West Ham 0-2 Manchester United: Champions click in East London

Wayne Rooney scores against West Ham
Wayne Rooney scores wonder goal against West Ham United for Manchester United

Following the rediscovering of Manchester United’s attacking instincts in the Champions League, Moyes boys looked to continue the positive vibes against a struggling West Ham United at the Boleyn Ground.

With the news Robin van Persie is likely to miss the rest of the season with a knee injury, it was an opportunity to get Juan Mata central and Wayne Rooney as the point of the attack. Neither dissappointed with Rooney producing a stunning 58 yard volley to open the scoring before Mata controlled the game with superb movement, vision and passing. Strong performances from Jones, Carrick, Fletcher and a resurgent Fellaini provided plenty of positives to be taken from the game.

Here we reflect on the talking points of the game and invite debate/opinion from both sets of fans.

Rooney Goal – Better than Beckham?
Bless Wayne, he’s been trying that long range effort for quite a while now and finally he pulled it off in fantastic style. Instantly compared to Beckham’s strike against Wimbledon all those years ago, each has it’s own special qualities however I feel that the Rooney goal trumps Beckham’s.

To control a bouncing ball with a volley over such a long distance is a much more difficult skill than Beckhams essential long range lofted pass. The control to bounce the ball in exactly the right place to hit the roof of the net was special enough but as it was early in the game it beats Beckham’s as his was after the game had already been won.

Rooney is showing leadership from the front at the moment and if the captaincy stories are to be believed he will need to continue with his movement, pace and battle going forward. Today his two goals were just reward for an all round solid display as United captain.

A Fluid Forward Four and ‘False 5’ Role for Carrick/Fellaini
There were outcries from many when the team was announced with Carrick in central defence and Kagawa, Mata and Young supporting Rooney up top. Moyes suggested pregame that Carrick and Fellaini would rotate defensive responsibility through out the game.

Carrick operated as the in play central defender alongside Phil Jones with Fellaini shadowing Andy Carroll on set plays, as well as hoovering up any knockdowns he may have won. The plan went off brilliantly with Fellaini delivering his most assured performance for United yet. As he settles into the squad he is now showing the abilities he was brought in to bring to the midfield. He does appear an accident waiting to happen at times in the tackle but that is more down to appearance than anything. His in game reading and protection for the back four was superb allowing a base alongside Fletcher that gave the forward four the freedom to roam.

Mata was given a free role behind Rooney and controlled the game going forward. If this is the sort of performance he can deliver as a number ten it makes you wonder why it’s been this long getting him in there. Mata has an eye for a pass and movement that United have been badly missing, with the pace of Young, Kagawa and Rooney he was able to lead counter attacks at speed. Kagawa was also given more of a license to roam and linked up with Mata in several promising areas. The possibilities for Kagawa, Mata and Rooney as a three is very intriguing but with the wide right running of Young we were able to stretch the play much better than at any other point this season. Take note Davey.

Rafael – Will He Learn?
I love Rafael and his exuberance at right back but he is slowly becoming erratic and unreliable. An early if harsh booking today meant he was once again skating on thin ice and this is a pattern that seems to be repeating itself all too often recently. It has appeared that Moyes hasn’t fully trusted Rafael at times this season and poor positioning, over zealousness again today made you have your heart in your mouth every time Rafael was involved. With a big shuffling of the squad bound to happen in the summer could Rafael be a shock in the danger of leaving list?

He has plenty of skill and ability but now is the time for a maturity that shows he can be the right back for the team going forward.

Overall And Preparing For City
Danny Welbeck on the bench and Rooney/Mata withdrawn suggests that all 3 will be involved in the Manchester Derby on Tuesday evening. Whilst 3 points is a big ask against a team that appears to be cooking on gas in the league, it’s important that the players send out a message/performance that shows United are moving forward.

Whilst many fans felt it wouldn’t be a season when we were title front runners, we expected to see development of the style Moyes wanted the team to play. The fact we’ve only seen any semblance of a style in the last two games shows the concerns that United fans have had with Moyes. If he is to survive to manage the team past the summer then he must continue to show the team is moving forward.

Against a one plan West Ham team it was a promising performance but now the same needs to be delivered against a big side to show this squad can compete at the top going forward.

Next up… The Blues

4 Comments on West Ham 0-2 Manchester United: Champions click in East London

  1. I think that’s harsh for Rafael, he shouldn’t have been booked at all. Downing ran into him, he isn’t obliged to step out of the way and he certainly didn’t step into him. We’re a much better side going forward when Rafael is in the team.

  2. Fully agree with almost all of it,
    Rafael after his booking (right or wrong) i felt he was ready to walk, at one point downing went past him he almost pulled him back. – I felt that moyes may have taken him off and played evra, he didnt’ and we made it through.
    I felt that the composure and passing of Fletch has been missing , he was outstanding, and the work of the front four (even Young) looked VERY fluid, lots of interchange, some neat tidy passing.
    I dont think there was a single player below 7 – and even then maybe only Rafael who was below an 8.
    Yes West Ham were poor, but the fact was they had won the previous 3 in row at home, and without any settled back 4 you know carroll was going to give us a good game, but between Carrick & Fellaini we managed that VERY well.

    Overall all some optimism for next few games, Yep im not expecting us to win, but no more thinking we going to get hammered, if we can cause both City & Bayern some problems who knows after all we have DDG in goal 🙂

    And Rooneys goal, in fact even then the overhead against City was still better 🙂

  3. Rafael – a case of ‘still” erratic and unreliable, rather than ‘slowly becoming’. Still young enough to learn however.

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