Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

David Moyes fronts up to his critics: Manchester United says he needs lady luck to look his way

Star men: David Moyes needs Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney to hit top form to make a bid for fourth spot

David Moyes has admitted Manchester United have not won enough games to ease the spiral of negativity that has enveloped the club.

United head to Arsenal tonight reeling from the loss of two more points against bottom club Fulham at Old Trafford at the weekend.

The result continued a pitiful start to 2014, which has seen United win just three times. One of those wins, in the second leg of the Capital One Cup semi-final against Sunderland, effectively became a defeat anyway as the Red Devils crashed out on penalties.

Little wonder every bit of evidence is being seized on to explain how a team should crumble so quickly after they won the title by 11 points last term.

Manager Moyes can point to extreme instances of bad luck; David de Gea's last-minute fumble against Sunderland that cost his team a place at Wembley, or Darren Bent's injury-time equaliser at the weekend for a Fulham side who did not seem to be so bothered about scoring.

Ultimately though, the Scot acknowledges the fault also lies within his dressing room.

"Winning changes it – and we have not won often enough," said Moyes.

"We are a top side. Anybody who knows and understands football knew that changes had to be made. Anybody who watched the game the other day and didn't think we deserved to win by a hundred miles knows nothing about it.

"There have been other games like that. But we are not looking for excuses. We can only blame ourselves and we need to do better."

It is true anything that can go wrong for Moyes is doing so at present.

Both Phil Jones and Marouane Fellaini are set to miss the trip to Arsenal after being struck down by injuries that came immediately after they had recovered from different physical problems.

Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney are still trying to find their best form after a spell on the sidelines, while both the defensive and midfield areas are operating below their best as United struggle for confidence.

Yet Moyes retains belief in his squad, for whom record signing Juan Mata has also failed to sparkle on a consistent basis.

"We have a great group of players here," said Moyes. "They have shown it previously. I see them every day and I still believe they are a great group.

"They are hurting as well. They want to improve it."

Moyes realises further additions need to be made.

Nemanja Vidic is unlikely to be on his own in leaving Old Trafford this summer, with Rio Ferdinand, Patrice Evra and Javier Hernandez among those for whom time is surely running out on their United careers.

However, Moyes does understand that until his team halt their present disastrous run, the negative angle will be found to accompany all his work.

"A lot of people are looking at the Fulham game and saying we crossed it too much," said Moyes.

"If we hadn't crossed it they would be saying we should have crossed it more. We are coming to terms with it. We need the fortune to change."

Some games are easier to look upon as potential catalysts than others. A visit to Arsenal is certainly one.

United have already claimed the Gunners' scalp once this season, when Van Persie scored the only goal against his old club.

What Moyes would give for a repeat of that single-goal success against a side with problems of their own after the 5-1 hammering they took at Liverpool at the weekend.

Not that Moyes views the teams' respective problems as taking on any greater significance.

"It doesn't need anything adding to the occasion," he said.

"Arsenal against Manchester United has always been a big game. You only have to look back through the seasons to see how important these games have been. It is an important game for both teams."

Meanwhile, defender Rio Ferdinand will be going on United's winter break, with Moyes branding speculation to the contrary "complete nonsense".

Moyes opted not to state where United were going following tonight's encounter.

However, it is widely believed the Red Devils will be spending a short time in Dubai as part of their preparations for the Champions League encounter with Olympiakos in Athens on February 25.

It had been claimed Ferdinand would not travel and, in addition, it was suggested United would confirm tomorrow the 35-year-old would be retiring at the end of the season.

However, Moyes rejected the claims out of hand.

"I can only tell you what was written was a load of rubbish," said Moyes. "Complete nonsense."

Ferdinand's present contract is due to expire at the end of the season. He certainly would appear to have little future at United, the club he joined for £29.1million in 2002, although a switch to MLS is not completely out of the question.

Ferdinand has also entered the debate. In addition to a put-down of the author of the story about his omission, he stated on Twitter: "Must be another slow news day."

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