London – Manchester United manager David Moyes pledged not to “throw the towel in” despite his side falling 14 points off the pace in the Premier League following defeat at Chelsea.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho suggested that United's title defence was effectively over after a hat-trick from Samuel Eto'o inspired the London club to a 3-1 win on Sunday, but Moyes said that his side would fight on.
“What we won't do is throw the towel in until we can't get there,” said Moyes, whose side replied through Javier Hernandez.
“The job's to try and finish first and we'll keep trying to do that. There's no clever answers except, 'Try and win the next game.'
“I think before today (Sunday), we came into it and we'd lost one game in the league in six – not a bad run.
“And I didn't think there was a big difference in the teams today, I didn't at all. The difference was two set-pieces and nothing else.”
United have now been beaten seven times in the league, having lost five games or fewer in each of the past three seasons, but Moyes said that he did not feel under any added pressure.
Asked how his confidence was holding up, the former Everton manager replied: “Fine. It's a difficult task, but perseverance, keep doing what's right – I thought we did a lot of good things today.
“We've got players to come back and this is a project where I know I'm going to improve as it goes along. There will be changes as we go along on the journey and I'm looking forward to it.
“It's a massive challenge. I hoped I would be in a far better position than this, but I'm not, so the challenge is there for me. I think if you're a football person, it's a great one to have.”
Moyes was once again without injured first-choice strike pair Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie, and when asked if they would return to training on Monday, he would only reply: “I hope so.”
Mourinho also has injury problems up front, after revealing that substitute Fernando Torres is likely to be out for “weeks” after injuring his knee in a late challenge.
United finished the game with 10 men after Nemanja Vidic was sent off for chopping down Eden Hazard, while Rafael da Silva was booked for a wild foul on Gary Cahill, but Mourinho expressed sympathy for both players.
“I think when players are frustrated, and it happens also to my players, things like this can happen,” he said.
“Hazard was running with the ball, Nemanja fell, I don't know. Maybe it's an orange card, I don't know.
“The kid Rafael is just frustration, but I think the ref was good, Phil (Dowd) was good.”
Eto'o's deflected shot gave Chelsea a 17th-minute lead and he exploited what Moyes described as “terrible” defending at corners to complete his hat-trick with close-range strikes either side of half-time.
It was Mourinho's 100th Premier League victory, almost 10 years after he saw Chelsea beat United 1-0 at Stamford Bridge in his first league game in English football.
The Portuguese, whose side trail leaders Arsenal by two points, praised his players for keeping their heads after United made a strong start to the match.
“The good thing for us is that my team in this moment is what I call a humble team – a team that can identify the moments of the game,” he said.
“When you're better than your opponent, you have to go and try to kill the game. When the opponent is better than you, you have to identify that moment, you have to be humble, and you have to control the game.” – Sapa-AFP