Sunday 17 December 2017

Moyes sticks to his guns as United stare down barrel

Defiant manager rubbishes criticism of coaching staff amid strike-force woes

David Moyes rejects criticism about backroom staff amid striker woes
David Moyes rejects criticism about backroom staff amid striker woes
Manchester United's goalkeeper David De Gea

Mark Ogden

David Moyes has said he will not alter his course at Manchester United by defiantly vowing to keep faith with the methods that have left the club facing four consecutive defeats for the first time in over 50 years.

The United manager, whose miserable week was compounded yesterday by the FA charging him with misconduct for comments about the match officials following Tuesday's League Cup semi-final first-leg defeat at Sunderland, must arrest his team's slump against Swansea today without the injured Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney.

Rooney has been sent on a 'hot-weather' training break to Egypt in an effort to accelerate recovery from a groin problem.

United entertain Swansea just six days after Michael Laudrup's team won an FA Cup third-round tie at Old Trafford, in between the defeat at Sunderland and Tottenham's 2-1 win in Manchester on New Year's Day.

A fourth defeat today would see United suffering such a grim run of results for the first time in the same season since November 1961.

STORM

But with storm clouds hovering over the club and doubts being voiced over Moyes' ability to revive the team's prospects of Champions League qualification, the Scot insists he will not change his approach to the job.

"You continue to do what you have been doing," Moyes said. "If you have to change it, it suggests you were doing the wrong things in the first place, but we are not and the things we have been doing are right.

"In management, you are going to lose games. I don't know any manager who hasn't lost games and you have to go through it at some point of your career.

"If you are not winning, it can affect confidence. But prior to this (run), we won six (successive) games and we were not talking about confidence after that.

"I think the performances have been fine. There have been things that have gone against us, decisions which haven't helped, but I think we have played pretty well. The only stat that matters is goals and we have not scored enough recently."

Having added only Marouane Fellaini to his squad since succeeding Alex Ferguson, Moyes has been criticised for making wholesale changes to his back-room team, with Eric Harrison, United's former youth-team coach, claiming this week it was a 'mistake' to dispense with Ferguson's staff and transplant his Everton coaches -- Steve Round, Chris Woods and Jimmy Lumsden -- at Old Trafford.

Moyes rejected that argument, however, and claimed United's poor form this season is unrelated to the backroom changes.

"I asked (Ferguson's first-team coach) Rene Meulensteen to stay and gave him the opportunity," Moyes said. "So it wasn't as if I came in here and said 'let's get rid of everybody.'

"I've kept all the other backroom staff (aside from assistant manager Mike Phelan and goalkeeping coach Eric Steele), so I don't think that's got anything to do with it at all.

"I have always said that if players are doing their best, you cannot ask for any more. I think a lot of them are giving their best, but if that is not enough, it is something I need to have a look at."

Moyes has so far defended his players in public and refused to be critical, despite the team's form.

With injuries biting deep into his squad, fringe players have been handed chances to impress, but the 50-year-old hinted at his patience beginning to run out with those who are failing to take their opportunities.

"You get opportunities and you have to take them when they come around," Moyes said.

With United's woeful form prompting debate over Moyes' efforts and those of his players, the Scot insists he has shielded himself from the weight of criticism by 'not listening to it.'

The omnipresent figure of Ferguson in the directors' box has also been cited as burden Moyes could do without and, while the new manager insists he has no problem with his predecessor's presence, it is understood that Ferguson will not be at today's game due to an overseas family event.

Moyes has benefited from vocal backing from the club's supporters, but despite an increasing desire on the terraces for new players to be signed this month, the manager has played down the prospect of adding to his squad this month, insisting he will only sanction moves for key targets.

"If there's anything out there, I'll try and bring them in, but it's difficult," he said.

While midfielder Phil Jones could return to action today following a two-week injury lay-off, Rooney and Van Persie continue to be missed up front.

And although Rooney could return at Chelsea next Sunday, Moyes could shed no light on Van Persie's likely comeback date following a month on the sidelines with a thigh problem.

"I wouldn't want to put a date on it," Moyes said. "He has been to Holland and we are doing everything we can to get him back as quickly as we can.

"There are some injuries you can play with, but I don't think you can do that with Robin's injury. With a thigh, you can't really sprint or strike the ball." (©Daily Telegraph, London)

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