Sir Alex Ferguson was subjected to the anger of Manchester United fans at Old Trafford last night as frustration at the faltering regime of his anointed successor David Moyes boiled over during a 3-0 defeat to local rivals Manchester City.
United fans around the director’s box, from where Ferguson watched the game, vented their anger at Moyes and his team via Ferguson, the man who selected him to take over the club last summer. There were also stewards dispatched to prevent the removal of the “Chosen One” banner, hung on the Stretford End second tier in the summer to proclaim Moyes’ succession.
Ferguson has been a regular at United games, home and away, since he stepped down in the summer. Tonight’s defeat was the tenth in the league for United and leaves them 12 points off the fourth Champions League place. It takes City into second place and within three points of leaders Chelsea with two games in hand.
Edin Dzeko scored the first in 43 seconds of the start and added another in the second half before Yaya Toure added a third in the 90th minute. There was anger directed at Moyes from United supporters leaving the stadium before the final whistle although the home crowd stopped short of booing the players and manager.
When Moyes was pushed later on how far United find themselves off the race for the Champions League places he conceded it was “disappointing”. When asked if it was worse than he imagined it would be, he said: “I thought it would be a tough year for us, no doubt about that, but I hoped it would be much more competitive and closer to the top of the league than we are at the present time.”
“It [the rebuilding] is underway in its own way. You don’t just suddenly change things around. As I said the other day, a lot of other clubs have had to change and they have had to do rebuilding jobs and look at the time it has taken them to do that or get to a level of competing. We hope it won’t take us as long as some of those clubs have taken. I think we have got a period of time where we are going to have to make sure we get to that level which we are not at just now.”
Moyes conceded that Marouane Fellaini was fortunate not to be sent off for a forearm lunge on Pablo Zabaleta. “I genuinely have not seen it again. When I first saw it in the game I didn’t even think it was a free kick so I couldn’t even tell you. My first feeling is, I was surprised it is a free kick but by what I am hearing people are saying it could have been worse.”
It was the first time United had lost three consecutive games to City since 1972. There were strong words afterwards from the former United midfielder Paul Scholes, a Sky Sports pundit for the match. He said: “It’s a major boost to City’s title hopes. City were by far the better than us. You could tell which one was on for the league title and which was seventh. It was glaringly obvious.”
He added: “Even at 1-0 you were never confident they [United] would create chances to score goals. You have to give City credit, they have a quality team and quality players and when they had it in the final third we just couldn’t cope.” Scholes picked out Rio Ferdinand as being at fault for Dzeko’s second goal. “Rio won’t be happy with that,” Scholes said. “Rio stood off him and he has to be tight. Rio knows he’s in trouble.”