It was always going to take time, of course, but Moyes’ managerial judgements are beginning to pay off. And despite a poor start to December’s fixtures, Moyes has led United to within eight points of Premier League leaders Arsenal at the end of the calendar year.
There’s plenty for United fans to be optimistic about heading into 2014, especially if Moyes continues to demonstrate astute decision-making.
Moyes Is Making Good Decisions When it Matters
In the busy festive period, Moyes has shown great awareness of how to win games.
In the Boxing Day win over Hull, United were dealt a blow when Rafael was injured early on. Instead of making a conventional decision and replace him with a defender, though, Moyes took a risk and brought on Adnan Januzaj on the wing. It was a decision that forced Antonio Valencia to revert to right-back, and United looked far more dangerous following that switch.
It was a similar story when United recorded a narrow 1-0 victory away at Norwich just two days later. Having struggled to make an impact during the opening 45 minutes, Moyes reacted at the interval and introduced Danny Welbeck.
Even the Norwich faithful recognised that Moyes won the game by making that decision.
Credit to Moyes, bringing on Welbeck changed the game. His running & movement into space pulled us apart at times.— Craig Daniels (@craigdaniels82) December 28, 2013
Those two games only tell half the story, however.
In the early going this season, Moyes was tentative. His substitutions were conservative, his starting line-ups were unbalanced and too many points were conceded against weaker teams. A poor transfer window didn’t help, especially as Marouane Fellaini has failed to make the immediate impact that United required of him.
But a lot has changed since then.
Heading into the new year, United are back on track. They’re threatening to break into the top four, and Moyes’ decisions have played their part in keeping United within touching distance.
Moyes Is Letting Adnan Januzaj Flourish
United have experienced many highs and lows during Moyes’ early tenure, but the emergence of Januzaj has been spectacular to watch. That he is now part of the starting XI on a regular basis is testament to the manager.
Moyes is letting him flourish.
The youngster has demonstrated his world-class potential numerous times this season. In the aforementioned game against Hull, Moyes showed great faith in Januzaj by bringing him on at 2-0 down. United were level shortly after.
As soon as Januzaj came on, he has made a massive effect, Manchester United playing so much better with him. Quality!— FutbolBible (@FutbolBible) December 26, 2013
With plenty of fixtures to come in the second half of the season, Moyes will no doubt call on the talents of the Belgian wunderkind on a weekly basis. Moyes will have to be careful that he doesn’t burnout, though, because United would lose one of their main creative sparks if he did become fatigued.
Sooner rather than later, United are going to have a superstar on their hands. Moyes deserves credit for the way in which he has bedded him into the team.
Moyes Is Stamping His Authority on the Squad
Moyes inherited an ageing squad, but he’s gradually making his mark with the current crop of players.
The likes of Welbeck, Tom Cleverley and Wayne Rooney have all markedly improved on their performances from last season. Welbeck is benefitting from playing centrally, Cleverley is relishing playing in a midfield three and Rooney is being given the freedom to prove why he is one of the world’s best players.
Moyes is getting the best out of his squad.
Early in the season, when United were behind against Liverpool and then West Brom, they never looked like turning things around. There was no cavalry charge. That’s changed as the season has progressed, however, because Moyes has recorded comeback wins against Sunderland, Stoke and, more recently, against Hull.
Defeats to Everton and Newcastle aside, United have improved following a shaky start. Talk of retaining the Premier League title is still premature, but Moyes believes that United will be there or thereabouts come the season’s end.
Moyes continues: “I believe, by the end of the season, we can be in the mix and challenging whoever is near the top."— Manchester United (@ManUtd) December 27, 2013
If he can add to the squad in January then that might just be the case. But even if Moyes has to enter the second half of the season with the same players, there are signs that United can still pick up some silverware.
How Can Moyes Lead United to Silverware This Season?
As a trophy-winning club, it will be a disappointment if the Red Devils don’t pick up some silverware at the end of the season. That’s just the nature of Manchester United.
At the end of the year, how would you grade Moyes?
And Moyes can pick up where Sir Alex Ferguson left off by winning one of the four competitions United remain in heading into 2014.
To do so, he must continue to be bold in his decision-making.
Whether that comes in the form of a surprise signing in the January transfer window, or the recall of some of United’s loan stars, Moyes has some big decisions to make over the next month. A successful January fixture-wise could reinvigorate United’s season—particularly if the squad is strengthened when the transfer window opens.
Whatever he decides to do, United fans must trust in Moyes.