Manchester United players Danny Welbeck, Tom Cleverley and Ashley Young have been fined by manager David Moyes after photographers captured the trio enjoying a night on the town shortly after the Red Devils' Champions League exit on Wednesday.
The Daily Mail's Simon Jones and Adam Shergold report that the three United players partied early into Friday morning after returning from Munich, the site of a 3-1 loss to defending champions Bayern Munich.
Jones and Shergold add that the trio were called in to speak with Moyes over the weekend.
After hearing of the news, some United fans were quick to point out Moyes' dilemma:
Of the three players who were fined, only Welbeck took to the pitch for United at Allianz Arena on Wednesday. Welbeck touched the ball 41 times and finished with a match rating of 6.3, according to WhoScored.com, but failed to record a single shot in the loss.
He was eventually replaced by Adnan Januzaj in the 81st minute.
Following the disappointing exit, Moyes expressed optimism about returning to the Champions League in the near future, via ManUtd.com's Nick Coppack:
My focus now is on getting this team back in the competition. It’s a great competition and we’ve really enjoyed it...There's no shame going out to Bayern Munich – they are a good side. The players have played really well. We’ll show the quality we’ve got, re-group and start building towards being back in the competition.
It hasn't yet been confirmed whether the three players have been fined one or two weeks' pay. However, either way it's clear that Moyes is sending a message to his squad.
Although Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney are the two stars for United, combining for 34 goals and 20 assists in all competitions this season, Welbeck has netted 10 times this season and is a key piece to the puzzle. By fining the 23-year-old striker along with Cleveley and Young, Moyes is obviously keen on reminding his players that failure doesn't warrant celebration.
With the Red Devils nine points back of fourth-place Everton in the Premier League with just five matches left to play in the 2013-14 campaign, it's almost guaranteed that United will miss out on the top four and thus Champions League football next season.
It goes without saying that Moyes has struggled to fill Sir Alex Ferguson's shoes in his first year at Old Trafford. If the 50-year-old Scotsman can't turn things around soon, it's likely only a matter of time before he's shown the door.
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