ESPN FC: Uninspiring United?
Stoke City manager Mark Hughes has warned David Moyes he cannot afford too many more mistakes as Manchester United boss if he wants to retain the Premier League title won by Sir Alex Ferguson last term.
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Hughes is a member of a small group of Premier League managers who have achieved the double of winning both home and away in one season against the Red Devils -- while boss of Blackburn Rovers, and when Ferguson was still in charge.
And the former United player, who will be coming up against Moyes at Old Trafford on Saturday, feels another defeat for the English champions could effectively end their title hopes by the end of October.
"They have to be careful because you can only afford to lose a certain amount of games if you want to win the Premier League,” he said. "History will tell you that you can lose five or six. If you lose any more than six I would suggest that you will make it very difficult for yourself.
"They have lost three so far and they know they cannot afford too many more slip-ups. Usually when people question them they come back with the answers, but we are better away from home than we are at home. We will go there believing we can win. It is a great feeling winning there as a manager and if everything is right and we take our chances we can do it.
"There is not that aura around the football club at the moment and it might be a good time to play them. I dread the fact I have said that, because they might listen to my words and take exception to them."
Hughes sat next to Ferguson in the directors’ box on Wednesday night for United’s Champions League win against Real Sociedad, and he believes the continued presence of the Scot is not a problem for his successor.
"If he thought by being there, that was creating pressure on David, he would do something about it," Hughes said. "I expect that David expected it was going to be tough, stepping into the shoes of a great football man. It was always going to be a difficult period.
"David has the experience of dealing with it when he was manager at Everton. Not on the same scale, but he has dealt with difficult periods and he has the experience. He will not be fazed by it. He knows how to deal with it. The players might find it difficult to deal with as well. Some of them might not like the changes in the background.
"I am only surmising. I don't have any knowledge of it, but lots of players like the continuity and that might have had an effect on some of them.”