Manchester United manager David Moyes believes his predecessor Sir Alex Ferguson would have struggled this season if he is still with the club.
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The defending champions are seventh in the Premier League, 26 points worse off than at the same stage under Ferguson last year.
“If Sir Alex was here it would be difficult for him as well,” said Moyes.
“It could have been the case no matter what this season. But it has been so un-Man United, which is why we have to look to continue a policy of building, improving, getting better.”
Ferguson retired at the end of last season after United won the Premier League by 11 points. He won 38 trophies, including 13 league titles, during his 26-year reign and played a key role in Moyes’ appointment.
Moyes, 41, gained an impressive reputation at Everton despite not winning a trophy in 11 years.
However, he has been heavily criticised for United’s poor form this season, and Ferguson – now a director and ambassador for the club – was also abused by some supporters following the 3-0 home defeat by Manchester City on Tuesday.
Moyes said after the game that he took responsibility for United’s decline saying: “People are aware there is a squad that is ageing, so I think it would have been a tough season for whoever was in charge of Manchester United this year.”