Connect with us

Match Reports

Giggsy, attitude, J Stand: five things we’ve learnt from United vs Norwich

1225243-25791294-640-360After a week he himself described as  “a whirlwind”, Ryan Giggs took charge of his first game as Manchester United interim manager, following the sacking of David Moyes on Tuesday, and got his managerial career off to the best of starts, as United swept Norwich aside with a convincing 4-0 win.

While the Canaries might not have been the toughest of tests for Giggs’ team (admittedly, that has a wonderful ring to it), there were some positives signs after a season of doom and gloom. Here’s five talking points from Saturday.

1) Attitude

In his press conference on Friday, Giggs had spoken of his desire to see his players being brave and determined to attack throughout the game for, as he put it: “if the players enjoy the game, then things become a lot easier for them and that’s playing football the United way”.

Giggs would have been pleased with what he saw, particularly in the second half when, for the first time in 10 months, every single player in a red shirt seemed to be wanting the ball, rather than treating it like a bomb ready to detonate. The sacking of David Moyes alone was probably enough to lift some of the doom and gloom that had blanketed over players and fans this season while the decision to appoint Giggs as interim manager was the perfect way to ensure a raucous response from the crowd, it looked yesterday as if it was the key to get the players to perform too.

Manchester United's Nicky Butt, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes during the match against Norwich


United have been absolutely dreadful this season, something both Giggs and Rooney have recognised admitting players needed to take their responsibilities for Moyes’ sacking, but the sense of relief was palpable yesterday, on and off the pitch. After a ponderous first half, the shackles were well and truly off in the second half, as United played like they didn’t play all season, making Moyes’ tenure look like nothing but a nightmare that will – hopefully – soon be forgotten.

2) Attack, attack, attack

United had score four or more goals in six occasions under Moyes, three times in the league (away at Swansea and Newcastle and at home to Aston Villa), one in the Capital One Cup (at home to Norwich) and twice in the Champions League (home and away against Leverkusen) but yesterday they had more shots on target than in any of the 34 league games played under Moyes.

While Giggs’ decision to start with a traditional 4-4-2 left some puzzled – and, let’s face it, that line-up would have been widely criticised had it been chosen by Moyes – and United did not burst into life until the second half, the difference in philosophy between Moyes and Giggsy was there for all to see.

With United two goals up, Giggs replaced a striker – Danny Welbeck – with an attacking midfielder – Juan Mata – and then brought on Javier Hernandez for Tom Cleverley, thus ensuring that United did not sit on their lead but kept going forward looking to add to their tally, the polar opposite of what we had become accustomed to under Moyes, who always seemed to prefer to shut up shop at 1-0.

3) Changes are needed

David Moyes might have made a lot of mistake during his 10 months at Old Trafford, but it’s hard to disagree with him regarding that United do indeed need fresh faces. The overhaul might not be as drastic as Moyes had wanted it to be, nor will it be carried out as the former United boss had hoped, but the simple fact of the matter is that some United players simply aren’t good enough, regardless of who’s in charge.

Patrice Evra was excellent going forward in the second half, but was his usual, distract self at the back, while not even Ryan Giggs could get Tom Cleverley to produce a good performance and Antonio Valencia to cross a ball properly. Cleverley was useless as usual, spraying the ball sideways without ever attempting a through ball, while Valencia wasted a couple of decent opportunities in the first half by either failing to beat the first man or adopting his “smash it through the box and hope for the best” crossing technique.

For both, as indeed for other, time could be up at United and whoever will take over from Giggs will have a sizeable job to do, though there were positives to be taken from yesterday: Juan Mata looks increasingly at ease in a red shirt, Shinji Kagawa put in another good performance and David De Gea was excellent again.

4) Wayne’s world

Having gone a month without scoring, Wayne Rooney yesterday scored his 16th and 17th Premier League goal of the season – curiously, it was his third consecutive brace – at the end of what was a man of the match performance from him. Rooney has divided opinions for over 12 months now – some would rightly argue that he’s been doing so for much longer than that – and despite signing a new five-year deal, things haven’t improved much.


Paying a striker – one who had scored three times in 15 games before signing his new contract –  £300,000-a-week was always going to be a risky strategy, even more so when Rooney was asked to play even when clearly unfit as it was the case against Everton and Bayern Munich but, at the same time, United would have arguably been worse off without Rooney’s goals this season.

Against Norwich, Rooney looked fully fit and he was at ease when asked to drop deeper as Hernandez came on and a strong finish to the season could see him heading to a major tournament without any injury worries for the first time in a decade. What happens after the World Cup, however, remains a question mark: Rooney has often struggled to be in top shape after the summer but if he can return to Carrington fully fit in August, then the new manager’s job will be a lot easier.

5) J Stand

We’ve endured an absolutely dreadful season, arguably the worst in a quarter of a century, but our support has been fantastic this season. Even at Old Trafford, where the atmosphere has been subdued for a large part of the last decade or so, United fans have vocally got behind their team this season, disproving the myth that portrays us as small-time, wannabes glory-hunters.

photo (14)

It was therefore sad to see a day such as yesterday, with the class of ’92 taking charge of United for the first time, marred by an incident in J Stand, where stewards tried to seize a banner against the singing section, reading: “Loyalty = Eviction”. Any initiative that might improve the atmosphere is obviously welcomed – even though the whole ground should be a singing section – but evicting fans who have stood or sat for years in the same seat isn’t the right way to go about the business.

Numerous fanzines have voiced their discontent, but the club has yet again shown no interest whatsoever for many loyal fans and that’s a real shame.