March 18, 2014

Are we watching Moyes’ last stand?

by Dan Bilicki In: Soccer

Liverpool’s domination of rival Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday brought many questions to the forefront – none of them good for Red Devils fans.

Many are asking how safe David Moyes really is. Many are asking what exactly this team needs to become a top club again. Many are asking if it’s possible for Man U to even dispatch of an average Olympiacos team this week in Champions League. Heck, I was ever asking if United was tanking to avoid the playing for the poison chalice of Europa League next season.

Now, two days after that 3-0 loss that actually could have been worse for United, there are reports that some key boardroom figures have turned against the Scot.

Moyes days in Manchester appear to be numbered and for good reason.

He inherited a championship-winning club and turned it a seventh-place side. It’s not like he lost any key players and even brought in some high-priced talent like Marouane Fellaini and Juan Mata.

At this point, you have to point to the manager for the team’s lack of success. He has failed to adapt to the players he has and has tried to fit them into a system that isn’t working.

Playing Juan Mata out wide isn’t the best use of him. Launching in crosses for Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney isn’t the best use of either of them, as they are at their best with the ball at their feet.

Moyes loves to play the ball out wide, but doesn’t have the players to play that style.

With 30 games gone in a 38-game season, any manager worth their salt would have done something – anything – to adapt.

Instead, all we see is former manager Sir Alex Ferguson sitting in a box with one of the Glazers, remembering the glory days of yesteryear and looking awfully disappointed in what this once-proud team has become.


While we’re quick to point out United’s failures on the weekend, we can’t gloss over Liverpool’s effort.

Two Steven Gerrard penalties – and a missed third – plus a Luis Suarez marker were more than enough to dismiss the Reds old rivals.

But what really impresses us is the fact that Liverpool now has two clean sheets in a row, something that it hasn’t done since August.

With Glen Johnson back the Reds defence has solidified to the point that even manager Brendan Rodgers can’t downplay title hopes.

This was the one real weakness of Liverpool – other than a lack of quality depth – and with a sturdy back four, this title race is a legit four-horse race.

Well, depending on how you feel about Arsenal.


Two of the top contenders for the title had some run ins with the refs this weekend, but to varying outcomes.

Manchester City was able to overcome captain Vincent Kompany being sent off just 10 minutes into its game against Hull City, winning 2-0.

Surprisingly, Martin Demichelis – the usual goat for City – turned in a good performance leading the back line. After David Silva’s wonderful curling strike, it never felt like the “Tigers” were going to come back and equalize.

This was the type of performance the Citizens needed after crashing out of both the FA Cup and Champions League – the type of performance that will go a long way towards gaining confidence when making up those games in hand against Chelsea.

Speaking of the Blues, Chelsea had two players – plus manager Jose Mourinho – sent off against Aston Villa. Unlike its title rivals though, the result wasn’t one that Chelsea wanted.

After Willian was sent off for his second yellow card, the Villans were able to capitalize and score the eventual winner.

It was a sloppy performance from the table-toppers and one it didn’t deserve to win. Villa can be a frustrating team and Chelsea didn’t seem up for it.

That frustration really showed on Ramires’ second yellow though – which could have been a straight red. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some supplemental discipline for his stamp on Karim El Ahmadi.

As for Mourinho, it was typical of the genius to get involved in the action like that. After seeing two of his men sent off, I wouldn’t be surprised if this was a simple tactic to deflect some of the attention onto himself – something that he does often and is very good at.

It should also be noted that United had captain Nemanja Vidic sent off, but that didn’t particularly effect the outcome of its sad tussle with Liverpool.


The incident between City keeper Joe Hart and Hull’s George Boyd was another ugly one. After what looked like a clear dive by Boyd, Hart got up in his face and executed what could be described as a “Pardew-ian” headbutt. Now, we’ve learned that Boyd in fact spat at Hart and will face a charge from the FA … Newcastle did another disappearing act against Fulham, allowing the last-place team to crawl towards safety with three points. That dipping shot was one that Tim Krul saves 90% of the time … I’m actually curious if Seamus Coleman would have scored Everton’s injury time winner if he hadn’t mishit the ball. Had he fully connected, I believe that it may have been blocked by one of the two defenders on the line – lucky stuff … That 2-1 loss to West Brom this week? Just another Europa League-related struggle from Swansea. Nothing to see here … Jozy Altidore might be the league leader in open shots skied over the bar. And to think that he’s the top American striker in the world.


I hope you stocked up, because this is going to be one hell of a gameweek. But it’s not like I haven’t been advising you about that for weeks.


It’s a case of too little, too late in the West Brom-Nicolas Anelka.

Months after sparking outrage by using the controversial quenelle gesture after scoring, the team has finally released the forward after he terminated his contract three months early.

It was highly questionable when the team kept on playing him amid the investigation and now that it has finally released him, it makes it even more questionable.

This was always going to be the end result, so why did it take the Baggies so long to arrive at there?

At least FIFA is looking to uphold the FA’s five-match ban, regardless where the Frenchman resurfaces.

That’s a good move that will show players that you simply can’t flee to avoid punishment.

But, at this point of his career, Anelka is running very low on options for places to play.

Follow me on Twitter @danbilicki

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