By Nathan Youd.
1. Nani frustrates once more
Nani again frustrated the fans at Old Trafford today with a poor performance. The Portuguese winger always seems to do the hard work and get himself into good positions before failing miserably at providing a decent cross. The wide man frustrated so much today he even received boos from ‘fans’ inside Old Trafford when he was substituted, the first I’ve ever heard from home fans towards a Manchester United player. Those ‘fans’ need to look at themselves as much as Nani after his performance today. This season Nani has inherited Valencia’s ‘pause and dummy’ when coming up against an opposing defender, which never seems to get either of them anywhere. I’d love to see a Nani with the confidence to run at a defender, even if he was to lose the ball, at least he would be offering the directness that Januzaj has provided, which has been a breath of fresh air this season, especially after last season’s lack of effective wing play.
2. Moyes gets his substitutes right
After last week’s poor substitute of Giggs against Southampton, Moyes got the crucial calls correct today, which went some way to giving United the impetus when they pushed forward in search of goals. His decision to swap Januzaj for Nani seemed a given, after the wingers poor show, but I think the swap of Valencia at right back for Smalling was key. Valencia gave the Stoke full back another headache and allowed him to double up with Januzaj by committing defenders and offering genuine width.
3. Chris Smalling is not a right back
I think the only reasoning behind the selection of Smalling at right back is his height and its usefulness when coming up against Stoke’s direct approach. The Englishman offers little going forward and even his teammates don’t trust him with the ball in attacking positions. On numerous occasions today, Smalling ran on the overlap, but the ball was passed back inside. I believe Smalling will make a great United centre-half in the future, but he is by no means a right back. In the modern day, right backs are expected to bomb forward like Rafael etc. Valencia gave United a better outlet when he was introduced, and that change went some way towards securing the three-points for United.
4. The never say die attitude is still there
For the first time since Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure, United completed one of their famous comebacks. At times today it looked like it wasn’t going to be United’s day as they failed time and time again to break down a resolute Stoke defence. The United fans have already shown great commitment and support towards Moyes, and the support was fantastic again today. Moyes played his part in the turnaround with his substitutes, and I’m sure this first comeback of his reign will fill him with confidence as the season goes on that the United instinct will never die.
5. De Gea performs again
The critics of David de Gea have finally crawled back into their holes, and today’s performance against a physical stoke side ensured they won’t be coming out anytime soon. The Spanish stopper kept United in the game with two smart saves in the first half, and was powerless to keep out both Stoke goals, especially the fortuitous first where he made the initial save. The United crowd chanted his name throughout the second half after he raced out and showed great composure to clear the danger following a poor clearance. He was even clattered as Stoke grew frustrated in the latter stages by Jon Walters, but the now more mature and physical ‘keeper simply got up and laughed at his opponent. De Gea was singled out by Moyes for praise today, and it was well deserved.
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