David Moyes has brushed off suggestions that injured striker Robin van Persie is facing six more weeks out and insisted that he is coping with the pressure of Manchester United’s current problems.
Those concerns were eased in a 2-0 victory over Swansea at Old Trafford on Saturday, a win that means Moyes avoids the unwanted distinction of managing the club to four consecutive defeats for the first time in 53 years.
Not for the first time this season, he relied on the individual brilliance of teenage forward Adnan Januzaj, who was comfortably United’s best performer as Antonio Valencia and Danny Welbeck claimed vital goals.
But the mood around United was not helped by reports that van Persie could be out for a further month and a half as he takes time to recover from a persistent thigh injury.
Moyes insisted: “I don’t know where that has come from. That is wrong information.”
Indeed, van Persie, who has been undergoing treatment for the problem in his native Holland, was a spectator in the Old Trafford directors’ box for the Swansea game although his manager’s insistence on not offering a specific date for his return has fuelled speculation that the problem is not as straightforward as initially thought.
Moyes, personally, insisted that this most taxing of weeks - which started with a home FA Cup loss to Swansea and featured a Capital One Cup defeat at Sunderland - had taken no personal toll on him.
He said: “I slept very well last night. I sleep great every night. I don’t struggle to sleep, not at all.
“Was there any nervousness in the dressing room? No. Not at all.
But Moyes could be thankful that Januzaj was equally unperturbed and turned in a fearless display more in keeping with a veteran international player than a novice, first-year youngster.
“Adnan has been like that since day one. I speak to him all of the time and he’s not a nervous boy,” said Moyes. “He tells me he can play anywhere and that wherever he plays won’t be a problem.
“He needs teaching and he needs more understanding because he is still learning the game. There are a lot of things he is already doing and he has a lot of natural talent and ability.
“In terms of natural talent, he is up there with the best and I think in time he will prove to be that.”
Moyes started the game with Januzaj playing the “number 10” role, behind striker Welbeck but, after conceding a huge amount of possession to Swansea, the United manager switched Januzaj to the left wing and moved Japan international Shinji Kagawa to the role behind Welbeck, a ploy that worked to perfection.
“I moved Adnan there against Sunderland in midweek and he played very well,” explained Moyes. “He can play in all the positions around the front and I wanted to see if he could give us more creativity, more chances.
“I made my mind up to make the switch at half-time and Shinji played well in the second half and should have scored.
“He plays off the left for Japan and has played for us on the left but if you look at the quality of players we have at this club in that position, there is a lot of competition there.”
Swansea manager Michael Laudrup inspired his club to their first ever win over United in the FA Cup six days earlier but saw them come up short in their bid to become the first team in history to beat the Reds on their own ground twice in the same week.
Laudrup said: “After all that had been written and said the last few days, we expected a Man United team coming out very committed from the first moment, wanting to get on top of their game.
“But I don’t think that happened. We controlled it well but what really hurt us was conceding a goal after 90 seconds of the second half. They were a team with maybe a little lack of confidence, maybe nervous, but scoring after 90 seconds gives you a boost.
“Scoring a goal in that situation, after just two minutes, gives you so much confidence and players like Welbeck, Valencia, Januzaj and Kagawa are very good offensive players. They created problems for us.”
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