Perspective Over Panic
Manchester United have not made the best of starts under David Moyes, that cannot be denied. Supporters didn’t expect things to run as smoothly as they did under Sir Alex Ferguson, not at this early stage anyway; however, they probably expected more than seven points from six games, especially after the promising start away to Swansea. The losses away to Liverpool and then Manchester City, although painful, were understandable but losing at home to West Bromich Albion wasn’t anticipated by anyone.
Neither United nor David Moyes have a history of starting seasons well, both have made a habit of finding form later on in the season. That’s not an excuse, but to a supporter it does at least provide some solace. Thankfully, neither of our two main competitors have started the season too well either: City have 10 points and Chelsea have 11. United have endured a more difficult start than both of them and have a comparatively easier run from now until Christmas, with Arsenal at home in November and Tottenham away in December being the stand-out fixtures. To say that Moyes’ side won’t challenge at this stage is rather premature.
Nevertheless, the match on Saturday was shambolic. The line up was weak with Anderson and Buttner initially and was then compounded by poor performances elsewhere. Although Moyes may have had one eye on Wednesday’s trip to Donetsk, the performance was below par and will hopefully not be repeated when the senior players come back into the team.
Again, United looked flat going forward and defensively the Reds struggled to handle Stephane Sessegnon and Berahino. Nani played in several dangerous and Kagawa set Anderson up perfectly, before he blasted it above West Brom’s goal, but more worryingly, United failed to dominate West Brom for a meaningful spell in the entire match. There were chances that the hosts might have scored from but even in the closing stages there appeared to be the lack of urgency that was almost guaranteed under Sir Alex Ferguson, especially at Old Trafford.
Despite that, United’s home form in the league hasn’t only been declining under Moyes. From the beginning of March, the Red Devils’ home form has been poor. Although they began March positively with a 4-0 over Norwich, including a Kagawa hat-trick; next was the 2-1 defeat against Real Madrid; a 2-2 draw followed from a two goal lead against Chelsea; before a fairly dire 1-0 win over Reading; City were the next visitors to Old Trafford and left with a 2-1 victory; and then United won the league at home to Aston Villa, winning 3-0 courtesy of three goals by Robin van Persie.
You might argue that the 1-0 defeat to Chelsea meant little as the title had already been won, but you can’t doubt that there was a desire to beat Swansea, in the final home match of Sir Alex Ferguson’s 26 year reign. United won that match 2-1, but it really could have gone either way; the hosts didn’t play much better than they did against West Brom and were under pressure from Swansea for long periods.
The point is that United haven’t changed overnight. David Moyes’ success at United will be judged over a long period and it is crucial that he is given time. Of course, winning something major in his first season would help, but to dismiss him if United don’t would defy reason. Moyes was appointed precisely because he’ll build over a long period, as he did with Everton. That’s not to say that he’s immune from criticism, but to call for his dismissal at this stage is laughable.