Nemanja Vidic retains faith in Manchester United squad despite awful start to season

David Moyes faced a particular tough opening set of fixtures

Nemanja Vidic's faith in the quality of Manchester United's squad has not been shaken by their awful start to the Premier League campaign.

The tenure of David Moyes has been a curious affair to date.

Of the nine matches United have played under Sir Alex Ferguson's successor, it could be argued three were impressive, a further four somewhere between decent and average, the remaining two absolutely atrocious.

Last night's Champions League draw with Shakhtar Donetsk falls firmly in the first category, both for the battling qualities United displayed and, importantly, the result, which was the first time in five attempts any English team had avoided defeat in Europe's most prestigious club competition at the Donbass Arena.

Yet, when United head to Sunderland on Saturday evening, they will do so as a team for whom anything but victory would be a calamity following those pitiful Premier League performances against Manchester City and West Brom.

"We have to accept it has not been a great start," said Vidic.

"We have not been getting the performances we would have liked and we also have to be realistic enough to accept we have made some mistakes.

"This team has a lot of potential and we are working really well.

"Sometimes the results don't come. Sometimes the performances don't come. But I am really positive.

"The most important thing is to defend right. If we defend well, I think we have a really good chance to win trophies."

The mistakes to which Vidic refers are individual errors rather than fundamental blunders by a new management structure any group of players would take time to adjust to following Ferguson's departure.

Yet, when the Serbian performs in the manner he did last night, helping to keep Shakhtar away from United's goal for long periods, it does seem better times are on the horizon.

"You don't want to make mistakes two or three times," he said.

"That is the main thing. Once you have made one, don't do it again.

"That is the thing we have to learn.

"The last 10 days have been tough. We lost concentration at certain times, which we shouldn't have allowed.

"We are doing everything we can. We just have to be patient."

If there is a substantial positive to take from such a difficult period it is that the spirit in what is acknowledged to be one of the tightest dressing rooms in the Premier League remains strong.

A number of individuals, Shinji Kagawa and Wilfried Zaha spring immediately to mind, may have cause to be irritated, but a lid is being kept on any frustration.

There is also an acknowledgement - as Moyes pointed out - that United have already faced three of their major rivals, and two of them away from home.

Similar sentiments were expressed a week ago when, fresh from beating Liverpool in the Capital One Cup, the visit of West Brom to Old Trafford was supposed to launch a belated start to the campaign.

Instead, United are staring down the barrel of a third straight top flight defeat for the first time since December 2001, dumped in the bottom half of the table, with a long climb ahead of them.

"I think this is a more important game," said Vidic of the weekend trip to Wearside.

"We need to get a few wins in a row.

"The situation is not that bad compared to the teams who you would think will also be competing for the title, or at least the ones who were the favourites.

"We know we have to improve. We know we have to work hard and stick together on the pitch.

"We did that against Shakhtar and hopefully we can do that over the next few weeks because with that kind of mentality we have a good chance to do well."

Moyes' team selection will be interesting given United appeared to have the right balance in Wayne Rooney's absence.

Yet Rooney has undoubtedly been United's star performer this season and with five goals in his last five games will be an automatic choice if he recovers from the shin injury sustained in training on Tuesday.

PA

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