x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 January 2018

Moyes concerned by toothless Manchester United

Scotsman, however, is not worried about lack of genuine forwards in squad, saying Premier League champions will impprove.

David Moyes is having to endure a difficult time early into his stint as the Manchester United manager. Laurence Griffiths / Getty Images
David Moyes is having to endure a difficult time early into his stint as the Manchester United manager. Laurence Griffiths / Getty Images

MANCHESTER // David Moyes, the Manchester United manager, conceded his team’s lack of cutting edge was giving him serious grounds for concern following a shock home defeat by West Bromwich Albion.

Moyes’s side have not scored from open play in the Premier League since their 4-1 victory at Swansea City on the opening weekend of the season.

The run continued when they were deservedly beaten 2-1 by West Brom on Saturday, making it three defeats in Moyes’s first six league games in charge and United’s worst start to a season since 1989.

Moyes had previously complained about a difficult opening to the campaign that saw his side take on Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City over the course of the first five games.

After heading to Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League in mid-week, they travel to Sunderland next weekend before a pair of back-to-back home matches in the Premier League.

Moyes’s only major addition in the summer was midfielder Marouane Fellaini and despite the lack of any attacking signings, he is adamant he has the options at his disposal to resolve the goal-scoring issue.

“I’m concerned, but only because we didn’t play well [against West Brom]. There’s a lot of games to go and we can put it right in the games to come,” he said.

“It’s not from the lack of trying or lack of forward players. There are plenty of forward players out there. It’s just not quite opening teams up the way we would like and we need to try to do that better.

“We missed that spark, which would have been something just to go on and make the difference and make it happen. If we’d got the goal, it would have changed.

“West Brom deserved it no question, and I can’t argue with that.”

Robin van Persie, who had missed the previous two games with a groin problem, came off the bench against West Brom as United looked to force a way back into the game.

Moyes is hopeful that Van Persie will be fit enough to start Wednesday’s match in Ukraine.

“I hope so. He’s not missed an awful lot,” said Moyes, whose team slipped to 12th in the standings.

“His injury was a small injury and hopefully he’ll be back. Our plan was to give him some time and give him 15 or 20 minutes.”

Moyes replaced Shinji Kagawa, the Japan international, with youngster Adnan Januzaj at half-time.

Kagawa has rarely been used in his preferred position behind the striker since signing from Borussia Dortmund last year, but Moyes says that is not an excuse for below-par performances.

“We want Shinji to feel he’s getting an opportunity to show what he can do and his best position may be number 10,” the manager said.

“But even for Japan he plays off the left as well, so it’s not something which is strange to him or not his position. He’s used to that.

“But there’s a lot of competition here and we want to push each other on to give performances and improve.”

Anderson hit the crossbar for United with a header in the opening period, before Morgan Amalfitano, the France international, opened the scoring shortly after half-time with a magnificent solo run and dinked finish.

Wayne Rooney equalised with a free-kick, but West Brom pulled ahead again when Saido Berahino drove in.

Steve Clarke, the West Brom manager, feels his team’s aspirations are beginning to change when they travel to grounds like Old Trafford.

“It’s not about the fear factor. The biggest thing is if we’re trying to grow as a club and a team,” he said.

“We’ve been in the Premier League for a number of years and we’re trying to change the mindset.

“West Bromwich Albion have always been capable of coming to these sorts of places and been able to defend doggedly for 90 minutes and nick a winner or a draw, but I want to try to win the game and we achieved that.”