Stop tinkering, Moyes

Stop tinkering, Moyes

SPAIN - Another average performance on Spanish soil, an obscene dive from Ashley Young and more changes to the starting 11.

It was business as usual for Manchester United.

This was a game which the Red Devils should have won against Real Sociedad, as manager David Moyes pointed out, but for a series of gilt-edged chances that went begging at the Estadio Anoeta yesterday morning (Singapore time).

Robin van Persie twice hit the woodwork, including one from the penalty spot.

Javier Hernandez blew a glorious opportunity from point-blank range.

Instead of confirming their spot in the Champions League knockout round, which they would have done with a victory, the group leaders now find themselves only three points ahead of the third-placed team, Shakhtar Donetsk.

Not exactly the worst position to be in, but it certainly isn't ideal.

Unexpected dangers lurk in the European game.

Which is why Moyes was doing himself no favours by making six changes to the team that started in the 3-1 win over Fulham last Saturday.

Presumably, he had this weekend's clash with Arsenal in mind.

Injuries could have forced his hand in the cases of Rafael da Silva and Jonny Evans, and possibly Tom Cleverley, but there was little to suggest that van Persie, Adnan Januzaj and Phil Jones were not fit enough to start.

Not for the first time, his tendency to chop and change his team has being called into question.

Shakhtar coach Mircea Lucescu was just one of the few to recently point a finger at Moyes' rotation policy for United's poor start to the Premier League campaign.

An art

Rotation is an art truly mastered by only a select few, among them Moyes' predecessor Sir Alex Ferguson.

Its merits are widely accepted.

The sheer pace and volume of the modern game make the saying "never change a winning team" sound outdated.

Fergie was one of the earliest to grasp the importance of keeping a squad fresh over a long campaign, and over the years, fine-tuned his practice to a level only experience can buy.

Moyes, however, is a novice.

At Everton, he didn't get many chances to hone his craft - there simply wasn't much to tinker with at the resource-strapped club. But now, faced with a huge pool of talent, he is faced with decisions over who to pick and drop.

What Moyes must realise, however, is that he doesn't have the luxury of trial and error, not after the unconvincing start to the season. He needs to get United to win consistently to begin with, before he starts to worry about tired legs in the later stages of the season.

At the moment, results come first.

But he keeps getting one step ahead of himself.

garylim@sph.com.sg

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