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No need for panic but City have the advantage, says Alex Ferguson

SIR Alex Ferguson has conceded that Manchester United had handed the advantage to Manchester City in the title race following their comprehensive 3-0 defeat at Newcastle.

The hosts were excellent on the night, pressing and harassing the champions and scoring two fantastic goals before Phil Jones’s comical own goal late on.

In contrast, Ferguson’s side were poor, lacking muscle and bite in midfield, solidity at the back and a cutting edge up front.

It is the first time Manchester United have lost two successive Premier League games since they were beaten by Liverpool and Fulham in March 2009, and Ferguson will need all his powers to revive their title challenge after this performance.

“It is advantage Manchester City, of course,” Ferguson said. “We had an opportunity, they played last night, we played tonight, they won theirs, we lost ours, so it is advantage to them now.

“We don’t normally have back-to-back defeats, the only plus for me is that we had two or three players back tonight.

We’re not panicking or anything, we’ve got the experience to cope with that. Losing the game, you don’t want it, but sometimes it happens and you have seen some of the results in the league recently. But obviously we need to get the show on the road in terms of the run in.”

Ferguson refused to criticise his defence for conceding three goals for the second successive game. “We started reasonably well and had a good chance with Wayne Rooney when he has gone through and the ball has run under his foot.

“They scored a fantastic goal and that got them up and gave their support a lift. They were really aggressive against us. The first goal was a magnificent volley and the second was the killer, a marvellous strike from a free kick.

“I don’t think they really tore us apart. They were a handful, but we can cope with that; they scored with two marvellous strikes and they weren’t going to lose it, they were really determined not to lose it.”

For Pardew, the win was his first over one of the top six this season and further evidence of the vast improvements he has overseen on Tyneside.

“We won because we controlled the game in terms of what we wanted to do, we would not let them play,” he said. “It is a great victory for us to beat the champions 3-0 and we deserved it.

“You need bravery and we had some outstanding individual performances.

“We have had an outstanding season, but this is the first time we have really turned over one of the top teams and it has been coming.”

With something approaching his strongest side on the pitch, Pardew hopes the win will encourage owner Mike Ashley to resist any bids for his star players this month.

He said: “We were aggressive with them all night. This doesn’t compare to the Blackburn defeat for them because they didn’t have a balanced team to put out, but tonight they did.

“We were due a win at home. Against Chelsea we were unlucky and we’ve had injuries and suspensions, but we’re out the other side now.

“It’s a great night for Newcastle, we’ve got a blue-ribbon shirt sponsor [Virgin Money] and you’ve seen we’ve got some good players here who we want to build on. Mike would have enjoyed it; nights like this have got to enthuse him about what we can achieve here.”