The season has just begun

2013-08-28 10:05
David Moyes (Gallo Images)
Philips's response to Antony's story 'A tale of to clubs'.

Let's see Anthony,

Last night's encounter between Manchester United and Chelsea, as you put it, did not truly live up to its billing as a "hot" encounter. To be fair, a lot of individuals, myself included, expected any real aggression and excitement from the game despite the fan-fair and the hype and the build up.

True, when these two giants of English football collide, one always expects drama, excitement and an explosion of goals, the 3-3 game from last season was testament to this. But one thing this article so glaringly fails to mention is the following fact: Both Managers are new to their respective clubs. While you may say Jose Mourinho (that's how you spell it by the way) is a Chelsea legend seeing as though he led them to their glory days as a force to be reckoned with in English football, many of the faces he now has are mostly purchases his predecessors, with only the new faces like Schurrle and Van Ginkel being his purchases this season. The old hands (Cech, Mikel, Terry, Lampard, Cole, Essien) are the only faces he truly knows, and guess how many of them made yesterday’s squad......

You say that the teams showed up and did not provide any competition – I beg to differ. United held 55% of the overall possession had 12 shots at goal, 3 on target. Chelsea had 8 shots on goal, 4 on Target. Mourinho’s initial game plan of not deploying a striker did not work for him, and when he used Schurrle higher up the park in the second half it nearly paid dividends, with him getting an opportunity, although offside, to run behind the defence and hit the crossbar with his venomous shot.
Jose’s tactics of packing the midfield and parking the proverbial Chelsea bus was on show, we all know what his strengths are, and yesterday he did well to shut up shop.
David Moyes is at a BIG club, as you say, now, and he showed that yesterday with his team selection. Reserved, with a task at hand, not too risky, yet competitive enough to dominate. The kids who have done so well in pre-season did not feature on the bench, but the old-hands were on hand to ease him into his first home game against the biggest rival United have for the league.
He showed his intent early on. Wayne Rooney starting, and showing us all why he is considered England’s best option up front, was a gamble. But it paid off. His work rate was phenomenal, he dropped into spaces, and he hit some lovely Scholes-esque passes cross field that set up Ashley Young to have a go cross which came to nought. The midfielders were reliable, Tom Cleverly who everyone tends to mock, had a sterling game. Michael Carrick was exceptional as always, no wonder he is up for the top prize at the NorthWest football awards. These players were picked because of the TYPE of game a manager had in mind.
Shinji Kagawa is a talent, and as Jurgen Klopp said, it breaks his heart to see him on the bench. We all know he had a stop-start season for Manchester United last term, with injuries derailing his first season in the top-flite. As he has reiterated on numerous occasions, he did not perform to his best last season, and he is looking for a good season this term. As with Rooney, he has not had much pre-season game time and the fact that Danny Welbeck had a good game last weekend has given Moyes the headache of selection. With Chicharito’s fitness not too far off the horizon, the questions will become tougher as the weeks progress. Where does he fit into Moyes’ plans? That is a question only the manager can answer. But I have a strong feeling that this coming weekend his cards will be further away from his chest, and that there will be two strikers along with Mr. Kagawa playing in the spaces.
As I see it, should the Wayne Rooney saga be resolved soon, as SkySports reported today that the player will not hand in a request for transfer even though things at the club are unresolved, there will be a tactical shift in all departments on a game-by-game basis.
Shinji will have a part to play in the games where there is less aggression, where the little passes and the box-play will be easier to be. We all know what his strengths were at Dortmund, and at Dortmund they played with pace because alot of their players are small in stature and nippy with one target man to aim at. Gundogan, Reus, Nuri Sahin and previously Goetze all have pace, are nippy, and support a lone target big man in Lewandowski, and now Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. United are by no means pacy, they have always relied on wing-play with a ball-distributor at the heart of our Midfield, that is they have so long chased after Cesc Fabregas with no luck. Their recent purchase of Wilf Zaha, and their inclusion of Adnan Januzaj are testament to the fact that this is the United blueprint. Shinji provides the manager with a conundrum, but one which I think he will solve sooner rather than later and bring the best out in the entire squad.

As everyone says, its early days yet. The fact that Manchester City lost to Cardiff City by no means means that they are out of the title race, and the fact that there was a somewhat drab goalless draw at Old Trafford, the first involving United since 2009, does not mean that “Waterworld” is upon us and the box office will bomb. Look at United last season, losing 1-0 to Wigan and winning the league in such dominant fashion at the end. It is not a sprint, it is a long race, and all these players need to be fit to play 40+ games each year, so exclusion of certain players by no means implies that those players are out in the cold. Preservation of your squad is key, and Mourinho not playing Mata or any of his strike-force may mean nothing more than him just trying to preserve his squad for the coming weeks. His old nemesis Guardiola (this is how you spell it too, by the way) awaits him in the Super Cup, and maybe he feels that he has bigger fish than Moyes to fry.

All-in-all, we are supporters, not Journo’s, we are passionate fans, not headline-grabbing journo’s who see an undertone and a rumour in everything (Look, Terry sneezed, must mean he’s probably becoming a dad to one of his team members’ wives kids). Expect ferocious games, full of excitement, wonderful passing and goals, but also expect drab, dreary games where one team dominates another and it ends with one goal or no goals at all. (United dominated Swansea and scored 4 even though Swansea were really hard to break down, Chelsea struggled at Villa and got a win)

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