Saturday 18 November 2017

David Moyes: 'Going back to Goodison will be intimidating'

Manchester United boss David Moyes
Manchester United boss David Moyes

David Moyes expects an "intimidating" atmosphere when he takes his Manchester United team to Everton for the first time since he left for Old Trafford.

Tears filled Moyes' eyes at Goodison Park when he waved goodbye to Everton fans last May following the final game of his 11-year spell at the club.

The Scot was given a guard of honour, and he struggled to contain his emotions as he walked around the pitch at the end of the 2-0 win over West Ham.

But there was little sign of that love last December when Everton came to Old Trafford.

Everton, rising up the table, beat United 1-0 and Moyes' afternoon was soured by a large section of Toffees fans who barracked the Scot and declared their former manager would be sacked in the morning.

There is a growing feeling that, despite the pleas of his successor Roberto Martinez, Moyes will be subjected to the same sort of treatment from the terraces on Sunday when he returns.

The United manager, who has Wayne Rooney available following his recovery from a toe injury, wants the focus to be on the teams on the pitch, rather than himself, but he could not escape being questioned about the matter at his pre-match press conference on Friday.

"It's always been an intimidating atmosphere at Goodison," said Moyes when asked about the potential reception he might get.

"I was a manager there and I know exactly what it can be like.

"Football will be football. I am a football supporter and that is how it works sometimes."

Moyes saved Everton from relegation when he replaced Walter Smith in March 2002 and from then on it was a tale of constant success for the former Preston boss despite budget constraints.

Everton qualified for the Champions League in 2005 - although they were defeated by Villarreal in qualifying - and Moyes also led the Merseyside club to the FA Cup final in 2009.

The likes of Rooney, Phil Jagielka and Mikel Arteta all flourished under Moyes' tutelage, but it was United's £28million bid for Leighton Baines and Marouane Fellaini that turned Everton supporters against their former manager.

Just after Everton's win at Old Trafford, Moyes was forced to deny claims he branded Toffees supporters a "disgrace" for the barracking they gave him.

"You get on with your job," said Moyes when asked how he felt after being verbally abused by Everton fans.

"I am Manchester United manager now and that is what I concentrate on.

"(Sunday's) game is not about me, it's about Everton and Manchester United.

"This was the first game I looked for when the fixture list came out.

"I was always thinking when would I first be going back to Goodison.

"I will go back with great memories. I had great times there.

"It will be a strange day, but I'm looking forward to it."

Moyes further angered Everton fans by claiming he was trying to do "the right thing" for Baines and Fellaini by offering them a route out of Goodison.

The fact that seventh-placed United are nine points behind Everton suggests Baines was right to stay and commit while Fellaini may have been better off doing so too.

The contrast between United's woeful season under Moyes, and Everton's success with Martinez at the helm could hardly be greater.

The failed double-bid does not seem to have damaged Moyes' relationship with Everton, who branded the offer "derisory" and "insulting" at the time.

"I have always had a great relationship with the players, the board and with the chairman," Moyes said.

"I regularly get messages from the players wishing me good luck and I saw the chairman last week at Sunderland, but I go back as Manchester United manager and I am going back there to win."

As expected, Rooney will be fit to face his old club after he made a full recovery from the toe injury that hindered him in Munich last week.

Moyes also revealed that Robin van Persie is undergoing intensive work in Holland, where he is recovering from a knee injury which has kept him out for four weeks.

"Robin is making improvements," said Moyes, who will be without Rafael on Sunday due to a thigh injury.

"We always thought it would be 4-6 weeks with Robin.

"Our medical team is heading out there to see him this week and get a better feel as to exactly where he is."

Moyes was in a good mood ahead of his first match back at Goodison Park since leaving the club to join United last summer.

His spirits have been lifted by the news that Robin van Persie is making a good progress in his return from a knee injury he sustained against Olympiacos.

Van Persie jarred his knee in the 3-0 win against the Greeks on March 21 and he has been sent to Holland to aid his recovery.

"Robin is making improvements," the Scot said.

"We always thought he would be out for 4-6 weeks.

"We'll have a better assessment in the next week or so as we'll see how he is coming along.

"Our medical team is heading out there to see him this week and get a better feel as to exactly where he is."

Moyes confirmed that Marouane Fellaini has overcome a calf injury and should be fit to face his old club.

"Felli (Fellaini) didn't play against Bayern but we expect him back fit because he has trained all week," Moyes said.

Moyes ruled Rafael out due to a thigh problem while Jonny Evans is a doubt because of a long-term calf injury.

Sunday's fixture will be the first time Moyes has gone back to the club where he spent 11 successful years.

Moyes had tears in his eyes as he said his goodbyes to the Everton fans last May, but some Toffees supporters turned against him shortly after his departure.

A failed £28million bid from United for Fellaini and England left-back Leighton Baines angered some Everton fans and the Merseyside club branded the offer as "derisory" and "insulting".

That anger was evident when Everton supporters barracked Moyes during the Toffees' 1-0 win at Old Trafford in December.

Moyes was reluctant to speak about what kind of reception he might get at Goodison this weekend.

"The game is not about me, it's about Everton and Manchester United," he said.

"I was proud to be manager of Everton at that time but my job now is to make sure I get a result for Manchester United.

"The fans were always terrific in my time there, they were very supportive and always right behind the team.

"We had some really big games there at times and they'll be supporting the team like the Manchester United supporters have for their team."

Some had expected Everton to go through a year of transition under Roberto Martinez, but Moyes' successor has enjoyed a superb first year on Merseyside.

Everton are one point adrift of the top four and had it not been for a midweek defeat to Crystal Palace, Martinez's team would have been in pole position to pip Arsenal to the final Champions League qualification place.

Moyes, on the other hand, has struggled during his first term at Old Trafford.

Moyes admits it is almost "mathematically impossible" to catch Everton or Arsenal, but he does not begrudge his old side any success.

"I'm looking forward to going back as I had some great times and worked with great people and, more importantly, some great players," Moyes added.

"They were terrific and I'm really pleased to see them doing well.

"Roberto has done a brilliant job there in the time he has been in charge.

"He's got them playing well and in a good, healthy league position so I go back with some great feelings but I'm back now as Manchester United manager and my focus is on that now."

With United so far off the Champions League places, it is clear that Moyes needs to overhaul his squad if he is to challenge for a top-four finish next year, let alone the Premier League title.

The Scot has been linked with moves for Toni Kroos, Luke Shaw and a number of players from the Portuguese league, including William Carvalho, Eliaquim Mangala and Jackson Martinez.

Moyes says his attempts to bring in new players next year are progressing well, even though United are no longer able to offer Champions League football.

"I'm well into my planning with my thoughts and ideas getting ready for next year," he said. "We're linked with player after player and, every time I go to a game, I'm supposed to signing three or four players from that game.

"That isn't the case, but everyone is well aware we are looking to make signings and will try to do that whenever the opportunity arises.

"It will probably be after the end of the season before anything takes place but we have got to look to do one or two things."

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