Manchester United 1 West Bromwich Albion 2 match report: David Moyes under pressure as Albion show magic is gone

Manager bemoans another poor performance as his United side suffers second successive defeat

Old Trafford

When Sir Alex Ferguson left Old Trafford so, too, did the fear. There would have been a time when a side like West Bromwich Albion would not have dared come to Manchester and taken on United as equals.

Most clubs would approach Old Trafford’s giddying stands with the trepidation of a hobbit catching his first sight of the towers of Mordor. When United wrested the title back from Chelsea in 2011, West Bromwich were the only side to take so much as a point here and that when Edwin van der Sar inexplicably dropped the ball at Somen Tchoyi’s feet.

They took a point then and now they merited more. At 1-1 most sides might have stuck, taken a draw, withdrawn behind their own halfway line and hoped to ride out the inevitable storm. Now, West Bromwich passed with an easy fluidity and, with a shot from the edge of the area from Saido Berahino, they got what they deserved.

It was not the only goal that Berahino, a lovely talent whose family fled a civil war in Burundi to find sanctuary in Birmingham, might have scored.  For Manchester United and David Moyes this was worse, far worse, than defeat in the derby last Sunday.

This is, statistically, Manchester United’s worst start to a season since 1989, the last year when it seemed likely that Ferguson might be sacked. Losing to West Bromwich has cost in no particular order Andre Villas-Boas, Roberto di Matteo, Chris Hughton and Paolo di Canio their jobs. Towards the end their supporters, who had not won at this ground since the days of Big Ron and the Three Degrees, were chanting: “We’re West Bromwich Albion, we’ll sack who we want”.

It would take a fevered leap of imagination to picture Moyes losing his job but the stress was evident as he patrolled his touchline, pointing, encouraging and, when what would have been an equaliser from Marouane Fellaini was correctly ruled offside, seizing up with frustration.

He had made seven changes from the side that had been demolished at Eastlands and the casualties included Patrice Evra and Nemanja Vidic, whom he described on Friday as “the best centre-half I have worked with.”

The absences would have had something to do with Manchester United’s long journey to the coalfields of Ukraine to face Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League. Vidic’s chances of starting in the Donbass Arena on Wednesday night increased considerably with this performance.

It left Wayne Rooney as captain, which for so many reasons was not something that could have been predicted in the summer. Despite the fact that he once sued the forward for libel, Rooney is Moyes’ kind of player and with Robin van Persie on the bench through injury, he remained Manchester United’s lone threat. It was his dipping free-kick arriving through a flurry of red shirts that deceived Boaz Myhill for the equaliser and provided United with the kind of opportunity they once exploited greedily and instinctively.

It was only in the closing moments when a far from fit Van Persie had been thrown on that they carried a threat. Often Manchester United appeared to be playing from memory and a very faded one at that.

“It was a poor result and a poor performance,” said Moyes, whose decision to substitute Shinji Kagawa at half-time was a further humiliation to a footballer who because of his iconic status in Japan is under more pressure than anyone else in the home dressing room. Moyes complained that Manchester United “do not seem to be able to open teams up.” That is a role Kagawa performed regularly at Dortmund. 

For his opposite number, Steve Clarke, this was a beautifully engineered victory. Old Trafford had been the scene of his first taste of management when taking over as Newcastle’s caretaker after the ruinous reign of Ruud Gullit. Manchester United had won 5-1 with the stadium chanting: “Let’s all laugh at Shearer”. Now, they were silenced.

“We did everything almost perfectly. We were about more than defending doggedly and trying to nick a point,” said Clarke, who had lost Scott Sinclair after 13 minutes and seen his captain, Jonas Olsson have his head bandaged early on. Later, that bandaged head would send the ball against David De Gea’s crossbar.

The last time these sides had met was a 5-5 draw – a schoolboy scoreline in a match that featured schoolboy tactics in what was Ferguson’s final match as manager of Manchester United.

The goal that opened this game up was a schoolboy goal of sorts; the kind you would cherish into middle age. Morgan Amalfitano, brought in on loan from Marseilles, had scored against Sunderland last week but this was on another plane. He began on the right wing, cut inside, placed the ball through Rio Ferdinand’s legs and kept on running. De Gea spread himself and the Frenchman simply chipped the ball over him without a hint of fear in his body.

Manchester United (4-2-3-1): De Gea, Jones, Ferdinand, Evans, Buttner; Carrick, Anderson (Fellaini, 67); Nani, Rooney, Kagawa (Januzaj, h-t); Hernandez (Van Persie, 58).

West Bromwich Albion (4-2-3-1): Myhill; Jones, McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell; Mulumbu, Yacob; Amalfitano, Sessegnon (Rosenberg, 90), Sinclair (Berahino, 13); Anichebe (Lugano, 88).

Referee: Michael Oliver

Man of the match: Morgan Amalfitano (West Bromwich)

Match rating: 7/10

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
Arts and Entertainment
Original Netflix series such as Orange Is The New Black are to benefit from a 'substantial' increase in investment
TVHoax announcement had caused outrage
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

News
One Direction star Harry Styles who says he has no plans to follow his pal Cara Delevingne down the catwalk.
peopleManagement confirms rumours singer is going it alone are false
Voices
Mrs Brown's Boy: D'Movie has been a huge commercial success
voicesWhen it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Curtain calls: Madani Younis
theatreMadani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Arts and Entertainment
'Deep Breath' is Peter Capaldi's first full-length adventure as the twelfth Doctor
TVFirst episode of new series has ended up on the internet
Life and Style
Douglas McMaster says the food industry is ‘traumatised’
food + drinkSilo in Brighton will have just six staple dishes on the menu every day, including one meat option, one fish, one vegan, and one 'wild card'
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

The evolution of Andy Serkis

First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Children's books are too white, says Laureate

Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

Blackest is the new black

Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

The Open 2014

Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?