Man United evasive on Moyes sack reports

London: Manchester United said on Monday that David Moyes had not been sacked as manager, but refused to comment on widespread British media reports that he was about to be fired.

A spokesperson from United told AFP in an email: "David Moyes has definitely not been sacked!"

However, when asked if he would leave before the end of the season, journalists were told: "We do not comment on speculation."

Several national newspapers claimed that United have decided to sack Moyes after a wretched debut campaign, while Sky Sports News declared that he could lose his job "within the next 24 hours".

Meanwhile, leading British bookmakers stopped taking bets on Moyes being fired.

Sky Bet cut their odds on Moyes leaving United before the end of May to 1/4 from 9/4, before suspending betting.

Ladbrokes installed United great Ryan Giggs, currently a player-coach at Old Trafford, as the 5/1 favourite to replace Moyes before they, too, suspended betting on their `Next manager to leave` market.

Speculation about Moyes`s future intensified following Sunday`s 2-0 loss at Everton -- the Scot`s former club -- which condemned reigning champions United to their 11th defeat of the season and meant they could no longer qualify for the Champions League.

Moyes was the chosen successor of former United boss Alex Ferguson -- British football`s most successful manager -- following his retirement at the end of last season.

But Moyes has endured a torrid first season at Old Trafford, with United falling to seventh place in the Premier League and being knocked out of both domestic cup competitions.

They reached the quarter-finals of the Champions League, where they lost to holders Bayern Munich, but will not compete in the competition next season for the first time since 1995.

United`s owners, the US-based Glazer family, have so far been supportive.

Doubts, though, have now surfaced over whether they will allow Moyes to oversee the club`s final four matches of the season, against Norwich City, Sunderland, Hull City and Southampton.Earlier on Monday, Moyes told MUTV, United`s in-house television station: "We need to end the season on a high.

"We want to finish by winning all of our games. We`ll do everything we possibly can to make that happen."

Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone was one name identified as a potential successor to Moyes in British media reports, but he refused to discuss the speculation on Monday.

Speaking before the first leg of his side`s Champions League semi-final at home to Chelsea, he told a press conference: "With all due respect to the question, and I understand the situation, but the match tomorrow is a very important match for us and I am not thinking about anything which is not my players and Chelsea."

Moyes received backing from Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard, who said the home fans at Goodison had been wrong to boo the club`s former manager during Sunday`s game.

"We have brilliant fans, but that was unfair on him," Howard said of Moyes, who spent 11 years at Everton.

In a development that created fresh uncertainty at the club, reports emerged on Sunday that forward Danny Welbeck is considering his future at United due to a lack of game time this season.

Meanwhile, Juan Mata, United`s record £37.1 million ($61.2 million, 44.8 million euros) signing, apologised to fans for the team`s performance at Everton on his personal blog.

"What the Premiership table shows now is something that neither the club nor the fans deserve," he wrote.

"I hope the next game comes as soon as possible because, as you can imagine, this bad taste makes me mad."

After Sunday`s match, Moyes said "rank" and "rotten" defending had led to Everton`s two goals; a penalty converted by Leighton Baines and a goal scored by Kevin Mirallas.

It was a point emphasised by United`s former Everton striker, Wayne Rooney.

"We conceded two really sloppy goals, which we need to cut out because we`re making it hard for ourselves to get back into games," Rooney said.

"For the second one, we should have stopped the counter-attack. They ran in behind us. It`s not good enough."