Second half goals spark Manchester United recovery

Adnan Januzaj surges past Leon Britton
Adnan Januzaj was a constant torment for Manchester United against Swansea City

Author: Bricki

Follow Bricki on Twitter – @Bricki‎

After being knocked out of the FA Cup at the hands of Swansea only a week before, United were looking for their first win of the year. The Premier League Fixtures provided a quick opportunity to atone for that loss with the Swans visiting Old Trafford again. Rooney and Van Persie were still absent and Evans was also ruled out. Chris Smalling looked to put his image issues behind him with a solid performance and Danny Welbeck lead the line with support from Januzaj, Kagawa and Valencia. Tom Cleverley was taken out of the firing line with Darren Fletcher coming to provide some steel in the middle of the park.

After a dull first half from both sides with only a Januzaj free kick off the bar providing any sort of excitement, it would take some inspiration from Moyes at half time to dig out a result. A few tweaks of the line up resulted in United starting the second half well, goals from Antonio Valencia and Danny Welbeck resulted in the first 3 points of 2014.

Here we look at the talking points of the game at Old Trafford and invite comments/opinion from both sets of fans.

Januzaj’s Influence Continues To Grow

In the continued absence of Rooney and van Persie, it has been Adnan Januzaj who has stepped up to provide a creative point in the United team. I have written previously about my concerns with Januzaj being overused but in the form he is currently showing it is making him very hard to drop. In the first half he was deployed in a central role behind Welbeck but drifted out wide with the majority of Uniteds attacking play going through him.

In the second half though Januzaj swapped to the left allowing Kagawa to come inside. Januzaj still had a large influence on the left creating space for Evra to bomb on, whilst also bringing Kagawa into the game more as well. Januzaj is growing in influence with each passing game and it was also pleasing to see him trying to stay on his feet more when he took men on. Again the concern is how long we can continue to expect him to provide such influence but he is just a joy to watch.

Second Half Shinji And Moyes Tinkering

The decision to play both Januzaj and Kagawa alongside Valencia seemed to suggest we would look to play more centrally behind Welbeck. In the first half the plan didn’t seem to be working in the way hoped. Kagawa on the left with Januzaj central just wasn’t bringing the best out of either player. At half time the pair were swapped and it paid instant dividends for Moyes with Kagawa being involved in the opening goal for Valencia. Whilst many sought to give Januzaj the man of the match award for his overall performance, it was Kagawa in the middle that started to link everything together. He was unfortunate not to score after a breakaway and his scuffed shot was cleared on the line. A notable difference between the two halves was the constant pressure that United were able to place on Swansea around the box in the second half. Kagawa was the conductor in this pressure switching the ball at will.

Moyes must be given credit for identifying the need for this change at half time. There were several around me in the Stretford End who were suggesting Kagawa be replaced with Zaha or Lingard but Moyes stuck to his guns with the players he had selected.

The frustration with Kagawa is that this is the sort of role he can do but we need to see more of it to warrant his continued use in this position. Could Rooney move on in the summer freeing up that role for Kagawa?

Darren Fletcher Medical Wonder

I tweeted yesterday that Darren Fletcher is the spirit of this side right now. His return from what most felt was a condition that ended his top flight career has been a big plus in a season of woes. Fletcher brings a seniority and energy to the middle that has been lacking this season. His ability to read the game and take the ball forward as allowed United to get on the front foot more frequently when he has been involved. He also provided additional protection to the back four which was clear in that despite Swansea having significant possession they created few clear cut chances. Fletcher is great at being able to restrict sides from breaking the line of defence, he seeks out gaps and closes them.

Long term Fletcher will be a player for certain games and situations but right now we need to be especially grateful he has managed to make himself a first team player again.

3 points and a decent performance was pleasing after the difficult few weeks we have had but it’s by no means a corner turned yet. The makings of a decent first 11 are there if players like Welbeck, Januzaj and Kagawa can be complimented with quality signings in certain areas such as midfield. United still need to look at 3rd or 4th as a realistic target for a successful season and if this side can avoid more injuries then it is achievable. Long term however we are still a side that requires additions to make it competitive.

Coming out of the ground after a 2-0 win against a mid table side and feeling happy is a welcome change from the usual reaction of recent years in it being just 3 more points. Each result is being earned at the moment and the fans backing for the manager has been superb. The fans have fully backed Moyes whatever some might say and it’s important that continues.

A good performance was what I wanted most and we got a second half just like that.

The game on Sunday at Chelsea will be a much tougher test, even with Wayne Rooney expected to return, but we go into it in the right frame of mind now. Manchester United next play at Old Trafford against Sunderland on 22nd January.

