David Moyes needs to make right call before transfer window shuts
Manchester United in need of a suitable midfielder if their gameplan is to bear fruit
Manchester United manager David Moyes during his side’s deafeat at Anfield. Photograph: PA.
Within hours of Manchester United’s defeat to Liverpool, David Moyes received another reminder of how different his new job is from his old one in the shape of a message from the self-styled “most naturally gifted athlete the world has ever seen”.
In a video posted to Instagram, Usain Bolt declared: “David Moyes, we need a creative midfielder. One that can pass and create opportunities. Right now!”
We know that Moyes agrees with Bolt because United spent so much time this summer in the failed pursuit of Cesc Fabregas. And all the players United have been linked with in recent days are midfielders: Marouane Fellaini, Anders Herrera, Mesut Ozil, Daniele de Rossi. Losing to Liverpool increases the pressure on Moyes and United to force through at least one of these signings before the transfer window closes at 11pm tonight.
However, it seemed curious that even though Wayne Rooney missed out because of a facial injury accidentally inflicted by the boot of Phil Jones, there was no room in yesterday’s matchday squad for Shinji Kagawa. Moyes explained that he had been faced with a straight choice between Nani and Kagawa for a place on the bench, and he chose Nani.
Nani and Kagawa are, of course, very different footballers. Nani is a dribbler who likes to start out wide, take on defenders, whip crosses into the box or shoot at goal from long range. Kagawa is a combination player who does his best work in central positions just outside the box. He’s good at spotting angles for one-twos and playing precisely-weighted passes into the space behind the defence.
Since Rooney has usually been the preferred option at number 10, Kagawa hasn’t had much of a chance to show what he’s capable of in his favoured position. In May, Kagawa’s old coach Jurgen Klopp lamented the player’s exile to the periphery: “Shinji is one of the best players in the world and now he plays 20 minutes at Manchester United – on the left wing! My heart breaks. Really, I have tears in my eyes.”
Klopp buttered Kagawa up so much that nobody was surprised when it emerged a few weeks later that Dortmund had made an approach to take him back. Klopp revealed that Kagawa had told him he was still determined to succeed at United.
Moyes preference for Nani yesterday suggested that the Japanese might have his work cut out to get into the team. United’s strategy yesterday was to get it wide and sling crosses into the box. They rained 32 of them on Liverpool’s defence – nearly twice as many as in the 2-1 win at Anfield last season – but many of these were diagonal balls from deep positions, and only six found a United player. United seldom tried play through the centre of Liverpool’s defence.