at the Union Buildings in Pretoria
BIRMINGHAM, United Kingdom – Manchester United manager David Moyes hailed the transformation by his players as they bounced back from a Champions League defeat with a 3-0 victory at West Bromwich Albion.
Goals from Phil Jones, Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck eased pressure on the under-fire Moyes as United moved into sixth place in the Premier League on Saturday.
It was the ideal response in United's first game since a chastening 2-0 defeat at Olympiakos in the first leg of their last-16 Champions League clash on February 25.
“Their attitude was changed completely,” Moyes said. “The players showed their effort and commitment, not just good play. I think it showed in the performance as well.
“What pleased me the most was the goals. The team played very well in all areas.
“There were some very good performances, Marouane Fellaini did really well, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling were excellent.
“I thought the two boys up front, Wayne and Robin van Persie were really good with Juan Mata and Adnan Januzaj out wide.”
Moyes insisted it was an easy decision to substitute van Persie because the Dutch striker was one mistake away from a red card.
In a week in which Moyes has been forced to field questions over whether van Persie is happy at Old Trafford, the Dutch international stirred the debate over his state of mind when he gave a shake of the head after being substituted.
Having already been cautioned for an ugly tackle from behind on Morgan Amalfitano five minutes into the second half, van Persie risked a second yellow card minutes later for a lunge which grounded Steven Reid.
The former Arsenal star cut a frustrated figure when he was replaced by Welbeck, trudging off the field before returning his manager's offer of his hand with a limp shake.
“Robin knew exactly what was happening,” Moyes said. “I walked over earlier and told him that I was going to have to take him off but it was the right decision.
“It was a foul, not a second booking, that was for sure.
“It was a foul, but I just felt that one more foul could have led to something else. It made my job easy.
“He played 90 minutes for Holland in midweek and I was never going to play him for another 90 minutes.”
Moyes picked substitute Welbeck out for praise after he converted Rooney's pass late on to add gloss to the final score.
“It was a great finish,” he said. “I got told when he came on for England he looked good and he is just beginning to look a little bit more sprightly.”
The defeat left West Brom head coach Pepe Mel's position under growing scrutiny, with the Spaniard without a victory in his seven matches in charge.
West Brom sit perilously placed just above the bottom three and only goal difference is keeping them out of the relegation zone.
What now looks a season-defining quartet of fixtures against Swansea, Hull, Cardiff and Norwich lie in await for the beleaguered Mel and his players.
“I am just focused on working and putting all my energy into making sure West Brom win at Swansea,” Mel said.
“Am I still certain I will keep West Brom up? Yes of course.
“The next four matches are very important for us. Different matches.
“We need 11 men, 11 good professional players and good mentality. The future of West Brom is at stake.
“It is all part of the profession. I hope the players react well to playing under pressure,” said Mel. – Sapa-AFP