Stand-in Manchester United boss Mike Phelan insisted Sir Alex Ferguson's absence from the Carling Cup victory over Scunthorpe was not disrespectful to the competition.
The Red Devils manager chose to travel to Spain to watch forthcoming Champions League opponents Valencia, leaving Phelan in charge for the third-round clash at Glanford Park, which United won 5-2.
The reigning champions have in the past been criticised for fielding weakened teams in the competition but, even though they made 11 changes from the 3-2 win over Liverpool, the most notable absence from the teamsheet was in the dugout. Ferguson has only missed two previous competitive games in his 24 years at the Old Trafford helm, but Phelan defended the Scot's decision and insisted United have already proved their commitment to the cup.
He said: "We put a big value on the Carling Cup. We've never set out to demean the Carling Cup. We're holders, we've done that two years in a row and you can see from the players' attitude that we want to keep hold of it."
Ferguson's absence also showed how important he deems next week's Valencia match to be after United's failure to beat Rangers in their opening Champions League fixture at Old Trafford.
Phelan continued: "It's important after the Rangers games that we prepare properly and get a good view of Valencia, who've started their season very well. He chose to go and watch the Valencia game. We need to go there knowing what we're up against. He's the manager and he had to make a decision."