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David Moyes delighted to rub shoulders with 'idol' Maradona in Dubai

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David Moyes wants his side to silence their critics

David Moyes wants his side to silence their critics

PA Wire/Press Association Images

David Moyes wants his side to silence their critics

As a proud Scotsman, David Moyes regards Diego Maradona as an "idol", so there was no way the Manchester United manager was going to stop the Argentinian from rubbing shoulders with his players during their warm-weather training camp in Dubai.

With United out of the FA Cup, Moyes had a 10-day gap between games so he decided to take his squad to the sun-drenched emirate for a five-day break last week.

United's players were put through their paces in the 27 degree heat and they also bumped into Maradona - a man who Moyes regards highly due to his legendary skills and because of the infamous 'Hand of God' goal he scored against old foes England during the 1986 World Cup.

Maradona happened to be in Dubai at the same time as United and the World Cup winner happily posed for pictures with the likes of Adnan Januzaj, Robin van Persie and Rio Ferdinand among others.

Moyes believes the trip to Dubai was hugely beneficial to his players and he expects the meeting with Argentina's most famous football player to stick in his memory for a while.

"It was great to see him (Maradona). If you are a Scot like me, he is one of our idols!" Moyes said with a smile.

"He asked if he could come in and watch some training and we were delighted to have him and it was good.

"All the players spent a minute or two with him.

"Anybody who knows anything about football knows he and Pele are up there with the best the world has ever known."

Moyes looked all the better for the trip to Dubai.

The sun had left the Scot with a bit of colour in his cheeks and the fact that he was happy to joke about Maradona's presence at the camp proved he was in a more relaxed mood than he has been in previous weeks.

"It was probably the first time I have been able to spend any sort of time with the players when we have not had the pressure of games," Moyes said.

"On tour we (didn't have much time together) because of the amount of games and the commitments we had.

"I would have rather been in the FA Cup, but this gave us an opportunity to get away and be together for a few days.

"The facilities were great, the weather was great and we had the chance to have a bit of social time together and that was important."

Although Moyes looked more relaxed, he is under no illusions about the size and seriousness of the task that he faces in the coming weeks.

Last week's 0-0 draw at Arsenal would have normally been seen as a creditable result, but United's current predicament means they saw it as two valuable points dropped.

Time is running out for Moyes to get his team into the top four.

With 12 matches left United are 11 points adrift of the Champions League places and he now wants the Red Devils to turn the heat up on their rivals - starting with Saturday evening's trip to Crystal Palace.

"We have to try to get as close as we can (to the top four) and see if we can put some pressure on the teams above us," Moyes said.

At the start of the season Moyes would have probably expected his team to come away from Selhurst Park with a relatively straightforward win.

But United have been woefully inconsistent this season and Palace have turned a corner under new manager Tony Pulis.

Pulis has dragged the Eagles out of the relegation zone and they are now two points outside the bottom three.

With Palace having won their last three games, Moyes knows this is far from a banker.

"Tony has worked miracles at Palace," Moyes said.

"A lot of people were writing Tony off during his time at Stoke City but he hasn't half gone in there and made a few people eat their words."

PA Media