Follow Bricki on Twitter – @Bricki‎

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Second half goals spark Manchester United recovery, 8.5 out of 10 based on 13 ratings

9 Responses to “Second half goals spark Manchester United recovery”

  1. StretfordEndGaz says:

    I thought it was our best 45minutes since opening day.
    Yes we have had some periods, but one thing that has been evident for me is most of our periods of play struggle beyond 25minutes, this was 45 minutes of almost relentless pressure / pressing / attacking.
    Like you while i watched the match i struggled to decide who should get MoM – The three you mentioned would be high on the list, but I have to go with the young guy, I thought his movement, choice of pass / timing of pass was excellent.
    Usually when young guys break onto the scene they either try to do too much or scared of trying anything, This is a young kid who insists on free-kick taking (and yes deserved a goal from that one) he knows when to pass / when to take player on. Remeber CR7 he felt he had to take player on and take him on again, Adnan for first goal created himself a 1/2 yard of space and delivered a beast of ball, CR7 would of tried to take him on again. Like you I am slightly fearful of over using him (think Sterling for liverpool last year), but the kid is fearless, I personally dont think he will start next week, i think a more solid player (could be even Buttner ahead of Evra) next week to keep Hazard quiet.

    I have been slightly annoyed at our bad press this last week, yes we lost 3 in a row, but lets consider
    1 – FA Cup – Should never have lost this game. This was the one game i was most dissapointed at
    2 – Sunderland – its 1st leg, lets not get carried away, we made 6 changes and it showed at time.
    3 – Spurs – This was just plain annoying, but again amount of chances created and they scored from the 2 shots on target.

    We have won 5 from last 6 in league, so whilst this was first win of 2014 we are not in such a bad position as the ‘press’ make us out to be, a fight for 4th, i think 3rd is beyond is top 3 will be City / Chelsea and Arsenal in 3rd.
    My concern is if you were to back either us or liverpool for 4th, I (as much as i do get pain saying this) would bet on liverpool.

    But 1 year of Champions League would give us the thirst for it more, and as you pointed out, how rare is it that a routine win can give UTD fans a buzz like it as the moment lol :).. no more turning up, sitting arms crossed expecting 3 points, we now know what it feels like to be the other 19 teams in the league lol

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  2. Tim Smyth says:

    “Moyes must be given credit for identifying the need for this change at half time.”

    I’m sorry but that has been apparent for months and he has only just realised?

    Kagawa needs to be able to operate off either foot, putting him on the wing effectively cuts off 50% of his options, plus he does not defend well.

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  3. denton davey says:

    “Could Rooney move on in the summer freeing up that role for Kagawa?

    BINGO !

    “Fletcher brings a seniority and energy to the middle that has been lacking this season. His ability to read the game and take the ball forward as allowed United to get on the front foot more frequently when he has been involved. He also provided additional protection to the back four which was clear in that despite Swansea having significant possession they created few clear cut chances. Fletcher is great at being able to restrict sides from breaking the line of defence, he seeks out gaps and closes them.”

    Now he’s playing like DarrenFletcherinho; can he also step up his game to add “football genius”. If so, that would be much, much, much “better than a new signing”. HIs absence in the two CL defeats to Barcelona was significant – much more significant than the revisionist ABU press/fans would allow. His presence not only makes MC16 better but it affords a significant measure of protection to a pair of central defenders who have often been over-run.

    If AgentMoyes decides to have a 4-3-3 formation then adding MrJones as a defensive force or TheWayneBoy as an offensive force makes this team much, much better.

    IF/Whether/When RVP returns then the team looks more coherent – no more of the ‘touchline-hugging winger” bullshit, please.

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  4. Van Rouge says:

    The return of Darren Fletcher is more than welcome – his reading of the game and calm distribution of the ball against Swansea, gave us a solid midfield base from which to operate. Carrick and Fletcher seemed to be always in control, keeping it simple and making themselves available for the return ball.
    The Kagawa – Januzaj switch at halftime was long overdue, we actually started to play as a team for the first time in ages. I’d like to think they’d both start against Chel$ki but I expect the moody Run Around Roon will get the nod.

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  5. minimal says:

    why we need to support moyes????? don’t understand that. because you like his dour style of football or because fergusson said so?:D

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  6. minimal says:

    http://therepublikofmancunia.com/evertonians-on-moyes/

    says it all really. please cut this crap about we need to support moyes, or be man and explain why??

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  7. minimal says:

    http://espnfc.com/blog/_/name/tacticsandanalysis/id/2432/unlike-moyes-and-avb-simple-approach-has-paid-off-for-sherwood?cc=5739

    also good analysis of moyes…

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  8. denton davey says:

    Ronado wins Ballon D’Or

    AshleyBloodyYoung wins FallOnD’Floor

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  9. Ismail N says:

    Apart from Januzaj, Fletcher has been really a plus point for United. Finally, we have another player other Carrick that does not give the ball away cheaply. We look solid in the middle of the park and even though Swansea had plenty of possession in the first half, they never look likely to score.
    I’m looking forward to see Rooney and RvP back in action. We have a very good team when everyone is fit. Some concern at the back maybe and another top class midfielder will be a welcome addition. He have had a poor 6 months since Moyes took over. Now, it is time to fight back and ensure normal service resume at Old Trafford.

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