Manchester United’s issues this season have been well documented. Lackluster in defence, absent in midfield and unable to deliver the ball for the strikers to score.
It’s a fair argument to say that David de Gea has been one of United’s most consistent players this season, and on Wednesday night his performance was once again consistently excellent, from an sublime double save to accurate distribution all night.
However, there were still problems on display throughout the game. Most notably Patrice Evra; defensively he was out of position for a lot of Olympiakos’ attacks. Rio Ferdinand, who has previously been a busted flush this season, then had to step up his game and and cover more ground left absent by the former French captain. Man of the match candidate Phil Jones did what does best, playing in his proper position at centre-back.
Antonio Valencia typified the performance by United with his busted eye from early on as he continued to press and put in a solid performance on the right wing. Although frustration which has accompanied Valencia throughout the season is still lingering around him.
The timeless Ryan Giggs dominated the midfield. Giggs’ performance was just an example of what United have been missing for most of this season. His creativity really helped United where in previous games this season, they have resorted to playing long balls as opposed to going through teams with the constant pressure that United teams had in the past. It is all well and good to see one of United’s biggest legends still playing and doing so well, but it is so clear to everyone apart from United’s hierarchy that we are in desperate need of a creative, box-to-box midfielder? Giggs cannot play that role consistently anymore, due to his age, and if it was me I would keep Giggs for what chance we have at the Champions League instead of wasting him in league matches that don’t mean anything since fourth place is out of our reach now.
Welbeck and Rooney put in two excellent shifts for United and again held a creative spark with the urgency to drive forward whereas again throughout this season United have been far too passive when it comes to going forward.
Van Persie had a much improved game up front and popped up with the all important hat-trick. Gone are the opinions he should be dropped or sold.
Never in my memory has a 3-0 win been so stressful. It was great to see United finally play a more attacking brand of football than they have been doing not only since Moyes took over but even in the latter time of Sir Alex’s reign. It would be nice to see this kind of football implemented more so now that we have less to play for and hopefully it will stick for next season.
There are definite signs of defensive frailties throughout the squad with the departure of Vidic in the summer and Ferdinand also likely to depart, a defensive overhaul will also be needed as well as new additions to the midfield. I’m not here to talk about potential transfer targets, that’s for another article but if Moyes is to have any success then he will need time to bring in the right players, not just use the current crop maxing out their potential. That’s not a sustainable plan for the future.