David Moyes says he is concerned by Manchester United's faltering start to the season following a surprise 2-1 defeat to West Bromwich Albion that leaves the champions with seven points from their opening six games. Goals from Morgan Amalfitano and Saido Berahino were answered by Wayne Rooney to give West Brom a first win at Old Trafford since 1978.
In a poor day for Manchester's football fortunes United's neighbours City also suffered an unexpected defeat at Aston Villa that left their new manager, Manuel Pellegrini, in a funk over Villa's opening goal.
But the pressure will be more acute on his Old Trafford counterpart who was forthright about United's display. "It was a poor result and a poor performance," Moyes said. "We never really got going. We had a lot of the ball in the first half and never made many chances from it. We did make some from it and we didn't finish and they always looked a threat on the break, in the first half especially when they got away, and even more so in the second half."
Asked if he was worried about the club's start to the title defence, he said: "I'm concerned after today's [display] but only because we didn't play well. There's a lot of games to go and we can put it right in the games to come. 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."
Moyes rested several key players and stated that he does not have a strongest side. 'There isn't one best team. There are lots of teams here at Manchester United. We play all the players. We changed the team in midweek and played the bulk of them again to give them the chance. That's what happens. I'm getting to know them a lot better and the more I see the more I'll get to know them."
Robin van Persie was nursing a groin problem and came on in the second half and Moyes was hopeful that he will be ready for Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League on Wednesday. "He's not missed an awful lot. His injury was a small injury and hopefully he'll be back."
Meanwhile, Pellegrini insisted his City side will still be in the hunt for the title at the end of the season. The result was not just unexpected because Villa went into the game without a home win, but also because City had twice managed to take the lead and looked comfortable at 2-1 up before being hit by two goals in three minutes. "We had the game completely under our control," Pellegrini said. "We played well in the first half, exactly as we had played against Manchester United, and there was no risk to our own goal until a few things happened that I found frustrating.
"Aston Villa's first goal was clearly offside, their second came from a free-kick that should not have been given, and because of those decisions that went against us we went looking for a winner and left ourselves too open at the back for the third."
Pellegrini's disappointment was understandable, even if most spectators were of the opinion that Matija Nastasic had fouled Andreas Weimann for the free kick that led to Leandro Bacuna's senstational equaliser, though at least the City manager was willing to give Villa credit for a spirited second half recovery. "Teams in the English league fight for the whole 90 minutes, they do not give up," he said. "I have seen that twice already [City led at Cardiff before going down to three second-half goals], you can see it somewhere every week. I know this is a competitive league. I don't know how many teams will end up in the running for the title this season, but Manchester City will be among them. Playing the way we are playing, I am absolutely sure we are going to fight for the title."