MANCHESTER UNITED VS NORWICH CITY
United’s opponents Norwich have not enjoyed the most successful of starts to the season. Their bottom three position is an indication to the turn they have taken under Hughton’s stewardship.
In: Lindegaard, Rafael, Vidic, Ferdinand, Buttner, Zaha, Young, Januzaj and Hernandez.
Out: van Persie, Rooney, Kgawa, Carrick, Nani, Evans, Evra, Smalling and de Gea.
- Vidic and Ferdinand in defence for a Capital One Cup tie against Norwich, mmm.
- Norwich were poor, affording United space in the central zone with their second half 4-4-2 formation.
- Hernandez played well and helped maintain United’s shape as he resisted the temptation to drop deep.
- Zaha getting some game time was pleasing.
- Rooney’s introduction helped to connect the midfield to Hernandez with 10 minutes to go in a 4-4-1-1 formation.
- Non-tactical point but what were that thing Norwich’s fans were chanting as Lindegaard took his dead ball kick? Get back to the 80’s fools!
Both teams lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation with the only subtle difference in the early phase being Elmander dropping into the midfield to form a 4-2-4 when United had the ball (with Fer enjoying most of it), whilst Hernandez played the line and kept the Norwich defenders on their toes. Norwich were more compact than United who had Zaha wide whilst Young was a touch further in.
It was Zaha who was showing real pace and he, along with Januzaj, were creating the most mischief, see the ball from Januzaj to Ferdinand’s head at back post as an example. Young was showing glimpses of interest too as he worked well with Buttner to cut in and out on the left. The focus of the start play from United, Lindegaard in particular, was to hit the left with his kicks (a number of which were poor).
Then United had a soft penalty awarded to them which was slotted away by Hernandez. 1-0.
Norwich responded by setting up in a 4-4-1-1 and suddenly United had a touch more difficulty getting through them and looked slower as a consequence. As a result, we saw Jones playing higher and Zaha tucked in as Rafael played a little higher and displayed tremendous energy throughout the half.
Norwich lacked penetration and imagination and were guilty of too many sideways passes as United were easily able to close them down and intercept/block a number of passes.
Norwich needed a change but Hughton decided not to do so in personnel rather he pressed his front two of Elmander and Hoolahan onto Ferdinand and Vidic in a 4-4-2 formation.
Hoorah! A good cross and it led to a goal! After a simple but effective passage of play a cross by Buttner found Hernandez who headed in at the second attempt. Norwich’s marking and reaction times were awful. 2-0.
Up front was looking interesting and the combinations between wingers and full backs worked well yet the youngster Zaha will need to work on his decision making. For example, there was a number of occasions when the option to cut in was better than when he opted to go out wide, often preventing the run down the line for Rafael.
Whilst on the other wing it was pleasing to see an improved performance from Young, his crossing left a lot to be desired and if he wants a permanent place in the team then that needs to improve.
Following the Snodgrass injury the game was relatively flat (understandably) but we noticed how detached Hernandez was from the game. The gap between defence and attack was too great; Moyes addressed this by bringing Rooney on for Zaha.
United were now 4-4-1-1 with little going round the outside of the wings due to both wanting to cut in on their favoured foot. It was frustrating to see the space between their left full back and central defender not exploited enough and this was what we wanted to see Zaha do. Rooney on the other hand played quite freely and dropped deep and looked to be enjoying himself as he sprayed passes about.
It must be noted how poor Norwich were, particularly their passing which United intercepted on numerous occasions. This made United’s job much easier.
3-0 came about after a sweet volley by Jones. Pleasing on the eye.
As the game drew to a close Anderson came on for Cleverley and Fabio came on for Januzaj.
It was Fabio who benefited from Rooney’s introduction as he found himself out left and he scored after a pinged cross field pass from Rooney over the top, the likes of which we hadn’t seen in this game. 4-0. Welcome back Fabio.
Norwich were poor and this made United’s evening much more manageable. Don’t let this detract from what was an enjoyable game.
Zaha started the game, something we all wanted to see and Moyes stressed this in his post match interview. The lad will need more time to settle in and his pace was great to see. He influenced the buildup play leading to United’s first goal and he seemed to combine well with Rafael.
Rafael is slowly becoming a really integral member of United’s team and his energy and drive are great. He is working on his decision and timing and that is a positive.
There were hints of the ‘foot being taken off the gas’ by United which may result from what we understand are more vigorous training sessions and we may see the fruits of this labour later in the season; as we know Everton were usually strong finishers to the season.
The switch to a 4-4-1-1 with Rooney’s introduction saw United gain control of the midfield and it meant that the spaces behind the front 3 in the 4-2-3-1 were made more solid.
A win’s a win and next we have Stoke away, midweek too *Insert media cliché of wet midweek nights in Stoke!* United will smash them.