David Moyes denies Manchester United job is in danger
Facing headlines that he had three games to save his job and that his support in the Old Trafford boardroom is growing thin, David Moyes decided to come out fighting.
Manchester United's beleaguered manager insisted he still had the backing of the men who run the club and that his position had "not even been discussed". He had signed a six-year contract last summer, expected it to be honoured and insisted he still enjoyed predecessor Sir Alex Ferguson's support. Moyes 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, replying to a question over whether his job depended on United overturning a two-goal deficit against Olympiakos. "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 by the Greek champions, 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 and see him at the games. He told me before I came in that it would be a difficult job but he is always there to help.
"The biggest assurance the owners have given me is they let me get on with the job," Moyes added. "They never discuss [my contract], we talk about the future, we make big plans. That is why they gave me a six-year contract. This is not a club that works on a short-term vision."
Nevertheless, United's horizons are narrowing very fast. Having lost the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie 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to reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League and lose Tuesday's Manchester derby, Moyes may find that support withdrawn. The Glazer family have shown themselves to be ruthless owners when overseeing their NFL side, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In December they fired 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 at least 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."
Belfast Telegraph Digital