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David Moyes Struggling to Step out of Sir Alex Ferguson's Shadow at Man United

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 19:  Manchester United manager David Moyes during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Southampton at Old Trafford on October 19, 2013 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Rob DawsonManchester United CorrespondentOctober 20, 2013

Facing another disappointing result at Old Trafford on Saturday, David Moyes stood on the touchline with the Sir Alex Ferguson stand towering over him.

Contemplating Southampton's late equaliser and another tough day at the office, he will have returned to his car, passing a statue of Ferguson.

The post-match press conference was dominated by questions about United's former manager. All the while, an interview with the man himself was playing on the club's in-house television channel, MUTV.

The corridors and suites at United's stadium are covered in pictures chronicling Ferguson's unbelievable success. There's the first FA Cup triumph in 1990. There's the first Premier League title in 1993. There's the first of two Champions League wins in 1999.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 08: The bronze statue of Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is pictured on the day he announced his retirement as club manager on May 8, 2013 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

It's going to be a tough week for Moyes, with Real Sociedad in the Champions League and Stoke in the Premier League, both at Old Trafford.

But it will be another week consumed by Fergie fever as he launches his autobiography.

Ferguson, who was at the game on Saturday, is available to Moyes for advice whenever he might need it. To be able to call on Ferguson's huge knowledge of the job is a fantastic resource.

But there's a point when his shadow becomes suffocating.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 12:  Manchester United Manager Sir Alex Ferguson celebrates with his players and the Premier League trophy following the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Swansea City at Old Trafford on May 12, 2013 in
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

The board made a point of underlining their confidence in Moyes by offering him a six-year contract when he took over this summer. It wasn't just for show. He'll get plenty of time to turn things around, but it's easy not to panic in October. 

If the current form continues, the eject button is going to look very tempting in February or March, especially if a place in next season's Champions League is hanging in the balance.

There was something telling in what Ferguson said about his replacement in the interview with MUTV that aired on Saturday.

He tried to play down expectations by saying all the new man had to do was "keep the success going."

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 14:  Former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson sits with Sir Bobby Charlton and his wife Norma during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Crystal Palace at Old Trafford on September 14,
Michael Regan/Getty Images

At a club that has won 13 titles in the last 20 years, keeping the momentum a monumental task.

Being measured against the most successful British manager is an impossible job. If he's successful, it's expected; if he's not, it's his fault.

It's led to a school of thought that the perfect time to take over at United is after the man who had to replace Ferguson.

Moyes, for his part, is refusing to blame Ferguson's lingering presence, as he told the BBC after the draw with Southampton.

Sir Alex Ferguson has a great history and his experience will always work in charge of any team. But the fear comes from the team on the pitch.

I am disappointed because we wanted to get a bit of momentum going and we weren't able to do that.

We had the opportunities to get the game finished off. I am disappointed to lose a goal so late on.

While it was 1-0, there was always the chance that Southampton might get something. I thought we had just about seen it out, then they got the corner late on.

Moyes isn't just having to deal with United's past but also his own. As his problems deepen, he will be beaten with the same sticks that were used to bash his appointment.

He's never won a trophy. He's never managed in the Champions League. He's never won at Anfield or Stamford Bridge. Those demons will follow him until he puts them to bed.

The good news for Moyes is that it will get better. Over time, he will put his own stamp on the club, bringing in his own players and introducing his own methods. 

He'll get the time to do all that, but he has to keep up his side of the bargain by meeting the minimum expectation of qualifying for next season's Champions League.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 19:  Manchester United manager David Moyes during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Southampton at Old Trafford on October 19, 2013 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Despite the grumblings about his substitutions against Southampton, Moyes still has the support of the sensible fans. That's vital.

He should also take credit for introducing Adnan Januzaj into the first team and convincing him to sign a fresh five-year contract.

He'll need some positive results on the pitch between now and the end of the season.

Results solve everything. They can even exorcise ghosts of the past.

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