Sir Alex Ferguson was yesterday backing his fallen internationals to recover from their midweek disappointments by firing Manchester United to victory at Aston Villa today.
John O'Shea and Darren Fletcher were both left frustrated by poor results for the Republic of Ireland and Scotland respectively but the England pair Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand suffered the most.
However, the United manager felt no need to throw a protective arm around them. "They are grown men and they are big men, they have to be able to deal with it," he said. "There have been a few disappointments, with Scotland, Ireland and England. But the situation is nothing unusual and I have not spoken to them about it.
"The beauty of football is that you always have the next game in which to rectify what happened in the last one. Sometimes it is seven days, sometimes it is four. But it means you can always get over these things quickly."
Ferguson sees no reason why this weekend should not provide instant relief. It is 12 seasons since Ferguson last tasted a league defeat to the Midlands outfit, Villa's success in August 1995 drawing the infamous "You'll never win anything with kids" response from Alan Hansen on that night's Match of the Day.
Although Ryan Giggs was not in the United line-up that day, he was one of the youngsters Hansen was talking about. Ferguson has never had any cause to regret trusting the "Class of 92" and particularly Giggs, who this week signed a contract which will keep him at Old Trafford at least until 2009.
"Without doubt, Ryan is still a big influence in the dressing room," he said.
"He has never shown any inclination to go into coaching but he certainly has a role to play once he has finished because we need to recognise the deeds of our great players."
Giggs' presence will be required on the field this evening as United look to maintain a six-match winning streak during which time they have not conceded a goal. The run has allowed Ferguson's team to keep pace with early table-toppers Arsenal, who they meet at the Emirates Stadium on 3 November. "Our team is coming together now," he said. "We are getting on with the business of winning games and hopefully we can continue."
Three Dynamo Kiev players have recovered from injury, meanwhile, and will play against United in Tuesday's Champions League game. The Senegal defender Pape Diakhate, the Guinea forward Ismael Bangoura and the Ukraine midfielder Taras Mikhalik are all back in full training, with the former Spurs striker Sergei Rebrov the squad's only injury problem.Reuse content