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Moyes gets sharp end of the stick

British media sharpens knives over Man Utd manager's performance as team faces Champions League exit.

Last updated: 18 Mar 2014 23:41
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Moyes trains with players including Rio Ferdinand and Wayne Rooney in Manchester before Wednesday's tie [AP]

The words aimed at David Moyes in the British media have been getting sharper by the day in recent weeks, but if the Manchester United manager believes his own statement about the club's plans for him then he should have no reason to fear the verbal barrage.

Moyes, given a surprising amount of slack by journalists in the rocky period since he took over from Alex Ferguson, has found that goodwill running dry as United's performances have begun to look as poor as their results.

A feeble 3-0 home defeat to Liverpool on Sunday effectively put paid to the Old Trafford side's hopes of qualifying for the Champions League through their English Premier League position come the end of the season.

The biggest assurance is the club will let me get on with the job. I have a six-year contract. This club does not work on a short-term vision, it works on a long-term vision.

David Moyes, Manchester United manager

And if they don't overturn a two-goal deficit to Olympiakos in their last 16 second leg tie at home on Wednesday, the 2014-15 season will be the first in 19 years that they haven't played in Europe's top club competition.

Despite the pressure, Moyes said on Tuesday that he fully expected United to keep faith with him.

"My future has not changed one bit," the former Everton manager told a news conference. "I have got a great job and know exactly the direction I want to go in.

"It has not been the season we wanted but I have ideas I want to put in place and the most important thing is Olympiakos.

"The biggest assurance is the club will let me get on with the job. I have a six-year contract. This club does not work on a short-term vision, it works on a long-term vision.

"Sir Alex told me it was going to be a very difficult job but he is always there to help."

So toothless were United against Liverpool that Ferguson could have done little worse if he'd laced up his boots and come on for Robin van Persie instead of glowering from the stands as his least favourite team enjoyed making his former charges suffer.

It doesn't bode well against the Greeks, although defender Patrice Evra sees parallels with France's superb display in Paris against Ukraine to qualify for the World Cup after an inept 2-0 defeat in Kiev.

Passing storm

"We let the storm pass," Evra said of the criticism that followed Les Bleus' drab display in the playoff first leg.

"It was a difficult day after the game, we didn't expect to lose 2-0 in Ukraine but after two days everyone was focused.

"We stood together, we played for the people who love us, our families, the fans and we give everything.

"Like the manager says, it is really important we score early. When you come to Old Trafford and you concede an early goal, it is difficult."

Having reached the final last year, Borussia Dortmund are looking for their first Champions League title since they beat United home and away in the 1997 semi before going on to beat Juventus.

A 4-2 win in Russia last month means they are virtually assured of reaching the quarter-finals as they take on Zenit St Petersburg at home on Wednesday.

But after four years in which they have kept pace with Bayern Munich, winning the German title comprehensively in 2012, this season has been a different story and few at the Westfalenstadion will expect a repeat of last year's explouts.

Dortmund are 23 points behind the Bavarians and lost to Borussia Moenchengladbach at the weekend, when coach Jurgen Klopp was sent off for questioning the referee.

Zenit, who have not won in four Champions League matches, have caretaker coach Sergey Semak in charge for the second and final time, following the sacking of Luciano Spalletti last week and the appointment of Andre Villas-Boas on Tuesday.

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Source:
Al Jazeera
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