Sometimes the player does match the hype, and all the talk of Adnan Januzaj before the season and during his cameo appearances for Manchester United turned out to be quite accurate foreplay for the main course. While Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie look like shadows of their former selves at the moment, the young Belgian winger seems like the only refreshing thing in a malfunctioning Manchester United team.
David Moyes is screaming “someone help me!” with his body language, and it took someone more than 50 minutes to respond. The atrocious defending, this time courtesy of Phil Jones and Nemanja Vidic, or the non existing attacking ingenuity and creativity are making things too complicated for a team that should start to look better at this point. However, Januzaj provided whatever spark and bravery that was missing in order to start anew after two consecutive losses.
Moyes hasn’t pulled out Januzaj out of nowhere as an act of desperation. The 18-year old has been playing this season off the bench in almost every match, but after giving up on Ashley Young who does nothing but dive in order to help the team, and deciding that using Shinji Kagawa as a winger isn’t really helping anyone, he took the risk of using such an inexperienced player to rescue his sinking ship.
While Januzaj looks like the only not crumbling under the pressure of the life after Alex Ferguson, it looks like everyone who was involved in winning the title last season and other bits of success from previous years just can’t respond to this unusual challenge given to them, either playing like they have weights tied to their ankles or simply not responding well to the shock treatment Moyes is administering with his constant changes to the lineup.
Maybe it’s a psychological thing, of not having a figure like Ferguson to hide behind or be motivated by, but it’s impossible that the same players who won the league title at a record pace are suddenly incapable of creating chances, barely winning matches against the worst team (according to the table) in the Premier League.
Robin van Persie is either still injured or has simply forgotten what his role is on the pitch. He was hardly seen inside the box, and most of his touches on the ball came from taking corner kicks. Wayne Rooney was also too rarely involved, felt only when United had set pieces around the Sunderland box. Two players expected to lead, but are disappearing from taking matches by the teeth.
Nani isn’t someone who is shy of taking on players and the ball. Is he better than Antonio Valencia? Potentially, yes, but a right flank with him and Rafael playing together is asking from trouble, especially when Nani can’t contribute anything right now without wasting six-seven chances of a good shot or pass before he even thinks about making right decisions.
The midfield, the defense – same old problems. Nemanja Vidic, just like Rio Ferdinand, is too busy screaming orders and talking on twitter to notice how badly he’s doing on the pitch against faster and stronger forwards, or maybe it’s just a way to mask the growing incompetence.
David Moyes looks at his team and only sees an excellent goalkeeper and a teenager on the left wing who are players he’s happy with the way they’re preforming right now. That’s not a recipe for success, not even close, which means the rough times of surprising losses and underwhelming performances aren’t over.