Sunday 25 February 2018

Champions’ League clean sheet pleased me as much as victory: relieved Fergie

Sir Alex Ferguson: pleased with a third consecutive clean sheet for Manchester United. Photo: Getty Images
Sir Alex Ferguson: pleased with a third consecutive clean sheet for Manchester United. Photo: Getty Images

MANCHESTER United manager Sir Alex Ferguson was as pleased with a third consecutive clean sheet as he was with the 2-0 victory over Otelul Galati which took his side top of Group C.

After the 6-1 humiliation at home to nearest rivals Manchester City the Red Devils have managed shut-outs against the Romanians, Aldershot, in the Carling Cup, and Everton in the Barclays Premier League.

And while the first two may have not posed that many problems to a much-maligned defence this season Ferguson argued the cumulative effect was significant.

"Winning was going to be important for us because of the position we were in after drawing our first two matches," said the Scot, reflecting on back-to-back wins against Otelul which has put his side back in the driving seat.

"I am pleased our work-rate was very good, we didn't lose any goals and that is an important factor at the moment because there has been a lot of criticism of the team in terms of defending this season.

"These are plus signs for us. That is three games in a row without conceding a goal so that is a step forward for us."

Ferguson was asked which was more important to him, domestic or European success, and he gave a well-versed answer.

"It is always the same for us. We have to accept all the challenges," he added.

"They are two different types of competitions but very important ones and we need to do well in all of them."

The United boss picked Wayne Rooney as his man of the match at Old Trafford last night as the England international looked comfortable in an unfamiliar central midfield position.

It was Rooney's long diagonal pass which began the move which led to Antonio Valencia's eighth-minute goal and his heavily deflected shot from distance which sealed victory three minutes from time.

"He showed great awareness of that role," he said.

"His selection of passes at times was very good and showed great energy and determination - we got a really good performance out of him.

"We had injuries and that is one of the reasons we played him there.

"Tom Cleverley is injured, Michael Carrick is injured and Darren Fletcher played on Saturday but it was better he played next Saturday.

"It was an option for us and a good option because he has all the qualities you need to be a central midfield player."

Ferguson has another injury concerning him, after Michael Owen lasted just 10 minutes before limping off with a thigh muscle injury.

The United boss said: "I feel for him. It's difficult to say how long-term it is."

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