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David Moyes Needs to Change Manchester United’s Tactics to Accommodate Juan Mata

juan mata David Moyes Needs to Change Manchester Uniteds Tactics to Accommodate Juan Mata

Manchester United manager David Moyes has his back against the wall if some media reports are to be believed. Despite signs that the manager was beginning to get the Red Devils turned in the right direction, time and again when the big tests have come his side has failed. The latest defeat was a shocking capitulation at Old Trafford against Liverpool, the club’s biggest rival. The scoreline in Sunday’s 3-0 loss flattered Moyes and United, for it was based on perhaps the worst derby performance for either side in the last three decades of the rivalry.

Moyes is having a problem tactically with the integration of Juan Mata. At Everton, Moyes preferred a tactic where he plays with two out-and-out wingers who can pinch inside when needed. But with Mata in the side and the continued desire to play youngster Adnan Januzaj, neither player starting in a wide position is particularly pacey or a good defender.

When Mata was acquired from Chelsea, I thought Moyes could adapt a 4-2-2-2 formation similar to Manuel Pellegrini’s system at Manchester City that has allowed both David Silva and Samir Nasri to share the pitch together, but that system requires the dropping of wide midfield players, and depending instead on fullbacks to provide width. What has happened instead is that the Red Devils wide players have not provided the necessary width and the fullbacks have been poor.

Coming into last Sunday’s match, Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers realized United’s limitations and chose to play a bank of three central midfielders who were able to snuff out any United opportunities before too much danger arrived. Liverpool midfielders sat inside where Manchester United’s buildup play would inevitably arrive.

Rodgers got his tactics spot on, and strangely Moyes never responded with a tactical shift. Mata’s lack of pace was evident time and again especially when Liverpool quickly turned into a lethal counter attacking side. As a result, the £37m rated attacking midfielder became invisible.

Mata has hardly looked comfortable in a United shirt. Perhaps Mata still craves the freedom and space to consistently impact the Manchester United attack, and with similarly styled players in the side he cannot thrive. Or perhaps it is just a further sign of the malaise of the side under Moyes.

Moyes has long been considered a smart man manager whose track record in English football speaks for itself. But in this case he should have been able to figure it out more quickly. Given his historical preference for out-and-out wingers who have an ability to pinch inside at times, he needed to change tactics and formation to accommodate Mata. But he has yet to do so. The results in the most important matches since Mata joined the club speak for themselves. For those results, Moyes must bear some of the blame.

For more Red Devils coverage, read the Manchester United team page for news, analysis and opinion. 

david moyes everton man utd David Moyes Needs to Change Manchester Uniteds Tactics to Accommodate Juan Mata

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About Kartik Krishnaiyer

A lifelong lover of soccer, the beautiful game, he served from January 2010 until May 2013 as the Director of Communications and Public Relations for the North American Soccer League (NASL). Raised on the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the old NASL, Krishnaiyer previously hosted the American Soccer Show on the Champions Soccer Radio Network, the Major League Soccer Talk podcast and the EPL Talk Podcast. His soccer writing has been featured by several media outlets including The Guardian and The Telegraph. He is the author of the book Blue With Envy about Manchester City FC.
View all posts by Kartik Krishnaiyer →

8 Responses to David Moyes Needs to Change Manchester United’s Tactics to Accommodate Juan Mata

  1. christian says:

    ‘Moyes has long been considered a smart man manager whose track record in English football speaks for itself.’

    Very true words indeed Kartik. A manager who succeeds in mediocrity.


    • eltricolor2014 says:

      I don’t think Moyes ever had in all his years at Everton the $100 million spending that Citeh did for Pellegrini this past summer. That said, I’m still waiting for Moyes to wake up and prove hhe has the tactical skills needed for the job as he was embarrassed on Greece and against Pool.

      • christian says:

        No that’s true, I can’t argue with that.

        However the second he had money he couldn’t spend it and wound up spending 27.5 million pounds for Fellaini and 37.1 million for Mata.

        I hope he keeps spending.

  2. M Owen says:

    Oie, Moyes is doing fine playing mata where he is. stop writing these articles against . We want him manage utd for another 6 years.
    IMO he is due a contract extension. I am sure the other clubs will pitchin for the extra money.

  3. Scrumper says:

    Man Utd should go and hire Benitez if they want the best out of Mata.

  4. Smokey Bacon says:

    It won’t matter after tonight.

  5. Tony Butterworth says:

    It can’t just be Moyes. I don’t see how these players can go on the pitch and play like they do, extra touches, too long to make decisions etc.

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