Lady luck isn’t shining on David Moyes at present

Manchester United v Tottenham Hotspur - Premier League
Emmanuel Adebayor scores for Tottenham in the 2-1 victory over Manchester United

Guest Author: Doron

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Like it or not, luck has always played a part in football (as fans of yesterday’s visitors, Spurs, will remind us of more than most by uttering the name, “Roy Carroll”). It doesn’t necessarily dictate the course of a season-long campaign but it can influence moments, short spells and momentum; determining the ebbs and flows of clusters of fixtures. It’s also something that isn’t siding with United and David Moyes this season.

To write a piece about luck may seem like a strange choice – diversionary and/or naïve – acting as if that’s all that’s going wrong at United this season. Of course, that isn’t the case but there’s no doubting that Moyes isn’t getting the rub of the green in a few key areas and in some cases it’s directly impacting the outcome of some games.

Injuries

They happen – in games, at training or in freak non-football situations. Much of the training players do is to help reduce the risk of injuries whilst maintaining peak physical condition. United have suffered over recent years with injuries – 2009/10 saw every defender bar Evra ruled at one point and since then we’ve gone through similar spells (the infamous Park-Rafael combination comes to mind). The 2011/12 season in particular was ridiculous with United managing to top a fan-constructed injury table for the season.

The losses United have experienced this season have been brutal. Not so much in the volume of players out but the identity of the players and that they’ve missed decent chunks of the league season:

Rafael – missed 35% of league games – no natural back-up selected (Fabio seemingly miles down the pecking order) and make-shift right backs have been at fault for goals.
Vidic – missed 25% of league games – although more susceptible to pace than he’s ever been, he remains a crucial player and presence. More than anything, he’s a leader and forms part of the spine of the team along with de Gea, Carrick and Rooney/van Persie.
Jones – missed 25% of league games – more of a loss than it first seemed having stepped up a level this season both at centre back and crucially (and somewhat scarily) at centre mid.
Nani – missed 35% of league games – he may not necessarily have been selected to start games he’s missed and he’s lost the trust of many fans but like him or not, he’s one of the few game changing players we have who on his day can be unplayable. Certainly with not all our wide players firing he could have been an important option.
Carrick – missed 35% of league games – with central options limited anyway, losing him was a huge blow despite a season that’s not at all close to reaching the heights of the last one. Another key member of the experienced spine that’s been missing.
Fellaini – missed 47% of league games – a dreadful start to his career at United but one that could only be improved upon with regular games and familiarity with the role he has to play and those around him.
Van Persie – missed 45% of league games – a loss that needs no explanation.

Others have been unavailable for spells too: Rooney, Welbeck and Hernandez have missed a combined 9 games whilst Kagawa, Cleverley and most of the defenders have had to miss a few.

The identity of those who’ve missed the most games though has been a huge loss. Some might point the finger at David Moyes and his team in some cases. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll be aware that fitness coach, Raymond Verheijen, has been scathing of Moyes and his supposedly archaic methods – whilst he may have a point he overlooks that other players have seemed as fit as they have in ages (Rooney for example; and even Anderson’s yet to miss a game through injury). Van Persie in particular may have been mishandled when that Newcastle game came around but there’s little else to suggest from the outside that Moyes is at fault for the glut of key players getting injured.

Defensive errors and fine margins

The extent to which a manager is culpable or responsible for a defensive brain-fart depends on who you’re asking but for me, if a player does something daft and out of character, there’s little a coach on the sidelines can do. I’ve lost track* (*not attempted to work out) of how many of the goals we’ve conceded have come as a result of a defender making an error rather than an opposition player doing something better. 

The coaching staff can practice defensive shape; positioning; tackling; marking; team organisation etc as much as they like but that simply doesn’t matter when Hull score a goal as a result of a couple of scuffed clearances that simply ping around the penalty area waiting for an attacking player to pounce. Individual players need to hold their hands up for their errors here – yesterday it was Valencia and to a lesser extent, Smalling (could easily praise Adebayor for clever movement rather than say Smalling lost him). Even before the Spurs’ opening goal, Evra had fallen asleep and allowed Lennon to run onto a pass inside him (much like he did at Norwich too). These are defenders of quality who’ve proven themselves in the past. Granted, the likes of Vidic, Ferdinand and Evra are at the latter stages of their career now but the simple errors that all the defenders seem to be making are schoolboy mistakes, the very basics of defending that for 99% of the time they get right. This season though they seem to be more frequent and opposition teams have been clinical (as well as enjoying the best of luck that comes with deflections on shots, but that happens anyway).

At the other end, we seem to be involved in more goal-line saving scrambles, blocks and woodwork hits than in previous seasons. Take the Everton game for example – a poor performance (but one we’ve seen many times over the years and yet still ground out a win) but United should have been two up by the time Everton’s late winner went in. It was typical of that game that the winner had fortunate attached to it too – Lukaku’s cross for the goal was an unexpected shanked shot that was always going to fall favourably for an onrushing attacking player rather than a defender who’d have to turn first before getting to the ball. Certainly in the most recent three home defeats, despite sub-par performances and/or spells, each game could have very easily been a classic United ‘not playing well but still win’ if it weren’t for defensive errors and the odd man on the line or frame of the goal.

