David Moyes remains convinced that he can turn around Manchester United’s ailing fortunes and that he retains the support of the club’s supporters, despite a fly-by protest planned before the encounter with Aston Villa on Saturday.
Moyes has overseen a disastrous first season in charge of the Premier League champions. Having been largely vocal in support of Moyes to date, the patience of many of the fans’ appeared to finally snap after a dismal 3-0 defeat at home to local rivals Manchester City in midweek. At the final whistle abuse was hurled toward the man who anointed Moyes as his successor, Sir Alex Ferguson, while the prominent banner that hangs in the stands declaring Moyes as “The chosen one” had to be protected by stewards. A banner reading “Wrong One – Moyes Out” is set to be flown over Old Trafford on Saturday. Moyes, though, remains full of resolve.
“It's a long journey here and this is only the start of it," Moyes said on Friday, according to Manchester United’s official website. "You work hard to get here in the first place but I’ve got to say I’m more driven to succeed than ever because I want the team to turn around and I want to change the position we’re in just now. I really do believe we can do that. It’s just going to take a little bit of time to get it sorted."
“Everywhere I go, I get great support from Manchester United supporters," he added. "I was really fortunate to be at a dinner last night for Darren Fletcher and the amount of supporters who were up, saying: 'Keep going, we understand exactly the situation the club and the team is in.’”
Manchester United are already assured of their lowest points total and highest number of defeats in a season since the beginning of the Premier League. An incredible six of their 10 losses have come at Old Trafford, with Aston Villa the next team to try and take advantage of the fallen fortress of the Theatre of Dreams.
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Like their opponents, Villa’s away form has been stronger than their record at home for much of the season. Such a record is not a surprise, with Paul Lambert’s young and pacy side capable of causing particular problems on the counter attack. They have also shown themselves particularly adept at troubling the league’s big sides and have already beaten Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal this season. And, despite a 4-1 home defeat to Stoke City last week, Lambert is confident his players can produce another memorable performance at Old Trafford.
"They have risen to the big occasions,” he said of his team, according to Aston Villa’s official website. “This is a great game to go up there and play.
"If you don't want to play in this game, then there's something wrong. It's a great football stadium, it has a great history attached to it and there will be a massive crowd. You've got to thrive on these sorts of games. We can cause them trouble definitely. Our intent is to win the game.”
Lambert should have Andreas Weimann available after the forward was forced off with a dead leg against Stoke. Karim El Ahmadi remains a doubt with a thigh strain.
Manchester United will be able to call upon the services of captain Nemanja Vidic after he completed his two-match suspension, but fellow center-backs Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling face late fitness tests. Robin van Persie remains out, while Moyes has explained Adnan Januzaj’s absence of late by stating that he felt the 19-year-old was in need of a rest.
Where to watch: The Barclays Premier League match will kick off at 8.45 a.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by NBCSN, with a live stream available via NBC Sports Live Extra.