Obviously quite a bit of the admin in the Champions League group stage is already done, dusted and polished, but Daniel Storey finds five matches that still have plenty at stake...
Moyes is lacking 'charismatic authority', Kieran Gibbs is defended, Chelsea's problems are examined and a dreadful chant attacked. It's a glorious mailbox...
If you have anything to say on any subject, mail us at email@example.com
Why Did He Get A New Contract?
If I was asked to name the Premier League players I dislike the most, while Suarez and Terry would get place highly, it is Luis Nani who would be right at the top of the list. For while the others are of course hugely objectionable, at least I don't have to watch them actively and adversely affect my team's performance every game.
There is genuinely not a Premier League winger that I wouldn't rather have playing for United (and yes, that includes Stuart Downing). I am so fed up of promising moves breaking down at his talented but maddeningly inconsistent feet as he ignores the simple but effective pass in favour of the 1% chance of something spectacular.
Surely I am not the only one who shuddered when hearing of his new long-term contract??
Martin Burkitt, London
United v Liverpool Thoughts
1. Moyes plays a midfield of Giggs and Jones after getting bossed on Sunday. Say what you will, but the man has balls.
2. Was a decent game, wasn't really surprised that Liverpool put a full strength team out. The 3-5-2 formation appeared to work too after Liverpool settled in. A rusty Suarez was still the best Liverpool player on the park. Toure was pretty good too. Gerrard utterly anonymous. Lack of squad strength for Liverpool is a bit worrying.
3. Kagawa had a poor first half. If I was Moyes, I would have great concerns playing him on the wing. He gives the ball away too often and is out muscled by full backs. On the wing he is a defense liability. Off the striker, he is dreamy. Rooney is on one of his purple patches though and it's difficult to see Kagawa fitting in at the moment.
4. United's start in terms of points gained and progress in the cups is perfectly acceptable. The City performance was terrible and hopefully a one off, and games vs Liverpool are always bit of a coin toss at the best of times. Chelsea was the most disappointing game for me as we were at home and Chelsea obviously had no intent to win. If we had nicked a win, we would be sitting pretty now.
5. United should have had a penalty for the foul on Buttner but then again Giggs could have been sent off towards the end of the game.
6. Forget the future; Januzaj should be keeping Ashley Young out of the squad now. It's too soon to tell, but the boy seems to have talent. Love his balance and confidence on the ball.
7. Don't mind seeing United grind out some wins, Would like to see Smalling play with Vidic and Rio dropped for a bit.
8.United's pursuit of a deep lying midfielder who can pass the ball will continue over January. That is the weak link at the moment. Carrick and Fellaini will work against lesser teams but aren't mobile enough against top class teams. A third midfielder is out of the question as neither Rooney nor Van Persie can be dropped. Tricky.
Rooney Still Key
That performance showed what Rooney is capable of and why he's still as important as Van Persie. More importantly, it also justified Moyes' remarks in the summer about being a backup for him. With Van Persie out, United have a tendency to look toothless and devoid of any passion or energy to dominate a game. Rooney was exceptional last night and it was a masterstroke from Moyes to make him captain and galvanize him. A fully fit and raring to go Rooney is as dangerous as Van Persie in front of goal - not because of his goal scoring abilities but his all round play and ability to inspire his teammates. The first five minutes saw him everywhere - running, tackling, tracking back and spraying passes around trying to unsettle Liverpool. He look dead tired by the time the last five minutes came around but was still charged up enough to urge United to keep possession and hang on for the win.
Also - would United be suited for a 4-3-2-1 christmas tree for their away games? Kagawa was much better last night than he was against Schalke and it looks like he would prefer playing behind a striker rather than out on the left. But, in a 4-3-2-1 that was so effectively used in Europe away - Rooney and Kagawa can play behind Wellbeck/Hernandez and keep swapping positions. Since the wingers are sh*te anyways, United can play a midfield three of Cleverly, Carrick and Fellaini and have Rafael/Evra push forward to give them width. Would be worth a try at least to see if this brings out better performances from Kagawa.
All in all, it was a good reaction to the shambles on Sunday. Moyes deserved that and I'm glad he's got this monkey (of not beating big teams) off his back.
No To Di Canio
If you think a manager who change the whole squad in one summer and still unable to win a football match is better than Moyes, then you deserve to be teared to shreds. Come on, just because Di Canio looks scary doesn't mean he is a top club material. He's out of control. United hierarchy doesn't favour this kind of candidate. How could you tell that Di Canio will not be overwhelmed if he is in charge of United? He may run naked through the city when he gets that kind of news. Personally, I rather have a calm manager who do not criticized his players in public. They can do it in private. What benefits do you have when you show your team weakness?
I can understand your point to show that United need a manager that have SAF's aura. Feared by his players but that comes after being so successful, not because he is a fierce in person. Moyes needs (reasonable) time to fully understand his players and along the way, there will be some mistakes made. Even SAF made tactical/selection mistakes after all these years. Give the man a break. Keep your ludicrous suggestion to yourself.
P.S. I once thought that Chris Eagles can be United's new No.7 star.
"Seeing David Moyes' face at the top of the Mailbox" -add that to your f*cking heart-sinkers!
No seriously, I enjoyed most of the United musings on my journey home last night, so much so that I felt compelled to rummage around for my own two pence...
