David Moyes last night rued the “blow” of another late equaliser and warned his Manchester United players that they cannot afford to keep dropping points.
United moved up to sixth in the Premier League after taking a point but they would have returned to the top four for the first time since August, and overtaken Manchester City, had they held on to their 2-1 lead at Cardiff City.
On 19 October United drew 1-1 at home to Southampton, after the visitors’ Adam Lallana bundled in a last-minute free-kick, and Moyes was frustrated at what felt like a repeat.
“I am disappointed,” said the manager afterwards. “Like Southampton, we had it under control with a minute to go but we conceded from a set piece and it cost us.”
United are now unbeaten in 10 games in all competitions, but this ended the three-game league winning streak after victories over Stoke City, Fulham and Arsenal. “We have been on a pretty good run, but that is a blow. We cannot keep dropping two points with where we are.”
Although United were close to a victory, Cardiff arguably created more chances and Moyes was unhappy with his side’s midfield struggles. “We could have played better. We didn’t have a lot of rhythm in the second half. I would probably have taken a result however it came today. I would have liked it to be better, but it wasn’t to be.”
Moyes was frustrated, though, that Cardiff’s stoppage time equaliser came from a re-taken free-kick after Gary Medel appeared to slap Marouane Fellaini as Peter Whittingham was delivering the ball for the first time.
“If you slap someone in the face then you would expect some action to be taken. We actually lost our concentration as the referee gave them a talking to. It gave them two bites at the cherry because they had already delivered the first ball.”
It was the second flashpoint in the game, after Wayne Rooney kicked out at Jordon Mutch after eight minutes but was only booked by referee Neil Swarbrick. Graeme Souness said on Sky Sports that it was a certain red card: “He should be off, no arguments. Why the referee only gives him a yellow card is beyond me.”
Moyes, though, defended his player, saying that he was “frustrated with the guy who had run across his path” and that he “didn’t think it warranted more than a yellow.”
Malky Mackay, who was delighted with his team’s performance, was relaxed about Rooney’s booking even though he scored United’s first and made the second.
“Some referees might have sent him off, but I thought overall the referee had a good game and handled it well. It was two players at high speed, yes [Rooney] slashed across [Mutch], but the referee decided to book him. Eleven against 11 was a spectacle for the fans, they wanted a spectacle with two good teams going at it hard, with lots of tackles, lots of tasty challenges. The referee was fairly calm in his approach and let the game flow.” The Cardiff manager was pleased neither Medel nor Rooney was sent off. “Overall, the ref got it right on both counts.”
Mackay was thrilled with the football his team played as they continued to create chances before Kim Bo-kyung’s added-time equaliser. “I was delighted with the performance today. The first half was one of the most complete of the season so far, the way we played and the belief to play like that against a team like Manchester United. I was delighted from the first minute to the last. The goal at the end was thoroughly deserving of the overall performance and the chances we had.
“I take the work ethic as a given, but what I loved more about the team today was the belief to play at this level, to work their way up the pitch with the ball. That is the confidence that they are showing, and I know they’ve got it, to compete at this level and to compete well.”