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HindustanTimes Fri,24 Oct 2014

Football

Moyes defends United stars as pressure mounts
AFP
London, January 11, 2014
First Published: 11:15 IST(11/1/2014)
Last Updated: 11:17 IST(11/1/2014)

David Moyes is adamant he still retains the support of Manchester United's players as the pressure mounts on the under-fire Old Trafford boss.

Moyes endured a miserable start to his United reign after succeeding Alex Ferguson in July and the new year has brought further troubles for the Premier League champions.

Having been beaten by Tottenham in the league and Sunderland in the League Cup, either side of last Sunday's FA Cup defeat by Swansea, United have lost their first three games of the year for the first time since 1932.

The defeat by Spurs left Moyes' side 11 points behind league leaders Arsenal and critics have started to suggest the tame manner of United's performances - such a contrast to their spirited efforts under Ferguson when they won the title last season - are a sign that the manager doesn't have the full support of his squad.

However, Moyes insists there are no signs he is losing the dressing room.

"I don't think any of the Manchester United players are (hiding)," he said ahead of Saturday's rematch with Swansea.

"Every one of them is standing up and doing what they can.

"You can never ask anyone to do more than their best and the players here are doing that."

With leaders Arsenal not in action until Monday, when they visit Aston Villa, third-placed Chelsea can take over at the top of the standings by winning at Hull City in Saturday's early fixture.

Last season's Europa League winners have yet to capture the imagination in this campaign, but midfielder John obi Mikel believes that manager Jose Mourinho's exacting methods are beginning to bear fruit.

"He always wants us to play in a certain way and give 110 percent," Mikel said. "If you don't, you're out.

"You can see by the way we press up the pitch. That is important for the team and we're doing well."

This weekend's games are the reverse fixtures from the season's first round of matches.

While Arsenal's 3-1 capitulation at home to Villa on the opening day seems a long time ago, Manchester City continue to look every bit as impressive as they did in their 4-0 victory over Newcastle United on August 19.

Manuel Pellegrini's side continued their astonishing home form by destroying West Ham United 6-0 in the League Cup on Wednesday and they will also have designs on leapfrogging Arsenal when they visit Newcastle on Sunday.

City have now scored 92 goals in all competitions, just one less than they managed in the entirety of the 2012-13 campaign, but midfielder Javi Garcia says that they must keep their feet on the ground.

"I think this season we can win a lot of trophies, but we have to keep working like this," he said.

"The most important thing for us is that the players keep working, because we have so many games. This is the way we have to keep going."

West Ham have conceded 11 goals in two games, having previously lost 5-0 at Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup, and find themselves second from bottom in the league table ahead of Saturday's trip to Cardiff City.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be taking charge of his first home game as Cardiff manager, after masterminding a 2-1 win at Newcastle in the FA Cup last weekend in his first match at the helm.

Buoyed by the mid-week success over Manchester United in their League Cup semi-final first leg, bottom club Sunderland will hope to bridge the four-point gap that separates them from safety when they visit fifth-bottom Fulham on Saturday.

Third-bottom Crystal Palace, meanwhile, face Tottenham, who have climbed to sixth on the back of a four-game unbeaten run under rookie manager Tim Sherwood.

"Tim's got the potential to go on and be a top manager, without a question of a doubt," said Palace manager Tony Pulis.

Another club with a new boss are West Bromwich Albion, who have appointed Spaniard Pepe Mel as head coach, although caretaker Keith Downing will remain in charge for Saturday's trip to Southampton.


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