Attack best form of defence for injury-hit United

HULL, England, Dec 25, 2009 (AFP) - Sir Alex Ferguson believes attack could be the best form of defence for Manchester United as they look to get their faltering Premier League title challenge back on track at Hull on Sunday.

United's defensive problems have left the reigning champions looking vulnerable in recent defeats to Aston Villa and Fulham.

Ferguson's team have rarely been so out-played as they were last weekend, when they slumped to a 3-0 loss at Fulham which the Old Trafford boss himself thought might end up costing his side a fourth successive title.

Manchester United's English striker Wayne Rooney (R) vies with Fulham's English defender Paul Konchesky (L) during the English Premier League football match between Fulham and Manchester United on December 19, 2009 (AFP photo)

Injuries to Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Wes Brown, John O'Shea and Gary Neville have forced Ferguson to play midfielders Darren Fletcher and Michael Carrick in defence.

Ferguson, who hopes Vidic and Brown will be fit for the Hull clash, accepts the situation is far from ideal, but he is also keen to see more creative flair from his forward players to help United compensate for their current issues at the back.

"Hull will be encouraged by the fact we have got defenders injured. They will certainly have a go at us," he said.

"It's always a dogfight down at the bottom of the table and, as usual, there are six, seven or eight teams involved in that battle.

"We looked fragile once we lost the goal (at Fulham). We got away with playing midfielders at centre-back once or twice, but it proved difficult.

"We have to make sure we are better attacking-wise than we were against Fulham. We didn't make a lot of chances in the match, we had a lot of possession but it didn't amount to anything.

"In terms of creating chances, we have to get that creativity, imagination back.

"I think losing to Aston Villa was a bitter disappointment, we made enough chances to win it. Winning your home games can stabilise you from bad results away from home.

"It's unusual for us to lose two games in December, it's not happened that many times but hopefully by the Leeds United (in the FA Cup third round) game we will have three centre-backs and we can then kick on and get back to our normal selves.

"The way the league is at the moment, I think Arsene Wenger said the other day you could lose seven games and still win the league this year.

"Someone pointed out the recognised top four have lost 41 points between them this season. Nobody would have bet on that."

While Ferguson frets, his opposite number Phil Brown fears his Hull side are taking on United at the wrong time because they will be determined to erase those recent disappointments.

"I think United will be like a wounded animal. But you write them off at your peril because they will still have a big, big say in the title race," Brown said.

"People talk about their bubble bursting but that's rubbish. Nothing has changed with them as far as I'm concerned and we've got to be prepared for them.

"That extra day's preparation might work for us. I've given the players Christmas Day off this year. That wasn't the case last year so they're pleased and we'll come back in Boxing Day and work hard on the training ground to prepare ourselves.

"We know that if we play like we did at Arsenal last week and get that strong referee we need, then we might be able to compound the defeat United suffered at Fulham.

"It has been a test for United's squad, but young players have come in and been given their chance.

"They have got great quality in depth and I'm not quite convinced they've got the length of injury list that people keep telling me they have.

"Nothing changes with them as far as I'm concerned. We'll have to put our best foot forward and hope that United will have an off day."

Source: AFP

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