Having the best striker in the Premier League isn’t enough. Even someone like Robin van Persie needs a decent enough supply of passes in order to conjure something. Unfortunately for him, David Moyes has done nothing during this summer to improve on that aspect, while the selections he makes (leaving out Shinji Kagawa and Wilfried Zaha) seem to be hurting Manchester United more than actually helping the team.
An Alex Ferguson-like squad; and Alex Ferguson like-manager, but not really the same. Moyes doesn’t have the kind of influence his predecessor had when it comes to making the most from a squad that isn’t of the highest quality, or the kind of influence Ferguson had on referees, who were afraid to make certain calls with the Sir on the sidelines, especially in big matches. Suddenly, there’s no controversy about penalty, hand balls, red cards or harsh fouls. Almost everything is called like it’s seen and like it should be.
Maybe a healthy Wayne Rooney would have helped. More than likely, but Moyes opted for the wrong choices instead of him. A wingers unit that included Ryan Giggs on the right (what?!) and Ashley Young on the left provided 0 creativity and hardly a decent and productive attacking play between them. Ashley Young’s confidence is shot, and for all of the wonder Giggs generates by being able to still be a factor at his age, there are more bad matches like this than there are those with clever passing and decisions.
On the bench? Just Nani, not Zaha, who seems like a breath of fresh air to the stagnant winger pool United have, that already performed quite badly last season. Nani is a coin-toss kind of player, and between brilliant dribbles and long range shootings, there’s a lot of nothing – turnovers, bad passing and lazy defending on the wing.
The midfield controlled the match, but Liverpool never really made it hard on them. Michael Carrick can’t do everything on his own, and Tom Cleverley seems to be the player that is at his best when the ball isn’t at his feet. Persistent on defense, excellent off the ball movement, tireless. But once he has to make decisions with the ball? His passing is bad, and it’s never of the kind United really need at that certain moment.
Danny Welbeck is similar to Cleverley in that his strongest traits don’t necessarily have anything to do with his position. A forward on paper, he can’t create anything on his own, and is usually at his finest when is assigned with marking a defensive midfielder. When it’s just scoring he’s supposed to do, his stock price drops violently.
Robin van Persie lost his head early in the first half and was never seen again. He was lucky not to be booked twice during the match, and the only real chance he got in the second half was rushed and very badly taken. United don’t stand a chance of retaining their league title without Van Persie scoring at the same rate as last season, and David Moyes doesn’t stand a chance if he keeps acting like he’s managing Everton.