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Fergie's focus on derby in Manchester after Cluj defeat

Updated: 2012-12-07 07:43
By Agence France-Presse in Manchester, England ( China Daily)

 Fergie's focus on derby in Manchester after Cluj defeat

CFR Cluj's Lonut Rada (left) challenges Manchester United's Javier Hernandez during their Champions League Group H match on Wednesday. Phil Noble / Reuters

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson insists he has no worries about going into Sunday's Manchester derby on the back of a defeat.

United was beaten for the second successive time in Europe when it slipped to a 1-0 home defeat to Cluj on Wednesday night.

Ferguson's side had progressed to the knockout phase after four matches and he was able to make 10 changes to the team that won 4-3 at Reading over the weekend.

England striker Wayne Rooney, who is continuing to work his way back to full fitness after a spell on the sidelines at the start of the season with a gash to his leg, was the only player to start both matches.

Premier League leader United has the chance to move six points clear of City when it heads to the Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

Ferguson was adamant there were good signs from his team despite seeing it beaten for the first time at home in the Champions League in more than three years.

"I think we've set out what we've set out to do," he said.

"We've given young players game time and other players that needed games more game time.

"The more game time that (Phil) Jones and (Chris) Smalling get only helps us, and Wayne Rooney has got another 90 minutes behind him.

"He is close to full fitness and hopefully he will be approaching top form come Sunday, and Sunday will be a different kettle of fish altogether."

In the buildup to the game against the Romanian champion at Old Trafford, Ferguson bemoaned his team's defense this season.

He was more satisfied with the display of a youthful back four of Jones, Smalling, Scott Wootton and Alexander Buttner.

But he maintains his senior players still have to improve when they head to City.

Ferguson said: "They did the job quite well. Scott Wootton has only had a couple of games, Smalling has been out for a long time and Jones has been out, Buttner has had two or three first-team games.

"The commitment and composure was good but they're young, that is without doubt, but that doesn't solve the issue of defending tonight.

"Hopefully that's in the future and the experienced players that have been playing have got to get their act together, it's as simple as that."

Ferguson was due to assess the fitness of midfielder Tom Cleverley, who limped out of the game just before halftime.

But the United manager dismissed any doubts about defender Jonny Evans' fitness after the Northern Ireland international was absent from training on Tuesday.

Ferguson claims Sunday's game will come too soon for Japanese midfielder Shinji Kagawa, who has been absent with a knee problem.

"Kagawa is a fantastic player. He's had a great start, he's back doing some running and I don't know if he'll make Sunday," Ferguson said.

"It might be too early, but at least he's back training and will be joining the football part next Monday and he's a good player."

Cluj coach Paulo Sergio admitted his team was left with mixed feelings after coming away from United with a victory, only to exit the Champions League due to its head-to-head record against Galatasary.

The Romanians looked set to qualify only for Galatasary to come from behind to win 2-1 at Braga.

"It's strange, we came to Old Trafford and get a victory and see the dressing room with the players with their with heads down," Sergio said.

"It's frustrating, but the players should be proud of themselves. We did our part and we have to keep going.

"Working to win is the only mentality the players have and we worked very well and stopped Manchester United and deserved these three points."

(China Daily 12/07/2012 page22)

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