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Moyes declines to duck key issues as United seek reversal of fortunes

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: December 10, 2013

By Simon Stone

Manchester United manager David Moyes yesterday    Dave Thompson/PA

Manchester United manager David Moyes yesterday Dave Thompson/PA

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Manager David Moyes has admitted he takes full responsibility for Manchester United's current troubles.

The Old Trafford outfit head into tonight's home UEFA Champions League encounter with Shakhtar Donetsk in the throes of a crisis, following back-to-back home defeats in the Premier League.

Moyes was not even born when the Red Devils last lost three successive games at Old Trafford, in the autumn of 1962, and, if it happens again, United will lose top spot in Group A and will be pitched into a nasty knockout-round clash with one of Europe's heavyweights.

As they are occupying ninth spot in the Premier League, the situation is barely comprehensible at a club so used to success, boasting a squad that, with the exception of Paul Scholes' retirement, is the same one that lifted the domestic title by an impressive 11 points last season.

Various theories have been put forward for the sharp downturn in fortunes and Moyes himself has identified a number of key areas where improvement is required. But, to the Scot's credit, he is refusing to hide behind excuses.

"I take complete responsibility for the results," Moyes said yesterday. "It is tough because the expectancy is to win all the games and the results have not been good in the Premier League.

"There is a bit of everything we could do with doing better. Generally, we'd like to play better. We would like to pass it better, to create more chances, I'd like to defend better when those moments arise.

"I don't think it is any one thing, it is all round we are trying to improve."

As Moyes pointed out, it is only a month since United defeated Arsenal, and a fortnight after the five-goal hammering of Bayer Leverkusen that will go down as one of the club's great European away performances. But what has alarmed supporters almost as much as those defeats by Everton and Newcastle United is the manner of the losses.

At the weekend, in particular, once Yohan Cabaye scored for the Magpies, the lack of a response was strange for a club so used to dragging out late victories.

"I agree," said Moyes, when asked whether his team needed to show more belief and conviction. "In recent games we haven't quite finished the games the way we would have liked to.

"We have tried to make changes to improve things but it hasn't quite happened."

It seems to underline a general belief that the squad which Moyes inherited, for all its championship-winning credentials, is lacking in quality.

Whatever the reasons, the pain is sharp. "The players are hurting because they are used to winning," Moyes added.

"When they don't win, that hurts them. They care very much about the team and the club. They are good lads and they will respond in the right way."

United have doubts over a number of key men ahead of the encounter with Ukraine's Shakhtar.

Defenders Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra and Chris Smalling all missed training yesterday, while midfielder Marouane Fellaini has a back problem.

Michael Carrick (Achilles tendon) is absent but fellow midfielder Shinji Kagawa is available as already-qualified United chase the point required to secure top spot in Group A.

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