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Soccer-Moyes endures bumpy ride surrounded by Ferguson reminders

Reuters

By Sonia Oxley

MANCHESTER, England, Oct 21 (Reuters) - As Manchester United manager David Moyes struggles to string together back-to-back Premier League wins, there are reminders everywhere he looks that this type of form is not what the English champions are used to.

Saturday's 1-1 draw against Southampton was at Old Trafford where the Sir Alex Ferguson stand, Sir Alex Ferguson bronze statue and newly unveiled Sir Alex Ferguson Way road loom large.

It also came as details of some of the content of Ferguson's autobiography dripped into the newspapers ahead of this week's book launch, while the home page of the club website was running a story headlined: "Sir Alex: Boss is sacrosanct".

"I think the key for David Moyes is not to look to do anything better or less but just to maintain what the club has been for 20-odd years and keep the success going," Ferguson told MUTV at a time when results are somewhat at odds with that aim.

United, who in Ferguson's 26 years at the club won 13 Premier League titles, are sitting eighth in the table having triumphed in just three of their eight opening matches and none of them consecutively.

At other clubs, there would already be mutterings about a crisis and bookmakers would be slashing their odds on a sacking but Moyes is able to take much comfort in these bumpy times that he is at a club with a reputation for sticking with their man.

A particularly painful blow was conceding the equaliser in the 89th minute against Southampton when the teams of Moyes's predecessor had a habit of snatching vital goals in the dying minutes.

"Conceding in the last minute was a real sickener," Moyes told MUTV.

"We'd done enough to get ourselves more than one goal, but we never really had enough control at times. I thought we had really good pockets of play at some points of the game, but not enough control."

FEAR FACTOR

The ability to sneak victories when not playing particularly well drove many a title charge under Ferguson and is something that Moyes needs to discover, if he is to answer the call to 'keep the success going'.

At Old Trafford, United used to be particularly strong but since the change of manager they have won just one league match at home. Moyes has dismissed critics who say visiting teams feel more confident of an upset in the absence of Ferguson.

"I think the fear factor is from the team on the pitch, that's always the case," local media quoted him as saying.

"The players are the thing because of their quality. Obviously Sir Alex has a great history and there is all his experience but the players will always be what matters on the pitch."

With websites running 'Can United still win the league?' polls, there is already plenty of doubt that they can but Ferguson said any piece of silverware would be welcome.

"For David, winning a trophy would be a fantastic achievement," he said.

"No matter what it is - the League Cup, FA Cup, European Cup or Premier League. We've always had priorities obviously and David is aware of that but I hope he achieves it." (Editing by Clare Fallon)

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