How David Moyes made Manchester United one-dimensional


It’s all going wrong for David Moyes at Manchester United – and Greg Johnson can explain exactly why… 

David Moyes arrived at Old Trafford as the man who was supposed to provide continuity following the reign of Sir Alex Ferguson. A Caledonian compatriot cut from the same cloth, so the narrative went: a safe pair of hands to maintain what Ferguson had built, rather than a radical looking to change a successful club.

Yet just six months since Moyes officially arrived, Manchester United look a shadow of their former selves. Pedestrian in attack, porous in defence and often vacant in spirit, they have been described as the worst reigning champions in Premier League history.

At first glance, there doesn’t seem to be too much different in the team’s set-up. Although Ferguson may protest that he rarely played a true 4-4-2, a variant on this oft-maligned system was, and still is, the default formation. Similarly, United still tend to attack down the wings, as they did under Fergie from Ralph Milne onwards – and as at Everton, Moyes has continued to encourage his full-backs to join in on the overlap, sometimes at risk to their defensive duties. Continue reading

Podcast: Episode 7 – David Moyes and the Gob-lot of Dire

The False Nine podcast enters 2014 with a bumper array of guests, including Awate, Joe Devine, Hari Sethi and Sam Diss, who join host Greg and regular James to dissect the recent goings on in the Premier League, Manchester United, West Ham United, and much more.

You can listen to it on soundcloud:

Or download it on iTunes.

Rafael da Silva—Manchester United’s world-class whippet


Chris Clarke of Manchester United fan site and podcast Can They Score? profiles the fuzzy ball of energy and enthusiasm who brought a Samba beat to United’s right-back position…

Spotted by Les Kershaw at the 2005 Nike Premier Cup in Hong Kong, the da Silva twins have brought a sense of Brazilian brilliance to United’s defence over the past five years. After signing from Fluminise the “two little whippets” have excelled in the first team since making the big move from Brazil.

Rafael made his league debut against Newcastle United at the start of the 2008-09 season but he really made his first impressions during his friendly debut against Peterborough; bombing up and down the right wing and drawing comparisons with the likes of Cafu and Roberto Carlos.

Playing without fear or hesitation, Rafael da Silva became an immediate fan favourite with his bubbly personality, infectious energy and attacking intent. Continue reading

Fabio da Silva—Manchester United’s Sacrificial Lahm?


TFN editor Greg Johnson on Fabio Pereira da Silva the right-footed left-back at risk of fading away into his brother’s shadow…

Long before the sight of Marouane Fellaini and his infamous barnet in a Manchester United shirt inspired afro wigs in the stands, the curly mops of the da Silva twins led them to become the club’s first microphone-headed mascots-cum-players.

Having arrived fresh from captaining Brazil in the U-17 World Cup in 2007, Fabio da Silva was initially considered to be the more naturally talented brother; a right-footed, marauding left back who enjoyed terrorising defences and scoring goals when cutting inside onto his stronger foot.

United hadn’t snapped up the next Cafu or Roberto Carlos—that was a lineage for his sibling Rafael to chase—but a more unorthodox prospect half-jokingly referred to as Brazil’s answer to Philipp Lahm in more than one online discussion. Continue reading

Rodrigo Possebon: Manchester United’s Bruised Brazilian


Chris Clarke, editor of Can They Score, takes a brief look at Possebon…

Hailed as the real deal upon his arrival from Internacional in January 2008, Possebon was considered a player of immense promise for Manchester United. Eligible to sign so early thanks to his Italian passport, Possebon was considered one of the finest passers of the ball at the club. During his time at the club, he caught the eye of many in the Reserve set up and even earned himself a call up for the Italian U20 side. Continue reading

Anderson – Manchester United’s Big Brazilian


Tom Coast, writer for Can They Score?, profiles Anderson…

“What could have been”. If there ever was a sentence or expression that is most likely to be linked with Anderson Luís de Abreu Oliveira, it would be that one.

When Anderson arrived at Manchester United, everyone thought Sir Alex Ferguson had signed the “next-Ronaldinho”. One could see why they thought that. Both Brazilian. Both attacking midfielders. Both very good dribblers. The only issue was Sir Alex Ferguson himself.

The man was a genius. That fact is indisputable. His trophy and medal cabinet as a manager prove that. However, when it came to fitting in an attacking midfielder in his system, he seemed a tad lost. Continue reading

Adnan Januzaj: Why England must resist the call of the wild card


James Gheerbrant argues against England’s push to naturalise Manchester United youngster Adnan Januzaj…

The enduring fascination and frustration of international football, the thing about it that compels and confounds in equal measure, is that there are no quick fixes. For the international manager, there are no easy answers to the sort of problems that club coaches are used to eliminating with a fusillade of their semi-automatic chequebook. If your side doesn’t have a decent striker (a problem which has plaqued a succession of otherwise outstanding Portugal teams, for example), then you cannot simply dip into the transfer market to acquire one. If the issues run deeper, if they reflect a nation’s football culture, they must be solved through grass-roots graft, not by parachuting in a panacea. The beauty of the international game is that there is no hiding from the ugly truth.

That, at least, was how it used to be. But on Saturday Roy Hodgson, the manager entrusted by the FA to nurse the ailing English patient towards Brazil, had a glimpse of just such a miracle cure. At Sunderland on Saturday, Manchester United’s Adnan Januzaj, 18 years old and precociously gifted, inspired a comeback victory on his full debut with two superbly taken goals – and announced himself as perhaps English’s football unlikeliest Messiah. For it emerged that Januzaj, though born and raised in Belgium to Albanian parents, could yet qualify to pull on the Three Lions on residency grounds. No matter that Januzaj has lived here only two years, no matter that England is in no real sense his homeland, he is the prodigious playmaker we have hungered for through the wilderness years. In this modern-day football parable, he is not so much the prodigal son as the fatted calf. Continue reading