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Fan Focus: Doron Salomon Provides Us With The View From The Stretford End

Manchester United visit the Stadium of Light tomorrow coming off the back of a tough trip to Donetsk and back to back league defeats. We took some time to speak to Doron Salomon, writer and contributor to

Paul Thomas

Although it's early days, it's hard to ignore the league table, which sees Manchester United sitting in the bottom half. Just how disappointing has the start been?

Doron Salomon: It's a weird one, no doubt about that. I think when the fixture list came out, few United fans would have expected us to be leading the way after 6 games but when you break it down game-by-game it's even stranger. Swansea - excellent; Chelsea - not the worst result; Liverpool - played worse and won there in recent years; Palace - flat; Man City - shambolic; WBA - some good, lots of bad. My point is that we've seen the equivalent of the four seasons already; some great football, the scrappy win, the undeserved defeat, the annihilation. It's disappointing that there's no consistency but that will have to change soon...

The man at the centre of it all is David Moyes. Despite the press, it's too early to be talking about a man under pressure, or is that something that comes with the territory at Old Trafford?

DS: From my point of view it's way too early. It's new ground for so many of us, probably for most of the press who write the stories too in that there's a new manager at United so whatever he did in these opening games there was always going to be an exaggeration one way or another. A lot of our fans, myself included, have known no one else in charge and therefore have known nothing other than success - we are a spoilt fanbase and those who can't readjust their expectations are going to be moaning. No sane fan truly wants him out already, those who didn't want him in the first place have tended to come round to the fact that he's in charge now so you're either on the bus or you're off.

Moyes brought Fellaini with him from Goodison Park, eventually, and he's a player who has often had a field day against Sunderland. Do you rate him as a player?

DS: Yeah, I've always appreciated what he could do but I wouldn't say I've always liked him. I wanted him at United as well, I think we could do with a player who's a bit nasty, a bit physical and can play in a number of roles in the middle. The unfortunate thing is that at £27.5m there's now a level of expectation on him that's unfair - he alone isn't the answer to our ongoing central midfield problems, he certainly helps, but he doesn't fix it. How we use him will be interesting, I'd like to see us try three in the middle more with Carrick and Cleverley alongside him. We've often come undone against teams who play three against us there so it's about time we matched up.

Ostensibly it's the same set of players at the club that won the title last season. How has Moyes set the team up and what differences are there between this side and Ferguson's?

DS: Not a lot has changed at all really. It's predominantly the same 4-4-2/4-4-1-1 type system with wingers and two in the middle. The biggest change has been that Fergie isn't there, sounds obvious but he was the reason we won the league. He had the ability to drive a team on and squeeze that extra bit out of players... that game against West Brom for example, we'd have got something out of it if Fergie was in charge. That's not a criticism of Moyes though, any new manager would be facing that same issue. On the pitch I guess there are two slight tactical changes: 1) we seem to pressing opponents and closing them down higher; 2) for some reason there is a bigger gap between our midfield and defence that both City and West Brom exploited so well - it's not dissimilar to the start of the 2011/12 season except we were scoring for fun then as well as conceding softly.

Speaking of manager's under pressure, Paolo Di Canio was recently sent packing by Sunderland. What did you make of his time in the Premier League? Would you rather be facing a Sunderland team with him in charge?

DS: What a palaver! I think in many ways it went exactly as everyone expected it to - wild, unpredictable and totally bonkers. What is weird is that he was allowed to bring in a load of new players this summer and yet he's no chance to prove he was right to. I can only assume something's gone on, maybe he lost the dressing room.

It's hard to know whether I'd rather he was there. You got the feeling that in one off games, he had the ability to fire up the team, like that game at Newcastle for example. Teams have always managed to up their game against us, particularly when we're reigning champions so I think it could have been dangerous if he was there. That said, Sunderland played well against Liverpool which highlights what playing under an interim manager or new manager can do too - players suddenly want to impress again and the club feels rejuvenated. Either way, I don't think it's a great time to be facing Sunderland really.

Despite the poor start for Manchester United, it's still a side littered with quality so it almost seems churlish to ask who we should look out for. If he plays, van Persie is an obvious danger man as is an on song Rooney. It might be easier to ask where the weaknesses lie in this United side?

DS: Good question. A few months back I'd have said in the middle and that remains the case depending on who's picked there. It'll be Carrick and one other, maybe two others. Carrick and Cleverley held it together well at Swansea, wouldn't mind seeing them reunited if Tom is fit. Otherwise it's at the back, individually we have good players but Moyes seems unsure of the right partnerships and well there have simply been so many errors from that area this season. Ferdinand in particular has been awful, which is more than a surprise given that he was excellent last season. Mind you, if you're looking for someone to look out for, then keep an eye on Adnan Januzaj - may even force a start.

Given that Sunderland have just 1 point on the board and show little sign of picking up a league win at the moment, do you fear anyone in the team?

DS: If I'm being honest then the answer's probably a tentative no. Sessegnon would have been the obvious one, he was brilliant against us last weekend. I guess Adam Johnson has the potential to cause problems as he doesn't stick to one position, he'll try and cut in but he can go outside too. It's all a bit meaningless I guess in that I'd not have feared Berahino or Amalfitano a week ago.

Saturday's visit to the Stadium of Light comes on the back of an away game in the Ukraine. Any thoughts on that match?

DS: Wednesday was really pleasing. We may not have got the win but Moyes changed it up and went with three in the middle - something he should have done at City and Liverpool - and the result was obvious in that they were limited to two efforts on target and were forced wide rather than walking through the middle of us. Some may feel we should have been more attacking but I think Moyes got it spot on and a draw there is a good result. That said, I expect us to be more positive at Sunderland.

And, what do you think the result will be?

DS: A somewhat nervy 2-1 to United.

Thanks to Doron for the Manchester United perspective ahead of this weekend's match. Follow him on Twitter @DoronSalomon and be sure to check out his work on - @stretford_end

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