David Moyes allowed no Manchester United player to escape his wrath after Wednesday’s dramatic Capital One Cup defeat to Sunderland, slamming mistakes by his goalkeeper and penalty takers, as well as the Red Devils' overall 120-minute performance.
David de Gea's incredible 119th-minute fumble allowed Phil Bardsley to drag Sunderland back into the tie after Jonny Evans’ opener, and even when Javier Hernandez somehow forced penalties, United’s spot-kicks were embarrassing.
They missed four out of five, failing to hit the target twice from 12 yards, and Moyes fumed in the aftermath, per Colin Young of the Daily Mail:
We didn't play well enough to win. With a minute to go in extra time we were just about there and we had opportunities to score a second but didn't do so. We went to penalties and our penalties were terrible.
There is always going to be a loser in semi-finals and it happens to be us. I know the goal we conceded was bad luck but we didn't play well enough and if we were going to go through we would have stumbled over the line.
Moyes’ last comment is entirely accurate; United were stumbling over the line.
The Red Devils got exactly what they asked for at Old Trafford, sitting back after Evans’ first-half header to allow Sunderland to dominate large periods of the tie. The Black Cats enjoyed more possession, had 18 shots at goal and 12 corners, per WhoScored.com.
|Man Utd vs. Sunderland stats|
|19||Shots on goal||18|
Moyes will point to the fact de Gea didn't have to make a save all night until his incredibly poor mistake at the death, but United’s performance throughout the 120 minutes invited anxiety and nerves. De Gea’s mistake became the consequence:
“David's been really good this season,” Moyes told Sky Sports News, per Young’s article. “Keepers do make mistakes but it was a costly one, with a minute to go.”
United’s penalties were nothing short of embarrassing. Danny Welbeck and Phil Jones—England internationals—failed to hit the target from 12 yards. Adnan Januzaj and Rafael were both tame with their efforts, saved by Vito Mannone.
Former player and Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville confessed he feared the worst:
However, penalties merely put the stamp on yet another shocking home display from United, who once again relied upon the teenage Januzaj for their special moments.
He created Hernandez’s dramatic equaliser to force penalties and also handed the Mexican a chance to kill the tie off earlier in the contest.
Aside from Januzaj, few players influenced the match. Chris Smalling is arguably the only other player to emerge with credit, while the finger of blame must also be pointed the way of Moyes.
No Sir Alex Ferguson side, even without Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie, would have sat back at home against relegation strugglers. The tie was on a knife-edge all night, and the negative tactics of United only encouraged Sunderland into the contest.
If reports prove to be true, Juan Mata is set to begin Moyes’ rebuilding process by swapping Stamford Bridge for Old Trafford:
The hope will be that Mata’s arrival boosts United in several aspects, not just on the pitch. His signature has the potential to encourage other big-name stars to join United, while it also displays that ambition still remains among the champions.
Moyes now has three highly winnable fixtures on the agenda, against Cardiff, Stoke and Fulham. However, if his side perform as they did against Sunderland, nine points will not be the return from those matches.
United now only have a realistic chance of silverware in the Champions League, although the prospect of them lifting that trophy makes that a questionable statement right now.
They are six points outside the Champions League places, and Moyes desperately needs Mata and Co. to reduce that gap if the 2013-14 campaign isn't to prove a categorical disaster.
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