MANCHESTER - Manchester United manager David Moyes found himself beneath an increasingly intense spotlight on Wednesday amid press reports of fan dissent in the wake of his side's defeat by Manchester City.
United's 3-0 loss at Old Trafford on Tuesday was the cue for an angry reaction from some of the club's supporters, who have seen their team disintegrate under Moyes's stewardship.
Several British newspapers reported that former manager Alex Ferguson had been barracked by fans as he sat in the directors box for choosing Moyes to succeed him, while a picture emerged showing a supporter being led away by stewards after apparently gesturing for the former Everton coach to resign.
There were also reports that United's stewards had been instructed to protect a banner erected in the Stretford End in Moyes's honour following his appointment last year -- 'The Chosen One' -- from angry fans.
Dissent had crept onto social networking websites as well, with the hash tag "#MoyesOut" trending on Twitter in the United Kingdom on Wednesday morning.
Supporters on Twitter also expressed anger over Moyes's post-match assertion that Manuel Pellegrini's City were playing at a level that defending champions United "need to try and aspire to get to".
Despite the dissent, United continue to back Moyes publicly, with director and former player Bobby Charlton asserting in a BBC interview on Tuesday that he felt that the Scot was still "the right man" for the job.
United have gone out of both domestic cup competitions and their chances of qualifying for next year's Champions League are remote after the loss to City left them 12 points below the top four in seventh place.
Meanwhile, their quarter-final opponents in this season's Champions League, holders Bayern Munich, are in ominous form, having secured the Bundesliga title in record time with a 3-1 victory at Hertha Berlin on Tuesday.
- Scholes: United accepted defeat -
United have now lost 10 games in the league this season and are destined to record their lowest ever points tally in the post-1992 Premier League era, despite having won the title by 11 points last term.
United's limp performance against City, who went ahead after just 43 seconds through Edin Dzeko, also drew condemnation from former midfield star Paul Scholes.
Commenting on the game as a pundit for Sky Sports, the former England midfielder, who retired at the end of last season, expressed dismay at the lack of heart that United had displayed against title-chasing City.
"When I was playing, we could be two or three down, but we never felt we were beaten," Scholes said. "Tonight (Tuesday) I never thought we'd get back in it, even at 1-0 down.
"It is difficult for a new manager coming in because he needs time to get to know his players. He doesn't know his best team yet and the players haven't helped him because they're not performing the way they should."
Moyes remains adamant that United are moving in the right direction, however, insisting after the game that it will take "a little bit of time" to turn things around.
The defeat by City came only nine days after a similarly chastening 3-0 loss at home to Liverpool and striker Wayne Rooney called for an urgent improvement.
"We can't lose six homes games in a season and we have to put that right and make this a place teams fear again," he told MUTV.
"We know we have to respond. It's a bad night for us all, but we have to move on."
United host Aston Villa in the Premier League on Saturday before welcoming Bayern to Old Trafford next Tuesday for the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final.
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