Phelan defends absent Ferguson

23 September 2010 08:00

Stand-in Manchester United boss Mike Phelan insisted Sir Alex Ferguson's absence from Wednesday night's 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.

Phelan said: "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."

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 their teamsheet was on the bench.

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."

On a night when Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City all lost, Phelan was happy just to make progress, and it looked like Glanford Park could witness the biggest upset of the lot when Scunthorpe came flying out of the traps.

Phelan said: "I thought Scunthorpe played their part in a very, very good game. They created plenty of opportunities, even when we managed to get it to 5-1 I think we'd had about six chances.

"Overall it's a great scoreline from our point of view because it was a new team out there put together in a couple of days, and Scunthorpe should take a lot of pride and credit from the game."

Source: PA

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