Tuesday 26 September 2017

Defensive lapses give Ferguson real cause for concern

Mark Ogden

Alex Ferguson has voiced concerns that Manchester United's defensive problems are becoming a psychological issue for his players.

United return to Champions League against Bursaspor at Old Trafford tonight having kept clean sheets in their two games so far in Group C against Rangers and Valencia.

Domestically, however, Ferguson's team have conceded 11 goals in eight Premier League games, with comfortable two-goal leads against both Everton and West Brom being thrown away to leave United with just one point from each fixture.

The return from injury of England captain Rio Ferdinand has done little to stem the tide of goals scored against United and Ferguson admits that the problems are now beginning to recur on a worryingly consistent basis.

Ferguson said: "The players are looking at the games we have thrown away, so they start thinking 'Christ, here's another one'. That's the impact you get.

"I think the impact is in the way a conscious part comes into it. They think: 'Well, we are going to have to face the gaffer and explain it again', because it's inexplicable.

experience

"The Everton game (3-3 draw) will be in our thoughts for years to come and we can't understand it. It's been one of those seasons so far, but fortunately it's happening early in the season.

"We have to stand up and accept the criticism and say we aren't happy with it. With the players with the experience and ability we have in the back four, it shouldn't happen. We can ill afford any mistakes at any time because, when Manchester United play games, the expectations are such that we have to win them. We've all grown up with that, so there's no problem with that."

United are without the injured Wayne Rooney, Michael Owen, Ryan Giggs and Jonny Evans for the clash against the Turkish champions, who have yet to score a goal in their debut Champions League campaign.

But Ferguson is confident United can overcome their recent problems to take a decisive stride towards the knock-out stages with back-to-back victories against Bursaspor.

"Our home record is good in Europe, so I'm banking on the victory that would take us to seven points and well on our way to our target of 10," he said.

"I am well aware that travelling to Turkey involves a long journey, but if we make home advantage pay tonight, we will be well on course to get through the group." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Manchester Utd v Bursaspor,

Live, RTE 2, Sky Sports 2, 7.45

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