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Page last updated at 09:31 GMT, Sunday, 21 February 2010

Sir Alex Ferguson backs tired Man Utd to bounce back

David Moyes and Sir Alex Ferguson
Moyes (left) won the tactical battle against fellow Scot Ferguson

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson blamed his side's defeat by Everton on fatigue from their midweek Champions League win over AC Milan.

But Ferguson is confident United can bounce back and lift their title hopes by beating West Ham on Tuesday.

"We left something in Milan and there was tiredness in the team," Ferguson said after Saturday's 3-1 loss.

"But Tuesday is a massive game now. We've been responding for a long time so I don't expect a problem with that."

Rio Ferdinand will be available to face the Hammers after completing a four-game ban, while his central defensive partner Nemanja Vidic could also come into contention to start after being named on the bench against the Toffees.

But Ferguson will demand wholesale improvement after witnessing a disappointing United display, which he put down to the after-effects of their 3-2 win at the San Siro.


"It is difficult to think that when you go through all the emotions and the pace and intensity and atmosphere of a game like Tuesday, you don't lose something," Ferguson explained.

"Whatever it was, it was just too much for us today. We had some good chances early on and we could have been two or three up.

"The equaliser changed the game a little bit. But it was the second half that let us down.

"Our second-half performance was very poor and when you are going for the championship you expect Manchester United to respond to the importance of the game."

Dimitar Berbatov gave United the lead at Goodison Park but Diniyar Bilyaletdinov equalised before Dan Gosling put the hosts ahead and Jack Rodwell sealed a fine victory.

"This is a bad result and at this time of the year we can't afford results like that," added Ferguson.

"But I don't think we will panic because it has been a funny season. Teams have been losing points that you don't expect so the very nature of the league suggests we still have a chance."

Man Utd not good enough - Phelan

The champions took the lead when Sylvain Distin failed to clear Antonio Valencia's cross and Berbatov took a touch before lashing home off the bar.

Everton swiftly equalised through Bilyaletdinov's blistering left-footed strike and the hosts went in front when substitute Gosling diverted Steven Pienaar's cross into the bottom corner.

The win was sealed by Rodwell who, after also coming off the bench, surged into the box and slotted a composed finish low past United goalkeeper Edwin Van der Sar.

"We started the game well enough but their goal galvanised them and gave them the incentive," added Ferguson.

"You don't want to lose a goal so quickly after going in front but the real effect showed in the second half when we were second best.

"The players are human beings, they play for Manchester United, and they don't like losing but they've lost today.

"We hope other teams drop points and that's the way it's been going this season. Hopefully it turns out right again."

Everton boss David Moyes was understandably delighted with his side's victory, which came off the back of another come-from-behind win against leaders Chelsea 10 days previously.

After a poor start to the season, the Toffees have lost only one of their last 12 league games and are threatening to force their way into European contention.

Everton a match for any team - Moyes

"We can start looking upwards a bit more than downwards," stated Moyes. "This was always going to be a tricky month and we have started it pretty well.

"It was a great result and you don't beat the big teams that often so we are delighted.

"I have said for a while on our day we can be a match for the teams above. We have not got everyone fit but I think it shows the spirit we have got. I think we can play better and I think we will."

Everton have had to contend with a lengthy injury list for most of the season and last week learned midfielder Marouane Fellaini would miss the rest of the campaign.

Another influential midfielder, Tim Cahill, was also missing against United after suffering a calf injury in the midweek Europa League win against Sporting Lisbon.

But Everton's strength in depth was illustrated by the contributions of Gosling, 20, and 18-year-old Rodwell.

"As we know, Gosling has got a goal in him and Rodwell made up for a bit of a mistake in midweek by settling the game," added Moyes.

The manager revealed that Landon Donovan played after a flu scare on the morning of the match but the American, on loan from Los Angeles Galaxy, delivered another impressive display.

Donovan is set to return to the United States for the start of the Major League Soccer season with the Galaxy and Moyes said there were no plans to extend his loan beyond the end of March.

"I think Landon would like to stay but at the moment it probably looks as if not," he said. "I wouldn't want to have any disrespect to his club or the contract he has over there."

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