There is a saying that goes, “The best defense is a good offense,” and it’d be fair to say that’s the strategy of Manchester United at present.
Erasing the memory of the infamous 5-3 defeat to Leicester City was always going to be the goal against West Ham. Playing at in front of the home fans at Old Trafford on Saturday provided the ideal opportunity. Interestingly enough this match started much the same as that embarrassing memory from last weekend.
Quickly United found itself ahead by multiple goals thanks to its potent strikeforce, first through Rooney then Van Persie. But once again, just as it seemed as if United was enjoying their weekend stroll around the park, the leaky defense reared its ugly head, and allowed the Hammers back into the game.
With the scoreline 2-1, the halftime the murmurs around the Theatre of Dreams were, “It couldn’t happen again, could it?”
A worst-case scenario for United followed as Rooney was sent-off for a petulant kick-out at Stewart Downing. The United skipper was booted from an EPL match for the first time in five years when attempting to slow down West Ham’s counter attack, but allowed his frustration at a few recent no-calls to get the best of him. If the immature Rooney returns to Old Trafford, Louis van Gaal will have another massive problem to add to his ever-growing queue.
United have played the three promoted teams from last year and have beaten one, tied one and drew one. Not in the least what you’d expect from the 20-time champions.
Watching the new-look United feels as if you’re peering in on one of their training sessions. The chemistry isn’t there and the entire squad is attempting to communicate on the fly, each relying on their lifetime of football acumen to assume where their teammate is going to be, rather than the normally structured team dynamic.
The point being, things can’t seemingly get worse for United at this point and their still finding ways to win games. They will eventually find some sense of cohesion. Then and only then can the potential of United be fully judged.
An unlikely quartet of Rafael, Marcos Rojo and two 19-year-old debutants in Paddy McNair and Luke Shaw proved to be enough for 10-man United against the punchless and predictable West Ham attack.
Positives weren’t exactly flowing from this match for United, but for a side that has proved it can play beautifully going forward, an ugly win that relied on team defense may not be the worse thing.