David Moyes was relieved to see Manchester United progress in the UEFA Champions League, but has refused to consider this a turning point of their season.
Having surrendered the title they won by 11 points last season, the Reds face a huge task to finish in the top four this term after losing nine of their 29 matches thus far. And after being eliminated from both the FA Cup and the League Cup before the end of January, the only chance of silverware for the campaign comes in the Champions League.
After being given a favourable draw against Olympiakos in the last 16 United were expected to ease into the quarter-finals, but a shockingly poor performance in Athens left them 2-0 down after the first leg. However, they finally found their form in the return at Old Trafford, when a Robin van Persie treble saw them clinch a 3-2 aggregate success.
This has eased some of the pressure from Moyes, who was thought to be in danger of losing his job had he failed to negotiate his side past the Greek champions. But the former Everton boss is refusing to consider this result as a turning point for him or his team, and has also reiterated the size of the job he has taken on in succeeding Sir Alex Ferguson.
“People will probably think it’s a turning point,” the Scottish coach said on Sky Sports. “That question has been asked of me every time we have a good victory and we’ve never backed it up. I’d love to say ‘yes’ and that’s the answer, but I think we know we’ve got a lot of work to do here. I see myself here for a long time but I’ve got a big job and there are a lot of things I’ve got to do and I’m not going to be able to do it all immediately.”
United travel to West Ham United on Saturday, and then face neighbours City at Old Trafford on Tuesday evening. Defeat in either match, particularly the latter against Manuel Pellegrini’s title-challengers, will no doubt return the spotlight on Moyes, but the 50-year-old insists the only pressure he is receiving is from outside of the club.
He was also keen to dismiss the speculation that he has fallen out with a number of players. Rio Ferdinand, Robin van Persie and, most recently of all Ryan Giggs, have been reported to have had bust-ups with Moyes at some stage of his debut season, but he insists this is nothing but rubbish and all his players have been fully supportive.
“I’m not feeling any pressure from inside the club,” he added. “It’s all coming from you people. We know the job I have to do. It’s a big job, probably bigger than we all expected. The players have been great. I keep hearing that this one has fallen out, or someone else has fallen out. I keep telling people it is rubbish and it is rubbish. The reason we’ve not done well is we’ve not played well enough in games and that’s the truth behind it all.”