MANCHESTER: A weekend which began well for Manchester United ended in depression and the first complaining calls to radio phone-in programmes that maybe David Moyes is not the man for the managerial role.
The same comments were made about Sir Alex Ferguson not only a few months but a few years into his Old Trafford tenure and the same patience will be afforded to his fellow Scot.
United, defending the last championship they won under Ferguson, slipped eight points off the pace beng set by Arsenal after conceding a last-minute goal and a 1-1 draw to Southampton at home. Disappointment was exacerbated because Adam Lallana’s goal followed a corner and no manager can be happy at conceding a late equaliser to a set-piece.
That goal almost removed from sight the decision by 18-year-old Adnan Januzaj to agree a five-year contract to keep his burgeoning talent in Manchester, no matter for which country out of a dozen he may end up deciding to represent at international level.
Mauricio Pochettino’s visitors were good value for their draw which means that United have won only one league game at home all season – against promoted, weak Crystal Palace – and, since then, have picked up only four points from a possible 12.
Januzaj was largely responsible for that, with his two goals in an impressive full debut at Sunderland though the excitement then masked the fact that United’s defence had looked fragile and that Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie were not combining as well as hoped in attack.
The pair were involved in the goal that gave United the lead against Southampton. Van Persie converted the rebound after a Rooney shot had been saved and both players later hit the posts.
Not that this was any consolation for Moyes.
He said: “I am disappointed. We have to do better. We wanted to get some momentum going. I told the players at half-time that a single goal might not be enough. We can work on the defending but we should have had the game finished off by the time Southampton equalised. We created enough opportunities.”
Ferguson, doubtless recalling his own slow start, is standing four-square behind Moyes who was, after all, his own preference for the job.
Now a director, Ferguson said: “For David, winning any trophy this season would be a fantastic achievement. It is a fantastically run football club. There are absolutely no issues about it. Every club needs a little bit of luck and hopefully we’ll get the luck.”
Every succeeding game demonstrates, however, that the double handover at Old Trafford has cost United dear. Under Ferguson the club usually completed their transfer business early in the summer (Van Persie last year the exception who proved the role).
But Moyes did not start work until July 1 when new executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward succeeded David Gill as chief executive. Top players do not come available in January which means Moyes and Woodward must wait until next year to launch the essential squad rebuilding.
Until then, Moyes will just have to grit his teeth and perhaps stop reading the newspapers.
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