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Bumpy ride, but Moyes pleased with his progress

There have been some hefty blows for David Moyes in his first five months as Manchester United manager and the Scot is predicting there will be more before season's end.

Robin Van Persie is definitely out for United while Wayne Rooney remains a doubt having missed the win over Norwich. Picture: Getty Sport
Robin Van Persie is definitely out for United while Wayne Rooney remains a doubt having missed the win over Norwich. Picture: Getty Sport

Nevertheless, he is not one given to bouts of prolonged introspection and believes he will eventually succeed in the task of replacing Sir Alex Ferguson.

The Scot was part of the majority who felt his predecessor was destined to spend at least one additional season in situ. It was a phone call from Ferguson when Moyes was on a shopping trip with his wife that famously turned his life upside down, pitching him on to a violent rollercoaster ride that has taken some getting used to.

Moyes has already been battered in the wake of defeats to Liverpool and Manchester City, then floored again when United lost to Everton and Newcastle on home soil in the space of just four days. And while six wins on the trot have been an impressive response, Moyes is not naive enough to feel his troubles are over.

"A year ago, I could not have envisaged this situation. I could not even have envisaged Manchester United having a new manager," said Moyes. "I am relatively pleased at how we have settled in. There are still going to be lots of times when I get a bloody nose. I will have to take that. But we will get there, I have no doubt about that."

The best Moyes managed during his time at Everton was five wins on the bounce in all competitions, beating Norwich City at Carrow Road so last Saturday represented something of a milestone. Yet such is the magnitude of the club he is now in charge of that the achievement has virtually gone unnoticed. Moyes understands that, even if it was nice to be told.

"To win six games in a row would be well received anywhere at any time," he said. "At Manchester United it is the norm. I totally understand that. That is why I am not getting carried away. But it does get missed sometimes because people expect Manchester United to win all those games. It is nice to get a question about it though."

Tottenham's visit to Old Trafford offers the chance of another personal landmark given the longest winning sequence of Moyes' entire managerial career was the seven he managed at Preston in 1999. But United will have to do it without Robin van Persie with the Dutchman still to fully recover from a thigh injury that has forced him out of the last five games.

In addition, Wayne Rooney has not returned to training after missing the Norwich win with a groin strain, meaning Moyes' resources are once again likely to be depleted. Little wonder talk among United fans tends to centre around simply claiming a top-four spot, even though it would represent their worst performance of the Premier League era.

Not that Moyes is thinking that way. His team are only two points behind a Liverpool side that was being touted as potential champions heading into the Christmas period.

"Nobody will want Manchester United to be breathing down their necks," he said. "At the moment we are not close enough for them to feel our breath, so we have to get closer.We are working our way towards making that happen but until we keep winning and get closer to the top, there is nothing worth shouting about."

This evening's visitors have not lost in the Premier League since the appointment of Tim Sherwood as successor to Andre Villas-Boas. The 44-year-old has sent his team out in attacking formations - a contrast to the defensive manner in which his predecessor did - and it has brought wins over Southampton and Stoke City either side of a draw against West Bromwich Albion. He will be exercising more caution at Old Trafford.

"I like to play with risk," the Tottenham manager said after overcoming Stoke 3-0. "There is going to be, with respect to Stoke, tougher tests ahead and we know that. We have to try to find the right formula to perform against some of the bigger teams."

Tottenham's chances of continuing their unbeaten start under Sherwood will be made all the more onerous by their mounting injury problems which were added to yesterday by the confirmation that the Brazil midfielder Paulinho has been ruled out for four weeks following a late tackle by Charlie Adam.

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