1. Rooney’s goal showed the instincts of a genius
What separates geniuses from everyone else is that extra ability to instantaneously imagine the unthinkable. Wayne Rooney received a looped ball from Ashley Young just after crossing the halfway line. He had no support nearby as his all team-mates were in defensive positions and Adrian, the West Ham goalkeeper, felt safe enough to leave his box as no imminent threat was apparent.
The amazing part is how Rooney instinctively knew that to beat Adrian from 57 yards out he needed to slice his long ball a bit. As soon as the keeper sensed that Rooney was going to float the ball over him, he measured the flight of the ball and anticipated that it was going to the right of his post. He frantically recovered in time to save it but the genius had added spin to the ball so Adrian was completely fooled.
2. Andy Carroll was cancelled out by a disciplined Fellaini
Manchester United fans who watched this game should have had a new appreciation of Marouane Fellaini’s value to their team.
The Belgium international saved Manchester United from a potentially catastrophic mismatch between Michael Carrick and Andy Carroll by dropping into defence when West Ham played their long diagonal balls.
Carroll didn’t have the easy duels he hoped for against makeshift centre-back Carrick. Instead, the West Ham forward was contained by an equally physical Fellaini.
3. Manchester United need to find a way for Mata to play behind main striker
Juan Mata has had OK games before this one when coming in from the right wing.
In this game, he was a completely different player operating centrally. The way he passed, threatened the West Ham goal and linked up play made it difficult for the hosts to contain him.
Moyes will have to make some big decisions that end up with Mata playing from the central position if he is to get the best out of the club’s record signing.
4. Moyes’ tactics were spot on
Moyes is not an extremely tactical manager. Indeed, he has been outsmarted regularly this season, but not in this game. He had specific plans to deal with Carroll, West Ham United’s main threat, in different defensive situations.
In the second half, when West Ham were threatening with sustained attacking momentum in Manchester United’s half, Moyes had Shinji Kagawa and Ashley Young play narrow around Taylor, which forced Mark Noble and Kevin Nolan to drop back and help Taylor.
Noble and Nolan were important in pressing high for the ball gleaning on knock-downs and flick-ons so the move took West Ham’s sting out of the game.
5. West Ham need to guard against complacency
A run of four straight wins in February seemed to have seen the Hammers out of trouble, but now they are just six points above the drop with Sunderland potentially going to trim that gap even further. The way West Ham played didn’t show the urgency of a team threatened by relegation; most players lost the ball cheaply and their energy levels were shockingly low.