David Moyes' Approach Not to Blame for Manchester United's Defeat at Chelsea

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David Moyes' Approach Not to Blame for Manchester United's Defeat at Chelsea
Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

David Moyes' record at the Premier League's big grounds is an easy stick with which to beat him.

As manager of Everton he never won at Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United or Liverpool in the Premier League. More than 11 years, 46 games and not one win.

It's an appalling record when you consider that Everton under Moyes were a top-eight side. Three times they finished in the top five.

They weren't a team battling relegation every year, lucky to win away from home once all season, never mind at Stamford Bridge, Old Trafford or Anfield.

Failing to win at Stamford Bridge is perhaps understandable given that between May 2004 and September 2007, during Jose Mourinho's first spell, Chelsea didn't lose at home in the league at all.

Yet West Ham, Blackburn, Bolton, Sunderland, Newcastle, QPR and Aston Villa (twice) all managed it while Moyes was at Everton. That's not to mention United, Liverpool and Arsenal.

Matt Dunham/Associated Press

His record at Anfield is even harder to explain. In 11 league games at Liverpool, he couldn't win one, but Southampton, Charlton, Birmingham, Aston Villa, Blackpool, Wolves, Wigan, West Brom and Fulham all did.

It's an odd statistic given that 11 years is a reasonable sample size.

On occasions Everton will have turned up at Stamford Bridge suffering from injuries or on a poor run of form. But not every time.

And it's more than reasonable to suggest that during the same time, Chelsea might have, at least once, been hit by the same problems. And if not Chelsea, then United. Or Arsenal. Or Liverpool.

Steve Kean's time at Blackburn is generally considered to be catastrophic, but on New Year's Eve 2011 he caught United on an off day and now has a win at Old Trafford on his resume.

It's not that Moyes struggled against the best teams, because during his time at Everton, United, City, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal all fell at Goodison Park.

But he could never do it away from home.

Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

It naturally raises questions about Moyes' approach. Has he sent out teams at Anfield or Stamford Bridge with the ambition to win, or has he simply not wanted to lose?

At Chelsea on Sunday, he at least went some way to answering the question.

It was another defeat for United, a seventh in the Premier League this season. It will take an exceptional second half of the season if they are to claw their way into the top four.

But Moyes at least showed the travelling United fans that he has the ambition to win the big games away from home.

Without his two main strikers Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie, Moyes could have gone to Stamford Bridge looking for a point.

He could have packed his midfield with Michael Carrick, Phil Jones and Darren Fletcher and tried to suffocate Chelsea. If he'd wanted, he could have played without a recognised striker at all, like Mourinho did at Old Trafford in August.

But even with his two best attacking players out injured, he still looked like he wanted to win the game. And instead of a third destructive midfielder, he picked Danny Welbeck behind Adnan Januzaj.

Sang Tan/Associated Press

United were the better team for the first 15 minutes, and if they had got a goal when they were on top, the outcome might have been different.

And if there hadn't been individual mistakes from Phil Jones, Rafael and Jonny Evans for the three goals, Moyes might have been rewarded for his ambition, for trying to win the game when he might have been happy with a point.

Moyes' miserable run will get dragged up again when United travel to play Arsenal at the Emirates on February 12.

It's another chance for Moyes to break his duck and snap an unwanted run that in March will pass 12 years. He can only hope he gets a helping hand from his players next time.

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