Belfast Telegraph

Monday 29 December 2014

United boss Moyes defiant on eve of vital champions league tie

Manchester United manager David Moyes insists he has the backing of the club's board ahead of the crunch Champions League meeting with Olymiakos
Manchester United manager David Moyes insists he has the backing of the club's board ahead of the crunch Champions League meeting with Olymiakos
Deliver: Shinji Kagawa will feature for United tonight

Facing headlines that he has three games to save his job and that his supporters in the Old Trafford boardroom are edging towards the exits, David Moyes came out fighting ahead of tonight's crucial Champions League clash with Olympiakos.

Bidding to overturn a 2-0 first leg deficit against the Greeks, Manchester United's beleaguered manager (right) insisted he still has the backing of the men who run the club and his position has "not even been discussed".

He had signed a six-year contract, expected it to be honoured and insisted he still enjoyed Sir Alex Ferguson's support. He believed he would continue to be backed even if United go out of the Champions League.

"My future has not changed one bit," he said. "I have a great job and I know exactly the direction I want to go in. It has not been the season we wanted but I have ideas I want to put in place."

Ferguson's constant presence at Old Trafford has been seen by many as something few other managers would have tolerated. However, Moyes believes it is a public demonstration of the support he still enjoys at a club who, if they are eliminated tonight, will have seen their last chance of a trophy disappear by mid-March. That has not happened since 1989.

"He has been incredibly supportive," said Moyes of Ferguson. "I speak with him regularly. He told me before I came in that it would be a difficult job but he is always there to help."

Moyes continued: "The biggest assurance the owners have given me is that they let me get on with the job.

"They never discuss (my contract), we talk about the future, we make big plans going forward. That is why they gave me a six-year contract. This is not a club that works short-term."

Nevertheless, Manchester United's horizons are narrowing very fast. Having lost the first leg abjectly in Athens and surrendered to Liverpool on Sunday on a day the club invited its leading sponsors to Old Trafford, Moyes can afford defeat but not capitulation.

Should they fail to reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League and lose Tuesday's Manchester derby, then Moyes may find that support withdrawn.

The Glazer family have shown themselves to be ruthless owners when overseeing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In December they fired their coach, Greg Schiano, after 11 months.

Moyes has endured eight, tortured months but, as he begins the seven days that will decide his fate, he remained optimistic that the fans would stick by him.

"They have seen some defeats they wouldn't have expected and have stuck with the team throughout," he said. "They have had great success in the past and will see great success again in the future.

"This is the biggest club in the world. It might not feel it today but it will rise again."

Moyes will be without defenders Chris Smalling (hamstring) and Jonny Evans (calf) while Juan Mata is cup-tied. Interestingly, Moyes confirmed that little-used midfielder Shinji Kagawa will feature at some point.

Unlike United, Olympiakos have had little trouble defending their domestic title this year.

A 2-0 win over Panthrakikos on Saturday ensured Olympiakos won the Greek Super League with five matches to spare.

"It is really important we score first," Moyes said. "When we do go in front we don't tend to lose games. We have to be careful, Olympiacos are a good team with good players and we have to be careful we are not broken on the counter attack."

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