Moyes appreciates support from the fans in trying circumstances

There was anger in the stands. Resignation, fear, probably a fair share of loathing.

Monday, 16th January 2017, 9:00 am
Peter Crouch beats Vito Mannone to head home Stoke's third goal against Sunderland. Picture by Frank Reid

An improving home record, seemingly an added steel and resilience, collapsed in a dreadful half-hour spell.

A catalogue of individual errors, combined with an apparent inability to cope with Stoke’s physicality and movement, made for a toxic mix.

The mood on the terraces was understandably irate, with chants of ‘Are you watching Ellis Short?’ ringing from all around the ground loud and clear. Many simply left their seats.

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Curiously, however, there was little ire aimed at the manager.

Criticism, certainly, at the lack of substiutions, but fans at the ground at least are, for the time being, not pinning the problems on the man in the dug-out.

Having been through his fair share of scrutiny while in charge of Manchester United, Moyes knows how difficult it can be to salvage a situation when confidence is lost.

He has spoken of his appreciation of the support he has had in the North East, and vowed to do what he can to turn the situation around.

The Scot said: “Managers always take the brunt of it.

“I think the supporters know what the situation is.

“I appreciate their support greatly.

“I do think the supporters here have been through it that many times they’ve seen it before and when I came I wanted to change it.

“I don’t want the supporters to go through this every year.

“Of course you’ll lose games, of course you’re not going to win every game at home and there will be times when you make mistakes and don’t play well.

“But it’s too much, too much. We want to try to change that.”

He will know, however, that his inactivity will come under scrutiny from supporters again this week. Having made just one substitution in the drab 0-0 FA Cup third round game with Burnley, bringing on John O’Shea for Seb Larsson late on, he made none at all as his team limped towards defeat against Stoke.

Billy Jones and Javier Manquillo were the only senior players on his bench, the former not fit enough to start having struggled with an injury in previous weeks.

Otherwise it was four youngsters with no Premier League experience and Mika, the unproven goalkeeper brought in at the very last minute on deadline day.

Moyes explained that decision by pointing out that he has been at the club long enough to know the youngsters well, and reiterated that his best options to save the game were already on the pitch.

He said: “There were people I’d like to have changed in the game, but I didn’t think what we had [on the bench] would have necessarily made it any better.

“I thought our best options, certainly in the middle to forward areas, were on the pitch.”

While the nature of the defeat has been the subject of much discussion, but the manager himself was quick to lay it at the door of individual mistakes and errors.

It was a significant step back for the Black Cats, who had lost just one of their last six Premier League home games coming into the game. That had been against Antonio Conte’s Chelsea and even then they had come close to rescuing a point in the dying moments, denied only by a flying save from Thibaut Courtois.

Moyes bemoaned the end of that impressive form.

He said: “I felt our home form had started to go for us and we’d started to pick up some good wins.

“I think it was at times – it was difficult to judge.

“You could judge we lost three goals, but we made errors which cost us.”

The Sunderland boss also curtly conceded that Vito Mannone did not have his best day at the office.

He said: “He’ll be disappointed with the goals.”