David Moyes finds himself having to offer new explanations for his managerial style after his 87th-minute substitution drew criticism, following Manchester United’s 1-1 draw with Southampton on Saturday.
Moyes dragged off Wayne Rooney to throw on an extra defender in Chris Smalling as the champions attempted to cling on to a 1-0 scoreline against Saints. However, two minutes later United conceded, drawing focus to the Scot’s negative tactics.
David McDonnell of the Daily Mirror provides Moyes’ reaction:
I didn’t think that at all. We didn’t take the two forwards off. We kept them on. We brought Danny Welbeck on, brought Ryan Giggs on.
I thought we actually tried to get a second goal. Only in the last three or four minutes when I was trying to make sure we had some height at set-pieces we actually lose a goal from a set-piece.
Moyes’ decision to protect a slender lead on home soil is yet more evidence that United fans must get used to a different style of manager, following the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson.
Rarely, if ever, did Ferguson adopt a “what we have, we hold” mentality at Old Trafford—especially against a team who are perceived to be one of the league’s smaller clubs.
Moyes did—as he highlights—initially bring on Giggs and Welbeck in search of a killer goal. However, the introduction of Smalling saw centre-back Phil Jones pushed into midfield as United ceded ground to their opposition.
Nathaniel Clyne stung the palms of David de Gea before Adam Lallana diverted home the equaliser from a corner—and it was Southampton who nearly won it when Lallana threatened again.
The statistics do not make happy reading for Moyes.
Southampton had 18 shots—seven on target—compared to United’s tally of 12 attempts, five of which troubled Artur Boruc, per ESPNFC.
Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney hit the bar, and the champions also had a goal disallowed. But Southampton enjoyed more possession and deserved their point.
Rather than exuding the authority of champions, United are giving visitors to Old Trafford much encouragement. Chelsea, West Brom and Southampton have all left with something from their trips to United this term.
Putting Jones—a player not gifted with particularly good feet—in the centre of midfield was a negative move by Moyes.
The intention to add height to defend set-pieces implies that Moyes readily accepted United would concede set-piece opportunities in the first place.
It is hard to imagine Ferguson—king of the late goal—ever taking such a fear-induced approach. With United now falling eight points off the Premier League pace, it is the great man’s shadow that continues to engulf Moyes.