Stoke City manager Mark Hughes has warned David Moyes to be wary of losing too many points if the Premier League Champions are to keep their chances of retaining the trophy they won in Sir Alex Ferguson’s last tenure in charge of Manchester United alive.
The former ‘Red Devils’ captain currently at the helm of the Staffordshire club was speaking at his pre-match conference ahead of Saturday’s visit to Old Trafford.
He believes the burden of succeeding his former manager Ferguson will always be a herculean task, but believes Moyes is equal and capable to move United forward.
“I think David (Moyes) probably expected the reaction he has had because he has stepped into the shoes of a great footballing man,” Hughes, 49, said. “It will be difficult for any manager of Manchester United.
“He (Moyes) is a very experienced man, and I am sure that he will again continue to show how good a manager he is.”
Scotsman Moyes has had a very poor start with United, struggling to impress a large number of United fans who haven’t kept secret their displeasure about the club’s present position.
Following last weekend’s 1-1 draw with Southampton, Wednesday’s victory over Real Sociedad was a welcome relief for the coach but the fans will want to see better performance in the league.
Hughes has not got off to the best start with the ‘Potters’ either. Last week’s draw with West Bromwich Albion halted a run of straight defeats but the club’s woeful attack has been criticised of late, having scored just four goals in eight matches with non of their strikers hitting target.
He Welshman will be looking to emulate the ‘Baggies’ and the ‘Saints’ who have all irked out meaningful points at Old Trafford so far this season.
Moyes’ men are eight points behind league leaders Arsenal so far in a season which has been tagged ‘unpredictable’, but Hughes believes it could be disastrous should the champions lose more matches.
“I would think that they will be there or thereabout come the end of the season,” he added on United’s present position in the league standing.
“You have to be careful, though, because there are only a certain amount of games that you can lose if you want to win the league. They are a little bit adrift at the moment, but if you ever question Manchester United, more often than not they will hit back with the answers.”
Robin van Persie was not risked in Wednesday clash against Sociedad with a toe injury but Moyes is hopeful to have him back in time for Saturday. Darren Fletcher, who has missed a large part of the last two years with a chronic bowel condition, has returned but not match-fit yet.
Wayne Rooney will continue to spearhead United’s attack, alongside Javier Hernandez should van Persie miss out.
Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand have missed a couple of games now with injuries and could again miss out against Stokes City. Jonny Evans and Phil Jones look set to continue in central defence, Marouaine Fellaini could return to the starting lineup after starting from the bench in midweek.
Geoff Cameron was missing against West Brom with a calf injury and is rated a doubt for the weekend tie. Andy Wilkinson will continue in place of the American at right-back, should he remain sidelined.
Charlie Adam, Steven N’Zonzi and Steven Ireland will take charge of the midfield duty while Jon Walters could be heading Stokes’ attack. Oussma Assaidi and Marko Arnautovic will be providing support for the strikers.
In the defense, Erik Peters, Ryan Shawcross and Robert Huth will cover for Asmir Begovic.