Manchester United Finally Come to Life Under David Moyes
There may have been blips along the way, but David Moyes will be exceptionally pleased with the way Manchester United overcame a tricky Bayer Leverkusen side 4-2 on Tuesday night in the Champions League.
Despite a few goalkeeping lapses and a couple of comical misses at the other end, there were plenty of positives to take from the game.
Consistency at the back
Despite the fact that they conceded a couple of sloppy goals, it will only bode well for United if Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic can stay injury free for as long as possible this season, as both seem to be doing so far.
There is plenty of strength in depth in that position—with Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones all pushing for a starting place—and that should keep the old guard on their toes and in top shape.
Previously, both Ferdinand and Vidic seemed unable to start more than one game per week, but Moyes appears to have faith that the pair can now do so.
With the depth in central defence that United have, neither should have to play 50+ games this season. But there is no doubt that despite them both being deep into their thirties, the Ferdinand-Vidic pairing is still United's best partnership at the back.
There was plenty of negativity surrounding the big Belgian's arrival at Old Trafford on deadline day a couple of weeks ago, and many United fans felt that Moyes should have been after a more elite central midfielder than Maroune Fellaini.
I, for one, am a massive fan of him, and felt from the start that he would be an excellent signing for Manchester United.
But the early signs are positive. He played a deeper midfield role than we're used to seeing him play for Everton, and he played it very well.
He sat deep well and held with Carrick, and he got forward and linked up well with Shinji Kagawa, Wayne Rooney and Patrice Evra further forward.
He added a layer of strength and resilience that has been sorely lacking from United's midfield for several years now. He could be a big player (literally as well as figuratively) for United this season.
Shinji and the United left
Finally, United fans everywhere got to see the start for Shinji Kagawa that had been so badly craved. And whilst the match sharpness wasn't quite there, the diminutive forward certainly had a positive effect on Manchester United's attacking intent.
He made Manchester United's movement in the final third more intricate and incisive, and he helped speed up their transitions from defence to attack.
The way he cut in from the left, linked with Fellaini and allowed Evra down the outside of him was very reminiscent of the Pienaar-Fellaini-Baines axis at Everton.
It is something to look out for in Manchester United's attacking play for the rest of the season, and it created more space for one man down the other side of the pitch.
It was like a performance back from a couple of seasons ago from Valencia.
He attacked fiercely, flying down the wing with his trademark powerful runs before firing cross after cross into the box. It was the kind of display that endeared him to the Old Trafford faithful when he first arrived.
He looks significantly happier now that he is no longer wearing the heavy burden of the number seven shirt, and if he continues to turn in performances such as that he will help ease the width problem that troubled Sir Alex Ferguson last season.
Rooney finally looks like he's back. Maybe it's the headband.
One ridiculous miss aside, Manchester United's No. 10 finally looks like he's interested again.
All the facets of his game were absolutely terrific, and he capped off the night with his 200th goal for the club. It was also good to see him celebrating every goal with his team mates.
All in all it was a very good win for Manchester United.
There are certainly things that can be improved on, but in the coming weeks and months this game may very well be looked back upon as the night that David Moyes' Manchester United reign truly came alive.
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