FOOTBALL NEWS

"They knocked out Basel. From our experience last season, that gives us every respect for Cluj. It tells you they’re a good team."

- Sir Alex Ferguson

01/10/2012 16:25, Report by A Bostock, G Thompson
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Sir Alex wary of Cluj

Sir Alex Ferguson is hoping for improvements at the back as Manchester United take on a Cluj side that's already notched two away goals in Champions League Group H.

The Romanians produced a surprise on Matchday One by beating Braga 2-0 in Portugal and given they're back on their home turf, they could present a problem or two for a Reds defence which uncharacteristically conceded two first-half goals on Saturday.

"I hope the first half on Saturday was [an issue of] awareness," said Sir Alex, referring to Rio Ferdinand and Jonny Evans playing together for only the second time this season.

"When Jonny and Rio played consistently every week last season [from December when Nemanja Vidic was injured], we got better."

Fitness wise, the main area of concern for Sir Alex isn't defence for a change, it's midfield. The manager's three most experienced men in that department - Michael Carrick, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes - did not travel to Romania for various reasons.

"Carrick didn’t report today, he’s in bed with a virus," Sir Alex confirmed. "Ryan also felt rough this morning and we sent him home. We left Paul Scholes behind.

"Those three players are missing - two with a virus and Paul Scholes because, although he looked great this morning and played great on Saturday, at 37 years of age I can’t expect him to play three games like that [Tottenham, Cluj, Newcastle]."

Sir Alex revealed that United elected to train at Carrington this morning, instead of Cluj's stadium this evening, for tactical reasons. He feels the opposition will be tough enough without enabling their staff to study the Reds' prepatory work.

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