Fergie's rose-tinted glasses

Posted by Mark Payne

Nick Powell is seen as one of United's bright young talents for the futureGettyImagesNick Powell is seen as one of United's bright young talents for the future

Sir Alex Ferguson doesn't see things the same way the fans do. Whilst this cold Manchester evening was all about going through the motions before more serious business comes up at the weekend in the shape of the derby, losing at home in Europe still grinds for the match-going public. United's proud European record is a distant memory now.

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At least David de Gea got a game. He couldn't be faulted for the goal, a thunderbolt that not even Captain America could have stopped, scored as the game was petering out in the second half. The Spaniard wasn't called on much during the game and it is anybody's guess who will wear the green top on Sunday against Manchester City.

United's closest rivals in the league also had a dismal time in Europe this week but have much less to fall back on. At least United are through and can concentrate on the Premier League before returning to this competition in the new year. When they do so, they will need to be a darn sight better that they were on Wednesday night.

Fergie chose to focus on the positives after the match."Young (Nick) Powell did well, 18 years of age, and Phil Jones, it was an excellent game for him tonight," he said. Buttner also played encouragingly, but whether he is ready for Aguero et al is another matter.

More pertinently, Wayne Rooney's performance was not as emphatic as hoped. He was fielded here specifically to get him match fit for the game against Manchester City. One hopes the United man can raise his game for the big occasion, he was not as ruthless as he could have been at Old Trafford.

Nonetheless, it seems churlish to complain about a side who have won their Champions League group and top their domestic league. Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool are all enjoying much more torrid times than United this time around. Long-term viewers fear this United line up is far too rickety. There is a chance they could meet Real Madrid in the last 16, in which case they would surely be destroyed.

In the meantime, the Manchester derby, bragging rights, and the top of the table are up for grabs. Fergie will see a draw at the Etihad as a good result and will likely pack the midfield to stifle City's front line. The United faithful would rather see their side go for it. Manchester United have only been any good this season when attacking. For them, it isn't the best form of defence, it is the only form of defence. The fans will be hoping the manager sees it the same way this Sunday.

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