MANCHESTER United boss David Moyes stressed his belief his side can still be contenders for this season’s Barclays Premier League title after they were beaten 1-0 at home by his former club Everton.
Scorer: Everton - Oviedo 85
United, down to ninth, are now 12 points behind table-toppers Arsenal with both teams having played 14 league fixtures.
When asked about that gap, Moyes said: “We have got a long way to go. We will need to play some great football and win an awful lot of games in the run-in if we going to be in there and around it come the end of the season.”
Then asked if he thought his team was capable of doing that, he said: “Yeah – I’ve got nothing to suggest anything else.”
In his 11 years as Everton manager prior to his defection to United over the summer, Moyes had never overseen a win at Old Trafford.
And, after witnessing his successor Roberto Martinez pull off the feat, with the Toffees sealing their first away victory over the Red Devils since 1992 courtesy of full-back Bryan Oviedo’s 85th-minute strike, Moyes said: “I’m disappointed to lose but that is the way the game goes sometimes.
“The game was tight. We missed some opportunities to score and Everton took it when they got their opportunity.”
Asked if the loss hurt him more than usual as it was to Everton, he added: “It doesn’t hurt any more. I know they are a very good team, Everton, with very good players. You would imagine it is a sore one when it is your old team. That is the way it is.”
Despite his years of service to Everton, the club’s fans gave Moyes a hostile reception during the match. Asked about that, the Scot said: “It is not important. Everton supporters supported their team well tonight.”
United could not say Everton did not deserve their success, for the visitors played with a confidence and verve their hosts could not match.
Wayne Rooney struck a post and came close to netting a rebound before half-time. Former United keeper Tim Howard did brilliantly to repel a Patrice Evra header before Danny Welbeck headed the rebound against the bar after it.
But this Red Devils outfit are a shadow of their former selves and chants of “sacked in the morning” from the gleeful Evertonians, who had waited 21 long years for this success, merely twisted the knife still further.
With Phil Jones and Michael Carrick missing through injury, Marouane Fellaini returned to face his former club, still looking to score his first goal for the current one.
United’s most dangerous moments centred around Rooney. The shot that cannoned back off a post had flicked off Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin before it reached its destination, and Howard did well to boot the rebound to safety before Shinji Kagawa could pounce.
His failure to turn home Kagawa’s low cross shortly afterwards was a shock, even though it flew through a crowd of bodies, if only because of the form he has been in.
Given a second chance, his instinct was right as he hooked the ball goalwards but the power was missing and Everton managed to clear.
United began the second half with Evra launching a powerful drive goalwards. However, with Everton again taking charge, the natives were getting restless and, once Evra, Welbeck and Rooney had failed, the stage was set and Oviedo ensured Everton got the perfect finale.
To rub salt into the wounds, Rooney’s booking after 61 minutes was his fifth of the season and he will now sit out the weekend clash with Newcastle.
Manchester Utd: Howard, Coleman, Jagielka, Distin, Oviedo, Barry, McCarthy, Mirallas (Naismith 90), Barkley (Deulofeu 69), Pienaar (Osman 80), Lukaku. Subs not used: Robles, Heitinga, Jelavic, Stones.
Everton: Howard, Coleman, Jagielka, Distin, Oviedo, Barry, McCarthy, Mirallas, Barkley, Pienaar, Lukaku. Subs: Robles, Heitinga, Jelavic, Deulofeu, Naismith, Osman, Stones.
Referee: M Atkinson