Manchester, United Kingdom – Manchester United manager David Moyes has no doubt his side will turn around their difficult start to the campaign and figure in the title reckoning.
Moyes succeeded Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford in pre-season following the trophy-laden manager's retirement and, since then, the Premier League champions have lost three of their first six matches of the new campaign.
They did secure a 1-1 draw in the Champions League at Shakhtar Donetsk in midweek but return to league action at bottom-of-the-table Sunderland on Saturday with ground to make up.
After losing 1-0 at Liverpool in August, United have suffered back-to-back back defeats in the league, going down 4-1 to Manchester City and enduring a shock 2-1 reverse against West Bromwich Albion at Old Trafford last weekend.
The fitful start, United's worst to a season since 1989, has left them eight points adrift of leaders Arsenal.
But, in an interview this week in the United States, Ferguson spoke of how Moyes – his chosen successor – will get it right at United after signing a six-year contract when he joined from top-flight rivals Everton.
And with 32 matches of the league season remaining, a bullish Moyes told reporters at a news conference on Friday that his side would be in the title race come the end of the campaign.
“They're really good players and they know the standards they've set over the years and together we'll work to get it right, I've got no doubt about that.
“Anybody who comes in to a new job you learn as you go along and I'm doing that as well.
“I already knew I was coming to work with a group of really good players but that we'd have difficult times as well.”
Moyes added: “There's a long way to go in the Premier League. It's a long season and you see great changes as the season goes on, so we'll hang in there and get ourselves as close to the top as soon as we can.
“It's a good club, Manchester United. I'm sure they know they picked the right man for the job and Sir Alex was part of that process as well.”
Moyes received support from Ryan Giggs, now United's player-coach, with the Old Trafford great telling Friday's Manchester Evening News: “The manager has been OK. He realises we are not playing as well as we can and he wants to put that right. I am sure he will.
“There is no margin for error now but it is a weird season. Nobody has hit the ground running who we'd have expected to. Obviously Arsenal are playing well. Spurs and Liverpool are at the top but there is enough time for us to get back to the top.”
Wayne Rooney missed the 1-1 draw in Ukraine on Wednesday due to a cut shin sustained in training but Moyes was unable to provide an update on the England striker's fitness.
Moyes was adamant United would not be complacent against a Sunderland side under the caretaker charge of Kevin Ball following the north-east club's decision to sack manager Paolo di Canio.
“Kevin has been there, he's very experienced, he knows the club, he knows the players...Sunderland have played quite well in the last couple of games.”
Meanwhile Moyes said he had no problems with the prospect of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar being moved to the European winter, even though this would cut across major club competitions such as the Premier League.
Speculation is continuing that Fifa, football's world governing body, will reschedule the tournament due to high summer temperatures in Qatar.
“It would need to alter things maybe in the year before and the year after and I think there will be no choice that it will have to move,” Moyes said.
“But I'm sure the Premier League are already working on that and thinking about it.
“If it was played in the month of January it could be the equivalent of having a winter break so if they took that month out it would extend things and there would be lots of different add-ons,” the Scot added. – Sapa-AFP