Moyes irked by unfair criticism
Manchester United manager David Moyes has no problem with justified criticism - but he does feel some of the flak his team has received this season was undeserved.
After a tough week, in which United have mixed the emotional high of beating Liverpool 1-0 with the shattering low of losing 4-1 to Manchester City, Moyes sends his team into combat with West Brom on Saturday, the start of a winnable sequence of fixtures that should establish them back amongst the Barclays Premier League front-runners.
Though Moyes would doubtless argue there is no such thing as an easy game, he cannot be expecting the same screaming headlines and forensic analysis that accompanied that catastrophic defeat at the Etihad Stadium.
That, using Moyes' own terminology, was one of those days when it is best to close the curtains and pull a blanket over your head; when all the brickbats hurled in United's direction were warranted.
However, there have been occasions this season when he did not feel the condemnation was fair.
"If people judge me at Manchester United on how we do I can't argue," he said. "If criticism is for the team not playing well, like we did at Manchester City, it is totally deserved.
"But in some cases we have done okay this year and people have chosen to do that. They tell me that is a trait at Manchester United."
'They' in this case may well be Sir Alex Ferguson, who had a less than positive view of the people paid to pass judgement on United's performances.
On some occasion though, there can be no dispute. And Sunday was one of them.
"It didn't feel good after we lost to Manchester City," said Moyes. "You wouldn't expect me to feel good and I don't think anyone would want me to feel good either after the way we played.
"There was a level from Manchester City that I hadn't seen. I don't think many people had.
"That is no reason. On the day we had too many players who had a complete off day. Because of that it gave us no chance of winning."
Moyes should be boosted by the return of Robin van Persie, who has recovered from a groin injury that has kept him out of United's last two games.
In addition, England midfielder Tom Cleverley is back after suffering a knee injury in training prior to the Liverpool encounter.
West Brom boss Steve Clarke is sure his counterpart David Moyes is feeling the pressure - but has played down the severity of the Red Devils' start to the season.
While Clarke believes it is natural there is a certain level of strain that comes with taking on the job of United boss, he has also questioned how bad things really are right now for ex-Everton manager Moyes.
"I'm sure David is feeling the pressure of being at a big club like Manchester United, even after 11 years at Everton, where he became established as a really good top-flight manager," Clarke said of his fellow 50-year-old Scot.
"The step up to a club like Manchester United, which is not only a football club but an institution, is big.
"I'm not so sure things haven't gone that well. They had a good win in midweek, so they have already bounced back from the City reverse.
"That's what the top teams do - they know how to recover from bad defeats."
Last season, Clarke's first in charge, Albion frequently impressed as they achieved their best ever Premier League finish of eighth, not least when they rounded things off with a dramatic 5-5 home draw with United in what was Ferguson's final match as Red Devils manager.
Clarke has been keen to emphasise ahead of this weekend's meeting with United that the 10-goal thriller is simply a "good memory" - but also that his side, who beat Sunderland 3-0 in their last league outing, are heading to Old Trafford in a fearless mood.
"I don't think there is any way we can talk about conceding five goals or scoring five goals at Old Trafford," Clarke said.
"I think the 5-5 game is a good memory , it was a great occasion for everyone who was there, but we move on from that and I think Saturday will be a completely different game.
"We don't go there with any fear. We go there with positivity and we go there to try to get a result, looking to put on a good performance, we go there trying to win. We need more points on the board."