Moyes silences the critics...for now

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iol spt dec11 Moyes

Reuters

Manchester United manager David Moyes has been under pressure the last week following two consecutive home defeats. Photo by: Phil Noble

He is an open book, always has been. Some managers may be able to assume a poker face in those high pressured moments but that is not David Moyes’ style.

When things go well, he has a smile that lights up his face. He revels in his teams’ success, cherishing each and every victory. He can be excellent company, a fine raconteur and loves talking about football. It is his life, his passion.

But when things are difficult, there is never any uncertainty about his mood. He glowers; he barks and takes defeats as a personal affront. He can be sharp, his temper can be short and he fidgets on the touchline, kicking and heading every ball.

‘Losing hurts him more when there is more expectation,’ Phil Neville said when reflecting on a bad run of results that had hampered Everton in November 2010. ‘But with expectation comes pressure. When you don’t deliver there is more disappointment and that is what he is feeling now.’

Moyes’ role has changed dramatically since Neville made that observation but the man hasn’t and that, again, was clear to see last night. From the moment he emerged from the tunnel at Old Trafford, giving a couple of cursory waves to the crowd, it was easy to read his emotions

.He ran the gamut here. He tried to watch the opening stages from his dugout vantage point but that was easier said than done. It only took nine minutes for him to leave his seat, realising the danger Shakhtar Donetsk were causing.

The more Taison and Alex Teixeira had the ball, the more Shakhtar looked to exploit gaps in United’s disjointed midfield, the more jumpy Moyes became. When Taison nearly poked the Ukrainian champions ahead on 20 minutes, the picture in the technical area painted a thousand words.

Standing with his hands on his hips and shaking his head, Moyes displeasure was obvious. His mood reflected the tetchiness of the Old Trafford crowd, who bemoaned every errant ball. It was a difficult 45 minutes, Moyes seeming to personify 75,000 anxieties.

Clearly there were occasions when he felt another experience beckoned, like the ones against Newcastle and Everton that have been so damaging to United’s hopes of retaining the Barclays Premier League.

Ashley Young’s dreadful miss before half-time prompted a roll of the eyes, another shake of the head and a look to the skies. He needed a victory to settle nerves and this was not the response he had envisaged.

There was muffled disquiet when the whistle sounded at half-time and the pace of his walk to dressing room showed him to be a man desperate and determined to put things right; he reappeared 15 minutes later with a similar sense of purpose.

United were better in the second period and Moyes was bold when he made a double substitution, swapping Young and Ryan Giggs for Tom Cleverley and Robin van Persie, and the decision paid off when the Holland striker hoisted in a corner that Phil Jones swept home.

As Old Trafford celebrated, on the touchline a flame-haired Scotsman looked like a weight had been lifted. He punched the air twice, clapped his hands together and shook his fists, turning to his bench to reveal that smile.

Do not mistake how much Moyes wants to be a success at United. This is a job he looked tailor-made for and there was widespread acclaim for him when it was revealed he would follow Sir Alex Ferguson in May.

He had served his time at Everton and was ready for the next step.Things have not gone anywhere near as he would have hoped they would. He has made mistakes but he has been big enough to carry the blame for United’s underachievement and perhaps this victory, which has secured top spot in Group A, will be a turning point for him.‘Your team mirrors the performance of your manager,’ Neville also said in November 2010. ‘David Moyes has come so far there is no way he is going to accept us languishing in mid-table.’ And he certainly won’t accept it at Manchester United. – Daily Mail


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