David Moyes blames officials for Manchester United’s third straight defeat
Manchester United have to play the officials as well as the opposition, manager David Moyes complained after his side were beaten 2-1 by Sunderland in the League Cup semi-final first leg on Tuesday.
Moyes, under pressure after losing his third consecutive game in all competitions, pointed the finger at referee Andre Marriner, who he criticised for awarding a free kick that led to Sunderland’s opening goal.
The referee also had a decisive hand in Sunderland’s winner, pointing to the penalty spot in the second half after Adam Johnson had been felled by Tom Cleverley, allowing Fabio Borini to smash the spot kick into the roof of the net.
“It is difficult, we just need to keep going,” Moyes told Sky Sports. “We didn’t do a lot wrong. I thought the referee was going to blow in our direction for [the free kick that led to] the first goal. I couldn’t believe he gave [Sunderland] a free kick. It was a terrible decision.
“We are all just laughing at them [the officials] at the minute.
“It looks as though we are having to play them [officials] as well as the opposition at the moment.”
United, who were knocked out of the FA Cup by Swansea City on Sunday and beaten by Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League on New Year’s Day, have endured a miserable start to the campaign under Moyes.
With the club seventh in the Premier League and 11 points behind leaders Arsenal, the League Cup had taken on added significance as Moyes’ most likely route to silverware.
He remains confident of getting a result in the second leg on January 22, to tee up a likely final against local rivals Manchester City who play West Ham United in the other semi-final.
“I thought the players, our crowd were unbelievable, the players deserved to get a result,” he added. “It’s a two-legged game and I am really looking forward to the second leg.”
Italian Borini’s penalty gave the Premier League’s bottom club the one-goal lead ahead of the return at Old Trafford after a 52nd minute Nemanja Vidic header cancelled out Ryan Giggs’s own goal in first-half stoppage time.
For the fans who booed them off the pitch following the loss to Swansea, there was little to perk up the spirits.
This was the first time since 1932 that United had lost their opening three games of the year and the first time since 1992 that they had lost three times in a week.
Sunderland have only reached the League Cup final once, in 1985 when they lost to Norwich City, and their fans do not need reminding they were relegated from the top flight that season.
The knockout competitions have again provided Sunderland with their only moments of relief in a miserable campaign, having won all five home ties in the League and FA Cups.
“It was a very tight game, and sometimes a decision goes for you and you win the game,” Sunderland manager Gus Poyet said.
“We know it’s not easy to beat Manchester United but now we go to Old Trafford with a lead. It has been a long time since we were in a final so we will try our best.”