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Moyes faces players’ revolt

rp_stoke-200x2001-200x2001-200x200.jpgDavid Moyes might still have the backing of the Manchester United board, with neither the Glazers, nor Ed Woodward or Fergie and Sir Bobby seemingly ready to pull the plug on Moyes’ dismal tenure at Old Trafford, but the United manager is losing support among two other crucial parties.

The first, as was widely reported after Tuesday’s shambolic defeat, are the fans. Having stood behind Moyes for eight months, showing a remarkable amount of patience given the awful football we’ve been treated to, many Reds seem to have finally lost patience and some – the man in the South Stand being the prime example – decided to make their feelings known to the manager.

However, and that’s a lot more worrying as far as Moyes is concerned, the fans aren’t the only ones to have run out of patience with the United manager, who now could be facing a revolt from within, as the players have allegedly had enough of their manager and of his training methods.

It’s no surprise to see these rumours surfacing just days after Moyes was again under intense pressure after back-to-back wins against Olympiakos and West Ham proved to be yet another false dawn. Reports of players growing disillusioned with Moyes’ methods and approach to training have been circulating virtually since he directed his first training session back in July and looks to have exacerbated over the last couple of weeks, perhaps compounded by consecutive humiliations against Liverpool and Manchester City.

The manner in which those defeats arrived, more than the results themselves, highlighted yet again how unsuited to a club that has always seen attacking football as part of its ethos Moyes’ methods are.

The Telegraph‘s Mark Ogden, normally an extremely reliable source when it comes to Manchester United, reported that “Moyes’s perceived cautious approach has been viewed as blunting the team’s attacking potential, and although senior players embraced his determination last summer to make training more physically demanding than under Sir Alex Ferguson it is now regarded as having contributed little of benefit to a team who are in seventh position in the Premier League, 12 points adrift of Champions League qualification.”

This comes just a month after Robin Van Persie had told a Dutch television that his teammates “occupied his space” in the aftermath of United’s 2-0 defeat against Olympiakos, while on Tuesday night Paul Scholes was highly critical of Moyes’ decision to shunt Juan Mata out wide, rather than deploy the Spaniard in his favourite number 10 role.

Everton players have previously spoken of how different training under Roberto Martinez is compared to Moyes, with the Spaniard placing a lot more emphasis on tactics and training with the ball than his predecessor ever did, which fails to dismiss the rumours according to which Moyes has paid no attention whatsoever to attacking drills in training since joining United.

In fact, some claim that United’s training is almost exclusively focused on the defensive side of the game – rather puzzling in itself, given the inept defending we have witnessed in more than one occasion this season – and, as any match-going fan would have noticed, even the warm-up routine has changed.

Where once United used to play “boxes” – a common training drill, which relies on quick, short passes to ensure the ball travels as quickly as possible between players – they now stand in a circle and pass the ball around, significantly at a much slower pace.

There’s absolutely no doubt that some of the players have to take a long, hard, look at themselves given the standard of their performances this season, just like it’d be foolish to claim that Moyes’ training methods and tactical approach have nothing to do with United’s swift decline this season.

He may retain the board’s backing for now, but Moyes looks increasingly like a man on borrowed time.