David Moyes Will Be Sacked If He Continues Using His Current Tactics

Rob Blanchette@@_Rob_BFeatured ColumnistFebruary 9, 2014

Manchester United's Juan Mata wipes his hair as Fulham players celebrate their first goal, scored by Steve Sidwell, during their English Premier League soccer match at Old Trafford Stadium, Manchester, England, Sunday Feb. 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
Jon Super/Associated Press

It has become the worst kind of footballing Groundhog Day in history for The Faithful. 

On Sunday evening, Manchester United once again failed to win at Old Trafford after conceding a last-minute goal to Premier League bottom side Fulham

The Red Devils remain in seventh position in the league and are now nine points behind Liverpool, who sit in the final Champions League position. 

During the game United made an astonishing 81 crosses, with only 18 reaching a player in red, per Squawka

David Moyes' tactics for the match were baffling and crude, considering he has just purchased a £37 million world-class attacking midfielder and, for the second game running, started him wide in a 4-4-2.

Juan Mata's heat map is heavily restricted to the right-hand side.
Juan Mata's heat map is heavily restricted to the right-hand side.Squawka

It was clear from the first whistle that Moyes wanted to go with Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie in attack, with two winger and two central midfielders.

This is the formation he started with in the recent defeat away at Stoke City, and I commented after the game how his tactics had lost United the match.

They say lightning does not strike twice, but in Manchester the weather seems to be stuck on repeat.

I really do not understand Moyes' leanings toward 4-4-2, when the players on his staff are crying out to be used in a 4-2-3-1.

Moyes' team selection was no surprise, but to see Mata starting out wide and not having the full licence to go and affect the game was puzzling.  

Jon Super/Associated Press

Yes, Mata did drift inside as his heat map testifies, but if you are going to play a wing-attack against an opponent, then why do you not just play with two wingers and use Adnan Januzaj?

Of course, Moyes cannot bench Mata, bench Rooney so Mata can play central or bench RvP because he wants Rooney up front to accommodate Mata in the hole. 

But these are good problems to have. The issue appears to be that Moyes has made these into bad problems that ultimately crushes the equilibrium of his team. 

A switch to 4-2-3-1 is purely logical—and not a huge leap of faith for Moyes.

With van Persie in the striker's role, while Mata, Rooney and Januzaj are behind him interchanging and bamboozling their markers, and Michael Carrick and Darren Fletcher cleaning up behind—none of this is particularly extreme.

However, Moyes once again stuck with 4-4-2 and nearly lost a football match to the worst team in the top division.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 09:  Wayne Rooney of Manchester United looks on with Nemanja Vidic (R) during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Fulham at Old Trafford on February 9, 2014 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Mich
Michael Regan/Getty Images

If Moyes feels he needs to stick to his principles and carry on with this formation, he is gambling with his job.

Most United fans would like Moyes to get sufficient time and funds to drive the club forward in his image, but the type of performance witnessed against Fulham will not be tolerated for much longer. The players have correctly been to blame for much of United's spectacular failures in the last 10 minutes of football matches this season, conceding comedy goal after comedy goal.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 09:  Manchester United Manager David Moyes looks on during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Fulham at Old Trafford on February 9, 2014 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Ima
Michael Regan/Getty Images

But today went beyond player responsibility, even though huge mistakes were made again. The first Fulham goal saw four United players culpable. 

Firstly, Nemanja Vidic was pulled out of his position, almost entering a completely different postcode.

Then, Fletcher and Rooney both decided that they would "leave" the one Fulham player bursting into the box from deep, instead opting to both be static and have a good old watch of the situation.

Finally, Patrice Evra, who could clearly see the developing attack from his left-back slot, decided to renege any defensive responsibility and not get involved.

This led Steve Sidwell a clear chance at scoring, which he did with consummate ease.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 09:  Steve Sidwell of Fulham celebrates scoring the opening goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Fulham at Old Trafford on February 9, 2014 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Michael Re
Michael Regan/Getty Images

Vidic and Evra were again involved with the second Fulham goal.

This time Vidic decided to head the ball down to Carrick, who then did a bad impression of a defensive player.

And then as Fulham forced a save from David de Gea, Evra was once again caught on his heels as Darren Bent nodded in the unlikely equaliser. 

Both goals were unacceptable and individuals must take some of the blame, but Moyes set his team up in this compromising formation and it is this tactic that now has a burdening effect on his players. 

Ultimately, David Moyes is currently on a one-way escalator out of Manchester United if he cannot change things immediately. 

His decisions are now losing United games, and as bad as the players have been, he needs to be getting more from them tactically.

Can he do this when he plays Mata wide in a 4-4-2? I do not think so. 

Moyes' appointment was an attempt at continuity from Sir Alex Ferguson and the Glazers, but it is exactly that lack of true change that is damaging this transition. 

Moyes and United need to cast aside the past and do away with the club's favoured formation, and introduce one that will get the most from its world-class attacking line-up. 

As 4-4-2 was Fergie's Eden, it will end up being Moyes' Valhalla.

If this is how the next few months are going to be, then Moyes' tenure will be prematurely terminated and those who were opposed to his appointment will dance on his grave with septic glee. 


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