United enraged over Villa players 'queueing up to kick' star Januzaj
DAVID MOYES demanded greater protection for Adnan Januzaj as he accused referee Lee Mason of allowing Aston Villa to target the winger with "terrible" tackling at Villa Park.
After seeing his team claim their first league win in more than a month, the Manchester United manager accused the home side of "queueing up to kick" Januzaj in a bad-tempered match.
Januzaj, making his eighth senior start for United, was the victim of a succession of Villa fouls, with only defender Matt Lowton being cautioned by Mason for challenging the 18-year-old.
Despite previously raising the issue of Januzaj being on the receiving end of over-zealous challenges since the youngster was handed his debut this season, Moyes has warned that an "incredible talent" risked being badly injured unless officials act more decisively.
"I think he's been kicked in every game," Moyes said. "I don't know how many tackles he's had in the last two or three games.
"I'm annoyed with the fourth official and referees because, before you know it, the boy will get a sore one as he is definitely not getting protected by the officials. It's terrible what they are allowing to go on at the moment.
"Lowton was booked but there were that many tackles on him from different players. It's not necessarily the same player (fouling him), because I think they are queueing up to see who will kick him next.
"It's something the referees will have to think about. Last week was exactly the same. It's up to the referees, that's their job, they are paid to referee the games and are professional. You would hope they would recognise that.
"This boy is an incredible talent. He will just get up and walk away and get on. That's one of his biggest attributes along with his outstanding ability. He will say: 'Come on kick me, and I'll get up again.'"
Although Lambert refused to deny that Januzaj had been on the receiving end of physical challenges, the Scot insisted that none of his Villa players had been instructed to unsettle the United player.
"We are not a physical side," the Villa manager said. "We are a young side who are maybe over-exuberant, but I never sent out anyone to try and kick anyone. It was not an over-aggressive game. There were challenges that people were entitled to go for."
Januzaj played a central role in United's opening goal, with the winger's header rebounding off the post before Danny Welbeck scored from close range.
The goal was the England forward's first in the Premier League since the opening day of the season and after seeing him score United's second moments later, Moyes admitted that Welbeck must now become more consistent in front of goal.
"I think for Danny it is really important that he scores more regularly now," the United manager said.
"He is a forward and he needs to get himself goals and it has always been labelled at him (that he does not score enough).
"He got two poacher-type goals and he could have had had another one. All round he played well for the team. He was a threat running in behind them and I was pleased with him.
"I thought he did a good job, especially when we have Robin (van Persie) and Chicho (Javier Hernandez) out today. He stepped up to the mark and that is what happens when you get opportunities, you show what you can do and Danny certainly did that."
Tom Cleverley ended his year-long goal drought by scoring the third goal to secure the victory early in the second half.
"Tom needs to score more but he played well today," Moyes said of the midfielder. "Sometimes I don't think people see it but I thought he had a really good game and passed the ball well, kept it.
"He had lots of touches on the ball and did well and his goal capped it."
With United facing a run of what appear to be comfortable fixtures ahead of an Old Trafford clash with Tottenham Hotspur on New Year's Day, Moyes admitted that this victory must become a platform for a climb up the table.
"We are getting closer to it but has to be more consistent and I am still looking for that to improve again," Moyes said.
"We could have scored more goals but the all-round performance was much more like us and I am pleased with that. At Manchester United we are expected to win and I will try to win the next one. Then we can see where we end up." (© Daily Telegraph, London)