The Manchester United of old were a dominating force in the Premier League and Old Trafford was a terrifying place to go for an away team. However, today we are looking at Manchester United team that are vulnerable and teams are relishing the chance of getting 3 points against the current champions. So what’s changed? The obvious answer is the manager. Since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson (The most successful manager the club has ever had) David Moyes has took over at the helm but has not experienced the dominance or the results his predecessor had. It is important to remember that success did not instantly arrive at Sir Alex Ferguson’s feet as it took 2 years for him to get settled in the hot seat and for the results to follow. Some critics of United believe that Ferguson has left Moyes a squad that is capable of challenging for the title and they are right and wrong at the same time.
First of all, United signed two players in the summer transfer window. Young Guillermo Varela who is very inexperienced and has only played one top flight match in Uruguay and has yet to play for Manchester United. The second signing was Marouane Felliani who under David Moyes flourished in the Premier League and was a nightmare for Premiership mid fields and defenders across the country. The downsides of the transfer were the fee of £27.5 Million which was viewed as overpriced and secondly it was rushed last day deal that asked the question whether it was a panic buy. Overall Felliani has had a poor start to the season and has scored no goals this season and he picked up a red card in the champions league. The rest of the squad is pretty much the same as last years. The only departure was Paul Scholes who retired and only played a bit part role last year so the club roster is similar to the 2012-2013 season.
Manchester United have lost in the league 5 times against Everton, West Brom, Newcastle, Liverpool and Manchester City and to combine with this draws against Chelsea, Southampton, Cardiff and Tottenham Hotspur. This leaves United sandwiched between Southampton and Swansea in 9th place which leaves them 13 points behind league leaders Arsenal which is tough ask for United to overhaul before the end of the season. On the other hand United have been very successful in Europe and have not lost so far. The highlight has been a 5-0 win against Bayer Leverkusen who have been highly successful in the Bundesliga this year and Bayer are currently in second. I am pretty sure that David Moyes can guide United to at least 4/5 successive wins in the league and Europe in the next month which should set them up for a late charge later in the year. If United also buy wisely in the transfer window then it could transform the team into title contenders again.
The January transfer window is usually a very quiet period for United but this year I expect a busy period of wheeling and dealing. Manchester United’s main problem is the midfield, they are losing/drawing too many games due to a disorganized Midfield that is not working efficiently. The only midfielder that fits into Moyes’ current system is Michael Carrick who sits well in front of the defense and helps distribute the play. Tom Cleverley is not good enough to play in a Manchester United shirt in recent times as he has not made an impact in creating chances and doesn’t track back on his marker which has caused United to concede a few times this season. Felliani has also not lived up to his billing as he doesn’t seem to interlink the Defence and Forwards to great effect. Shinji Kagawa is technically one of the best playmakers in Europe but is not played in the correct position by Moyes. Moyes deploys him in a wide left role which leaves him stranded from the action and he cannot make an impact from there. When he is played in the central role behind the striker he has influenced the game, most notably the 5-0 destruction of Bayer Leverkusen.
Other United options include the injured Darren Fletcher, Ashley Young, Antonio Valencia, Nani, Anderson and the veteran Ryan Giggs. In my opinion Nani should have more game time out of this lot as he has the talent to change the game with his trickery/pace and could interlink well with the combination of Rooney, Van Persie, Kagawa and Januzaj. The defence has been another problem this season. Only David De Gea and Patrice Evra have impressed this season with the rest of the backline struggling to perform. Moyes has 5 central defenders at the club and has changed his central partnership too many times this year. Due to the injuries that Vidic and Ferdinand have, Smalling, Evans and Jones have been merged together in different combinations which hasn’t worked at all times. Moyes needs to decide on a youthful back four to build on for the future and I reckon that Smalling and Jones would be the ideal combination.
United in the January window need 2 players to revolutionize the team back into action. In the summer window United had the chance to sign Mesut Ozil and turned it down which was costly and will need sign someone of a similar nature. The first player to sign to fit the role would be Juan Mata. Currently Mata is out of favour at Chelsea and will not be happy sitting on the bench in a World Cup year. Mata can generate a large amount of assists and would link well with Rooney and Van Persie. The second midfield signing would be Ilkay Gundogan. He is the combative midfield player that United are looking for as he would be a good alternative to Michael Carrick if he is unavailable and can double up as an attacking midfielder if he is needed. On the other hand United need to shift some dead wood from the squad and this includes Anderson, Jonny Evans and Ashley Young. However, In recent years United have sold players such as Gerard Pique, Giuseppe Rossi and Paul Pogba who have all gone onto to be world class players so these squad players will be given a chance to prove themselves in the near future.
Overall I believe that Manchester United will be a destructive force by the end of the season as long as they buy wisely in the transfer window, but for now they need to start winning consistently if they are to keep up with the league leaders.