Manchester United’s play this season has been characterized by lethargy and lack of creativity and Tuesday was no exception. For a team that shot to prominence for their adventurous style of play, their conservatism and rigidity must definitely make Sir Busby turn in his grave in Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Greater Manchester.
On paper, it looked like a relatively easy draw. At least it was the easiest Manchester United could have gotten in the round of 16 and everybody thought it so. Not David Moyes, the Cautious One. Once again, Manchester United failed to show up when they needed it because they were too conservative in their lineup and their approach. There was a damage-limitation feel to the team fielded, showing very little imagination, which is surprising, considering the players they have at their disposal. Once again, they failed to move the ball swiftly and decisively, the major factor to their inability to break down defenses this season. They have also been slow and have lacked mobility, getting to balls well after the opposition. At the other end, these same reasons have been responsible for them shipping in goals by the dozen. That Olympiakos had 12 attempts with 4 on target and 2 goals to their pitiful 7 attempts and 1 shot on target says it all.
It is apparent that the style of play employed where all the central midfielders do is shunt the ball to the flanks is failing. The team’s inability to or lack of creativity in seeking penetrating passes on time in the final third has severely limited their bite when attacking and countering. The team selections have been very questionable this season. The back-line that started on Tuesday had 3 players who are likely to be out of the club come summer. Trying to field them week in week out reeks of clinging on to the past and not facing the future. Manchester Conservative.
While much has been made of the team’s lack of quality, that cannot explain away losses like Tuesday’s to opposition like Stoke and West Brom. It cannot explain home draws to Fulham, Southampton and Sunderland in the Capital One Cup. Blaming bad luck (Fulham) and officiating (Tottenham) reeks of excuse-hunting.
There has to be an inward look at how things are being done currently with a view to turning things around and returning the team to the top. The time for caution and circumspection is well-past. There is nothing to play for. One might as well play for glory and adventure. But not David Moyes, the Unimaginative One.