JIM FLEETING, the Scottish Football Association's director of football development, has conceded that David Moyes would be "suffering" given Manchester United's poor run of results but was confident Moyes' dedication and attention to detail would eventually help him turn things around.
United's FA Cup third-round defeat by Swansea City on Sunday was their fifth loss at home since Moyes succeeded Sir Alex Ferguson as manager in the summer, and led to some supporters calling radio stations demanding he be sacked after just six months in charge. As well as the cup defeat, the Old Trafford club lie in seventh place in the Barclays Premier League. Fleeting spent time with Moyes at the end of last season discussing improvements to the SFA's coaching courses and the former Kilmarnock manager is confident his fellow Scot will eventually turn things around.
"Knowing Davie, he will be suffering so much," said Fleeting as he chaired a two-day Pro Licence seminar at Hampden. "He works 24/7 and is moving closer to the training ground. He said when he got the job he needed to be there day and night to make sure things went well. I'm sure effort will never be lacking by Davie Moyes and I'm sure the skill he has to put a team out on the park to win games is there.
"He is an absolute stickler for detail. We took a coaching course down to Finch Farm in April; Everton played Sunderland on the Saturday and I phoned him as I'm going down on the Saturday night and I hear the airport gongs in the background. I said: What are you up to?' he said: 'I'm in Amsterdam just now, going to a game. Don't worry, I will be back for tomorrow morning.'
"He went himself to watch this player, he could easily have sent Tom, Dick or Harry, but that's Davie. When we walked in the next day, he had everything set up, seven flip charts with different formations and questions. He is a man who lives and breathes football. You are following a man [Ferguson] who is an absolute legend worldwide, who had similar problems when he went there many, many years ago.
"Davie Moyes' future is as safe as there is. He is a first-class coach as is Malky Mackay, and a very similar hard-working guy. As is Andre Villas-Boas. These guys are very good at their job and will never be out of work in football."
Moyes gets the chance to bounce back immediately this evening when United take on Sunderland in the first leg of their Capital One Cup semi-final. "You can definitely see we are lacking that little bit of confidence when we get into the final third at times," said the former Everton manager. "We need to get back to winning ways and be hard to play against.
"It has been a tough start. I am disappointed we have not won more games but it will change, I have no doubt about that. My job is to find a way of winning. It doesn't matter what style, you have to find a way of winning."
Mackay is another Scot who has endured something of a miserable season, the former Celtic player eventually sacked by Cardiff City owner Vincent Tan after months of uncertainty and interference. Fleeting felt managers were becoming used to dealing with such scenarios.
"We do a big part of the course on how you manage pressure from above," he added. "It's very hard to get the ground rules in place before you're appointed, but these are the type of things we push them to do: ask the board exactly what the targets are. The minute these things are black and white then both of you should be working towards them, but sadly it's not always the case."
The pressure eased on another manager yesterday when West Ham United's co-chairmen David Sullivan and David Gold offered their support to the beleaguered Sam Allardyce. West Ham lost 5-0 to Nottingham Forest in the FA Cup on Sunday and sit second bottom of the Premier League. "We know Sam has not lost his ambition or desire and is committed to making West Ham United a great Premier League club," read an open letter on the club's website. "We are all working round the clock to do everything in our powers to help arrest our slump in form."