Fergie would have struggled with 'ageing' United – Moyes
David Moyes has claimed that even Alex Ferguson would have struggled to arrest Manchester United's decline this season after pointing to the "ageing" squad he inherited as a key factor in the club's fall from grace.
Moyes is facing the first public display of opposition to his appointment as Ferguson's successor today after a group of supporters managed to raise £840 to fly a plane over Old Trafford trailing a banner emblazoned with the words 'Wrong One – Moyes Out' during the game against Aston Villa.
The Scot insists that support inside the stadium remains in his favour, despite fans verbally attacking Ferguson for selecting Moyes following Tuesday's 3-0 defeat at home to Manchester City.
But with Moyes overseeing a disastrous defence of the Premier League, with United seventh and facing a battle to secure qualification for the Europa League, the former Everton manager believes that even his predecessor would have encountered severe turbulence this season.
"I would say United supporters this year have probably been as good as people have seen them for many a year," Moyes said.
"They understand there is a change, that there has been a change from a great manager – and not just a great manager but a manager who was here for 25 years – and to make that change is always going to be difficult.
"People are aware there is a squad that is a bit more ageing, so I think it would have been a tough season for whoever was in charge of Manchester United this season.
"And I actually think if Sir Alex was here this year it would be difficult for him as well and I'm sure he would be aware of it.
"It could have been the case no matter what this season, but it has been so un-Man United, which is why we have to look to continue a policy of building, improving, getting better and that's what we'll try to do."
Despite an acceptance within Old Trafford that Moyes faced a rebuilding job when he succeeded Ferguson last summer, Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho – regarded by many to be Ferguson's obvious successor – yesterday defended his record and legacy.
"He (Ferguson) can only be blamed for one thing," Mourinho said. "That United are the club they are. He's retired, let him retire in peace."
A growing number of supporters now identify Moyes as the central figure in United's slump, however, and the hiring of the plane to fly the protest banner is a reflection of the mood among some sections.
Described by the organisers of the stunt as being "born out of acute frustration", the fly-past is aimed at displaying an alternative view to those supporters who have refused to remove the 'Chosen One' banner – so-called because Moyes was anointed by Ferguson – from the Stretford End.
In a statement, the fly-past organisers said: "We cannot have a manager who thinks it is acceptable to call our major rivals 'favourites' when they play us at Old Trafford. It is a betrayal of the club's ethos, a betrayal of the players and a betrayal of the fans' support.
"We want a manager who understands and embraces our attacking traditions and has a vision of confidence for the future, not a manager who seems to be completely disassociated and visibly uncomfortable with the fact that he is the manager of Manchester United."
With the 'Chosen One' banner proving to be the focal point of the United supporters' disharmony, Moyes conceded that he would rather have earned the tribute, saying: "I've said right from day one here that until I'm successful, I've got no need for any banners. I don't expect it, you earn it and I'm going to earn it.
"Would I prefer it (if it wasn't there)? It makes no difference to me whatsoever. I'll be happy when I've won trophies and then I can have a banner up there by right."
Moyes added: "I've heard about the plane and obviously it's something that people can do. But for me, I've sensed a stronger level of support in Old Trafford."
Although confidence in Moyes from within the dressing-room has begun to drain away, the 50-year-old retains the support of the United hierarchy, with lengthy discussions over summer transfer targets taking place with executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward only last week.
Moyes has, however, found his tactics and selections criticised by former players Paul Scholes and Gary Neville, but he claims that he still has the backing of the club.
"I think the best people to judge would be the people who appointed me," added Moyes. "The people who appointed me are incredibly knowledgeable football people.
"In fact, it was probably the most knowledgeable person (Ferguson) who gave me the job, so you would have to look at them, and they were the people who put me in place.
"They saw somebody who could do the job at Manchester United and know what the club is about and the style of the job.
"So you have to trust those people, they trust me and for that reason we'll go on working together." (© Daily Telegraph, London)
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