Sir Alex Ferguson has admitted harbouring doubts about his team's commitment after the defeat at Burnley two weeks ago but appears determined to stick with the players he has, declaring it would be an “insult” to abandon his instincts and launch a deadline day foray into the transfer market.
“After the Burnley game, I examined our commitment, but after analysing our failings, I didn't think we were lacking in that area,” Ferguson said. “I must always guard against complacency. Some players can drive themselves on while others are happy to settle for an easy life, but Manchester United cannot afford that kind of player.
“You don't suddenly scrap your transfer policy because of one defeat, even if it was a bad one.”
It certainly seems that Ferguson will be as good as his word, with only an 11th hour move by cash-strapped Valencia to sell David Villa likely to alter that picture.
Though the absence of an offensive threat, following the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez, appeared to be Ferguson's most substantial problem, it was United's midfield which raised question marks in the unconvincing 2-1 win against Arsenal. Key to United's strength is the rehabilitation of Owen Hargreaves who is back in training on September 23 following operations on both knees.
Ferguson remains uncertain of how far from match readiness he is.
“The difficult part will be to get him back in the football side of it,” the manager said. “I say 'difficult' because we've not really seen him operate at this moment in time.
“We're certain of one thing, his fitness will be good, his endurance work will have been done, we will just have to gage when the right time is to put him into the football side of it. You don't have a player who has been out for over a year and suddenly throw him into the fire right away. I think we'll be taking our time.”
Meanwhile, Fabio Capello does not care if the pressure is on Wayne Rooney to deliver for Manchester United — as long as he maintains the level of his recent performances for England.
With Cristiano Ronaldo now at Real Madrid, there are expectations on Rooney to lead the way at Old Trafford — and the 23-year-old has already stepped up with four goals this season.
All eyes will be on Rooney to replace Ronaldo as United's spark, but Capello said: “This is Sir Alex's problem.”
Capello has brought the best out of Rooney at international level, the forward scoring 10 goals in his last eight games before this week's friendly against Slovenia and the World Cup qualifier against Croatia.
“Rooney is a really important player, he's incredible and young — he can improve a lot with more experience and confidence in himself,” the Italian added.