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Mourinho returns to Stamford Bridge

50-50 Challenge
By ESPN Staff

Ferguson tries to keep shock defeat in perspective

Sir Alex Ferguson has pledged Manchester United's stunning Carling Cup exit at Southend will not trigger any knee-jerk reaction from inside the Red Devils camp.

Just 24 hours after he celebrated 20 years as United manager, Ferguson suffered one of the most embarrassing defeats of his entire time at the club.

The competition holders and Premiership leaders were unable to find any way back once lifelong Red Devils fan Freddy Eastwood had put the Championship basement boys in front with a magnificent first-half free-kick.

Shrimpers keeper Darryl Flahavan kept Southend's noses in front with a string of fine saves, including a hat-trick of stops to deny Cristiano Ronaldo, ensuring the Roots Hall faithful were able to celebrate a famous win.

'We need to look forward, not back,' said Ferguson.

'It was a disappointing night but there is no need for a knee-jerk reaction, no mass sackings and no suicides.

'Maybe there will be a little bit of recrimination and maybe a few of my players will be embarrassed by the result but they have to pick themselves up, that is the name of the game at this football club.'

Ferguson claimed Eastwood's strike - his 10th of the season - as a once-in-a-lifetime effort.

Shrimpers boss Steve Tilson knows it will only create more interest around the 24-year-old, a bargain £40,000 signing from non-league Grays Athletic, who attracted a £1million bid from Derby this summer.

'Top clubs have been watching Freddy all year and I don't think that will change now,' said Tilson.

'We will see what happens in January but we can certainly put the price up now.

'His goalscoring record is second to none and, while I am not saying the chairman will sell him, there is no way anyone will get away with making a silly offer.'

Tilson admitted he feared the worst when he first saw the United line-up.

'My initial thought was, `How many can we keep it down to',' said Tilson, whose team have not recorded a league win since mid-August.

'I knew it would take a strong performance to keep the score respectable against what was a pretty strong United side.

'The confidence has not been great and I was worried what would happen if they got four, five, or even six.

'Manchester United are the Premiership leaders, they are a top side and they were always going to have some decent spells in the game.

'But in the ed I was surprised by them because they didn't really put us under the cosh at any stage.'