Everton's Phil Jagielka has defended David Moyes's faltering start in charge of Manchester United by accusing the club's board of failing to back his former manager in the summer transfer market.
United lost 1-0 to Everton at Old Trafford on Wednesday evening to leave them 12 points behind leaders Arsenal in ninth position, with the champions the same margin above the relegation zone.
With United now having played 14 times in the league, Moyes is drawing criticism for his performance. But Jagielka, taken to Goodison Park by the Scot in 2007 in a £4m transfer, believes United's inability to attract more players than just Marouane Fellaini, who joined in a £27.5m deal from Everton, this summer is partly to blame.
"I have a lot of time and a lot of respect for David Moyes," Jagielka said. "I do feel sorry for him. The fixture list wasn't that kind initially. The transfers in the summer, the people who were making those decisions didn't help him out one bit.
"It is nowhere near a big problem but the pressure was always going to be high. From being at Everton, where the pressure was not so big initially, he could then grow into the season. You can't grow into the season at Manchester United. You need to come out firing on all cylinders when you look at how Arsenal have started and Chelsea and teams like that. You can't give them too much of a lead.
"He will come under pressure. But I am sure he knew that once he took the job. He wasn't going to get a quiet life at Manchester United. It was a fantastic opportunity for him. It proved what a great job he had done at Everton. I am sure he will roll his sleeves up and get the guys moving in the right direction.
"I am more than sure he will get Manchester United where they need to be. He just needs that little bit more time. But sometimes, time seems a hard thing to get when you are at that top level." Jagielka is clear that Moyes will come through the difficult period. "[That is] 100%. He is a football man. He has some good people around him," the defender said. "He has some great players in the squad. He just needs to add a few more players that he wants week in, week out.
"Once he gets that sorted and he gets more of his team, rather than a team he has been given, that is the acid test for him, once he gets the players in that he wants."
During the loss to Everton, which came from Bryan Oviedo's 86th-minute goal, Moyes received barracking from his former supporters. Yet Jagielka dismissed this as part of the game. "It is how fickle football is. It was the same with Fellaini. He was fantastic for us. I am sure he got abused by our fans [too]," said Jagielka.
"It is the nature of the beast. I am sure when he comes to Goodison he will still get a round of applause for the first five minutes and then he will get booed and abused for the rest.
"When you leave a big club like Everton, with such passionate fans, I am sure David Moyes expected the reception, especially with us getting the win we got in the end."
The 31-year-old centre-half admitted that being a member of the Everton side that beat Moyes's United felt odd, though he hailed his replacement, Roberto Martínez, for the job he has been doing at Goodison Park.
"It is a bit of a strange feeling beating David Moyes. He did a fantastic job for Everton. He left it in great shape for the new manager to come in and use his philosophies to take us to another dimension. It is a bit strange but it is fantastic to come and get the three points and stay as high up in the table as possible.
"It is a tough week when you get Manchester United and Arsenal away [on Sunday]. One down and now we are looking forward to the game at the Emirates," Jagielka said.