David Moyes faces crucial test as Man Utd take on Liverpool
United board unlikely to give Moyes the leeway Alex Ferguson was allowed in his early days
THERE was a time when Alex Ferguson scorned the league cup - or, as it's known these days, the Capital One Cup - but for his successor at Old Trafford the competition has attained a mighty significance.
David Moyes knows that Manchester United - still without the injured Robin van Persie - must beat Liverpool in tonight's third round cup clash if he's to stop talk of a crisis within the club. Already there are grumblings among the United faithful that the 50-year-old Scot is not cut out for the job, grumblings that have grown in strength following Sunday's 4-1 rout at the hands of Manchester City.
That defeat saw United slip to eighth in the Premier League table, five points behind leaders Arsenal, a club that not so long along was mercilessly mocked by United fans for their years of under-achieving.
Moyes knew it was never going to be easy to step into the shoes of Ferguson as manager but a lack of big-name summer signings - Marouane Fellaini apart - didn't help his cause and, with just two wins from their first five league games, the pressure is mounting on the former Everton manager.
"I don't think it was ever going to be the case this was would be easy and smooth after Sir Alex," admitted Moyes ahead of tonight's clash with Liverpool. "There were always going to be days [like Sunday] and there might well be more days like this. I hope not but there will be because that is football.
"It was always going to be tough following such a great manager with a great team and people with real football knowledge will know there are probably some changes to be made."
Asked how long it will take to implement those changes to United, Moyes replied: "It is not going to be made in one fell swoop. It is going to be done in time."
How much time the United board allows Moyes remains to be seen but it's unlikely he'll be given the leeway accorded Ferguson back in the early days of his United managerial career.
Having replaced Ron Atkinson as manager in November 1986, Ferguson endured several disappointing seasons and survived many attempts by supporters to have him sacked, before he guided United to success in the 1990 FA Cup final. But football back then wasn't the beast it is now, a business first and a sport second. If the United board feel the brand is being undermined by results on the pitch then Moyes will be fired.
Moyes confessed he'd been shocked by the City humiliation but said: "When you have been a football manager for the amount of time I have you are always going to have shocks. I have had lots and I have no doubt there will be more in the future. That is the way football is." ·