David Moyes insists he isn’t worried about Manchester United’s frustrating start to the season hitting a new low at Sunderland on Saturday.
Under-fire boss Moyes has endured a bumpy beginning to his first season at Old Trafford, with United slumping to 12th in the Premier League table after their worst start since 1989.
Defeats at bitter rivals Liverpool and Manchester City in the league had alarm bells ringing among United fans concerned Moyes won’t be able to emulate Alex Ferguson’s glorious reign, and last weekend’s 2-1 home loss against West Bromwich Albion sparked a rare chorus of disapproval from the Old Trafford crowd.
United’s 1-1 draw at Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League on Wednesday was a creditable result in the circumstances.
But a loss at Sunderland, which sits bottom of the table without a manager after Paolo Di Canio’s sacking and still waiting for their first win of the season, would hand United a third successive league defeat for the first time since December 2001.
Former Everton boss Moyes admits he has found it hard to get used to the intense scrutiny of life at United, but he has no doubts he and his team can cope with the pressure.
“It has surprised me a little bit, but if you lose a couple of games you are going to get talked about,” Moyes said.
“I was getting talked about when I wasn’t losing though. That was the bit that made me think ‘where has that come from’. But it goes with the territory.
“I told people it was going to be a long job. The Manchester United board put me in charge. They know where we are going.
“The plan is to win at Sunderland and hopefully the situation you mentioned doesn’t happen.”
Across Manchester, City manager Manuel Pellegrini is also sorely in need of a victory after seeing his side crushed by Bayern Munich in midweek just days after a humbling loss at Aston Villa.
Like Moyes, former Malaga manager Pellegrini has found it hard going since taking over in the close-season and, ahead of Saturday’s clash against Everton, City defender Micah Richards admitted his side have to mount an immediate response.
We have to put it right
“We have had two disappointing results,” he said. “We don’t like to lose two games back to back. We have got a winning mentality built into us.
“We have to put it right on Saturday. We are at home and we will give a good performance and hopefully get three points.”
City and United have little margin for error as they are already five and eight points, respectively, behind leaders Arsenal, who head to West Brom on Sunday with confidence sky-high after a 2-0 win over Napoli in the Champions League.
Arsene Wenger’s side have won five successive league matches to open up a two-point lead at the top and Tuesday’s dazzling display against the Italians, which included a first Arsenal goal for club record 42.5 million pounds signing Mesut Ozil, has only increased the feel-good factor.
Former Real Madrid midfielder Ozil has been the key to Arsenal’s renaissance and Gunners defender Per Mertesacker says he has been helping his fellow German get used to life in London in an attempt to aid his transition.
“It is things like how to get on in London, how to come to the training ground, to get to whatever he wants to go. It is just a quick call or a text, you can help him out,” Mertesacker said.
“I need to help Ozil settle because it is very important to get him into the squad quickly, so that he can adapt and play with freedom.
“His vision is enormous and with him we are more dangerous and can compete at the higher levels.”
Second placed Liverpool will expect to keep the pressure on Arsenal when they host struggling Crystal Palace.