By John Ryan
- Juan Mata, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones long-term absentees
- Wayne Rooney and Ashley Young also ruled out
‘Come on David Moyes, play like Fergie’s boys’. That’s what the Old Trafford faithful sang in May 2013 as Manchester United announced Moyes as Alex Ferguson’s successor.
We can all look back in hindsight now and say it was the wrong appointment, however the Scot’s CV at the time was reasonably impressive, guiding Everton to Champions League football and an FA Cup final appearance.
The difference however was that prior to joining United, Alex Ferguson had won Three Scottish titles, a three in a row of Scottish FA Cups and had led unfashionable Aberdeen to a Cup Winners Cup final triumph over Real Madrid.
Moyes Struggled In Old Trafford Hot-Seat
Moyes never was and never will be Alex Ferguson. Maybe if he had said ‘thanks but no thanks’ everyone’s fortunes would have been better. But to his credit, he tried, made mistakes, but ultimately failed.
Not everything Moyes has done since taking over at Old Trafford has been poor. He saw that United needed change but the way he went about it showed a lack of judgment.
Asking Rio Ferdinand to play like Phil Jagielka makes some sense now, but then it was like asking Jack Nicholson to act like Jack Black. His career since then has been just the same.
He led Real Sociedad to victory over Barcelona but was later sacked by the club. Reports came from respected sources of him making a huge effort there but hindered by not having the local language and not having managed in Spain before made it an uphill battle.
Then he took on the Sunderland job, a club who have been relegated from the Premier League four times, a club where a manager like Roy Keane has failed and where Mick McCarthy led them to paltry nineteen points in the 2002/2003 season.
At least Moyes has surpassed that already. Given his recent comments to a female reporter you have to wonder if David Moyes likes to make life hard for himself?
United Must Get Back To Winning Ways
Make no mistake here an away win is a must for United. With games running out and four points dropped at home to West Brom and Everton, any further slip ups create extra pressure on the Europa League ties.
United’s away record is far superior to Sunderland’s home record and looking at the respective squads the game should be something of a mismatch.
Mourinho paid a sum for Pogba that is probably greater than what Sunderland are worth as a club and the thirty four point gulf between the clubs cements the away win prediction.
On the flip side, United lost their first and last Premier League game away to Sunderland and along with patchy Premier League form as well as Moyes occasional strokes of genius, another draw could be on the cards.
Defoe The Main Threat
Rooney, Mata, Smalling, Jones and Young are all out for United. Sunderland have a near full strength line up to pick from.
Their main threat in a goal shy side is Jermain Defoe who has been widely praised for his work with Bradley Lowery, a young boy whose public battle with cancer puts many things in perspective.
As a twenty year old Defoe scored a winning goal at Old Trafford for West Ham and he has had a curious career which most recently took him to Canada. However as an England International he still possesses the ability to put the ball in the net.
Defoe apart, there is no Sunderland player who would be close to the United first eleven.
United need to start this game with a menacing tone. There can be no more excuses. Jose has pointed to a fixture pile up in April but so far none of the results can be put down to fatigue.
If anything, United looked fitter and more resolute than Everton in the last ten minutes of Tuesday’s game.
Europa League Over Top Four Finish?
The never say die spirit that Busby and Ferguson ingrained in the club are there again after a three year gap but that needs to be married with a ruthlessness of killing lesser opposition off.
Ferguson made this type of game his Premier League food and drink and if Jose is to be a long term success the team need to know how to win games like this to allow them focus on things like the Europa League.
Many United fans have expressed a preference to get into the Champions League via winning the Europa League as opposed to finishing fourth.
Verdict: Sunderland 0-3 United