Former Manchester United assistant and current Fulham coach Rene Meulensteen must have been stunned at United’s tactics on Sunday.
Meulensteen had obviously scouted United and the inclusion of 6ft 7in centre-back Dan Burn in the side gave an indication about what United’s tactics would be. And he was not surprised in how United played.
“When I saw Manchester United today I thought the game-plan was quite straight forward – get it wide, get it in,” said Meulensteen, who walked away from Old Trafford last summer following a long spell among Ferguson’s backroom staff..
“If you’re well organised and the goalkeeper is in good positions to come and collect the ball it can be easy [to defend against].
“You need a little bit of creativity and a bit of variety at times to open [teams] up.
“It was partly straight forward.
“We know that we had to be more compact and tight in wide areas because United would cross the ball a lot.”
Moyes defended his decision to pump so many balls into the box even though it was clear that the tactic was not working.
“It wasn’t always one way. One of the big things about Manchester United is that they do play with width, they do cross the ball, its in their genes here,” the Scot said.
There was a downbeat answer from Moyes when he was asked whether his team could finish in the top four.
“We will do our best,” Moyes said.
“We have a good team and there will be very few teams desperate to play Manchester United, that’s for sure.”
It’s not the results that have me disappointed with Moyes. It has lack of tactics. His inability to see and make adjustments in games.
I think back to the way Fergie and Meulensteen set up United in the Champions League last season to frustrate Real Madrid and deny Ronaldo space. If it was not for a dreadful refereeing decision, United would have knocked out Jose Mourinho’s side.
Or the way that Mourinho set up his side at Manchester City and totally confused Manuel Pellegrini’s side. Can anyone honestly say that David Moyes has the tactical nuance to make those sort of adjustments? I don’t think so and that has to worry Manchester United fans more than the teams poor performance this year. United can also go out and bring in players like Juan Mata. Having a manager who can read a game and is courageous enough to make the changes that will decide the game is much harder to find and I don’t think they have one that can do that.