Victories should provide a calming effect on a team that’s going through a rough period, but Manchester United can’t even seem to enjoy their wins, in another tepid display of weak midfield and one Wayne Rooney who did provide the best moments of attacking football for the team, but also tried to do a little bit too much on his own, fading away as the match progressed.
There’s no mistaking it anymore – David Moyes is a manager that’s clearly afraid to lose points. If he wasn’t that way before he arrived at Old Trafford, the rough start at his new post has turned him into a manager unwilling to take risks or open up his formation, settling for 1-0 wins, something that seems to be against what this team used to stand for.
Alex Ferguson hasn’t been exactly the most attacking of managers over the last two years, but obviously his tenure at the club is cast under a new light due to his book and self appreciation, not to mention Moyes failing to do anything convincing so far at the helm.
Robin van Persie not playing gave Javier Hernandez the chance to prove his scoring ability, but these days, Manchester United needs other players, from the opposition, to score its goals. Wayne Rooney was the most dangerous man on the pitch, but as the match progressed, he became more and more selfish, not seeing his teammates anymore. There was only the goal, the ball and him. No wonder it worked so miserably.
The change in the midfield personnel didn’t help. Shinji Kagawa played on the left side, but at some point, especially late in the second half, he moved to the middle and looked for a brief time like a much better player. Moyes won’t change his system of using two wingers, but unless he finds a way to use Kagawa in a more central role, his talents are going to waste. Maybe it means moving Rooney to the wing or something else, but Manchester United need every bit of creativity they can get their hands on.
Two encouraging signs came from the defensive side: David de Gea, surprising as it might sound, was the busiest of the two goalkeepers, even if this was only Real Sociedad at the Old Trafford. What shouldn’t be a surprise is De Gea’s ability, easily one of the best and most consistent goalkeepers in the Premier League right now.
The other sign? The centre back duo of Phil Jones and Jonny Evans keeps playing well. There are moments when Evans looks a bit out of his depth, but it takes big, physical teams to make him look that way. Against Real Sociedad, both Jones and Evans did well with what they had to deal with, while the duo of Ryan Giggs as the makeshift choice next to Michael Carrick, who might be slightly overrated at this point, couldn’t really control the Sociedad midfield. Luckily, the Spanish visitors had the same scoring problems Manchester United suffered from.