Sir Alex Ferguson accepted last night that his Manchester United team had played badly in their shock 1-0 defeat to Burnley that set the new Premier League season alight. Robbie Blake scored the winner at Turf Moor in a match that his manager Owen Coyle described as a "mismatch".
Ferguson's team went behind after 18 minutes and had a penalty by Michael Carrick saved by Burnley goalkeeper Brian Jensen in the first top-flight game at Turf Moor since 1976. With a long list of injuries to defenders – Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand, Rafael and Fabio Da Silva were all missing as well as goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar – Ferguson conceded that his team had not risen to the occasion.
Ferguson said: "It was a bad performance. We should have done more with the chances we had and the possession we had. In fairness to them they had a good spell and caused us a lot of problems. There were some great crosses that came over. Apart from that we were in complete control.
"You wonder if it's fate, Burnley back in the Premier League, it's been a long time. You can't deny them their victory. They worked hard, they worked their socks off, the fans were fantastic. I think we'd have won the game if we'd scored that [penalty]. We'd have composed ourselves and won the game I think.
"Second half we got harried with our passes and made a couple of bad decisions. That can happen. But you never know."
Michael Owen's partnership with Wayne Rooney looked far from convincing. Ferguson said that the lack of goals was not a worry for him. He said: "It's not a concern at this stage when you see the chances we've had. Two or three players had chances. Michael Carrick had the best chance, the ball was squared to him and he lost the opportunity.
"We usually take our time to get going. Sometimes it's October before we get into our best form. But we shouldn't be losing these games. You have to give credit to Burnley. It's a great night for them. Their fans were fantastic and the pitch was magnificent. Everyone was here for a great night of football. It's a special night for Burnley."
The Burnley manager Coyle said: "If you look at the money both clubs have spent it is a mis-match but we have belief and quality in our team. We have to replicate this every game.
"We will always give our maximum for the shirt. My players will be earning nowhere near what some get in the Premier League but they will give everything they can every week."