, Manchester United’s decline will continue unless Moyes realizes he’s been making the same mistakes every match and European football looks more and more like something Manchester United players will only be able to watch on TV.