Ferguson backs manager's strong approach
Sir Alex Ferguson resisted the urge to gloat, or to remind the world that two years ago he had decided Carlos Tevez was not worth the price, or the trouble.
That may have been in his mind, but he limited his comments yesterday to offering his support to his managerial counterpart, "the most important man" at his local rivals.
"I think Roberto Mancini has come out showing his strength of character, his strength of management. That's important in today's management," said Ferguson.
"We have all experienced our own difficulties in management. You cope with it as best you can. My own experience is strong management is important. There is nobody more important than the manager at a football club."
Though not remotely as dramatic, Ferguson has his own problems at the moment, notably a defence that conceded three goals at home to Basle in midweek and has only kept a trio of clean sheets in 11 matches this season.
"I think people will say our performance on Tuesday was careless and we underestimated our opponents. I think there is an element of truth about that," he said. "I certainly wasn't happy. Even in the first half I could smell we were too lax, we could have lost three goals in the first half. We could have scored three goals but that is the way we are playing at the moment – with that cavalier attitude. Maybe people enjoy it, but it certainly doesn't win leagues. We have to be better defensively.
"It's [getting] a balance of defence and attack, that's why you call it a team. We're too cavalier at the moment. On the second goal, for instance, we only had one defender in the penalty box."
The champions, who lead the Premier League on goal difference from Manchester City, are at home to Norwich City today, which would seem a straightforward three points. In the last five seasons United have won 14 of their 15 home matches against newly promoted teams, scoring 43 goals to 10. However, the one draw was this month last season, against West Bromwich Albion, when, as now, United's defence was still to settle.
Norwich won their last match on the road, at Bolton, and pushed Chelsea hard in their previous away game. Ferguson is keen to ensure his team do not "underestimate" another opponent. He said, "Norwich have had a terrific start. There seems to be a great sense of purpose about the place."
Canaries' manager Paul Lambert was part of the Borussia Dortmund team that knocked Ferguson's United out of the Champions League in 1997, going on to win the competition. Ferguson recalled: "His career in management has taken off quite well, Norwich has been a terrific move for him."
The inequality of resources was exacerbated yesterday when Lambert lost James Vaughan until the New Year following a knee operation while Ferguson welcomed back Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez after injury.
Latest in Sport
Commonwealth Games 2014: It ain’t London 2012, but Glasgow aims to go ‘with a roar’
Loic Remy to Liverpool: Striker undergoes medical in Boston ahead of £8.5m move
Manchester United transfer news: Arturo Vidal subject of £39m bid - reports
Liverpool transfer news: Javier Manquillo expected to join on two-year loan deal
Louis van Gaal gets tough with Manchester United players, with Darren Fletcher and Luke Shaw berated in public and Phil Jones left looking bemused
- 1 Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Pro-Russian rebel 'admits to shooting down plane'
- 3 Israel-Gaza conflict: The myth of Hamas’s human shields
- 5 Dutch paedophile club to fight their ban at the European Court of Human Rights
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash: 'Nine Britons, 23 Americans and 80 children' feared dead after Boeing passenger jet is 'shot down' near Ukraine-Russia border
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia