It’s hard to put a finger on just one thing David Moyes did in a humiliating loss for Manchester United against their biggest rivals. From the defense with Phil Jones and Nemanja Vidic which looked scared and panicked, to the non existent midfield with Marouane Fellaini and Michael Carrick. The wings, with two players not built for this kind positioning or physicality in Juan Mata and Adnan Januzaj, while two forwards in Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney are made useless by wrong tactics and zero sense of confidence and drive.
The ending, Moyes’ post match interview, is always a good place to start. You can tell a lot about a man who continues to say the same things after losses. He admitted that Liverpool were better, but after so many disappointing results this season, we still haven’t heard Moyes say once that he failed in the way he prepared his team and how he put them on the field. It’s still the referees. It’s still about battling, fighting and doing their most to finish this season with a good taste. Every cliche and excuse in the book has already been said, yet Moyes continues to use each and every one he can think of.
Vidic shouldn’t be a Manchester United captain if it’s known he’s leaving at the end of the season. Maybe Smalling couldn’t play, but Vidic was awful next to Phil Jones, as most of Liverpool’s dangerous attacks went through him. Jones is a good sidekick, and maybe him and Smalling or Jonny Evans are the future, but for now he’s dragged down or up by whoever is playing next to him.
Michael Carrick is no longer that underrated, smart, influential midfielder everyone praised while he was out with an injury. For now he’s just someone who it’s not quite clear what he does on the pitch, and how does he contribute. Fellaini at least looks like he’s trying, although until Moyes starts using him with a third central midfielder to help him out, he’s going to be ineffective every single time, especially against a suffocating midfield like the one Liverpool used.
It’s incredible that Moyes doesn’t even try to react to things until it is too late. Changes should have been even before half time. Maybe moving Wayne Rooney to the wing, putting Juan Mata in the middle and switching Januzaj to the other side, maybe against a wing back he might have handled. Flanagan was too good for him, too aggressive. But Moyes preferred wasting his creative players in battles they could not win, and leaving Robin van Persie with Wayne Rooney all alone, without any sort of supply.
Until Rooney doesn’t actually play like a midfielder or a bit further away from Van Persie, this formation and set of tactics are destined to fail, although bright spots will appear from time to time. It’s hard to say if Moyes is forcing rigid tactics on the team or is it simly none at all and everyone is doing whatever they please on the pitch. It looks bad either way.