Even without Robin van Persie, Manchester United shouldn’t look this bad. However, when the manager is David Moyes, it wasn’t surprising to see a man-for-man switch by putting Danny Welbeck, who is anything but a goalscorer, instead of the team’s best player.
It ended in catastrophe, as Manchester United lost the midfield battle from the first minute, with Wayne Rooney positioned too high to help the drowning midfield. Yaya Toure and Fernandinho are both better players than Michael Carrick and Marouane Fellaini, and had no problem dominating possession and regaining in whenever needed. Samir Nasri drifting to the middle caused even more problems, not to mention the nightmare Sergio Aguero put Rio Ferdinand through.
It’s hard to find a place to begin for United on such an awful performance through the first 60 minutes, or at least until Tom Cleverley took the pitch and finally gave his team the third man in the middle of the pitch they so desperately needed, while Wayne Rooney was finally doing what he should have done from the start – playing as the front man.
Sometimes managers don’t see things that clearly make sense to bystanders who know much less about football. Danny Welbeck, in no way, shape or form, can be the target man for Manchester United. He doesn’t have the finishing required for the position, and seems lost when he’s not playing on the left, coming in to help better players.
The wings continue to be a disaster for Moyes, who might be angry with Ashley Young, but keeps putting him in the lineup, while Shinji Kagawa, Nani and Wilfried Zaha are nowhere to be seen. There’s also a quality Mexican striker on the bench named Javier Hernandez, who would have provided a much better option than Welbeck if Moyes was still opting to use his two-forward formation. But Moyes seems to stick with certain players, no matter how badly they disappoint him.
Antonio Valencia was probably the worst of the bunch, because he didn’t do the one thing he’s extremely good at, which is provide defending on the wing. He allowed Kolarov endless space and time to deliver crosses from his side, as the duo of Manchester United centre backs, Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, looked lost due to all of the players they had to cover at once.
Manchester City might have surprised by choosing Alvaro Negredo to start and not Edin Dzeko, but it made no difference. Negredo was there just to draw attention. Aguero did most of the damage, coming in from behind, with Ferdinand unable to pick him almost every time. With Jesus Navas doing whatever he wanted on the Patrice Evra side of the ball, for about 60 minutes it almost looked like a match between teams in different divisions.
Manchester United bounce back, that’s what they do. Even without their legendary former manager, the group of players they have is good enough to pull through a defeat like this and a rough start of 7 points in five matches. The worst thing David Moyes can do is blame the schedule, which has been in United’s favor for years until now. The problem, is he keeps falling into traps because he seems to think that whatever worked for Alex Ferguson will work for him, but simply observing his mistake of using Welbeck as a striker shows he’s got a lot to learn about the management of this kind of club.