The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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No need to panic, says Ferguson

London : Alex Ferguson is counting on a powder keg atmosphere at Leeds Saturday to inject some fire into Manchester United’s faltering Premiership campaign.

With Rio Ferdinand making his first return to Elland Road since his $ 46-million summer move to Old Trafford, United are guaranteed a hostile reception for the midday clash.

But Ferguson believes that, far from being intimidated, his players will thrive on the atmosphere as they seek to bounce back from Wednesday’s shock home defeat by Bolton. “We have resilience and we’ll show that,” Ferguson said. “There will be a fantastic atmosphere at Leeds and that is the kind of atmosphere we’ll respond to.”

The Scot has dismissed suggestions that his squad is facing a crisis of confidence with Roy Keane, Paul Scholes and Gary Neville all out injured and Ruud Van Nistelrooy struggling to regain last season’s scoring form.

“There is no need to panic at this stage because the way the league is shaping up there are some surprising results,” Ferguson said. “You are seeing a great deal of determination from everyone because nobody wants to go out of this division. You will see a different shape in the league in November.”

The concern for United fans however is that the club’s title campaign could be over by then, unless there is a dramatic improvement in their form, particularly in front of the goal. In five Premiership games so far, United have managed only five goals — eight less than last year at the same stage and fewer than in any season since 1992.

Ferguson famously responded to that stuttering start by signing Eric Cantona from Leeds and United went on to claim the title. But the introduction of the new transfer window means he does not have that option this time around. Ferdinand is resigned to a hostile reception from the Leeds fans, who are never backward when it comes to expressing their animosity towards former favourites.

Cantona was given a ferocious greeting when he first ret urned to Elland Road and former boss George Graham was pelted with coins when he went back with Tottenham. “Obviously in an ideal world you would like them to give you a good reception and hope they remember the good times we had together,” the 23-year-old defender said earlier this week.

“But I am not naive enough to think that this is going to happen because I will be playing for Manchester United and I will be doing my utmost to make sure United get the result the players and our fans want.”

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