Ferguson on red alert!

Sir Alex Ferguson described the decision to overturn Vincent Kompany's red card as 'very unusual'

Simon Stone

Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson believes his side's midweek struggles should serve as a timely reminder that complacency could prove costly in the Premier League title battle.

A day after Manchester City had dropped points at big-spending QPR, United were expected to stroll to victory against Southampton.

But even after overcoming the loss of an early goal to lead 2-1 at half-time, United encountered massive problems in the second half as Southampton took control and were highly unfortunate to gain no reward for their efforts.

As his side start a run of fixtures mainly against clubs in the lower half of the table, Ferguson believes such games merely highlight the difficulties his players will face unless they have the right attitude.

"The effort Southampton put in on Wednesday is a reminder to us that you get three points for every game, not just for beating teams at the top of the league," the Scot said ahead of today's trip to Fulham.

"We've had great examples of that over the years. Last year we lost to Blackburn Rovers at home. You could quite easily say that cost us the league.

"I don't expect my players to be complacent, but Wednesday is obviously a great reminder."

After such a gruelling game on an awful pitch, Ferguson is intending to make changes for the Craven Cottage encounter.

With Jonny Evans fit again after missing five games with a hamstring injury and Rio Ferdinand in line for a recall, Phil Jones may be one of the players afforded a rest.

Ferguson was surprised to discover the 20-year-old had been selected for the England under-21 side to face Sweden at Walsall on Tuesday when the squads were announced on Thursday, rather than as part of the senior squad taking on Brazil 24 hours later.

It also transpired that manager Stuart Pearce wants Jones to be part of his squad for this summer's European Under-21 Championships in Israel.

Having been part of every senior England squad last season, including Roy Hodgson's 23-man group at Euro 2012, it looks like a demotion for Jones.

It was suggested Ferguson was not too happy at the prospect, but he feels it is the player who may be feeling slighted.

"I am surprised he's in the under-21s and not the full squad," Ferguson said.

"It has happened quite a few times that players have dropped back.

"The question is: do the players understand? That can be the difficult thing to manage.

"Once they're in the full squad if they then take a step back it can be hard.

"But he's 20 and Stuart Pearce wants to pick as good an under-21 squad as he can get. That includes players like Phil Jones."

If Saturday's FA Cup victory over Fulham is any guide, United should encounter few problems at Craven Cottage.


However, the Cottagers are a different proposition on home soil and will approach their task with confidence following their own midweek victory over West Ham.

"Fulham's home record is very good and has been for a few years," Ferguson added.

Ferguson, meanwhile, has denied his English Football Association misconduct charge and requested a paper hearing. The United boss criticised assistant referee Simon Beck following his side's draw at Tottenham a fortnight ago.

The English Football Association will decide a date for the hearing in due course. Ferguson did not discuss the issue yesterday, although last week he said he suspected the matter has become personal.