Ferguson concerned by leaky defence
Ferguson appeared to dash hopes of Nemanja Vidic returning to lend a hand when he ruled the Serbian out of Wednesday's Champions League encounter with CFR Cluj at Old Trafford.
United need some sort of assistance, though. In conceding 32 goals so far this season, including three in quite awful fashion at Reading on Saturday, Ferguson said he could not remember a time when his side's defence had been so leaky this side of Christmas. "It is a worry," said Ferguson.
It was actually 2001-02, when United conceded 39 goals in their first 23 games, and 41 before Santa made his way down the chimney. Clearly, though, it is no laughing matter for Ferguson, especially when he considers what is lying in wait on the other side of town this weekend.
Ferguson added: "If we perform like that on Sunday then God knows what's going to happen to us. We've lost 32 goals already - I can't remember us losing so many goals before Christmas.
"Saturday was like Cartoon Cavalcade and when you see City have Balotelli, Dzeko - really tall players - it's going to be a big challenge. It's a concern. But that's on Sunday. It's five days away but at this moment in time it feels like five months."
Ferguson's reasoning is that there are so many issues to resolve by then, focusing on a game which is not right in front of him is pointless. Yet, history suggests the United boss is not beyond clouding the issue himself in order to suit his own ends.
So, whilst Ferguson's words on Vidic's readiness to play after September knee surgery were clear enough, until the Serbian actually fails to make the United squad, either Wednesday or at the weekend, they will be greeted with some degree of scepticism.
"I don't think Nemanja will play (tomorrow)," said Ferguson. "He feels he needs another few days' training so he won't be available. He's not far away. He's training well now but I think another few days will bring him on better.
"But if he doesn't play tomorrow there's no chance he'll play in the derby game, although I wasn't considering Nemanja for Sunday anyway."