By Toby Davis
(Reuters) - If David Moyes wondered how difficult it would be to replace Alex Ferguson at Manchester United then the scale of the task was brought home by a stinging Premier League defeat to West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.
The United manager, who stepped into the shoes of the club's most successful servant in the close-season, put a brave face on their third loss in their opening six league games but must now rebuild morale on the back of their worst start in 24 years.
"You're always going to have bad results in football, it is how you deal with them," he told the BBC after the shock 2-1 defeat at Old Trafford.
"We will move on and look forward to the next one. There are lots of games here and you get ready for the next one. I'm concerned after the game but only because we didn't play well. We can put it right."
While Moyes can rightly play down talk of a crisis, he will be aware that the boos heard around the stadium at the final whistle were a rare occurrence under his predecessor.
Moyes was hand picked by Ferguson to assume the reins and Saturday's defeat comes on the back of media reports in Spain that Jose Mourinho was devastated to be overlooked for the job.
While Chelsea manager Mourinho's CV is studded with success, Moyes's achievements are more modest, having helped Everton punch consistently above their weight in his 11 years at Goodison Park.
He was rightly praised for steering them to high Premier League finishes, but the Scot never managed to add any silverware to the trophy cabinet.
In contrast to United, where success is now commonplace, he was also never expected to play open expansive football.
His Everton team were hard to beat and physically imposing but not always easy on the eye.
An accusation levelled against his United side, who had already been beaten by rivals Liverpool and crushed by neighbours Manchester City before Saturday, is that they lack the rapier thrust of Ferguson's title winners.
They have looked vulnerable at the back, conceding eight times in their opening six league games and have struggled to turn periods of dominance into chances.
"We did not defend well at all but we did not attack well," Moyes added. "We had a lot of the ball in the first half but didn't make the most of it."
He also pointed out that with the attacking players at their disposal, United should have gone on to win on Saturday after Wayne Rooney cancelled out Morgan Amalfitano's opener.
"When we got back in I expected us to win it with the talent we have got," he added. "Our intensity was not good enough in the first half, we tried to pick it up in the second half but we got done by it as well (on the break)."
It was West Brom's first victory at Old Trafford since 1978.
In another nod to the past, United became only the second top-flight English champions - after Blackburn in 1995-96 - to begin the following season with three or more defeats in their opening six matches since Leeds United in the 1974-75 season.
West Brom manager Steve Clarke believes his side's approach to the game was behind the surprise result.
"We came to play, we came to be positive. We didn't want to just camp in. We came here not to sit and defend but to come out and go for it. It's great and fantastic for the players," he said.
"Today my one wish is the players are getting the credit and we are talking about how good we were and not how poor Manchester United were."
- Sports & Recreation
- Manchester United
- David Moyes
- Alex Ferguson
- Premier League
- West Bromwich Albion