David Moyes says the Old Trafford faithful deserve a better Manchester United, while stressing the need for squad improvement over the summer.
The ‘Red Devils’ progressed into the last-eight of the European Champions League (their thirteenth appearance in the same stage) thanks to a Robin van Persie hat-trick against Olympiacos, who came into Wednesday night’s return leg second round fixture with a 2-0 lead.
The lack of in-depth strength in United’s squad and its inability to replace its aging and retired stars over the summer have been their undoing in a disappointing season, which climaxed with last weekend’s 3-0 home loss to perennial rivals Liverpool. But a chance to keep a probable Champions League title hope alive was not to be taken with levity; thus it was a certain 40-year-old Ryan Giggs that led the chariots again.
“Ryan is not going to go on forever so we have to find the new Ryan Giggs and use other players but we needed his experience tonight,” Moyes opined.
Dutch striker Van Persie, who has been criticised for lack of form this season, rose to the occasion and gave the fans something to cheer about by overturning the visitors’ two-goal lead from the first leg.
“He (Van Persie) was great, not many people score a hat-trick in the Champions League,” said Moyes.
Moyes must also be indepted to goalkeeper David de Gea, whose crucial double saves from David Fuster and Alejandro Dominiguez kept United in the game prior to Van Persie’s second-half stoppage time strike.
“The way the players responded after Sunday [pleased me most]. I told the players on Monday morning we have to win 3-0 to give the fans something back. They have been incredible and they deserved it because we’ve not given them many good nights,” he added.
The good news as disclosed by the boss is that Van Persie’s injury “doesn’t look that bad”, after the striker went down holding the back of his leg in the closing minutes of the match.
And that the ‘Theatre of Dream’ faithful can, again deem deeper despite being the bookies’ outsider for a fourth European crown is a relieve.
“People will probably think it’s a turning point in people’s careers but I didn’t see it like that because the club don’t see it like that. I see myself here for a long time.
“I think we know we have a lot of work to do but it’s a great result and we want to stay in the competition. The other teams are good now and we look forward to the draw,” Moyes explained.
United knows their faith on Friday morning and could even be up against English rivals Chelsea, who won it in 2012 when they were outright underdogs. They could likewise be up against Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Paris St-Germain and Real Madrid.
Having lost to Sunderland in the semi-finals of the capital One Cup; already knocked out of the FA Cup and, even facing an uphill task to reach the group stage of the Champions League next season as they presently sit seventh in the Premier League table- 12 points adrift of the fourth qualifying round- Moyes is well aware of the pressing need of a miracle in Europe this season.
Nonetheless, the Scot does not consider his position at the English champions threatened.
Moyes said: “I’m not feeling any pressure from inside the club, it’s coming from you people [the media], we know the job we have to do, it’s probably bigger than what I thought when I first came to the club.
“There are stories of this player falling out, or that one falling out, but it’s rubbish. People are looking for reasons why we are not doing well but it is only because we have not been playing well.”