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Moyes has his work cut out

Updated: 2013-10-21 07:08
By Agence France-Presse in Manchester, England ( China Daily)

Moyes has his work cut out

Fergie's successor feeling the heat after slow start

Alex Ferguson told successor David Moyes that winning a trophy in his first season as Manchester United manager would be "fantastic" after a 1-1 draw at home to Southampton dented its Premier League title hopes.

Saturday's result at Old Trafford left reigning champion United a lowly eighth in the standings, five points back of the Champions League places and only four above the relegation zone.

The club has now won just three of its opening eight Premier League games under Moyes, handpicked by Ferguson as the veteran manager called time on a 26-year reign at Old Trafford that yielded 13 English League titles and two Champions League triumphs among a horde of trophies at the end of last season.

But should former Everton manager Moyes lift a trophy this term he would do something not even his illustrious fellow Scot managed in all his time with United.

It took Ferguson nearly four years following his arrival at Old Trafford from Aberdeen to win his first silverware, with the 1990 FA Cup success giving him the breathing space he needed to set the club on the path to greater glories.

Moyes has his work cut out

"For David, winning a trophy would be a fantastic achievement," Ferguson told MUTV, United's in-house television station.

"No matter what it is - the League Cup, FA Cup, European Cup or Premier League.

"It is not easy winning a trophy in our league because you could say there are six teams fighting for the league," added Ferguson, who brought the FA Cup back to Old Trafford on five occasions and oversaw four League Cup wins.

Saturday's match saw United take a 26th minute lead through star striker Robin van Persie only for the Saints to equalize a minute from time when Adam Lallana turned in Dejan Lovren's goal-bound shot from a corner.

"It's disappointing because we wanted to get a bit of momentum going and we weren't able to do that," said Moyes.

"We didn't do well enough defensively. We work on that in training, but we should probably have put the game to bed earlier on.

"But we've got to do better at set-pieces, make sure we defend it and make sure we're harder to score against than we were."

This result, coupled with United's last home match - a defeat by West Brom - has led to suggestions that visiting teams no longer fear a trip to Old Trafford in quite the same way as they did during Ferguson's era.

Moyes disagreed.

"I think the fear factor is from the team on the pitch, that's always the case," he said.

"The players are the thing because of their quality. Obviously Sir Alex has a great history and there is all his experience, but the players will always be what matters on the pitch."

One consolation for United on Saturday was the form of Adnan Januzaj, with the teenage rising star marking his decision to sign a new contract that will keep him at Old Trafford for five more years by instigating the move that led to van Persie's goal.

"It was a great pass for the goal," said Moyes as he reflected on the 18-year-old's latest impressive effort.

"He's a very talented player. We have to use him at the right times and try to get the best out of him."

While Moyes must deal with the huge weight of expectation, Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino's challenge is to maintain a surprise start that has left the south coast club in fifth place.

"Getting a good win at Anfield and a positive draw (against United) is amazing for the club and shows how we want to move forward and give the young players belief," said Pochettino.

"It's a positive run we're on at the moment and we don't set ourselves limits. The sky's the limit."

 Moyes has his work cut out

Manchester United manager David Moyes reacts during his team's 1-1 English Premier League draw with Southampton at Old Trafford in Manchester on Saturday. Phil Noble / Reuters

(China Daily 10/21/2013 page23)