sport

Ferguson wants United response

Sir Alex Ferguson wants a reaction similar to that which followed defeat at Newcastle last term as Manchester United travel to Tyneside again.

United crashed to a 3-0 defeat when they visited St James' Park in the Premier League in January but they responded with a run of 11 wins and a draw which - at the time - made them title favourites.

Now Ferguson is looking for his team to be similarly inspired as they take on the Magpies on Sunday on the back of last week's 3-2 loss to Tottenham.

Ferguson said: "In the second half of the season we had to do something, when you lose a game you have to do something.

"We lost a game to Tottenham and we have to recover again. Hopefully we can get the result on Sunday.

"It won't be easy, it is always a difficult place to go, Newcastle. I think under Alan Pardew they have become a really committed team.

"But after what happened in the game against Tottenham we need to get on the road in terms of recovery."

Both sides were in European action in midweek, with United winning their Champions League tie at Cluj 2-1 and Newcastle beating Bordeaux 3-0 at home in the Europa League.

Ferguson said: "I watched them last night and they played quite a few of their squad (players), left a few out, and still won convincingly 3-0.

"I thought it was a good performance, a good result. They will be buoyed up, the support will be great up there.

"It will be a hard game, I don't think there is any doubt about that, but hopefully we can navigate it."

United, who remain third in the Premier League despite the Spurs result, were without Ryan Giggs and Michael Carrick through illness in Romania while Paul Scholes was rested.

They fell behind early on but Ferguson was pleased with the way his team came through with two goals from the prolific Robin van Persie.

He said: "There was some promising stuff the other night.

"We played really good football at times and it was interesting to play (Wayne) Rooney, Chicharito (Javier Hernandez) and Van Persie together.

"It gives us some thoughts and options for certain games.

"I think our strength is in our attacking options. I put Shinji (Kagawa) on the bench and I have got to think about Scholes, Giggs and Carrick now, which just heightens the problem about picking teams. I hope I pick the right one."

Defender Jonny Evans has recovered from a dead leg but Ferguson is still without a number of other players including centre-backs Chris Smalling, Nemanja Vidic and Phil Jones.

Two prominent attacking players in Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young also remain on the injury list but Ferguson is hopeful of getting at least one of his casualties back during the forthcoming international break.

He said: "Smalling has a chance to come back - Jones and Vidic, obviously not.

"Ashley Young will start training while the internationals are on, particularly in the second week.

"At a stretch he could maybe make the game against Stoke but, certainly Smalling, he will have done enough training on the football side.

"Particularly as we have had a problem with centre-backs, that is a blessing for us."

Smalling has not played since last season after breaking a bone in his foot while Young has made just two appearances this term due to a knee injury.

Ferguson's opposite number this weekend, Pardew, was rewarded for his fine work at Newcastle with a new eight-year contract last week.

Pardew won over many people sceptical about his appointment in December 2010 by steering the Magpies to fifth last season.

Ferguson said: "I think he has done a great job, that is obvious.

"As we know, he was not anyone's choice in Newcastle, now he is everybody's choice."