Saturday 16 December 2017

'It's a long-term vision . . . we will rise again'

Defiant Moyes vows to make United fans proud ahead of crunch showdown with Olympiakos

Manchester United manager David Moyes and Manchester United's Wayne Rooney during training
Manchester United manager David Moyes and Manchester United's Wayne Rooney during training
Manchester United's manager David Moyes is challenged by Wayne Rooney during training

Mark Ogden

David Moyes has come out fighting ahead of the game that could make or break his reign as Manchester United manager, insisting he remains the man to make the club "rise again" ahead of tonight's Champions League clash with Olympiakos.

Needing to overturn a 2-0 first-leg deficit from an abject performance in Athens last month in order to qualify for the quarter-finals, Moyes faces the prospect of losing his grip on his job if a negative result triggers hostility from the supporters this evening.

Humiliated by Liverpool at the weekend and with his team on course to post the worst record of any defending champions in Premier League history, the Champions League offers the only hope of salvation – however slim – for Moyes' players this season.

But, perhaps buoyed by his surroundings in Old Trafford's Europa suite, amid photographs of Matt Busby's 1968 European Cup winners and Alex Ferguson's two Champions League-winning teams, Moyes delivered a bullish appraisal of his own prospects and those of his players with United needing to produce a historic fightback against Olympiakos to progress tonight. "My future has not changed one bit," Moyes said.


"I've got a great job and I know exactly the direction I want to go in.

"It's not been the season we hoped we would have at this present time, but I've got ideas of what I want to do, which I'll put in place when the time is right.

"But the most important thing just now is to get the Olympiakos game played, hopefully get through in the competition and, if we can, it would be a massive lift for us.

"We've got ourselves in a poor position at 2-0 down, but we've got a lot of belief and we've got to try to make it show and play well in the game."

Despite Moyes' confidence that United can overcome Olympiakos, whose record in England is a sorry 11 defeats from 11 games, doubts over his position remain.

A growing anti-Moyes sentiment among the club's supporters has led to many taking to social media to call for the 'Chosen One' banner in his honour – which hangs from the Stretford End – being removed.

Those supporters charged with maintaining the banners in Old Trafford have rejected those demands ahead of the game, however, but there remains a stark possibility of supporters turning on Moyes if United fail to defeat the Greek champions.

With his position on the line, Moyes insists that he has not felt the need to seek assurances from the club's owners, the Glazer family.

"The biggest assurance is that they let me get on with the job," Moyes said. "We never discuss it. "We talk about the future, we're making big plans for years going forward. That's why it was a six-year contract, because this isn't a club that works on a short-term vision. It's a long-term vision.

"I think the support inside Old Trafford has been phenomenal. The players would tell you it was the first thing I mentioned after the Liverpool game, that we need to start giving something back. We need to start performing together, me and the team, and we need to work together to make sure we get a performance and a night to be remembered.

"We'll do everything we can to make that happen. We'll leave nothing behind on the night and try to somehow get through to the next round."

While Moyes and his players have been backed by the supporters at Old Trafford, the team has lost six times at home this season, scoring a meagre 18 goals in 14 home league games. And the Scot admits he cannot explain the contradiction of his team performing so badly in front of their own supporters.

"The results at Old Trafford have been disappointing, but it's not for want of trying," Moyes said. "There have been several games where we've been the better team and lost to a counter-attack goal or lost in the last minute to a corner-kick or something along those lines.

"But we've also made a lot of opportunities and not taken them at home. That's been the difference this year.

"I think the fans have seen some defeats this season that they wouldn't have expected and they've stuck with the team throughout. They understand the period we are all in together.

"They've seen great success here and they'll see great success in the future, I've got no doubt about that. This club is too big, it's the biggest in the world and while it might not feel like that today, it is and it will rise again and, hopefully, it's not too long."

The image of Manchester United as a club that forever came back from the brink is somewhat misplaced. Only twice in their history have they overturned a 2-o first-leg deficit. Curiously, both times the year ended in a four and Ferguson was not in charge.


The last was in 1984, when a side driven on by Bryan Robson overcame a Barcelona that featured Diego Maradona at a fevered Old Trafford. Patrice Evra, too, has experienced it when France, ridiculed and written off, overcame Ukraine to reach the European Championship.

"You have to let the storm pass," Evra said. "France didn't expect to lose 2-0 in Ukraine, but after two days, everyone was focused on the same goal and we stuck together. We played for the people we love – for family, for fans – and we gave everything.

"Here, we know we had a bad game in the first leg. Even a three-year-old United fan will have been hurting from that performance, but in life, you always have a second chance.

"I'm not God and telling you we will qualify, but I can promise you we will all fight and respect the shirt and make sure all the fans will be really proud of us after the game."There are too many words right now. We just have to show on the pitch. That is most important." (© Daily Telegraph, London)



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