• David Moyes defends his player over incident in derby
• FA requests extra Sky footage to review alleged spitting
Marouane Fellaini is "adamant" that he did not spit at Pablo Zabaleta during Manchester United's 3-0 derby defeat at Old Trafford, with the Belgian set to deny the offence should the Football Association charge him pending an investigation.
The alleged incident occurred after Fellaini had elbowed the Argentinian during the first half, for which the United player was subsequently booked. Zabaleta was lying on the floor when the follow-up incident allegedly took place and the FA has seen footage, shot from behind Fellaini, that appears to incriminate the midfielder.
Zabaleta has also seen the television pictures and though City will not lodge an official complaint, the club are expecting the FA to investigate further. The Argentinian had his hands covering his face at the time and did not see, or feel, anything other than the blow to the side of his head from Fellaini's elbow.
If the FA thinks there is sufficient evidence, the Belgian will be charged with misconduct and the offence will carry a three-match ban, in line with George Boyd's punishment for his clash with Joe Hart when Manchester City played at Hull City on 15 March.
The governing body will request that Sky passes over its footage from various camera angles. United will also be asked to submit their own footage. As it stands, Fellaini's face cannot be seen and the FA is likely to need something more conclusive.
Fellaini has told the manager, David Moyes, that he did not spit at the right-back, with the Scot also pointing out that the images so far available are inconclusive. "I've spoken to Marouane and he says it isn't the case," said Moyes. "We'll work with the FA if that's what we have to do to clear it. Marouane is adamant that at no time did he do that. I don't think it [the video evidence] is completely conclusive from what I'm hearing and seeing."
If Fellaini is charged it would be the latest episode in a disappointing first season that has seen him fail to score following his £27m transfer from Everton last summer.
Paul Scholes was scathing of Fellaini's on-field displays when the former midfielder worked as a Sky pundit for the City game. Then the former United and England man said: "He's not been great, has he? You have to admit that. For a central midfielder at Manchester United for £27m, I'm expecting a few goals at least. He did have problems with his wrist and I know he missed a lot of games but, for the money they paid for him, I'd be expecting a lot more, to be honest with you."
Asked if he was concerned by Fellaini's displays, Moyes said: "I've been concerned a little bit by his performances at Old Trafford but I've not been concerned by his performances away from home. Anybody who has been to see us – I think we've got the best away record in the Premier League – in the last three games away from home Marouane Fellaini has played really well, at West Ham, at West Brom, those games he's played in recently he's played very well.
"I think he's struggled to show that at Old Trafford. It's a settling-in period. Anybody who comes to this club knows there is a settling-in period and I think he is still in that period just now."
Gary Neville, another former United player, also worked as a pundit for the game. He and Scholes each criticised how Moyes's team are playing. "For me the big thing is we're trying to do exactly what Gary and Paul did," Moyes said in response, before suggesting his predecessor, Sir Alex Ferguson, allowed the club's youth structure to lapse, despite Scholes and Neville being two successful products of it.
"Ideally my style is to introduce young players into the first team, develop the academy – there was a great academy here – but we have to make sure we continue to improve that," said Moyes. "So my style is actually everything Manchester United have done in the past and my plans are there to make sure we have that level of young player. We still have to go out to bring in one or two to help, but it's [over]a longer period and I've always wanted to introduce younger players and get them in the team if we can."
Moyes did not disagree with criticism from Scholes and Neville about the side being slow-paced. "Tempo and speed comes sometimes from the personnel and we're aware of that and will try to improve that," he said. "It's something that we'll do everything we can – the training – I've been in coaching a long time and I'll try to do everything I can to make that better."
The manager accepts that to take only seven points from the 39 available against the top nine sides is not the way of 20-times champions. "Yes, but as I said earlier it could have been the case no matter what this season," he said. "It might have been the case and it is so un-Man United, which is why we have to look to continue a policy of building, improving, getting better, and that's what we'll try and do."