Champions League Preview
Manchester United v Shakhtar Donetsk
David Moyes takes “complete responsibility” for Manchester United’s results and hopes a win against Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday will restore confidence.
The defending Premier League champions slumped to a fifth top-flight defeat on Saturday against Newcastle at Old Trafford and are now 13 points behind leaders Arsenal at the top of the table.
They have already dropped 13 out of 24 points on home soil – four more than in the whole of last season’s title-winning campaign – and central defender Jonny Evans has revealed a loss of confidence is affecting the players.
Moyes said there was no point hiding from recent performances and promised to turn results around.
The former Everton manager told a press conference: “I think there’s a bit of everything we could do with getting better. We’d like to generally play better but we’d like to pass it better, we’d like to create more chances. We’d like to defend better when those moments arise. I don’t think it’s any one thing. I think it’s all round that we are trying to improve. But it was only a few weeks ago when we had beaten Arsenal here and we had beaten [Bayer] Leverkusen, and we were talking very well about the team.”
Moyes, appointed successor to Sir Alex Ferguson in the summer, said he would not shirk the challenge of trying to get the club back on track – starting on Tuesday on match-day six of the Champions League.
United are already through to the knockout stages and will clinch first place with a draw – but visitors Shakhtar will advance as Group A winners with a victory.
Moyes added: “I take complete responsibility for the results. Fortunately, they’ve been good in the Champions League but they’ve not been good in the Premier league, so I take responsibility for them as well, and I would like them to be much better – and I’ve got no doubt they will be.”
Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra and Chris Smalling could all miss Tuesday’s final Group A game because of injury.
The trio, as well as Marouane Fellaini, missed training on Monday.
The midfielder has been troubled with a back problem and is doubtful but Shinji Kagawa could be available after missing the loss to Newcastle through illness.
In response to whether he would rest players for the tie, Moyes said: “There’s a little bit of that in my thinking but we’ve also got one or two injuries that I’ll need to look after and that comes into my consideration.”
Should Moyes opt for his strongest line-up Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie could spearhead United’s attack for the first time in a month.
Rooney, 28, is available after missing Saturday’s match against Newcastle through suspension.
“With a player of Wayne’s calibre we can go from strength to strength and become even better than we are now,” Van Persie, who returned from injury against Newcastle, told MUTV.
“It is important that this partnership is growing and becoming even stronger.”