Manchester United boss David Moyes is determined to give his beleaguered supporters a lift by overhauling Sunderland tomorrow and reaching the Capital One Cup final.
Chelsea’s Jose Mourinho on Sunday told United fans their Premier League title challenge was over after his side crushed the champions 3-1 home courtesy of a Samuel Eto’o hat-trick, leaving Moyes’ men in seventh and 14 points off the pace.
United have little time to dwell on the disappointment of their seventh league defeat of the season, with Sunderland heading to Old Trafford with a 2-1 advantage from the first leg of the lightly regarded competition.
“We’re going to go out and do everything we can to get through,” Moyes told MUTV on Sunday.
Moyes will be forced into at least one defensive change, with captain Nemanja Vidic serving a suspension after being shown a straight red card for a late lunge on Chelsea winger Eden Hazard in a tackle that epitomized United’s frustration.
While Mourinho was dismissive of United’s chances of closing the gap on leaders Arsenal with 16 games left, Moyes refused to rule out the possibility.
“What we won’t do is throw the towel in until we can’t get there,” the former Everton manager said.
Forwards Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie are likely to remain out of action for a few more weeks, but Moyes’ sole expensive recruit Marouane Fellaini is due back soon as he was to have a cast removed from his wrist yesterday.
While Moyes was supported by England midfielder Michael Carrick in refusing to rule out their slim title chances, Vidic was less optimistic.
“Yes, I think so now we are too far behind,” the Serbian told Sky Sports. “We have to focus now to get in the top three, top four.”
Elsewhere on Sunday, Mourinho thanked all those behind his extraordinary career as he accepted a tribute award from England’s Football Writers’ Association.
The Portuguese received the honor at a gala at London’s Savoy Hotel hours after Chelsea’s 3-1 win took them to within two of Arsenal.
From when he dubbed himself the “Special One” ahead of his first spell at Chelsea and after winning the Champions League at Porto, Mourinho has been a fertile source of headlines for English media.
Yet there has been plenty of substance to back up Mourinho’s words, with the 50-year-old guiding Chelsea to back-to-back Premier titles in 2005 and 2006 during his first spell at Stamford Bridge before falling out with the club’s Russian billionaire owner Roman Abramovich.
Undaunted, Mourinho went on to win domestic titles at Inter, where he also lifted the Champions League trophy for a second time, and Spanish giants Real Madrid, before returning to Chelsea.
“Without love and happiness, I could not do my job,” Mourinho said before paying tribute to those who were instrumental in setting him on the path to success, including Dutch coach Louis van Gaal and late England manager Bobby Robson.
Mourinho said he wanted to stay at Chelsea and joked that if they sacked him he would join another club, such is his love of England.
“It is not a threat, but if you sack me, I will stay in England and go to another club, a possible rival,” he said.
Elsewhere in the Premier League, Swansea City manager Michael Laudrup said the next six matches are crucial to his aim of arresting a slump in form that has left the side languishing in 15th place, three points above the relegation zone.