Key decisions

We’re probably the last club that an bemoan decisions not going our way** (**if you’re not a United fan and reading this, that is) and we certainly had a couple fall for us early on in the season, notably against Crystal Palace but big moments just haven’t gone for us this season and invariably they’ve been at times where the game is still in the balance. They range from: handballs in the penalty area (Chelsea); handballs on the line (Newcastle); horrendous tackles unpunished (West Ham); goals from non-corners (Hull); or simply Hugo Lloris getting two lives yesterday (handling outside his area in the opening minutes and the foul on Young late on). It’s not the ‘done thing’ to blame officials and it would be incredibly bitter to rant about them but it’s a factor nonetheless that Moyes can point to on occasions.

Conclusion

I suspect that when David Moyes took over, home form would have been the least of his concerns but luck at Old Trafford has deserted him. He’s tinkering less now than at the start and his substitutions to change games are generally fan approved changes that don’t happen when it’s already too late. United finished yesterday with a front six of Januzaj, Rooney, Kagawa, Young, Welbeck and Hernandez – he couldn’t have been more attacking with the players available.

The club are no doubt feeling the knock-on effects now of not getting what they needed in the summer transfer window. From the outside, who knows who’s at fault for that? The chasing of unrealistic targets; the poor media spin; the late bidding; the unwillingness to meet asking prices etc. It’s yet another factor that’s influenced what Moyes has/hasn’t been able to do.

Other teams have had their problems this season too, particularly on the injury front but that shouldn’t take away from the fact that the opening six months for the Moyes reign couldn’t have gone much worse, with some key factors out of his control. The expected drop-off post-Ferguson has been much more drastic than expected but there’s no doubt in my mind that Moyes gets at least another 18 months to prove he’s the right man for the job. United are in a battle for fourth and getting that and maybe a domestic trophy will be good enough given our current position to go into a crucial summer of both youth integration and first team signings. Before then, hopefully the tides will turn and a few things will start to fall into place for Moyes.

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Lady luck isn't shining on David Moyes at present, 6.1 out of 10 based on 26 ratings

11 Responses to “Lady luck isn’t shining on David Moyes at present”

  1. Jezabel says:

    No – this article sounds like a PR audiition for Moyes press office, firstly he wont get 18 months – not if he carries on losing at home so desperately, the players lack confidence and that stems from him and it shows most when they are under pressure at Old Trafford, more losses, more dishevelled scuffling at home, then the pressure will just get too intense.
    Face it, the criticism of Moyes, his tactics, his training, his choice of assistants, the transfer dealing, the press conferences, the poor record in big games, the not winning anything – the unsuccesful fitting of the Manchester United suit after the earnest job he did at Everton just scream that Fergie made a sentimental and bad choice on behalf of the club, he maynas well as given it to Alex Mcleish.
    They could have player managed it with Giggs, keeping the sameish back up team with the precedent being dogleash,s early years or they needed a big name like Mourinho or Advocaat or Guardiola but Moyes along with Jimmy Lumsden?We are a laughing stock

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  2. magichat says:

    You’re right, talking about luck is a diversionary tactic. Even if we were unlucky against Spurs, if we’re being honest we were darned lucky to get out of the 2 previous games with 6 points, when it could easily have been 0. I’ve not seen one encouraging performance in the league this season. Not a single one. We’ve struggled to make chances game after game after game, and I’ve seen no evidence of Moyes’ plan for the team. While it may hold true every now and again that’d we’d win without playing well, United never went through a whole season ‘not playing well’. Even if years when we’ve not managed to win the league, we’ve had periods of good form. Not so this year, we’ve not even come close. The team is so excruciatingly one-dimensional in attack is something he should’ve addressed, and I haven’t seen any evidence that he’s even tried. I mean, you mentioned the fact that we made ‘positive’ substitutions – but they were made without thought. Even with all those attacking players on the field, the tactic remained the same – get it out wide and cross it. An article on skysports.com (surprisingly) highlights the startling one-dimensionality of United’s play – bottom of the league for % of attacking play through the centre – behind Hull, West Ham and Stoke. 423 of 533 crosses unsuccessful. I’m sorry, but even if we sign a half-decent midfielder, if the tactics remain the same, what’ll change? We might get the ball to Valencia even quicker, he’ll then stop and pass it back to Gundogan/Herrera/Koke. Or we’ll get it to Young & he’ll cut inside & whip it out for a goal kick. This article misses the issue entirely. Moyes can point to injuries/luck/refereeing decisions but until he attempts SOMETHING A BIT DIFFERENT then these results, particularly at home, will continue and it’s down to him.

    He’s got somewhat of a free reign 2nd half of the season & he needs to make it count. If he gets the team playing with a bit more flair, rids the squad of the dead wood, then even if he finishes 6th or 7th, let him continue. If, however, we carry on in the same vein, struggling to create chances, relying on corners, continuing to hopefully punt the ball forward with no real clue, and end up finishing 5th then he needs to go. For me, and I know you like to blow Moyes’ trumpet so you probably won’t agree, there’s been little evidence to dissuade me from my initial reservations about Moyes – that he’s too cautious, too pragmatic and not brave enough to be United manager. I’m hoping he proves me wrong, but by no means am I expecting him to.

    Just as a side-issue, notice that other teams (with ‘weaker’ squads) have had injury issues (Liverpool were missing Suarez for the first 5 matches & have been missing Sturridge for well over a month) and have managed alright. As have United in the past. And, another issue with Moyes, if the squad was as strong as he makes out every time he’s asked about transfers, why is it he’s playing a half-fit Rooney or Van Persie for 90 minutes? I’m afraid that, beyond a reliance on either one of those two to pull something out of the bag for him, he hasn’t come up with a plan. He’s muddling his way through and it shows. I’m sorry, it just isn’t acceptable.

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  3. michael says:

    In my opinion although we were unlucky against Spurs in the last part of the game’we were lucky in
    Privious two games.The defence is very weak especially against Spurs and Smalling is not in the United
    level when you see him just starring at his opponent without any reaction at all.I also think Moyes cannot
    Change the game in precautious situations.The players are not motivated and they only react when they find themselves behined.We really need to find a team who gives back results to the team itself and to the supporters
    because that is why they are payed with so much high wages.

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  4. Geno says:

    Some classic ex-post rationalisation by Doron, who hitched his wagon to the “Moyes In” caravan the day that Moyes’ appointment was announced and has subsequently stubbornly refused to acknowledge that Moyes might need to shoulder some blame for our current woes. “He’s a brilliant manager, crosses from deep will definitely work, he’s just been unlucky.” Summed up the article in one sentence – brilliant analysis.

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  5. UNITED says:

    Just a thought and nothing on Moyes whatsoever but are the players’ motivation to retain the Premier League are far far less than them aiming for other trophies like say the Champions League ? The performances of the players are like day and night when they are playing in the league and in Europe. They can trash Leverkusen 5-0 easily at home and seemingly struggle to score against Newcastle and Everton ??

    Speaking of Moyes’ transfer window activity, didn’t he bought a RIGHT BACK in Guillermo Varela (which is notably known as his first signing for Man Utd). Now when the right back position has been a problem with Rafael’s absence, why is Varela not selected. If Januzaj can play at his young age, so can Varela !!

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  6. minimal says:

    wdf you are talking about? what luckk??? are you mad, tell moyes to fuck off then you see your pasymasters next time..:)))unbelievable bulsshit you are writing. yo tell them all (glazers, fergie, his puppet moyes ) to FUCK OFF…to blame ref typycal fergie bullshit to avoid examination of his useless 80 ‘s lang ball cross ‘em as much as you can and hope the best tactics and team alltogether..united is a joke thanks to fergie his best buddies greedy money stealing jewish cunts glazers and this unbelievable muppet moyes:D fucking hell then this regime will gonna go and leave us alone???

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  7. minimal says:

    btw all injuries is thanks to 1990′s 1980′s moyes training regime.

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  8. HOOLigan says:

    Oh here goes Doron again with his Moyes in b.s.
    Rodgers had some bad results when he took over at Liverpool but the Kop was patient as they could see the football he was trying to get his players to play – positive possession football.
    Looking at our displays since the so called ‘chosen one’ took over, one can’t even tell what type of football he wants his team to play. We top the PL table with most crosses hoofed in from deep and that tells you all about Moyes’ tactics, if they even qualify to be called tactics…just hoof it in and hope that it rebounds off the back of a defender for an own goal. Predictable wingplay, all 10 onfield players defending at corners screams negativity and gives us no chance of even a counter attack.
    Fergie let his pride get ahead of the club by appointing his mate instead of letting the position be filled by merit.
    One thing about LUCK is that it favours the BRAVE – Everton are reaping the rewards of a positive approach to the game while we are stuck with a tactical dinosaur who hasn’t got a clue of how a trophy is won, and looks more confused by at the touchline by the day…something that’s reflecting in the players’s shortage of confidence.

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  9. minimal says:

    they are writing this kind of shit here because this fucking blog is on payroll of fucking glazers iam sure, fuck off better shut down dont write this nonsense anymore..

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  10. Bricki says:

    If we were on the payroll I’d be asking for more money for a start. Backing Moyes is not same as backing the owners. All the writers here would love to see the club in different hands of course but at this moment in time our concern is Moyes. Interesting that Everton are in exact same points position this year as last under Moyes. Losing a manager of stature of Fergie was always going to incur difficult periods in the immediate months after, there isn’t a manager around who wouldn’t be adjusting to challenge of following Fergie.

    To say you don’t particularly enjoy our writings Minimal you do love a comment. All we do here is offer an opinion and never suggest it is gospel. We encourage debate but I would suggest you bring more to the table than just insults, maybe then we can have a civilised debate

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  11. minimal says:

    bricki you should get behind a club and shout for moyes sack – we are going backwartds with him ffs..long ball crosses from deep is it that you want and expect to conquer premier league with that nevermind europe.. moyes is a buffoon fuck knows how he got this job (for free was big bonus for fucking peace of shit selfish bastard fergie and his cronies glazers)

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