Ferguson warns Coyle heading into nightmare fixtures

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The Independent Online

Sir Alex Ferguson has pleaded for understanding on behalf of Owen Coyle as Burnley try to find their feet after a 36-year absence from the top flight.

After losing their opening fixture at Stoke, the Clarets are facing up to a nightmare run of matches, starting with the visit of Manchester United to Turf Moor tomorrow night.

It means unless Coyle's men can record a couple of exceptional results, they will find themselves near, or at, the foot of the table, with many pundits believing they can will stay there.

Then Ferguson fears Coyle will be a man under pressure, no matter that he was responsible for their unexpected return to England's elite for the first time since 1976.

"I hope he has got an understanding chairman," said Ferguson.

"We live in a results industry. No matter what we think is fair or how difficult we think it is to get into the Premier League, some directors don't think that way.

"Their decisions are results-fuelled also by the local press perhaps or the local butcher. If they go into the butcher's and someone says 'Your team had a bad result on Saturday' they panic.

"Every manager is under the same pressure.

"It doesn't matter what you have spent, if they are not staying in that Premier League, they are getting the Dan Mack. It's a horrible part of their life."

Burnley chairman Brian Kilby has adopted a sensible approach to his team's promotion and knows Coyle, who was interesting Celtic following Gordon Strachan's departure last May, has a growing reputation in the game.

Yet, as Ferguson outlined his fellow Scot will be judged on the number of points Burnley pick up.

They follow up tomorrow night's game with encounters against Everton, Chelsea and Liverpool, by which time Coyle will have a good idea of how much work lies ahead of his players.

At the moment though, they are still being carried along on the tide of euphoria that accompanied their play-off win over Sheffield United at Wembley.

A full house tomorrow should make plenty of noise, with Ferguson looking forward to the battle.

"Burnley is a fantastic story," he said.

"You think back to the 1960s and the great players like Jimmy McIlroy, so this will be a terrific experience for them.

"They have not been in the top division since 1976 so you can imagine what the atmosphere will be like. It will be absolutely red hot.

"That is where we hope our experience comes into it."

Ferguson does have a few problems to contend with, particularly over his defence.

Although Nemanja Vidic has returned to training after a long-standing calf injury, the Serbian is not expected to be involved, although he could be fit enough to face Wigan on Saturday.

Gary Neville might come into contention after a groin injury forced him to fly home from United's Far East tour.

However, much will depend on the fitness of Jonny Evans.

The Northern Ireland international missed his country's friendly with Israel last week after aggravating an ankle injury and, although he was able to start Sunday's win over Birmingham, signalled to the bench he could not continue, forcing Ferguson to abandon plans to introduce Anderson.

If Evans does not make it, Wes Brown will almost certainly replace him.

Brown might be in contention anyway as Fabio lacks the kind of experience Ferguson would prefer for a test such as the one Burnley are likely to provide.

But Evans' absence might prompt the United boss to rush back Neville - who began training last week - or Vidic.

After leaving Michael Carrick and Park Ji-sung out of his squad entirely at the weekend, Ferguson has a couple of fresh faces he can introduce into his midfield.

Paul Scholes is virtually certain to make way, while veterans Ryan Giggs and Michael Owen will be hopeful of starting after their substitute appearances.

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