Early Doors

Tactics Bored: How David Moyes can turn things around

Early Doors

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David Moyes, unfortunately for Manchester United and Manchester United fans, does not know what he is doing.

He isn’t really capable of speaking in a way to give confidence to his own side, but he does manage to convince the opposition they can win at Old Trafford.

Tactically speaking, it is a bad thing for Manchester United that David Moyes does not know what he is doing.

He could, however, still change things around as the season draws to a close, and make some simple tactical changes in order to start working towards short- and long-term improvement. Here is a guide for David Moyes and Manchester United.


Rafael tried to hit the ball away with his hand, failing to remember the name of the game is football. Moyes needs to get back to basics with Rafael, and use a simple diagram, provided below, to explain to him the essence of the game. If Rafael can learn that it is his feet, rather than his hands, that he should be using in the box, that would be ideal. Moyes should not show this diagram to David De Gea, but where Moyes is concerned, you can’t rule anything out.

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Phil Jones also needs to learn how to run. In most matches, at least one of his runs ends with him being injured, either from running into someone, or from running into someone else. This almost happened early in the match with a firm tackle on Steven Gerrard.

Tactically, it is best to have your players fit the whole time, and so Jones should learn how to stop running when necessary. This would also give him the advantage of not running into Joe Allen in the middle of the penalty area, while the goal-shy midfielder is running away from goal, and conceding a needless penalty.


This one is self-explanatory. Certainly don’t put him on when chasing the game against a confident and fluid Liverpool side in thrall to their own concept of destiny.


Moyes has tried an interesting approach to his squad. He has reportedly upset Robin van Persie and Michael Carrick with his approach to training. He has let Nemanja Vidic embrace his future so much that he has embraced it elsewhere, deciding to join Inter Milan in the summer. He has failed to convince Patrice Evra, the nearest thing there is to a talisman of the club, to extend his contract.

Rafael is told to get to the byline and cross, cross, cross and might well be sold in the summer despite being the other nearest thing there is to a talisman of the club. He has proven to Shinji Kagawa and is proving to Juan Mata that there is no point being an intelligent or sophisticated player, because he simply doesn’t understand how to use them. He wound up Rio Ferdinand, a senior member of the squad, but still has to rely on his co-operation.

In terms of tactics, this is a poor move. Tim Sherwood is also trying the same approach, insulting his players in public, with similar results. It appears, if you have a look at the diagram below, that there is an inverse correlation to how many things Moyes says and does to his players and how well they play for the club.

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The answer is David Moyes should just stop talking. If Manchester United could get Louis van Gaal or Jose Mourinho to start doing the talking instead, that would be even better.


There’s an absolutely fascinating comparison between chess and football in the most recent edition of The Blizzard. Now, before the match, the two managers were both questioned about whether or not they used chess to envisage how to play the upcoming game. Both were keenly interested in the idea, and agreed to give a hybrid football-chess representation for their tactical plans.

As you can see, Brendan Rodgers had a straightforward understanding of the concept, with clever positioning of his pieces to effect the most from his players. He clearly is an able tactician in theory and tactics. His pieces are in blue and white in the diagram below. There are also a few hints at Moyes’ state of mind, and quality of management, when you have a look at his diagram, using red markers for his tactical plan for the game.

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Statistical analysis is an important part of the game. After getting Nate Silver on the case, and giving him unlimited financial resources, he has drawn an exciting conclusion: David Moyes is clearly an absolute expert at taking any club on any budget, and finishing seventh. Instead of using a team with lots of good players and lots of money to spend in the next transfer window, and finishing seventh, Moyes should take a club with bad players and not much money. This would be a more efficient use of his talents.

Alexander Netherton - @lxndrnthrtn

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