Comment: David Moyes seems unable to grasp that this Manchester United team is HIS Manchester United team

It's hard to believe these players are as much of a mystery as he suggests

Javier Hernandez has a habit of bringing sunshine after the storm for Manchester United, as he did on Wednesday night. It was also his solitary goal which sealed a redemptive win six days after the 6-1 defeat to Manchester City two years ago. The manager on the receiving end that afternoon was one David Moyes, who watched Hernandez achieve from five yards at Goodison Park in October 2011 what he managed from even closer quarters at Old Trafford against Liverpool in the Capital One Cup third round.

All the more puzzling, therefore, that Hernandez's potency in the penalty area should have seemed such a source of surprise to Moyes after United had progressed to their fourth round encounter with Norwich City. "The movement is great; a real centre forward's movement. That's everything they've told me about him here," Moyes said after the 25-year-old had spun around the six -yard box and shifted the balance of his feet so expertly to score.

Is this quality in Hernandez – his trademark at the club where scored 15 Premier League goals in his first season – really such a revelation? "Like shelling peas," was Sir Alex Ferguson's description of how Hernandez operated through the eye of a needle from close quarters, and everyone has seen it, time and again. That expression of Ferguson's dated from the October night in Valencia in 2010 when the Mexican required nine minutes as a substitute to secure a decisive Champions League win, and few could deny that he has a big game mentality on these shores either. His goal after 37 seconds against Chelsea in May 2011 effectively sealed United's title, knocking out the side who could yet have sur-passed them.

Yet for all this, Moyes claims not yet to know some of the squad he has taken over, contributing to Hernandez getting 34 minutes of football before Wednesday night. "In many ways I am still getting to know some of the players," he said in his programme notes on Wednesday, repeating what has become an incantation from him in the past few weeks.

It's hard to believe that these players are as much of a mystery as he suggests – not least because Ferguson has regaled him with the inside track on them all. We know that much from his description of the day he was summoned from that now famous shopping trip in Altrincham to be told that he was to take over from Ferguson. Within half an hour of that meeting starting the 71-year-old "was talking about the squad and the players and the staff... I couldn't believe it," Moyes has related.

Perhaps his reluctance to invest any faith in these players against Chelsea and City belongs to the fact that rotation was an alien concept at Everton. Perhaps it belongs to his sense that he wants this to be his team. Adnan Januzaj, whom Ferguson did not have at his disposal, has been trusted. "They are a really good team," Moyes said of United late on Wednesday night, somehow still unable to get to grips with the fact that "they" are his squad now. "They won the Premier League last season. But we have to look to improve as well. We know we have to improve."

Not all of Moyes' hesitancy is illogical. Shinji Kagawa, a player like Hernandez in whom he has not displayed much trust, was played out of position against Liverpool, though that does not compensate for his dreadful first half. But others – Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling – did demonstrate capabilities he has not yet given them credit for. His reluctance to try out £15m Wilfried Zaha – Ferguson's last buy – is curious. He was an unused substitute in the opening Premier League match at Swansea City, again against his old club Crystal Palace and the sense from inside United is that Moyes does not yet trust him to keep to United's offensive game-plan. A pre-season friendly offers no real measure but Zaha's ebullience delighted supporters in his role against Sevilla at Old Trafford in early August.

The ground begins to flatten out now for United, with West Bromwich Albion's arrival on Saturday the first of five winnable games, and it is time for Moyes to display some trust – even blind trust – in some of his young players. That kind of concept has been at the core of United ever since a No 7 called Best ran rings around West Bromwich 50 years ago, leaving Sir Matt Busby to wonder aloud whether it had all been a dream.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Google celebrates the 126th anniversary of the Eiffel Tower opening its doors to the public for the first time
techGoogle celebrates Paris's iconic landmark, which opened to the public 126 years ago today
Cleopatra the tortoise suffers from a painful disease that causes her shell to disintegrate; her new prosthetic one has been custom-made for her using 3D printing technology
newsCleopatra had been suffering from 'pyramiding'
Life and Style
Baroness Lane-Fox warned that large companies such as have become so powerful that governments and regulators are left behind
techTech giants have left governments and regulators behind
Arts and Entertainment
Coachella and Lollapalooza festivals have both listed the selfie stick devices as “prohibited items”
Nigel Owens was targeted on Twitter because of his sexuality during the Six Nations finale between England and France earlier this month
rugbyReferee Nigel Owens on coming out, and homophobic Twitter abuse
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin visits her 1990s work ‘My Bed’ at Tate Britain in London, where it is back on display from today
artsBut how does the iconic work stand up, 16 years on?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor