Friday, 13 September 2013

Can The Moyes Era Gather Some Momentum?

For the first time since 2007, Man United have failed to score in back-to-back league games. It is a fact that will not have gone unnoticed amongs the traditionalists in the Stretford End. The main question being - would this have happened with Fergie in charge?

A quick look at the history books, not very far back, would give David Moyes a bit of relief. As recently as Fergie's penultimate home match in charge, Chelsea took all three points from Old Trafford, and that was with an unwanted manager, not with the 'Special One', who many believe will take the power back from the recent Manchester duopoly.

The Liverpool record is even less of a concern. Before last season, Fergie went four league visits to Anfield without success. Anyone suggesting Moyes is under any serious pressure to start winning games is under pressure themselves to attract readers, although victory tomorrow, and a first home goal or three, against Crystal Palace will do a lot to ensure the Scot sleeps that bit easier as he eases his feet under the table.

What most concerns many United fans is Moyes' lack of European experience, with his only taste of Champions League action coming in Everton's qualifier defeat to Villarreal in 2005. His first true 'acid' test will come on Tuesday night, with Bayer Leverkusen visiting in the first round of action. Victory, and a convincing one, against Palace, will ensure the challenge is greeted with firm optimism by most of the naysayers.

Robin Van Persie, the much-adored top scorer of last season will be hoping to pick up where he left off against Swansea, while Marouane Fellani will finally make his long-awaited debut. Although the big Belgian does not provide the midfield wizardry so craved at Old Trafford, he does perhaps bring a bullying threat from set-pieces, and more bite to the midfield - which could give the flair players more chance to shine. Michael Carrick's eye for a pass should not be underestimated, and Shinji Kagawa's criminally under-used craft could be a route to victory, particularly against the weaker sides who come to park the bus.

Fortunately for the neutral, Ian Holloway seldom parks the bus, even against the big boys. It is a high-risk strategy which did not bear fruit over a full season at Blackpool, but very occasionally paid off in thrilling style, such as in the 2-1 win over an admittedly ailing Liverpool. Tomorrow lunchtime will provide some clue as to whether he has curbed his enthusiasm - yet as is often repeated, to invite pressure against the big boys is often merely an exercise in keeping the scoreline respectable.

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