Reading vs. Manchester United  3 - 4

Article

Ferguson fumes over fragile defence

2 December 2012 01:04

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson slammed his side's catastrophic defending after a pulsating 4-3 win over Reading on Saturday.

United extended their lead at the top of the Premier League to three points with the win but Ferguson was left stunned as his side conceded three goals in the opening 23 minutes before going ahead 4-3 in the 34th.

"It was agony, the worst defending this season, without a doubt. To lose three goals in that manner - we've got to do something about that," Ferguson told BBC Sport.

"We're having to rescue the situation all the time. Fortunately we've got players who can do that. Wayne (Rooney) today, in the first half, I thought was absolutely magnificent. He and (Robin) Van Persie and Ashley Young were a threat to them all the time.

"We should have had a fifth goal, I don't know why it wasn't allowed. It was at least a foot over the line. In the second half we had two or three real good opportunities to finish it off. With the nature of that game today, I was just glad to get over the line to be honest with you.

"We need to sort that out, or we'll get battered. We deserved to be battered today. But scoring goals rescues us all the time."

Chris Smalling was brought on after just 31 minutes in place of Rafael, who stormed off the pitch and refused Ferguson's offer of a hand-shake.

Ferguson did not criticise the 22-year-old right back when asked about his reaction to being substituted.

"That’s nothing, the boy was disappointed at coming off. He's been one of our best players all season," he said.

The result gave the Red Devils a three-point lead over City who they face at the Etihad Stadium next weekend, and Ferguson insists they must improve.

"It's going to be a tough game. You know the quality of Manchester City, they're a terrific team. And if we defend like that then ... I'll be able to play myself," the manager joked.

Reading manager Brian McDermott praised his side's effort in taking the game right up to the defending Premier League champions.

"It was a fantastic effort and quality as well. I'm so proud of our players today," he said.

"We know what our agenda is for this season. There is no problem with confidence from our players.

"I think we are becoming people's second team in the Premier League. We want our results to match our performance and hopefully that will come. Hopefully it is good to watch for our fans."

Article

Ferguson flags Vidic return

30 November 2012 15:40

Alex Ferguson says Nemanja Vidic has returned to Manchester United training following two months out of action after knee surgery.

Vidic suffered the setback in September, just a month after returning from a cruciate knee ligament problem, with United manager Ferguson stating at the time he did not expect his defender to return until January.

However, the 31-year-old centre-back has made good progress in his recovery, with Ferguson hinting he could make a first-team return as early as next week.

"Vidic has started training which is good news," he said.

"I wouldn't be averse to playing him on Wednesday (against Cluj in the UEFA Champions League)."

Ferguson still has several other injury worries, though, indicating Portuguese winger Nani will remain sidelined over the busy festive period with a hamstring problem.

Antonio Valencia is likely to be out of the English Premier League game with Reading on Saturday, but Nick Powell, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs could all feature.

"Nani and Valencia are still out," Ferguson said.

"Nani could be four-five weeks. It's a hamstring problem - you have to take your time with them.

"Antonio should be fit for next week. He's got a hip injury which is painful but is getting better.

"Nick Powell has had a virus but should be okay for tomorrow.

"Scholes is back from suspension. Giggs has had a slight hamstring strain but should be okay for tomorrow. Everyone else is fine."

Japan international Shinji Kagawa remains sidelined due to a knee injury suffered in October.

"He's a few weeks away," Ferguson said when asked about the former Borussia Dortmund man's recovery.

Premier League table

# Team MP D P
1 38 +43 89
2 38 +32 78
3 38 +36 75
4 38 +35 73
5 38 +20 72
6 38 +15 63
7 38 +28 61
8 38 -4 49
9 38 -4 46
10 38 -8 46
11 38 -17 44
12 38 -10 43
13 38 -11 42
14 38 -11 41
15 38 -22 41
16 38 -23 41
17 38 -13 39
18 38 -26 36
19 38 -30 28
20 38 -30 25