David Moyes losing patience with the relentless media scrutiny
Tone was set when the man from Sky offered a standard ‘good afternoon’
Manchester United Manager David Moyes.
At the end of a terse press conference yesterday it was not easy to know what to make of David Moyes’ state of mind – other than to say he is growing resentful at the scrutiny that working for a club of Manchester United’s size can bring.
The tone was set when the man from Sky offered a standard “good afternoon” and Moyes stared straight back. He then proceeded to say as little as possible before a bizarre sketch at the end when he was asked about the team’s mid-season trip to Dubai – they leave tomorrow – while he was making his way to the door. Pretending he had not heard the question, he strode out. It was an expert blanking, missing only a talk-to-the-hand speech bubble. Moyes accepted later that he had heard every word.
Too much can be read into these events sometimes but it certainly offers an insight into Moyes’ current mind-set when he is willing to give the television crews only three minutes of his time.
‘Great group of players’
What quickly became evident was that this was not going to be a time for forensic analysis. His players had been “terrific,” he said. “The players are doing great. I think I’ve got a great group of players. I’m very fortunate I took over the champions and I think the players have been terrific.” It was gently pointed out that his team were 21 points worse off than at this stage last season. “Well, I was at Everton so I wasn’t 21 points worse off,” he replied. “I was at Everton.” Okay, but United, how has it gone that way? “The improvement in the teams in the Premier League has been big,” he said. “There have been a lot of improvements from sides in the Premier League and obviously we’ve not done as well.” That was about as expansive as it became.
There were clues, however. Moyes was clearly unhappy at the reaction to the 2-2 draw with Fulham and the focus on his team knocking cross after cross into the penalty area. “You need to have a football intelligence, a football brain, to understand first of all,” he said of his tactics.
Rene Meulensteen, Fulham’s manager, had said United were predictable and their young defender, Dan Burn, had talked about Conference-style tactics. “Yeah, well, I thought only one team came to win,” Moyes said. Was he disappointed, after the signing of Juan Mata, that his players had not reacted better? “Who’s not reacted?” Moyes shot back. The team? “Yeah, but we played well against Fulham and should have won the game so, if you take that, I would have to disagree.” Was it time to try something different? “I disagree with that as well.” Even though the results are not what they should be? “I can only give you my answer. I disagree.” More staring.
A poll by the Red Issue fanzine has shown Moyes has lost some of the crowd’s backing recently. In January seven per cent of supporters wanted him sacked, with 20 per cent saying they would give him until the end of the season. It is now 17 per cent wanting him out now and 32 per cent preferring a summer change.
By the end Moyes could scarcely go through the motions when he was asked whether the team had to reproduce the form they showed when beating Arsenal at Old Trafford earlier in the season. He just nodded and stared. So, to clarify, did he think they could reproduce that level? “Yeah, I think we can.” Could he explain? “Because we have done it before.” It has been a long time, though. “You asked me a question about Arsenal and I am just answering your question. I think we can.”
And then he was off, without a single look back.