Football: Moyes upbeat despite loss, Rooney blow
LIVERPOOL (AFP) - Despite defeat by Liverpool and an injury to Wayne Rooney, Manchester United manager David Moyes says he has been pleased by his team's performances in his first three league games.
The new United manager, faced with the unenviable task of following in the footsteps of Alex Ferguson, saw United lose 1-0 at Liverpool thanks to an early goal from Daniel Sturridge at Anfield on Sunday.
It left United with four points from their opening three games, following a 4-1 victory at Swansea City on the opening day and a stale goalless draw at home to Chelsea last week.
But Moyes, who said he will work to add to his squad before the transfer window closes on Monday, remained upbeat, despite the pending absence of Rooney, who missed the game after suffering a cut to his head in a training-ground collision with Phil Jones.
"I always knew it was going to be tough," said Moyes of his new club's start to the campaign.
"It would have been a tough ask, no matter if Sir Alex had been sitting here, to play these games.
"No doubt, this is a big fixture for both clubs, like Chelsea was a big fixture. I actually think we have come out of the three games and shown we are in good shape."
Rooney's injury would appear to rule him out of not only England's forthcoming World Cup qualifying games with Moldova and Ukraine, but also United's next league fixture with Crystal Palace and their Champions League opener against Bayer Leverkusen on Sept 17.
Moyes can only hope that Rooney is available for selection in time for the Manchester derby visit to the Etihad Stadium, where they take on Manchester City on Sept 22.
"Wayne is bad. The cut is in the middle of his forehead and will take a wee while to heal," Moyes said.
"He turned around and it was a boot by Phil Jones caught him down the forehead. He will be out three weeks, I expect.
"We will continue with what's left, but I was really impressed with how they played. I can see why they're champions.
"I thought they dominated for long periods without having the final bit, the cross and pass. I was really pleased." Match-winner Sturridge earned the praise of manager Brendan Rodgers, especially after he revealed that the forward was less than fully fit going into the fixture.
"I'm delighted with his application, especially as we didn't think he would be fit today," said Rodgers.
"He played a full game and extra time (in the League Cup against Notts County) in mid-week and had a slight knock on his thigh.
"We told him, 'Put yourself out there, because even at 70 per cent, you'll be as good or better than a lot of Premier League strikers.' "You've got to find the desire to push yourself and he did that today (Sunday) and got his reward." Liverpool's run of three straight victories to open the season marks their best start to a campaign in 19 years and took Rodgers's side to the top of the Premier League table.
However, the manager was predictably keen to downplay talk of a potential title challenge.
"This is another step for us," said Rodgers. "Since we last played Man United in January, we had both played 18 games and there was only two points' difference ... and they went on to become champions.
"That winning mentality is becoming stronger. You could see the reaction and the togetherness of the team was very good, but we won't be getting carried away.
"The initial challenge this year is to try and get into the top four and be in the conversation for that for as long as we can. I don't think we can look beyond that for a long time yet."