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Sunday, 18 November, 2001, 13:56 GMT
Ferguson strikes back
Muzzy Izzet waits to take a penalty against Manchester United
Fabien Barthez cleans his boots before Izzet's penalty
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson insists his "empire" is not crumbling.

And he warns United will bounce back from their worst start to a Premiership season.

United got back to winning ways with a 2-0 win over Leicester thanks to goals from Ruud van Nistelrooy and Dwight Yorke.


Muzzy quite rightly felt if the whistle had gone, the penalty should go
Leicester City manager Dave Bassett

"Empires crumble from within, but our foundations are rock-solid," said Ferguson.

"There are no cracks, and of this I am sure, we will in the long run come out of this stronger than ever."

This was United's first league win since 13 October, Yorke's first goal since 14 April and Roy Keane's first United appearance since 17 October.

The biggest relief for United was the sight of Keane back prowling the Old Trafford pitch.

It had been feared Keane might have needed an operation after his knee injury flared up again following the Republic of Ireland's first World Cup play-off game against Iran.

The United skipper claimed he had suffered no reaction after making his comeback.

"I've played here and it's felt really good so fingers crossed, my injury is behind me now, but we will just have to wait and see," said Keane.

"I want to play in every match and I need games under my belt.

"I was delighted to play and I felt quite good."

Whistle controversy

Fabien Barthez also went some way to atoning for his recent blunders by saving a first-half penalty from Muzzy Izzet.

After the penalty was awarded Barthez indulged in a spot of gamesmanship and started cleaning his studs against his post.

Dwight Yorke celebrates after scoring against Leicester
Dwight Yorke scored his first goal since April

Izzet claims D'Urso then blew for the kick to be taken and he knocked the ball into the empty net.

D'Urso ruled out the effort and when Izzet retook the penalty, Barthez touched it on to his right-hand post.

Izzet felt hard done by Barthez and the referee, and his manager Dave Bassett claimed his first effort, midway through the first half, should have stood.

"Muzzy quite rightly felt if the whistle had gone, the penalty should go," said Dave Bassett.

"The referee obviously changed his mind when he noticed Barthez was standing there.

"Give him credit, at least he didn't try and pretend that he hadn't blow his whistle.

"He changed his mind, but there's nothing I can do about it and it's no good bashing him."

Links to more Eng Prem stories are at the foot of the page.

 

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