Manchester United fans must have patience with David Moyes, insists former Scotland manager Craig Brown.
The pressure on Moyes has ratcheted up following the 2-1 FA Cup defeat by Swansea at Old Trafford, the fourth home defeat in a month for United.
Brown, who played a role in Moyes’ development as a coach by allowing him to watch Scotland’s training sessions at the 1998 World Cup, believes the current United manager will have a change in fortune and points out Arsenal were viewed as being in crisis at the start of the season. It took almost four years for Sir Alex Ferguson to win a trophy after he took over as United manager in 1986, and Brown said that example should also be borne in mind.
Brown said: “I don’t think anyone should be ringing the alarm bells. The best example is Arsenal at the start of the season, all the talk was about Arsene Wenger and the club being in crisis and look at them now – top of the league.
“All it needs is a couple of months of good results and all this will be forgotten and David Moyes will do that – there is no doubt in my mind. Alex [Ferguson] didn’t go into Manchester United and wave a magic wand and make it okay and although David is in a slightly different situation, it is similar in some ways.
“Replacing the best in the business was always going to be difficult, but David Moyes is a strong character and an intelligent guy and I know he is respected by the players. People can be disappointed by recent results but they should accept that he is an accomplished manager and be certain the team can recover.”
Neil Warnock, however, believes Moyes’ job is being made more difficult by Ferguson now sitting in the directors’ box watching over him. The widely-travelled manager, whose former clubs include QPR, Sheffield United and Leeds, said: “You’ve got Sir Alex Ferguson sitting in the stands and I don’t think that helps.”
Meanwhile, United and Scotland midfielder Darren Fletcher says the team owe their supporters a huge response following their FA Cup defeat to Swansea City and have the perfect opportunity tonight to make amends against Sunderland in the Capital One Cup.
Ahead of the semi-final first-leg at the Stadium of Light, Fletcher told MUTV: “It’s a League Cup semi-final, if you can’t lift yourself for that then it’s no good. We have got a great opportunity, we are away to Sunderland and we’ve got to recover quickly and lift ourselves. It’s a massive game now.”
The Scottish international, back in the side after a long illness, praised the attitude of United’s fans saying: “They’re really sticking by us and that’s great to see – we’ve got to repay that.
“When we got to the Stretford End, there were a lot of fans clapping and singing for United. The players have got to see that and know that the fans are behind us and put performances in for the them, the manager and the staff. It’s got to happen sooner rather than later and there’s no better occasion than the semi-final.”
Sunderland are equally determined for a morale-lifting result and Gus Poyet has urged his players to put a “nightmare” season to one side and relish the chance to reach the Capital One Cup final.
United’s visit to Wearside comes against the backdrop of an intensely difficult few months for the Uruguayan and his players, who have won only three league games all season, two fewer than they have managed in the domestic cup competitions. However, while top-flight survival remains the overwhelming priority, Poyet insists the chance to claim a famous scalp and book a trip to Wembley is one which should excite his beleaguered troops.
The 46-year-old said: “It’s the nice part, the nicest. It’s nice to come here and talk about a semi-final and not talk about points and relegation. I would like to say it’s the nicest part of the season because the rest has been a nightmare with the position in the table, so let’s try to enjoy this one and go on and do something important for the club.”
Former Manchester City midfielder Adam Johnson, however, believes United’s current difficulties could open the door for the Black Cats to snatch a foothold in the tie.
He said: “Hopefully we can try to catch them when it is probably the most difficult time they have had in 15 years. If there’s any time to play them, it’s probably now, so we can try to make the most of that.
But they are still a top quality team with top quality players and the key is to go to Old Trafford not down. No matter who you are, you have got to try to win the cup games and try to progress and win silverware.
“The league is the main aim for us, but as long as we are in the cup, we will enjoy it.”
John O’Shea is fit to line up against his former club.