Hallmarks of Roy Hodgson’s time in charge of Liverpool included bizarre press conferences, delusional statements and a bland, rigid playing style devoid of any flair or guile.
Having already got the playing style down to a tee, Manchester United boss David Moyes completed his uncanny impersonation of ‘Woy’ by making strange, and completely false, statements to the media that his team were the better of the two sides in the 2-1 defeat to Stoke City on Saturday.
True, United had over 60% of the possession. It is also true that Tom Cleverly should have done better from eight yards right at the death and that Charlie Adam’s first goal was fortunate. However, all that doesn’t mean United deserved to win. Nor does it mean they didn’t deserve to lose.
From the kick-off, the champions were unimaginative, slow and generally crab-like in their passing. Rarely did they keep the ball for any length of time in the home team’s half, preferring to lob it into the box at every opportunity, despite Stoke having both the players and the defensive organisation to deal with that route every time.
It was like watching someone continually pull a door which says ‘push’ on it. Predictably, it remained closed. Yet Moyes believed his team had shown enough to get all three points. It is hard to see exactly what he is basing that on. He pointed to the ‘opportunities’ they created, but in actual fact, they created one clear-cut chance in the entire game, which Robin van Persie converted.
They were the comments of a man who is feeling the pressure of failing to meet the lofty expectations set his predecessor, Sir Alex Ferguson, who over-achieved with a relatively poor squad in winning the 2012/13 Premier League title.
Roy Hodgson did poorly at Anfield, but if United fail to attain Champions League football this season, that will represent more than poor. To go from 1st to 7th in the space of a season is not something you would expect from a team as steely and historically efficient as Manchester United, yet that is what’s facing them.
The questions are mounting, and David Moyes will need to give much more convincing answers than he did on Saturday if he wants to stay in a job.