The Scot got his tactics spot on against Arsenal over the weekend in a huge victory and deserves to have the supporters behind him from now on, says Goal Singapore's Teng Kiat
Teo Teng Kiat
Senior Editor, Goal Singapore
It was perhaps the best result David Moyes has achieved in his 17-game long tenure at Manchester United.
When Robin van Persie superbly glanced Wayne Rooney’s corner into the far corner midway through the first half on Sunday, the fist pumping and sheer delight on Moyes’s face said it all. When the final whistle sounded at Old Trafford, the noise from the stands was incredible, even more that it had been during the game itself – and that is saying something.
The Scot had just led his team to victory over Arsenal, who had won eight of their last nine league games to top the table, and who had just beaten mighty Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League in midweek.
Defeat to Arsene Wenger’s men would have seen the Red Devils fall 11 points off the summit. As it is now, they are five points behind – not ideal, but manageable, and certainly in the title reckoning.
It seems absurd to think that many so-called United “supporters” were baying for Moyes’s blood even before he had moved into double digits for games in charge, claiming that he had turned the defending champions into duds as they languished eighth at one point.
Now, the men from the red half of Manchester sit above big-spenders Tottenham and Manchester City and only one point away from fourth-placed Chelsea. Club in crisis? Hardly.
It was always going to take time for the new manager to step in and adapt, given the huge legacy of the man who had vacated those shoes.
Many felt Moyes, the former Everton manager, was too conservative, too unfashionable. They called for the big names like Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho. But there was no guarantee they would start winning from day one – just look at Mourinho’s Chelsea and Manuel Pellegrini at City now. Far bigger budgets, more expensive new signings, but hardly setting the league alight.
Moyes, on the other hand, has slowly worked his way back from a rough start. It is now nine games unbeaten in all competitions since an embarrassing home loss to West Brom, of which six were victories.
It was plain the 50-year-old required time to get to know his squad, to figure out their strengths and weaknesses. The simple logic of that somehow defied many “top Reds”, but fortunately it was seen by Sir Alex Ferguson, who had no doubt convinced the club’s board that the man he had handpicked to be his successor was worth backing to the hilt.
It has become evident over the past few matches that Moyes is beginning to grasp his best formations and tactics. It is no wonder that the swashbuckling, attacking play that United is famous for has returned. More importantly, United had their backs against the wall – and they emerged victorious.
Against a Gunners side that had scored in all 10 of their prior league games, United gave a masterclass in stifling the opposition. Moyes had devised a plan to stop Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey, Santi Cazorla and company from playing, and it worked a treat.
Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Jonny Evans put in tremendous shifts in defence, while Rooney ran his socks off. Moyes’s former protégé was a man possessed and looked fitter than he has ever been. Carrick ran the midfield. Van Persie supplied the winner.
Now, the naysayers have piped down for the moment. The “Moyes Out” calls have subsided. Make no mistake, the knives will be out in an instant again when United next drop points.
But for now, it seems that Moyes is finding his feet at the Theatre of Dreams. Against Arsenal, Manchester United played like champions for perhaps the first time this season.
Patience is a virtue in short supply in the modern game, but it is highly prized at Old Trafford. And Moyes deserves to have the full weight of the club’s supporters behind him from now on.