David Moyes launched an outspoken attack on what he regarded as Aston Villa’s persistent fouling of the Manchester United teenager Adnan Januzaj, claiming that Paul Lambert’s players were “queuing up to kick” the 18-year-old.
The Manchester United manager said that referee Lee Mason and his fourth official Mark Clattenburg had to take responsibility for punishing the bad tackles on Januzaj who clashed repeatedly with full-back Matt Lowton among others. Moyes, whose team won 3-0 at Villa Park, said that it was not the first time the player had encountered such treatment.
Moyes said: “I think he's been kicked in every game. I don't know how many tackles he's had in the last two or three games.
“I'm annoyed with the fourth official and referees. Before you know it the boy will get a sore one as he is definitely not getting protected by the officials. It's terrible what they are allowing to go on at the moment. This boy is an incredible talent. It's not necessarily the same player [fouling him], I think they are queuing up to see who will kick him next.
“There were that many tackles from different players. It's something the referees will have to think about as they are queuing up to kick him. Last week was exactly the same. It's up to the referees, that's their job, they are paid to referee the games and are professional. You would hope they would recognise that.
“He [Januzaj] will just get up and walk away and get on with it. That's one of his biggest attributes along with his outstanding ability. He will say: 'Come on kick me, and I'll get up again.'”
Moyes also paid tribute to Darren Fletcher who played his first game since Boxing Day as he continues to battle ulcerative colitis. He said he did not want to put “pressure” on the player by saying that he had made a full recovery but added that Fletcher, a second half substitute, had “not looked out of place.
Moyes said: “We have been looking for more reserve team games for him and he seemed to cruise through them. We thought we might need to get him back in the team. I I thought he did a lot of good things. If you are someone who maybe your career has been in jeopardy, in and out of hospital, that feeling of getting the jersey on again and playing must be incredible. He should have scored from a header, though.”
The Villa manager Paul Lambert denied that his team had set out to kick Januzaj. “We're not a physical side, we are a young side who are over exuberant. I never set out anyone to try and kick anyone. It was not an over aggressive game, there were challenges that people were entitled to go for.
”I thought we started really well - that's as well as we've started for a number of weeks. Everything looked decent. But it was disappointing with the goals we conceded. And the first we should have stopped the cross. United are clinical. The goals we lost were very disappointing.”