Manchester United manager David Moyes has not had time to start Alex Ferguson’s autobiography – but it is clear he has picked up valuable lessons from his fellow Scot.
When he checked in at Manchester Airport for the flight to Spain ahead of tonight’s Champions League encounter with Real Sociedad, Moyes was pictured with a copy of Ferguson’s account of life in the Old Trafford hot-seat in his hand luggage.
Once Moyes gets around to thumbing his way through it, he will find an insight into how Ferguson liked to defend his players.
And, while it might not be in the book, Moyes would not have to look too far elsewhere to discover Ferguson talking about reaching a 10-point watermark he regarded as essential for qualification into the Champions League knock-out phase.
In his robust assessment of Sascha Riether’s challenge on Adnan Januzaj at Fulham on Saturday, Moyes went with the first principle.
Riether was charged with violent conduct by the Football Association over the incident, becoming the first player to be charged under a pilot scheme where a panel of three former referees reviews video evidence of incidents not seen by match officials.
Having viewed the replays himself, the United boss feels Januzaj needs more protection than he is presently receiving.
“I had not seen it until after the game,” Moyes said.
“It is a bad stamp and it does look deliberate.”
Speaking before being made aware of the FA charge, Moyes said of the incident: “That is for the referee to deal with on the day as far as I am concerned. It is over now.
“But I do think Adnan is going to need a little bit of protection or we are going to find that he is getting kicked up and down.
Turning to tonight’s game, Moyes said he is taking his eye off opponents who have lost every match so far.
“I certainly won’t take anything for granted,” Moyes said.
“I have a lot of respect for Sociedad, and we will have to play well on Tuesday if we are going to get those 10 points which will get us over the line.
The last time United visited the Basque country, two seasons ago, they were soundly beaten by Athletic Bilbao in a rather chastening Europa League experience. Sociedad appear to offer less of a threat.
Although they can put forward reasonable excuses for all three reverses — notably they conceded in injury-time against Bayer Leverkusen and were beaten by an early own goal at Old Trafford a fortnight ago – Sociedad evidently lack the power of not only tournament heavyweights Real Madrid and Barcelona, but also Atletico Madrid and Valencia, who finished fifth in Spain last term, a point behind Sociedad.
With the visit of leaders Arsenal looming, tonight’s game could be viewed as being of secondary importance. However, while United cannot actually make qualification certain, they would need only a point from their last two games if a third victory in 22 away games in Spain was to be achieved, taking pressure off Moyes leading into the crucial pre-Christmas phase. United’s progress has been in marked contrast to their early-season Premier League struggles.
“There is nothing which we have done differently,” Moyes said.
“Everything we’re doing in this Champions League we’re doing in the Premier League as well.The players are used to it. They are experienced at this level and that helps. I hope that continues.”
Moyes reported positive news on the injury front: “We don’t have a lot of injuries. It’s probably the best United have had for a long time.”
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