EPL: Moyes' attacking strategy allays fears

COMMUNITY SHIELD MAN UNITED 2 (Robin van Persie 6, 59) WIGAN 0

David Moyes made a winning start to his career at Manchester United on Sunday, but not before second-f light Wigan Athletic had given him a scare.

The Scotsman cut a tense figure on the touchline for much of the first half and the start of the second, watching in frustration as his new team toiled against the underdogs.

A second goal from Robin van Persie broke their resistance and provided a respectable scoreline, but this was not quite the barnstorming performance he would have wanted.

Under normal circumstances, of course, this would not be an issue.

It's the first game of the season.

But these are far from normal circumstances.

Moyes is attempting to fill the shoes of one of the greatest football managers of all time and few are in the mood to grant him any patience.

We used to bemoan the lack of a transitional season for new managers.

Now it seems that they're not even entitled to a transitional pre-season.

It wasn't that long ago that summer exhibition games were dismissed as meaningless run-outs, scheduled to aid with conditioning.

Now, apparently, they're supposed to count for something.

This is a shame because, for all of the rustiness both here and in the summer, there are plenty of reasons for United fans to be positive.

Pedigree

Those unfounded fears that Moyes would oversee a more functional style of play were put to rest when he sent his men out in an attacking 4-3-3.

Throughout the game, they always favoured the short ball over the long punt.

There was movement between the lines, invention in the final third.

There just wasn't quite enough of it.

Above it all loomed the shadow of Wayne Rooney. Not fit enough for this game, fit enough for England, but not fit enough for Swansea this weekend. How Moyes must wish that he could end this distraction once and for all.

Unfortunately, United face Chelsea shortly before the transfer window closes.

There is absolutely no chance of Rooney defecting before that particular fixture.

In his absence, Van Persie proved a sharp enough spearhead when it counted, Danny Welbeck offered one of the more composed displays of his short career and, out on the right flank, Wilfried Zaha sizzled intermittently.

Ryan Giggs' inclusion was perhaps more indicative of United's need for a new midfielder than his importance to the cause, but he offered a useful influence to the younger members of the team.

As the pundits rush to write the champions off because of their failure to strengthen, it's worth remembering that they didn't win last season's title because they were weak.

Moyes was in no hurry to reach for the Community Shield when it was presented to his team.

Indeed, it seemed that captain Nemanja Vidic had to convince him to take it in his hands. Criticised throughout the summer for his lack of silverware, he knows that he has been employed to win more important baubles than this.

Perhaps this wasn't the most spellbinding of performances and it won't be enough to silence his detractors, but this is only the beginning.

There was just enough on show here to suggest that this trophy may be the first of many to come.

 

npsports@sph.com.sg

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