London: A defiant David Moyes remained hopeful of keeping champions Manchester United in the Premier League title race despite seeing his team lose 0-1 to Newcastle United on Saturday, their second home defeat in four days.
Newcastle’s win, which arrived courtesy of a neat side-footed finish from France midfielder Yohan Cabaye in the 61st minute, was the north-east club’s first at Old Trafford in 41 years.
Manchester United were also beaten 1-0 by Everton, Moyes’ former team, on Wednesday but Alex Ferguson’s successor as manager refused to write off his chances of retaining the crown.
“It could have been much better,” lamented a disappointed Moyes as his side stayed ninth in the table, 12 points adrift of leaders Arsenal.
“We were needing a goal to give us confidence...but we did not create enough.”
Asked if Manchester United were out of the title race, the Scot replied: “I stand firm that we will be very close to it and I hope we are in there or around it at the end of the season”.
Moyes, who has been in the spotlight from the moment he took over from the retired Ferguson in the close season, acknowledged the transition had been bumpy.
“We’ve lacked a little bit of creativity at the right times, when we’ve had a chance to make good passes we’ve not quite made them. We’ve lost the two games 1-0, they probably have been both slightly against the run of play,” he said.
Asked whether he could see ‘light at the end of the tunnel’, Moyes replied: “There will be, because it is that transitional period and it was always going to be the case.
“We’d hoped it wouldn’t be quite as poor as it has been in the last few games but hopefully we’ll get that back.”
Moyes applauded the United fans and felt most of them understood the situation.
“I think they understand it is transition, it’s the same players that were here last year as well. Obviously the manager has changed.”
Cabaye’s well-taken goal, stroked in from 10 metres, delighted Newcastle boss Alan Pardew.
“It was a magnificent performance. I know we won’t get the headlines because of United and poor old David Moyes,” he said.”But we deserve them because our players were magnificent.”
Pardew, who has guided resurgent Newcastle to sixth place with five wins in six games, plotted a perfect plan as his team subdued their hosts, controlled possession and seized victory with elan.
“We had to go back to the basics to win the game and that is what we have done,” said Cabaye.
“The manager told us (about Newcastle’s record at Old Trafford), maybe it was the right time to come here and win.
“We were just focused to do the right things, stay solid and we are all happy today. We feel no more pressure on us.
“The league this year is quite open. The big teams are at the top and it is very hard to say who is going to win the league,” added Cabaye.
“We are sixth and get some confidence to play relaxed and not think about relegation.”
Manchester United, without suspended England striker Wayne Rooney and showing seven changes from Wednesday, were easily subdued by well-organised visitors who triumphed with few alarms.
Pardew sympathised with Moyes whose side are now closer to the relegation zone than the top of the league.
“It’s tough for David,” said the Newcastle manager. “I thought events worked against him with no Rooney today.
“He’s a great person and a great manager and the best thing this great club can do is to stick by him. They’ve done that before and he’ll come out smiling.”