A 1-0 win over Shakhtar Donetsk isn’t what will take the pressure off of David Moyes or suddenly turn Manchester United into a machine that will run off on the Premier League, but a lineup and formation used by David Moyes late in the match, which had Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney, Shinji Kagawa and Adnan Januzaj all playing together might be a partial answer to the team’s problems in the league.
Once again, United looked for long minutes like the weaker side in a home match. The midfield that included Ryan Giggs and Phil Jones, yet another combination Moyes has never tried before, just wasn’t able to to hold off the technical yet impotent Ukrainian champions.
When did things start to go well? The moment Ashley Young, a player who might be a natural winger on the left, but doing so poorly all the time at the moment that he doesn’t deserve to be playing, left the pitch. Robin van Persie joined, and made the United attack look like something formidable. Remember Alex Ferguson? He realized quite early last season that he isn’t going to win anything with the midfield he has, so he decided to simply attack with everything he’s got, especially in the second half.
Wayne Rooney playing slightly off of him and Shinji Kagawa not in the hole, but as an attacking midfielder, somewhat forming a trio along with Phil Jones and Tom Cleverley who went in for Ryan Giggs. The Welshman might be the most intelligent player the team has, but his body allows him, more or less, only one worthy match each month. David Moyes can’t count on anything more than that, as more than half the time Giggs looks like he should be retiring at any moment.
When Adnan Januzaj plays on the left, he truly looks like the wonderkid everyone’s been talking about. When Moyes uses him on the right Januzaj doesn’t embarrass himself, but something is taken out of the creativity and motion, making him a far less useful player. At some point United played with only one winger, presenting another problem – their wing backs are fine, but to make this lineup with the mentioned foursome in it work, a wing back who cancels the need for a winger on the flank is needed. Rafael can attack but is a poor defender, and there’s a similar problem on the left side, with either Fabio, Evra or Buttner good enough to play without a midfielder supporting them all the time.
And David Moyes? He seems to be on top of things. Maybe not the most confidence building character to look at, but right now it doesn’t seem like he is devolving into the failure everyone suggests he is. There seems to be belief in the road he and the club have taken, even if there are road-bumps along the way, like what to do with the mega failure that is Marouane Fellaini, which isn’t going to get better unless United fit him in a three-midfielder formation to hide his weaknesses. Right now, Moyes isn’t that desperate.