Right now, David Moyes does not know what he has to do to win a football match. Neither do the players.
Just when you think that season defining hard-earned comeback win has arrived, it has just as quickly been snatched away. If you wanted a match to sum up Manchester United’s fortunes so far this season, the 2-2 draw against Fulham was it.
It’s the hope that kills you. The feeling that finally this team has turned a corner and they go and throw the points away again. Darren Bent’s equaliser was as heart-breaking as it was almost inevitable. Call it luckless, call it Schadenfreude, call it whatever you will but it seems that this team has forgotten how to win.
There are several match-winners in this team, the trouble lies in forging them into a winning team. The creative quartet of Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie, Adnan Januzaj and Juan Mata seem truly wasted when you attempt to simply move the ball out wide and cross it in. Surely their talents would be put to better use with some intricacy involved, hurting teams through the middle instead of flooding the box. With such dated tactics, it is little wonder that this team seems so easily outwitted so often.
They say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. At times in the game against Fulham, you wondered if this was a training ground exercise as it was simply so predictable. A total of 81 crosses were attempted in the game against Fulham with only 18 finding a red shirt. That’s a truly ludicrous statistic which shows a portent level of ineptitude, especially playing a side at the bottom of the league who are fighting for their lives. You would expect Fulham to defend deep and in numbers so these tactics were playing into their hands.
Remember those days when you simply knew a 2-0 win was on the cards? Those days are long gone and while victories will seem harder to earn there is some joy in that. However had United held on against Fulham, the victory would have been seen as the hard-earned win that Moyes has needed for so long but hardly a deserved one on that showing.
A win would have masked what was a poor performance against a poor side. Occasionally a football match offers up some unavoidable truths and for this United side the cruel blow of a last minute equaliser appears deserved. If it means that a radical change in tactics occurs then great, if it means finding a better way of utilising some fantastic attacking players then super.
After Sir Alex Ferguson announced his retirement, it was always going to take some time for the club to settle down. Sneaking into the top four already looks a distant enough aim this season and next season may come too soon for another successful side to return. At least by then you would hope that Moyes will have learnt how to win a football match with this team.