After a disastrous start, December could turn out to be the month that turns United’s season around. After going six wins from six in all competitions, David Moyes seems to be settling into the biggest job in world football as Manchester United manager. We look back at December and analyse the key turning points.
December can only be described as a month of two halves for Manchester United and Moyes. After a decent November which seen United start to find their feet, December couldn’t have really started any worse. A solitary point from white hart lane proceeded by 2 home defeats meant once again things were looking bleak for Moyes and his men. However United recovered finishing the month with a six game winning streak. Finishing top of their group in the champions league and cruising into the last four of the capital one cup. Not to mention now being only three points of the top four and only two off supposed title contenders Liverpool. The month really was a month of two halves.
Tottenham Hotspur 2-2 Manchester United – White Hart Lane – Sunday 1st December 2013
United started the month with a hard thought point at struggling Spurs. Strikes from Sandro and Walker were both cancelled out by an exceptional Wayne Rooney. Both United and Spurs had chances to win the game however a draw seemed a fair result on the day.
Manchester United 0-1 Everton – Old Trafford – Wednesday 4th December 2013
United’s second game of the month seen them play host to Everton. Martinez’s men came to Old Trafford well organised and restricted United who never really looked like scoring. That being said United had their chances and were it not for wasteful attacking play could have bagged a couple. A goal three minutes from time from Oviedo was enough to seperate the sides and send Everton back to Merseyside with all three points.
Manchester United 0-1 Newcastle United – Old Trafford – Saturday 7th December 2013
On the following weekend United played host to Newcastle with Moyes looking for a response from his players to the midweek defeat…anything but. United’s attacking play was lazy and wasteful. It was this sloppiness that Newcastle capitalised on mid way through the second half when Cabaye scored on the counter attack. This provided enough to separate the sides. With United languishing in 9th the pressure was mounting on the team and on Moyes.
Manchester United 1-0 Shakhtar Donetsk – Old Trafford – Tuesday 10th December 2013
United needed to win this game in order to guarantee top spot of their group and avoid a tougher last sixteen clash with a European heavyweight. Shaktar were not the most organised of sides, however neither were United on the night. A solitary Phil Jones goal was enough to send United through as group winners. United did not play well on the night, but this was the type of win they needed. A hard thought three points. But three points none the less. United drew Olympiakos in the last sixteen.
Aston Villa 0-3 Manchester United – Villa Park – Sunday 15th December 2013
United’s next outing was arguably their best performance since the 5-0 mauling of Bayer Leverkusen. With Van Persie out, it gave a chance to Welbeck to show his worth. He scored two quick goals in the first half, followed by a well worked effort from Cleverley early on in the second half put the game to bed. United were fluid and composed on the ball, something Moyes hoped his team could carry on into the festive period. The game also seen a welcome return to the squad for Darren Fletcher.
Stoke City 0-2 Manchester United – Britannia Stadium – Wednesday 18th December 2013
Stoke were next up for United in the quarter final of the capital one cup. The first half was a wash out…literally. With the players being forced off due to a torrential hail storm. Into the second half and a surprise and welcome goal for Ashley Young who broke the deadlock with a powerful shot from eighteen yards. Evra’s curled effort made it two and sent United to a semi final against Sunderland, with the prospect of an all Manchester Final. It is vital Moyes takes this tournament seriously as to attempt to get some early silverware under his belt. His United team duly obliged emerging comfortable winners. Three in a row.
Manchester United 3-1 West Ham United – Old Trafford – Saturday 21st December 2013
United’s first league home game after the defeat to Newcastle seen the reds play host to West Ham. United emerged comfortable victors with goals from Welbeck, Januzaj and Young helping United earn all three points. A late goal from Cole attempted to take the shine off the win, however United played well that day making it four in a row.
Hull City 2-3 Manchester United – KC Stadium – Thursday 26th December 2013
Hard work was made of what should of been a routine win at Hull on Boxing Day. Two early Hull goals meant United were 2-0 down inside thirteen minutes. Sloppy defending was the reason for both goals and will be something Moyes will be looking to address heading into the new year. Thankfully Rooney was on hand to assist Smalling with a well worked free kick. But it was Rooney himself who scored the second with a thundering volley from 25 yards. Two each at the break. United were still under pressure from Hull, and were it not for De Gea and the woodwork Hull could have taken the lead. However it was a James Chester own goal which eventually gave United a hard worked 3 points. Valencia was sent off for a second bookable offence and Rooney picked up a knock which put them both out of the Norwich game. Another victory for United none the less. Five from five.
Norwich City 0-1 Manchester United – Carrow Road – Saturday 28th December 2013
The last game of a defining year for Manchester United was at Carrow Road where Norwich hosted the premier league champions. With injuries and suspensions all round, Moyes was forced to field a weakened team. Again were it not for the brilliance of De Gea United could have found themselves behind at multiple times during the game. However a poachers goal from Welbeck in the 57th minute after charging down a Norwich clearance was enough to ensure United ended 2013 with a win, and made the six in six, the best run under the rein of Moyes.
So with 2013 and December over, United fans will have mixed emotions. Were it not for the two slip ups early on against Everton and Newcastle, United would be right in the mix for a title challenge going into the new year. However they find themselves three points of the top four. But i’m sure Moyes would have taken that after the Newcastle game.
Looking ahead, nobody is really considering United for a title challenge and why would they? But after winning six in a row, three points of the top four, the FA cup still to play for, a semi final against Sunderland and a last sixteen clash in the champions league to look forward to, United’s disastrous start to the season doesn’t seem that bad after all.
As a man once said ‘never write off Manchester United’.