Man United hit a new low, but Moyes feels 'no pressure'
League Cup loss at Sunderland means three defeats in a row, can United recover for second leg?
Sunderland 2 Manchester United 1. The first leg of the Capital One Cup semi-final at the Stadium of Light ended in another defeat for United, their third consecutive reverse, a depth they last plumbed in 2001.
Beaten by Tottenham in the league on New Year's Day, United lost to Swansea on Sunday in the FA Cup third round and now comes defeat to Sunderland – that's Sunderland as in bottom of the Premier League with only three wins this season.
United can still turn the League Cup tie around when the two teams meet again at Old Trafford on 22 January but given the Red Devils' recent home form – four defeats in six matches – Sunderland will be quietly confident of reaching Wembley next month for their first major final since 1992 when they lost to Liverpool in the FA Cup.
An own goal from Ryan Giggs in first-half stoppage time put Sunderland ahead but Nemanja Vidic levelled for the visitors on 52 minutes with a thumping header. But 12 minutes later referee Andre Marriner awarded the Black Cats a penalty for what he adjudged to be an illegal challenge by Tom Cleverley on Adam Johnson. United protested the penalty but to no avail and Fabio Borini held his nerve to send the ball past David de Gea.
United manager David Moyes was still seething at the penalty decision at the final whistle, telling reporters: "We're having to play them [referees] as well as the opposition at the moment."
It was only last week that the Scot described the failure of the officials to award his side a late penalty against Tottenham as "scandalous". Last night Moyes was baffled why the Black Cats had got the penalty: "How could the linesman give that? The ref was looking straight at it but the linesman would have to have seen straight through Patrice Evra to give it... It's really terrible. We're actually beginning to laugh at them."
Moyes' comments will probably induce the odd ironic laugh among rival fans for under his predecessor, Alex Ferguson, United often appeared to get the rub of the refereeing green. Those days are long gone however, as is United's intimidating reputation, although Moyes was doing his best to sound bullish in the wake of another crushing defeat.
Asked how much pressure he felt he replied: "None whatsoever." And added: "This is a two-legged game and I'm actually really looking forward to this."
How much United fans look forward to games these days is a moot point but Moyes claimed he has their whole-hearted support. "They realise we are having a difficult time right now," he said. "They are not used to this, but that is what good supporters do, they stick with their team, they stick with their manager."
Unfortunately for Moyes, it's not the fans who hold his fate in their hands. It's the United board and their patience must be beginning to wear as thin as the likelihood of their club winning a trophy this season.