Ferguson demands more bite

United's spluttering opening to the new season caught up with them at Old Trafford on Saturday. For the fifth time in six Premier League outings, they fell behind. But, against a speedy and durable Tottenham team, Ferguson's team left themselves too much to do and slipped to their second defeat of the campaign.

While praising United's second-half performance, Ferguson was furious with what went on before the break. It followed on from similar lacklustre displays earlier in the season, particularly at Southampton and Liverpool.

And, speaking ahead of Tuesday night's Champions League clash with CFR Cluj in Romania, Ferguson has vowed it will not continue.

"We were well off the pace of the game. I don't think we won a tackle in the first half," said the United boss. "The second half was probably our best performance of the season.

"When you consider the first half against Southampton, the first half Liverpool and first half on Saturday, we have some work to do. You have to be concerned losing goals the way we did. It's not planned but I think it will be the last."

On Saturday, stand-in skipper Patrice Evra said he believed the problem might be mental. His manager does not think so. Instead, with so many key defenders injured, including Nemanja Vidic, Ferguson is hoping the consistency of Rio Ferdinand's central defensive partnership with Jonny Evans will start to have a positive impact.

"After the first half on Saturday I had plenty of concerns," he said. "I hope it's an awareness thing because we faced this situation at the end of October last season, and from then on when Jonny and Rio played together consistently we played better."

The absence of Michael Carrick had already been confirmed before departure. Like Carrick, Ryan Giggs also remained at home due to a virus, while 37-year-old Paul Scholes was rested having completed the full 90 minutes against Tottenham.

It means Darren Fletcher and Tom Cleverley will compete for midfield slots along with Anderson, whom Ferguson concedes was unfortunate to be overlooked at the weekend.

Source: PA

Source: PA