Beleaguered Manchester United boss David Moyes insists Sir Alex Ferguson's shadow is not looming over him as he attempts to revive the club's season.
Moyes' predecessor sat alongside Sir Bobby Charlton and Bryan Robson in the stands at the Stadium of Light on Tuesday night as relegation-threatened Sunderland condemned his side to a third successive defeat, the latest coming in the first leg of their Capital One Cup semi-final, for the first time in almost 13 years.
However, the Scot is adamant that the trio are a great help rather than a hindrance as he attempts to stamp his authority on the club.
Asked if their presence was an added pressure, he said: "Not at all.
"Alex is a great sounding-board for me. He is there to help, so is Sir Bobby. He is terrific. Bryan Robson is at the training ground regularly, I speak to him regularly.
"I find the three of them terrific."
Moyes was putting on a brave face as he assessed a difficult night on Wearside, which saw United drag themselves back into the game through Nemanja Vidic's 52nd-minute header after Ryan Giggs' own goal had handed the home side the advantage, only to succumb to Fabio Borini's second-half penalty.
The Black Cats will head for Old Trafford on January 22 knowing they will make it to their first League Cup final since 1985 if they can avoid defeat.
However, Moyes is confident his players are responding to him, and that they can still ensure it is they rather than Gus Poyet's men who eventually run out at Wembley.
He said: "I have always been happy with how they players have been responding. I thought they were good tonight, apart from the opening 15 minutes.
"It's always going to be a tough game. It's only the first part of the game, so we have got a bit more to do in the second leg.
"This hasn't happened at Manchester United for a long time. I thought the support was great. They are sticking with the club, sticking with the manager and that's exactly what you need when you are not doing so well."
Borini proved the match-winner on the night when he converted from the spot after substitute Adam Johnson had been tripped by Tom Cleverley, a decision which did not please Moyes.
However, Poyet was understandably delighted with his team's efforts, but is hoping they have not become just a cup team with their Barclays Premier League survival in real doubt.
He said with a smile: "If that's true, I am not coming on Saturday. I will see you in two weeks at Old Trafford.
"Seeing happy faces in the dressing room - that's important. We are normal people, like anyone, and we like to enjoy life. This season has been sad, very difficult to take, so for a day or two, let's try to enjoy this."
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