| 6.3°C Dublin

Ferguson admits crisis of confidence

Sir Alex Ferguson has admitted Manchester United's growing list of catastrophic collapses is starting to prey on their mind.

United allowed a two-goal lead to slip against West Brom at Old Trafford on Saturday.

It was the third time this season Ferguson's side had lost such an imposing lead - and does not count the trip to Fulham in August, when they missed a late penalty when they were already a goal in front and then conceded an equaliser to Brede Hangeland.

Their weekend misery did not come quite so late. Yet the expected response did not materialise, with West Brom looking the more likely to win the game in the latter stages.

On the eve of tomorrow's Champions League meeting with Bursaspor at Old Trafford, Ferguson confirmed the meek surrender was the result of near terror amongst his team faced with yet another collapse.

"The reason for the lack of response on Saturday was not to do with the game itself, it was to do with the previous matches where we have thrown points away," said Ferguson.

"They start thinking 'Christ, here is another one'. That is the impact you get. The conscious part comes into it.

"They are saying to themselves 'we are going to have to face the gaffer and explain this again'. But it is inexplicable."

Ferguson cited West Brom's equaliser as an example.

A routine cross from Chris Brunt would normally be collected with ease by Edwin van der Sar.

This time it was spilled at the feet of Somen Tchoyi, who gleefully tapped home.

"The mistake was uncanny," said Ferguson.

"Here is a player with 130 caps for Holland and the most fantastic career you could imagine and he makes a mistake like that.

"You cannot even criticise him because he doesn't deserve that.

"He is allowed to make one horrendous mistake in his life. It was at a time when we didn't need it, of course, but it happens.

"You just have to wash it away."

John O'Shea remained on the bench throughout Saturday's debacle. However, he was on the pitch at Fulham and Everton, when United suffered their first mishaps of the season, and against Liverpool, when they needed Dimitar Berbatov's late strike to rescue them.

And he recognises something has to be done - and quickly.

"It is hard to explain why we are losing the goals we have," said the Irishman.

"You see the quality and the record we have had in the past but it is something we have to address quickly. With the players we have we will do that.

"Nine times out of 10 if we keep a clean sheet we are going to win the game because of the attacking quality we have."

As he tries to engineer a way out of the mess United find themselves in, whilst at the same time dealing with the fall-out from his own dramatic interjection into Wayne Rooney's career, the one consolation Ferguson is able to draw is that such troubles are having to be confronted in October rather than April.

"Fortunately it is happening now and we can do something about it," he said.

"There is a long way to go and we always do better in the second half of the season. We hope that will be the case this year."

United can take the first step forward by dismissing the Turkish champions, who are yet to collect a point from their first two games in Europe's number one club competition.

Ferguson has pledged to make changes, although Michael Owen and Jonny Evans are on the sidelines in addition to Rooney, who may never return.

But, after registering a disappointing draw against Rangers five weeks ago, the Scot insists he is not taking Bursaspor lightly.

"They have lost their first two games and maybe that is their lack of experience," he said. "The Champions League is not easy.

"With our home record we hope we can put it to bed.

"There are opportunities for one or two of the younger players who need experience - but that is not to say we are taking it lightly."

PA Media