So this was supposed to be the game after which the media and ABUs take the streets and start decampaigning the man Sir Alex chose to replace him as manager of Manchester United. It was supposed to be the game in which Jose would unleash all of Chelsea's creative firepower upon United and severely expose their weaknesses to the world watching.
Come kickoff, and Chelsea fans themselves couldn't believe the line up selected by their apparently happy manager. The most optimistic thought it was a master stroke by Jose to leave the United defence guessing as to whom to pick out and man mark but the reality was that it appeared Jose had set out his team to avoid defeat at Old Trafford. What a shame.
We're told he was hired with a new resolve to play attractive football for Roman but if last night is anything to go by then the lies of Mata will rot on the Chelsea bench as Jose's raw tactics of grit come to the fore in the big matches. Enough of them though.
For the first time since 2008, Manchester United dominated possession against Chelsea. Yes we've beaten them convincingly in the recent past but you'd be hard pressed to point out a fixture in which we passed the ball more often than any of the big sides. Sir Alex used to set us up to pinch results after we lost Roy Keane and rightly so because we've been short in midfield for a while, but last night, you'd hardly lay a complaint about the United midfield. Chelsea's 6 midfielders did not seem to dominate the Carrick_Cleverley axis.
Have seen them given, Chelsea got lucky.
From a tactical point of view, it was evident that David Moyes has introduced something new to Manchester United. Regular readers of this blog will notice that I pointed this out in pre_season. United are now pressing the ball more often efficiently that they did under Sir Alex. Whereas we used to get away with it under the old boss in the league, we've suffered recently in Europe because United used to set up to defend deep into their own half and hit teams on the counter. The disadvantage of that was that we gave time to our opponents to make use of their intelligent players to pick out passes that eventually saw us conceding goals to average sides. David Moyes is a scholar of the modern game and so will have learnt that you cannot live in the current football climate if you do not press the ball. People think that Pep's Barcelona were good because of the talent in the side and yet the reality is that Pep made Barcelona the best side without the ball. When they lost it, they hurried the opposition until they gave it back.
That, in my opinion is why United suddenly saw a lot of the ball in a fixture in which we usually see less of it than the opposition. Moyes has got Cleverley clipping at heels and forcing the opponents into a mistake rather than retreating to the penalty area to wait for them to misplace a pass.They style does require fit personnel to get right but I do hope the gaffer keeps building on this new philosophy for it only makes us hat much harder to beat.
Wayne responded to the love offered to him by the crowd by putting in a hell of a shift
The tough start reaches its midpoint this weekend with a visit to Anfield. The failure to score on Monday night means that the pressure is still on for Moyes ahead of that trip. He still needs to win against the big boys to earn his credits. Until that happens though, some fans and the media a large will remain clipping at his heels reminding him of his place in the ladder of football managers.
#Didn't you just love that moment when he emerged from the tunnel to a rapturous welcome from the Stretford End and then the salute of acknowledgement...