David Moyes Must Secure a Manchester United Victory Against Real Sociedad
It feels like every week is a vital one now for David Moyes at Manchester United.
Normally three home ties in the space of eight days against Southampton, Real Sociedad and Stoke City would hardly be considered crunch time at Old Trafford, but things are a little bit different now.
It is pressure that the Scotsman has put on himself. By bemoaning the cruelty of his side's fixture list before the season had even begun, then simply just by moaning about it after United had dropped points in every single difficult game, he essentially laid down a marker for himself.
From the moment the tough run of games ended, United would start winning.
But, as we all know, it hasn't exactly worked out that way. The disappointments of defeat by West Brom and a draw at Southampton were only alleviated by the narrowest of victories over Sunderland in between. And it's not exactly like they've been in the best of form this season.
Now, Real Sociedad in the Champions League on Wednesday night is an absolute must-win. The Spanish side currently sit bottom of Group A having lost both games so far and are 12th in La Liga following a thoroughly indifferent start.
How, then, can David Moyes go about making sure his side secure all three points at Old Trafford on Wednesday night?
For all the criticism you could lay at the door of David Moyes for his decision making this season, it would be harsh to say that he has not been positive with his team selections.
The problem is, sometimes he has tried to be too positive at the wrong times. Away at Manchester City he tried to select a positive team with two wingers and two strikers, unfortunately this resulted in the Red Devils being overrun in midfield.
It is about the right positive moves at the right times. United haven't been too bad in the Champions League so far, the draw away at Shakhtar Donetsk was a positive result if not a positive performance, and the 4-2 win on opening day at home to Bayer Leverkusen was undoubtedly their best display of the season so far.
Real Sociedad at home is the right time to set up his side to go all out for the win.
Moyes has chopped and changed far, far too often this season. Squad rotation is one thing, but six or seven changes between every game as early as October is simply too many.
Defensively they've looked hopelessly unsettled. The Rio Ferdinand-Nemanja Vidic partnership was used for every game up until the mauling at City, then was immediately dispensed with.
No one seems to know whether the futures of Chris Smalling and Phil Jones lie in central defence or at right-back. Whilst they both constantly get switched between the two, neither are going to be able to fully develop into a well-rounded player in their favoured position.
Marouane Fellaini has been brought in but has seemingly had no confidence instilled into him by the manager who took him to Old Trafford. After he and Carrick were overrun at the Etihad, he was left on the bench for United's next league game. For Anderson.
If Moyes felt that the Belgian was worth the price tag he paid for him, then he should prove it by giving him an extended run in the team. Fellaini was disappointing at the weekend, but don't just ditch him straightaway yet again.
Wayne Rooney has been United's outstanding striker and player, but considering the indifferent early form of Robin van Persie and Danny Welbeck, Javier Hernandez remains criminally underused.
Richard Arrowsmith's Daily Mail report has suggested that Moyes will not let the little Mexican leave in January, but the manager has to prove to him why he shouldn't have to go elsewhere in the hunt for first-team football.
Make sure you win. It is the easiest way to alleviate your critics and relieve the pressure upon yourself. Even if you don't win, make sure you play in the right way. United fans can accept failure, but they cannot accept failure without application.
The Red Devils have lost big games before, and they have failed to make it out of the group in the past, but the Old Trafford faithful will not be happy if they disappear with a whimper.
All in all, though, dropping points at home to the weakest team in your group is not an option. Being out of the title race and out of the Champions League by December will not sit at all well with United fans.
Moyes must guarantee victory.
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