Have We Hit Rock Bottom?
“Have we hit rock bottom” was the question on Rene Meulensteen’s lips after Fulham’s midweek cup exit. The question now is whether United have hit rock bottom too.
A 2-2 draw was the best that United could muster this afternoon on a characteristically rainy Manchester afternoon, against a Fulham side rooted to the bottom of the table. It was a game in which United played 81 crosses (a dubious tactic) and dominated from the start, yet failed to produce more than a handful of clear-cut chances.
The game ended with a setback for club and manager, as Fulham snuck a late equaliser, leaving many to wonder whether Moyes is the right man for the job, as the Reds look ahead to a mid-week trip to the Emirates with just a solitary point today proving little consolation.
As the teams emerged from the tunnel, Old Trafford rose in unison to vocally support Captain Vidic, along with a tribute to those men from 1958.
The first half was a one-sided affair at best. United’s early domination relied heavily on Rafael and Evra feeding their wingers, which in turn allowed Young and Mata to whip in cross after cross. However, they nearly all failed to hit a man in red.
When Fulham took the lead on the 20th minute, it was without doubt against the run of play. Whilst United continue to torment the opposition defence and rain down the supply of crosses, a finished product was lacking. The Fulham bus had been well and truly parked and showed no signs of budging. Van Persie, Young and Carrick all had chances to score but a combination of goal line clearances, coupled with the fine form of Stekelenberg meant that a frustrated United went into the break trailing.
Whatever was said by Moyes at half time, it can’t have been far from “keep going with the crosses, we’ll succeed sooner or later”. It was almost painful to watch at times as central space opened up only for the ball to be shipped out wide. Mata and Rooney began to interchange amongst themselves in an attempt to find that killer ball in search of an equaliser.
An increasingly impatient crowd was growing restless as each minute ticked by. Substitutions by Moyes to introduce Januzaj, Hernandez and Valencia was clearly a sign of desperation to salvage the game.
Yet, despite this, he remained rigid to the tactic of wing, cross, repeat. The latter finally paid off as Van Persie tucked in from the assisting Juan Mata to equalise with just over ten minutes remaining.
Just two minutes later, the crowd was sent into ecstasy. Agent Carrick, disobeying the trend of wing play, forced a deflected driven shot past the flailing Stekelenberg to snatch United the lead, and a rescued three points looked on the cards. Adnan arguably had a chance to put the game beyond doubt late on as his shot was clawed away after neat work from Patrice Evra. It was unfortunately a miss to be rued.
Deep into stoppage time, De Gea palmed away an initial attempt from Richardson, only for it to fall to the supporting Bent, who nodded in to seal a late draw.
Considering the atmosphere surrounding today’s result, many fans were visibly frustrated by Moyes’ archaic tactics. Players too seem to be growing frustrated with the way the team is playing. At this rate, Moyes may have a total rebuild on his hands this summer.
At times today, it was all too evident that there was no “Plan B.” The formation was at times 4-2-2-1-1 with Fletcher and Carrick lieing deep to aid the wing backs to feed their wingers or Rooney tucked behind RVP but there was no creativity through the middle. Whilst Mata’s touch and creativity worked wonders in wide positions, you have to ask what a record signing is doing playing out of his natural position?
For the first time, it also seemed like the vocal support for Moyes was waning. It is clear that all is not well at the Theatre of Dreams and David Moyes will be hoping for some luck on Wednesday night if he is stand any chance in turning this old sinking boat around.