Manchester United’s tentative recovery due for a real test at Bayern

Juan Mata

Juan Mata

Taking over from Sir Alex Ferguson was not going to be east, but perhaps there’s just the beginning of an indication that David Moyes and Manchester United may be getting accustomed to each other. For just over a month now, signs of a turn round in form have started to show. Of course sound home defeats to both Manchester City and Liverpool have dented any optimism, but these are clubs at the top of their form, whilst United may just be awakening from their post-Ferguson torpor.

The performance and result at Newcastle on Saturday were both significant. The result represented the sort of outcome many United fans would expect of a Ferguson side going away to a mid-table team with largely nothing to play for. Not only did United win, but they won comfortably, and with that touch of arrogance that became the hallmark of the club over the past twenty or so years.

It will have been a great comfort for Moyes to have seen Juan Mata reveling in his more-favoured position of playing behind the striker, rather than exiled to the wing throughout a game. Whenever the Spaniard finds himself with the ball in the centre of the opponent’s half there’s always a chance that he will pick a pass to create a chance. On top of that, his free kick ability is an added bonus. Additionally, the form of Shinji Kagawa must also be lighting up the manager’s expression. Almost forced to bring in the previously exiled Japanese playmaker by the reshuffle caused by van Persie’s absence, he has been rewarded with some effective performances.  It may be that Moyes has stumbled on a formation that extracts the best from a number of his players. Quite what this means when the Dutchman is fit and ready to return will be an interesting conundrum.

He return to form could hardly be better times with the return leg in Bavaria against Bayern Munich due on Wednesday. The 1-1 draw earned with a backs-to-the –wall performance at Old Trafford last week, will have given the squad some confidence, and if they can garner a result in Germany, or at least come away with a promising performance in defeat, Moyes may well feel that the tide has finally turned and moving in his direction.

Unless you’re of a certain vintage, this Premier League season has been a strange one, with Manchester United hardly featuring at all other than the curiosity value of seeing how the club would cope post-Ferguson. The answer was, not very well, at least initially. With spring on the way however, it may just be that there are now green shoots of recovery bursting through at Old Trafford.

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