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Is a title challenge possible for Man Utd?

Manchester United
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United left with work to do

Sir Alex Ferguson entrusted Manchester United's chance to secure top spot in their Champions League group to a select group of his exciting young prospects.

• Champions League wrap
• Champions League gallery
• Man Utd 0-1 Besiktas
• Fergie: Youngsters have to learn

Instead it was a night when a series of United's proud home records fell. Not something to endear the players to their volatile boss.

Sir Alex's infamous dressing downs are known as the "hairdryer treatment" and the United boss is sure to have handed out some strong words after this defeat. It was hardly a night when his up-and-coming stars caught the eye, and it was unpalatable to see so many fail to make an impression.

Ben Foster is the keeper I feel sorry for. Again he was put in a position where he had to pick the ball out of the back of his net in a disappointing United result. He just doesn't seem to have any luck.

This time a slight deflection was all that was needed to take the ball a yard away form his reach, although the deflection was more responsible for deceiving him into failing to get that extra yard across his line to be in position to save.

Fabio Capello has looked closely at this promising young keeper, but Sir Alex will come to the same conclusion, that experience still counts for so much at the very top in the goalkeeping position.

So, 23 unbeaten games unbeaten at Old Trafford went by the wayside, and just to make Sir Alex go even redder in the face, his team were denied a penalty, or so he thought. But Evra went looking for a penalty and went to ground too easily, which put the referee off.

At least Ferguson had six minutes of added time, after an extra minute of timewasting on top of the advertised five minutes, but United left themselves needing a point in Germany against Wolfsburg who might top the group themselves.

That would leave United wide open to a harder draw, though it's not certain either Barcelona or Real Madrid will top their group. Now, you wouldn't want to take on Barca so early in the competition, and Sir Alex wouldn't quite fancy being reunited with a fit again Cristiano Ronaldo so soon either.

Suddenly it makes the qualifying process, so routine up until now, a touch more tricky as they may need to go out and play to to win in Germany and that will mean bringing back the big guns.

Even so, United might have grabbed a last minute draw. Rustu made a couple of late saves, the usual time when United pinch goals, but their inexperience meant this was not normal service at Old Trafford.

United went down at home to a Turkish team that two years ago lost 8-0 to Liverpool. How times have changed.

It was a time to give the young players more responsibility and I don't blame Sir Alex for that. However, if I was pressed, I would say there are far better young players at Arsenal, and that will hurt Sir Alex even more.

The future looks bright for Arsene Wenger, even if he has to play so many of them in the important games, while Sir Alex can afford the luxury of blooding them when the time is right.

No matter how peeved Sir Alex is at surrendering United's run of results at home, it was in a match that didn't really matter too much, and leaves a situation that can be rescued in the final Champions League tie.

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