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Midweek Moyes: Rating Dave's Decisions v Manchester United

Team selection, tactics, substitutions and post-match comments - we analyse them all! How did Moyesy rate after our Boxing Day defeat to Manchester United?

Manchester United v Sunderland - Premier League Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images

Team Selection: Hands Were Tied!

You wouldn't envy David Moyes' when it comes to picking his team at the minute, would you?

Just look at our bench yesterday for an example of how tough his job is. The fact we are able to field eleven players at the minute is a minor miracle - and it could have been a whole lot worse if Victor Anichebe had gone off when he went down clutching his shoulder.

Still though, it was about as good as we could have hoped for, and for the most part we looked strong and resolute.

Donald Love's exclusion from the starting eleven having played so well against Watford was somewhat baffling though - I can only imagine that Moyes wanted to put out as experienced a side as he could have done, which is fair I suppose when you consider the level of opposition that we faced.

Gav's rating: 8/10 - Harsh on Donald Love, but there's wasn't much else he could have done!

Tactics: Big Team Plan Doesn't Work

I've alluded to this before - most recently after the Chelsea game - but our plan when facing the big teams just doesn't work.

I'm not saying we need to go gung-ho against them because that would be foolish, but the results don't lie - we have lost to Chelsea, Spurs, Liverpool, Manchester City, Arsenal and now Manchester United by setting up to defend and, well, failing.

What we do next is anybody's guess. We're going to need to win two or three of the games against the 'bigger clubs' if we are to stay up, and when we face Liverpool at the Stadium of Light it might be a chance for David Moyes to alter his tactical plan for when we face the big boys.

Victor Anichebe and Fabio Borini interchanged more than they usually do, with most of big Vic's better play actually coming down the Manchester United left hand side.

Gav's rating: 5/10 - We looked good until the mistakes crept in. Defending isn't our forte!

Substitutions: Too Little, Too Late

As I alluded to further up the page, David Moyes had very few players to choose from and this obviously impacted what substitutions he could make during the game.

It looked as though he might have been forced into making one early doors when Victor Anichebe went down injured, and I had to wonder what he would have actually done considering the only other forwards on the bench were Wahbi Khazri and Joel Asoro.

I felt at 1-0 down that we needed to alter something and perhaps play Khazri as a number ten like we did with Adnan Januzaj against Watford, but it never happened until it was far too late for him to do anything. Moyes clearly has no faith in Wahbi and it's a real shame - we saw last year that he can change games if given the opportunity to do so, but what quite he's expected to change when coming on in the 83rd minute is beyond me.

Donald Love replaced Sebastian Larsson in midfield later in the game when it was already lost - remember that I suggested we'd see more of big Donny in that position in the coming weeks? With Didier Ndong potentially off to Gabon next week, it might be something to consider.

It wouldn't have harmed Moyes to give one of the kids a run out later in the game, either. That kind of experience of stepping out on the pitch at Old Trafford is invaluable and someone like George Honeyman has more than earned his chance to showcase himself. It's not a big deal really, but I'd have liked to have seen something like that happen.

Gav's rating: 4/10 - Khazri came on when it was too late again.

Post-Match Comments: Honest!

David Moyes knows that individual errors from his players cost Sunderland the game, something we've seen time and time again this season - proof if anything that this squad really does need to be strengthened in the upcoming January transfer window.

Moyes said:

I don’t believe we deserved to lose 3-1 today, but we’re at fault as we gave away two outrageous goals. There were a couple of passes and bad decisions in the last 10 minutes of the game that made the result worse for us.

We did very well up until then, yes we were a goal behind, but we stuck at it and we were having a go. To concede the way we did was awful and then it was suicidal the way that they got their third and the game was beyond us at that point.

Away from home we’ve not been playing that badly, with the exception of Swansea, and I thought we played well again today. We were playing a strong Manchester United side and we showed resilience and stuck at the task in hand.

It’s just frustrating the mistakes that we did make and how we didn’t take any of our chances when we had them.

Mistakes at both ends of the pitch cos Sunderland on a fairly regular basis so the manner of our performance against Manchester United shouldn't really come as a surprise to anyone - poor teams with poor players make more errors than good teams with good players. This is nothing new.

That said, its another away game against bigger opposition chalked off. There are certainly some positives to take and we need to ensure we are much better defensively and more clinical when we play Burnley.

Gav's Rating: 8/10 - Moyes can't attone for the mistakes of his players, I suppose.