English Premiership

Fergie eyes Manchester derby

2012-12-06 09:58
Alex Ferguson (AFP)

Manchester - Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson insists he has no worries about going into Sunday's Manchester derby on the back of a defeat.

United were beaten for the second successive time in Europe when they slipped to a 1-0 home defeat to Cluj on Wednesday night.

Ferguson's side had progressed to the knock-out phase after four matches and he was able to make 10 changes to the team that won 4-3 at Reading at the weekend.

England striker Wayne Rooney, who is continuing to work his way back to full fitness after a spell on the sidelines at the start of the season with a gash to his leg, was the only player to start both matches.

Premier League leaders United have the chance to move six points clear of City when they head to the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

Ferguson was adamant that there were good signs from his team despite seeing them beaten for the first time at home in the Champions League in more than three years.

He said: "I think we've set out what we've set out to do.

"We've given young players game time and other players that needed games more game time.

"The more game time that (Phil) Jones and (Chris) Smalling get only helps us and Wayne Rooney has got another 90 minutes behind him.

"He is close to full fitness and hopefully he will be approaching top form come Sunday and Sunday will be a different kettle of fish altogether."

In the build-up to the game against the Romanian champions at Old Trafford, Ferguson had bemoaned his team's defending so far this season.

He was more satisfied with the display of a youthful back four of Jones, Smalling, Scott Wootton and Alexander Buttner.

But he maintains that his senior players still have to improve when they head to City.

Ferguson added: "They did the job quite well.

"Scott Wootton has only had a couple of games, Smalling has been out for long time and Jones has been out, Buttner has had two or three first team games.

"The commitment and composure was good but they're young so that is without doubt but that doesn't solve the issue of defending tonight.

"Hopefully that's in the future and the experienced players that have been playing have got to get their act together, it's as simple as that."

Ferguson was due to assess the fitness of midfielder Tom Cleverley, who limped out of the game just before half-time.

But the United manager dismissed any doubts about defender Jonny Evans' fitness after the Northern Ireland international was absent from training on Tuesday.

Ferguson claims that Sunday's game will come too soon for Japan midfielder Shinji Kagawa, who has been absent with a knee problem.

The United manager said: "Kagawa is a fantastic player. He's had a great start, he's back doing some running and I don't know if he 'll make Sunday.

"It might be too early but at least he's back training and will be joining the football part next Monday and he's a good player."

Cluj coach Paulo Sergio admitted his team were left with mixed feelings after coming away from United with a victory, only to exit the Champions League due to their head to head record against Galatasary.

The Romanians looked set to qualify only for Galatasary to come from behind to win 2-1 at Braga.

Sergio said: "It's strange, we came to Old Trafford and get a victory and see the dressing room with the players with their with heads down.

"It's frustrating but the players should be proud of themselves. We did our part and we have to keep going.

"Working to win is the only mentality the players have and we worked very well and stopped Manchester United and deserved these three points."

Read more on:    manchester united  |  alex ferguson  |  soccer
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