David Moyes laments Manchester United’s “mental softness"; Meulensteen calls Red Devil tactics “quite straightforward”
Throughout the first months of his tenure at Old Trafford, David Moyes espouses silver linings in the face of results like Sunday’s. Though that was a source of frustration for some Manchester United fans, the new Red Devils’ boss would still fall back on bad luck or ‘outplaying opponents’ while the defending champions struggled at home. Though the descriptions often prompted questions as to what Moyes was seeing, they also showed a level of loyalty to his players. At least he was protecting them in the press.
No such loyalties were present after today’s match at Old Trafford, where a record 81 crosses where unable to get United more than a 2-2 result from a bunkered and resilient Fulham. Up 2-1 in the match’s final moments, a mistake at the back cost the Red Devils two points, with Darren Bent’s 94th minute goal seeing United drop points at home for the seventh time in 13 games.
“Today was as bad as it gets,” Moyes told reporters after the match, his team coming off a 1-0 loss last weekend at Stoke City. “How we didn’t win, I have no idea. It’s goals that count. You can have as much possession as you like.”
However much possession United had hoped for, they undoubtedly got more. The Red Devils would finish the match with 76 percent of the ball, an imbalance owed to Fulham’s conservative tactics as well as Steve Sidwell’s 19th minute opener. United would finish the match with a 31-6 edge in shots, having put nine shots on goal (to Fulham’s three).
Lamenting Bent’s late equalizer as “diabolical,” Moyes agreed critics “could use maybe mental softness (to explain) that we didn’t see the job out and get the job done. I would agree with that.”
Despite his team’s endless crosses, the Red Devils boss bristled at the notion his team was overly reliant on playing from wide, noted some would characterize dominant wing play as part of Manchester United’s DNA. Fulham manager René Meulensteen, however, called United’s tactics “quite straightforward.”
"[G]et it wide, get it in,” the former Manchester United assistant explained, “whether it was from the full-back pushing on or the supporting wide man and midfielder.”
A long time member of Alex Ferguson’s coaching staff, Meulensteen was let go from United in June of 2013, with Moyes electing to bring his own team to Old Trafford.