Going, Going, Gone: Three Reasons Why Manchester United Will Not Make A Famous Comeback This Season

It is January 2014 and Manchester United have lost their first three games of the new year, something which hasn’t happened since 1932, before old Fergie was even born! A struggling manager, injuries to their only sources of goals and a squad struggling for form and confidence, the 2013-14 season has been an absolute nightmare for Manchester ¬†United fans.

However, there is a large degree of belief in the footballing world that United will make things right in the end, limping to a fourth place finish, securing Champions League qualification and strengthening the squad in the summer. However, that plan may look simple on paper but for David Moyes and co., the future isn’t as bright as they hope. Here are three reasons why:

1. Tactics, Shape and Clueless Management

David Moyes
David Moyes

Old Trafford used to be, and still is to some extent through reputation, a fortress where getting three points was more difficult than winning the Rhodes Scholarship. This season has seen Man Utd lose an alarming number of games at home and with the likes of Everton, Newcastle and West Brom achieving unlikely victories there, the usually solid defense has been called into question and rightly so.

Defense as a concept is the responsibility of the whole team in general and the back four are not the only ones charged with protecting the goal. In Wayne Rooney, Man Utd have one of the most tireless players of the game, always chasing back and hounding opponents, because of which injuries to him are proving extremely costly. Javier Hernandez is a completely different type of player and not somebody who can lead the line of attack either. A support striker, he has been found lacking when asked to play up front on his own.

Next, we come to the midfield. David Moyes has continued to apply the traditional 4-4-2 at Manchester United, with emphasis on wingplay, surging midfield runs and a pivot with an eye for a long range pass. In this sense, Michael Carrick is about the only successor to the great Paul Scholes, minus the cracking shot and the tendency for clumsy tackling. Again, another key player for Man Utd out through injury. With a still young Tom Cleverley and technically lacking Phil Jones playing in midfield, United have struggled with their passing accuracy and possession retainment. As for the wingers, it seems as though the likes of Young, Nani and Valencia have come close to the end of their respective careers at United whereas Shinji Kagawa, someone who can do maximum damage drifting infield is being asked to play as a winger, limiting his impact. The lone bright spots for United in this area have been the young Adnan Januzaj and Danny Welbeck with his immense work rate. Counting on these two to carry United to fourth place might just be a bit premature.

Finally, we come to the defense. The area of right back has been a Gary Neville shaped hole ever since the United stalwart’s retirement. Sir Alex Ferguson managed to get the most out of stop gap replacements but Moyes is clearly struggling with that position, having to see himself being forced to use Antonio Valencia there with his power and physicality. The centreback options are similarly limited, having to play either the waning duo of Vidic and Ferdinand or the inconsistent Jonny Evans alongside Phil Jones, leaving a gap in the midfield again. As a consequence, we have seen some goals scored which make the defense look quite mediocre (Morgan Amalfitano must have felt like Messi with his goal at Old Trafford). At left back, one has to wonder if even Patrice Evra will agree that his time is up and he is clearly past his peak. The nippy Frenchman has an uncanny ability to win headers and used to be a pacy option going up front but has clearly accumulated some rust in his engines. That United are looking at 29 year old Leighton Baines as a replacement speaks for itself.

Simply put, these squad deficiencies are a problem that should’ve been remedied in the summer. The same summer in which United splashed a questionable 27.5 million pounds on one Marouane Fellaini who seems to have perfected the art of invisibility. The January transfer window is a chance to repair some of the damage but with United looking weak in the league and struggling to win games, the chance of being an attractive prospect for talented players has gone. With rumours swirling about the exit of Wayne Rooney, Moyes has a sizeable headache to deal with.

Written by Dinesh V

Co-founder of Soccersouls. Living a start-up life 24/7
Follow @dineshintwit

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