Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 24 July 2014

David Moyes can stand heat at Manchester United

David Moyes' reign at United has stumbled from one disaster to the next

Manchester United legend Harry Gregg has voiced a strong defence of under-fire manager David Moyes.

With the pressure on him from the moment he succeeded the hugely successful Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford last summer, the heat has risen further in the last three weeks as first United were knocked out of the FA Cup by Swansea City, before losing the semi-final of the Capital One Cup to Sunderland on Wednesday night on penalties.

Nobody expects the axe to fall on Moyes after just eight months in the job, even if United don't improve on their current standing of seventh place in the Premier League before the end of the season.

With no more interest in the domestic cup competitions United need to finish fifth to claim European qualification. Even if that isn't achieved knee jerk reactions aren't Manchester United's style and former Northern Ireland goalkeeper Gregg – who remains passionate about his former club and football in Northern Ireland, even at the age of 81 – believes there shouldn't even be any thought of giving Moyes the sack.

"In my opinion if anyone is even thinking about making a change then there is something wrong with them," said Gregg, who played for United from 1957 to 1966.

"Yes, losing the Capital One Cup semi-final against Sunderland was a bad result, but everyone has got to be given time.

"We would all be great players and managers if it was about talking, not doing.

"The club has been through rough times before, this isn't so much a rough time, although it is a difficult time and it's a time to back David Moyes, who, after all, is still a young manager who has just taken over at a big club.

"It is easy to pick on people when they're down and have a go at them, but leave it alone, give it time to settle down. He isn't even in the job a season."

And Mal Donaghy, who played for United under Ferguson at a time when he also came under pressure after failing to win a trophy in his first four years in charge, also has faith in Moyes.

"Manchester United are in a transitional period, not just on the managerial side of things, but on the playing side too," said Donaghy.

"The squad needs to be rebuilt, it will take time to do that and David Moyes should be given that time.

"He's been very unfortunate with injuries and he has said that he wasn't able to get the players he wanted last summer – for whatever reasons.

"The one big signing he did make, Marouane Fellaini, then got injured too. He's been an easy target because of that and the fact that Moyes brought him with him from Everton."

Former Northern Ireland manager Sammy McIlroy, who spent 11 years at United, believes that the imminent arrival of Juan Mata from Chelsea, in a deal worth almost £40m, will be a major boost to the Old Trafford squad.

"In my time managing at a lower level I always knew the value of bringing a new face in mid-season," said McIlroy.

"It always had the effect of lifting the place. The fans get excited by someone different and so do the players. The players also know that they have to pull their finger out.

"When it is a mega signing of Juan Mata's quality then the excitement that would bring is just what Old Trafford needs right now. Everyone will react to it and it'll be a huge benefit."

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