After a disappointing derby defeat against Manchester City on Monday night, Sir Alex Ferguson was keen to give his take on what implications the loss would have on the title race, as well as confirming the latest team news and talking at length about the importance of a victory against Stoke as he addressed the media at his pre-match press conference
On the latest team news
“I’m hoping that Vida starts today, Jonny Evans has trained this week which is better news than we had building up to Monday’s game.
“Ashley Young is out, he took a whack on his ankle. He will maybe miss two weeks.”
“It will be a terrific boost to get his (Paul Scholes’) football intelligence back in the squad,” Sir Alex stated
“He has been out for a few weeks so we need to get him back out training with us.”
Ferguson’s confirmation that Jonny Evans is likely to be back for the Stoke game after a hamstring problem has kept him out of United’s last two games is timely, with Evans’ presence likely to be required when United visit the Britannia, and with fellow centre-half Nemanja Vidic nearing a return from a calf injury, the club have almost a full complement at the back.
The news on Ashley Young’s latest setback is frustrating, as he seems to be unable to string a decent run of games together, but with Paul Scholes beginning on Monday, the steadying influence United have perhaps lacked in recent weeks will hopefully come in the form of the experienced 38-year-old.
“We have a job to do,” stated Sir Alex. “The incentives are there for ourselves in the sense that we’ve only got seven games left.
“The challenge is there for Stoke as well. I don’t think they will go down but, nonetheless, they’re in a precarious situation because, down the bottom of that league, you don’t pick up a lot of points. I think they’ll get enough to get out.
“I don’t think we should look at our position in terms of being 12 points clear. What matters is winning on Sunday and we need to do that. As we always do, we should just try to do our best. We have a job to do on Sunday and we need to do it.”
With Stoke embroiled in a relegation battle, Tony Pulis’ side are expected to be no pushovers, and games against the Potters in the past have been difficult affairs, however, the opportunity to open a 15 point lead over City should provide enough motivation for United to get the job done.
On the derby disappointment
“It’s always disappointing to lose a derby, there was nothing in it between the two teams.
“Possession-wise, they were better in the first half and we were better in the second half but lost two bad goals and you can’t do that in derby games. It was a fantastic derby in the sense of the intensity.
“The start of the game was absolutely brilliant. Both teams went for it and it was end-to-end. Both had half-chances of sorts but it ended up that Joe Hart had the only save in the match to make. There was only one save in the whole match between the two goalkeepers. That gives you an idea about how close the game was.”