Moyes taken aback by flak over 'slap' threat

LONDON • David Moyes said he has been "surprised" by the level of criticism directed at him after telling a female BBC reporter she "might get a slap", but the Sunderland manager is grateful for his club's public support.

He apologised on Monday for comments he made two weeks ago to the BBC's Vicki Sparks, and the following day, Sunderland issued a statement saying that, although they considered his comments to have been "wholly unacceptable", they are happy for Moyes to remain as manager because he apologised.

"I've been surprised in many ways, but I've done my job with the players, got them prepared, organised them, got the best team out we possibly can," Moyes said following Sunderland's 2-0 defeat at Leicester on Tuesday.

"I think the world of football is a great business now. I think it employs an incredible amount of people, whether it be through the media or in the training grounds. And for that reason, football's a big talking point."

Moyes, 53, said he was not surprised, on the other hand, by Sunderland's statement of support for him. "I think it was great that you get that support from the club, and I expected it."

The Football Association has written to Moyes asking for his "observations" about the remark, before it decides whether to take disciplinary action against him.

The pressure has increased on Moyes following the loss to Leicester.

He admitted that Sunderland's battle to stay in the Premier League is beginning to get "desperate".

Sunderland, who sit eight points adrift of 17th-placed Swansea with eight games remaining, have won just one of their last 13 league games and have failed to score in each of their last six.

Before a run-in which sees them face the three teams immediately above them - Middlesbrough, Hull City and Swansea - Sunderland face daunting fixtures against Manchester United and Arsenal in their next three games.

"It's desperate now - I said that we had to win one of these two games away from home," Moyes told Sky Sports.

"The players have been (in a relegation battle) before, we'll keep going again. It's still within our hands to stay up, and we'll try make sure that they do that."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 06, 2017, with the headline 'Moyes taken aback by flak over 'slap' threat'. Print Edition | Subscribe