MANCHESTER United manager David Moyes has been charged with misconduct for his comments about match officials following the 2-1 defeat by Sunderland in the Capital One Cup.
The FA announced the charge, which comes after Moyes said United were “playing referees as well as the opposition” following his side’s third defeat in a row. He has until 6pm on 15 January to respond.
Moyes, whose stuttering side head into this evening’s Old Trafford clash with FA Cup conquerors Swansea City on the back of three successive defeats, has once again repeated his observations about the difficulty of buying the right players in January.
With their season spiralling into crisis, the demand for Moyes to strengthen his squad this month has intensified.
Real Madrid defender Fabio Coentrao and Roma playmaker Miralem Pjanic have both been heavily linked with the Old Trafford outfit in recent days. As yet though, there has been no positive news for Moyes to report, with neither club apparently keen to sell. It should not come as a surprise.
Moyes has consistently claimed it might be impossible to get the players he wants this month, a point he repeated ahead of the visit of Swansea. “The plan and decisions won’t change,” he said. “It is difficult to get targets at this time. I have said that from day one. I have not said we wouldn’t be doing it but it is difficult.”
He also insists his United players are not hiding.
Successive defeats by Tottenham, Swansea and Sunderland – the first two at Old Trafford – have left the Red Devils on the brink of their worst losing sequence since 1961. Against Swansea and Sunderland in particular, alarm bells started ringing among supporters at the meek manner of United’s demise, totally out of keeping with the Sir Alex Ferguson era.
It has led to suggestions that a group of title-winning players are taking shelter behind their manager and letting Moyes take all the flak for what is turning into United’s worst season for almost a quarter of a century.
However, Moyes has dismissed the theory of a squad in hiding out of hand.
“I don’t think any of the Manchester United players are,” he said. “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.”
Speaking at a sponsorship launch on Friday, United veteran Ryan Giggs acknowledged it was time for his team-mates to start performing at their maximum, and insisted they would come through their “test of character”.
The work must start tonight against Swansea. Yet the job must be done without Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney, who both will again be absent with thigh and groin injuries.
Van Persie could be sidelined for “a while yet”, according to Moyes, which is rather uncomfortable news given the Dutchman has figured only twice since scoring the winner against former club Arsenal on 10 November.
Meanwhile, Rooney has been packed off to warmer climes in a bid to sort out his groin problem, which has not responded to treatment.
“Wayne will take his family and have a few days’ break as well as working in the sunshine with one of the fitness coaches in the hope he can recover,” said Moyes. “It is not a serious injury. But it looks like something that could have done with ten days or two weeks’ complete rest just to build up the strength.”
The hope is Rooney could be back for the visit to Chelsea on 19 January, although there are no guarantees that will be the case, with Moyes equally uncertain about Van Persie’s return date.