1p) All this effort to justify Tom Cleverley sounds awfully similar to what people used to say when trying to justify Carrick. Neat. Tidy. Makes the right decisions. Solid passer, albeit rarely defence-splitting (sounds rude). Personally, I disagree and am sat firmly in the camp of 'if he wasn't at United we wouldn't know his name' but I'm no Red so my opinion means little. My point is, the general consensus is that the naysayers were wrong about Carrick so let's say, for the sake of argument, you're right about Cleverley - do you really want two Carricks in your midfield? Neither has a goal in them, a killer pass, a dispossessing challenge or offer any real resistance to oncoming pressure. Given that then, my question to United fans is - assuming Cleverly really is such a great water-carrier, is that really such a great thing considering the state of your midfield right now?
2p) In response to criticism of Moyes' dealings in the transfer window - is it really any surprise he didn't get the big names in this summer? He's never been a manager that established players want to play for (Mourinho, Guardiola, Ferguson for example) and without some serious silverware on the mantle piece he probably never will. I'm sure Moyes knew this going in and I'm sure the board knew this as well. So why the hell didn't they give him some more help in his first summer in the job?
Woodward's dropping of various bollocks over the summer and the fraudsters at Bilbao are fast becoming legend but the idea that it is somehow Moyes' fault you're all rushing out to buy shirts with Fellaini on the back rather than De Rossi still persists. He knew who he wanted and as fanciful as some of those targets were the board should have gone out got and done their best to get them for him. You want to attract the best and take a punt on a meltdown? Get Mourinho. You want a long-term appointment, who can challenge off the bat and who gets the nod from Fergurson? Get Moyes. But Christ alive give him a hand eh?
Anyway, enough of my guff. Great game tonight, well done United and well played Liverpool.
Simon (how much weight has Rodgers lost? Trim) CFC
No More #FreeShinji
I appreciate that there any many sticks being used to beat David Moyes with at the moment, and I'll be the first to admit that some of those are very valid (the repeated selection of Young, for example) but I assume the moaning about Kagawa will now come to an end. He may not have played in the Premier League, but he has started two games that would have been seen as disastrous had we lost them (Moyes' Champions League debut vs Leverkusen, and the home game against Liverpool).
Personally I would have liked to have seen Shinji against City in behind Rooney, but if Moyes is willing to play him in two games that are potentially so crucial to his career prospects, surely we can put to bed the rumours that he doesn't trust or "just doesn't fancy" Kagawa, or that he is anti-flair players. We have a comfortable (hopefully) looking run in the league now and I fully expect Kagawa to get lots of minutes.
The next one will be Zaha. Hopefully he'll also get games in this decent looking run before that debate becomes as tedious as the Kagawa one! I'd like to have a look at him as he looks potentially very good.
Tom, MUFC (Cheshire)
Can't believe no one has mentioned this one. When the optimistic chap who hosts ITV's cutting edge football coverage says over to Clive and Andy my heart doesn't sink, it is drowned in a rapid soul destroying current of my tears.
Paul (real men cry) NUFC
...I have a commentary heart-sinker I thankfully never ever have to experience again and one I probably never will experience again.
Heart sinker 1 was every time Man U were losing or drawing to a less favoured team in injury time. The camera would cut to an angry looking Ferguson chewing gum and there would be inevitable talk of "Fergie time" and general undignified fawning over Sir. Thankfully, never again.
Heartsinker 2 was every time Cristiano Ronaldo played well for Man U. There would be reeling off of his already impressive stats and then "...and he's not bad looking either". Stay in Madrid CR7. I can't understand their fawning in espanyol.
Hugo, NUFC and not quite ABU despite the best efforts of the Fergie brown-nose brigade, Adelaide.
...If we're still doing heart sinkers a special mention has to go to every time in an England game when Joe Hart flaps at a cross or spills a simple shot and you know the commentators will follow up with "that's an uncharacteristic error from Hart". As this fine site have pointed out many times - no its fudging not! He's been making 'uncharacteristic errors' for well over a year now. This commentary is inevitably repeated until Hart lets in an easy goal - at which point we're assured that "he'll be disappointed with himself because he's such a top top keeper", whilst I attempt to gauge my ears out with a fork.
Mike, League 2, BRFC
...While we are on the topic of "heart sinkers", I am surprised no one has come up with this one yet. Whenever a free kick gets deflected off the wall, you know the commentator is going to say "Oooh, and the wall does its job." Every f**king time. It's so annoying.
Ahmed, Pakistani GoonerP.S: An interesting fact - the number of times I have been published in mailbox is same as the number of times Spurs have won the premier league.
...Seeing the word "cupset" used to describe Birmingham taking the lead against Swansea has just made me think of another moment that makes my heart sink.
Watching a cup game on TV, when a lower league side either holds their own against a Premier League team in some way or other, I get a cold sweat, knowing that someone commentating on the match will blurt out "well, if Team X played this well every week, they wouldn't be languishing near the foot of League 2 (or wherever)". This missing the point that teams will raise their game against vastly superior opposition for one game, whereas a season of lower league football is a dramatically different beast. It's just irritating.
Ed Quoth the Raven (lots of Andy Townsend hate on these, the Maidstone clown), CPFC the Glaziers. Notts
...Loving the heart sinkers. Can't believe no one has mentioned everyone's favorite Irish / Yank ESPN commentator Tommy Smyth.
When anyone anytime scores a goal Tommy ALWAYS says,
"And that one rippled the ol' onion bag".
Sean, Spurs, Maryland