Carrick 'shocked' by United collapse

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The Independent Online

Two draws from their first two Champions League games is not the sort of return Manchester United would have expected when they were handed a relatively straightforward group in this year's competition.

A battling point at Benfica two weeks ago was followed on Tuesday night by a 3-3 draw at home to Basle in which Sir Alex Ferguson's side threw away a two-goal lead and very nearly succumbed to a 3-2 defeat until Ashley Young's last-minute leveller.

They are still clear favourites to qualify from Group C and that scenario would only change were the unthinkable to happen in their next two fixtures, home and away to Champions League debutants Otelul Galati of Romania.

Nevertheless, midfielder Michael Carrick admitted that the situation was far from perfect and that the nature of Tuesday's performance at Old Trafford was uncharacteristic of United.

"It was a bit of a shock to find ourselves 3-2 down after being 2-0 up," he said. "We've no excuses, we threw it away. It's not like us at all.

"[The situation in Group C] is not the end of the world but it's not ideal either. We've given ourselves a lot of hard work but we're capable of doing it.

"We were looking to win those two Galati games anyway, so if we can approach them as we normally do then we're confident we can pull through.

"We'll take a draw [with Basle] yet it still feels a bit like a defeat. But we'll not get too down about it, we'll move on and bounce back. We have to."

Carrick's optimism was matched by Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini, who maintained his club can still reach the knockout stages of the competition despite picking up just one point from their first two games.

Although Tuesday night's loss to Bayern Munich has been completely overshadowed by the row involving Carlos Tevez, the 2-0 defeat has left City in an uncomfortable position.

With Bayern on a maximum six points and Napoli moving to four thanks to their win over Villarreal, who visit the Etihad Stadium for the next group game on 18 October, Mancini's men suddenly have work in front of them.

And with Mario Balotelli still banned and Tevez highly unlikely to figure, City will approach their task with depleted striking resources.

However, Mancini is confident his side will collect their first three points. And he is also convinced they will eventually make their way into the last 16.

"We need another two months to improve in the Champions League," he admitted. "But I think we will go to the second stage."

What gives Mancini such confidence is the memory of his Internazionale side's exploits during the 2006-07 campaign. Then, Inter lost both their opening matches, including the second to Bayern, yet ended up qualifying with a match to spare after reeling off three straight wins.

Their advantage this time is that the second encounter with Bayern is the final group game in December, by which time it is anticipated the four-time winners will have qualified and may be lacking in motivation.

Mancini has hinted at a tactical rethink before then though. Having shed the cautious approach that characterised his early months in charge of the Eastlands side, Mancini felt his team were too open in the Allianz Arena.

It did not seem to matter in the opening half-hour, when the visitors were dominant and had two plausible penalty claims turned down.

However, once Bayern got on top and Franck Ribéry began weaving his magic, City were cut open far too easily.

Nigel de Jong did his best to stem the flow of attacks when he replaced Edin Dzeko and Mancini feels his team will need to temper their attacking instincts if they are to avoid such a scenario in the future.

"When you play against a team like Bayern Munich, who have such big experience in the Champions League, it can be difficult," said the City manager. "We played very well for 30 minutes. But we also conceded two stupid goals.

"It is a lesson for me. We played more offensive. Maybe if we defend more it is better.

"We need 10 points to reach the second stage. When I was at Inter we lost the first two games. But we still did it. We are in the same situation again."

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