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COLUMNIST JIM HOURIGAN

Tactically Inept

By Jim Hourigan :  24/11/2008 :  Comments (0) :
It's so easy after such an abysmal match to point fingers at the players. None can hold their head up after such a shocking performance — outplayed by the team third from bottom. However if the performance was a one-off or a blip then a degree of acceptance might be offered. But this is not a one-off, this is not a blip, in fact the second-half performance against Man Utd was the blip. Tonight was just a repeat of Blackburn, Bolton, West Ham, Fulham, Boro etc etc.

Players play to the instructions of the manger and the coaching staff, players are selected in positions by the manager and the coaching staff and teams are sent out under the instructions of the manager. So, whilst some of the players deserve little if any sympathy, the greater share of the blame must lie with the manager.

Starting back at the end of last season, we all knew the club was in desperate need of some quality in midfield — did we get it? No... and that in the large part is Dithering Davey's fault — not BK's (he's not blameless though). But, aside from my deeply scathing view of his transfer ability, his tactics leave me completely bemused. I may not have played pro football, but I have watched a fair deal of it and did play at a high enough standard to smell crap — and that's what Moyes's tactics are.

Is he the only person in the club who actually thinks and believes that Cahill can play in a 4 man midfield? To watch him tonight having absolutely no idea what to do when he got the ball wide was soul destroying. When he switched with Arteta and went on the left-hand side, he looked like a poor 2nd division player.

Osman in the centre of midfield as some kind of ball winning, playmaker??? He has no pace, no strength, no power and was completely overrun by Catermole and Brown, those formidable midfield maestros from Wigan!!!! As poor as Osman is he would have done a better job wide than Cahill and vice versa, but can he not see that when 4,000 behind the goal can? What is Fellaini's role in the team? Is he a ball winner? Is he the playmaker? Is he the extra forward? Does anyone including Moyes know? Is Arteta the only person in blue allowed to take deadballs in the opposition half? And are the sum total of the tactics with him then to hump free-kicks into the middle?

Tonight Saha goes off (injured or not), Anichebe — a forward goes and plays right wing and Cahill goes to centre forward !!!! If he thinks Cahill is that good a forward then play him there and drop Saha / Yakubu from the start. But in fact that means playing 4-5-1 'cos Cahill doesn't actually play as a forward. So Moyes has got no idea at all how to play Cahill unless in a 5 man midfield, and I'm sorry he's not good enough to build a team around. Anichebe as some kind of attacking right winger!!! I think the goal in Germany last year has seriously clouded Moyes' judgement of ponderous Vic. Then with 5 mins to go he takes of his right back and puts on a left back when were losing!!!! Somebody please explain what footballing wisdom there is in that decision.

Watching Moyes on the line he looked like a man who has little appetite for the game, he consulted endlessly with Woods — where was Steve Round? But could he make a decision? The game was crying out for a change at half time not when we're losing — sorry I forgot, that's the only time he makes a substitution — reactive not proactive. Castello should have been brought on to at least try and get the centre of midfield working 'cos the other 2 clowns certainly weren't.

And to think he's getting around £3M a year to serve up that drivel. Just what has he done to deserve that level of salary? When have we played decent football for any consistent period of time? Do we actually look like a team going forward and making progress? Does he have a squad that suggests it will improve — will Osman improve? Will Cahill improve? Will Jagielka improve? Will Saha improve? Will (fill in the blank) improve? The man is completely inept, and much as this might seem like a reaction to one defeat it's not, it's a reaction to paying and watching absolute garbage with little promise of improvement.

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