Phelan explains Fergie absence

Mike Phelan confirmed Sir Alex Ferguson was missing from Manchester United's win over Scunthorpe because he was scouting Valencia.

Ferguson was conspicuous by his absence from Glanford Park prior to kick-off on Wednesday night as Phelan was handed the reins for United's impressive 5-2 win in the Carling Cup third round.

The Scot was in Spain watching Valencia take on Atletico Madrid ahead of the two sides' UEFA Champions League meeting in seven days time and Phelan admitted his colleague was mindful of preparing for the Group C test.

The Red Devils lost ground in their opening European encounter by drawing blanks in a stalemate against Rangers and Phelan told Sky Sports of Ferguson: "He had something else on. He had to make some priorities and he (left) it to his other people to do.

"He had to go watch Valencia. It's important after the Rangers game, with the draw, that we prepare properly and we get a good view of Valencia who have started their season very well."

Ferguson missed a pulsating battle in North Lincolnshire, which saw Scunthorpe take the lead through Josh Wright's screamer before the visitors purged an impressive fight back.

Darron Gibson levelled before Chris Smalling, Ji Sung Park and a Michael Owen brace set-up a convincing win blighted only by a late Martyn Woolford consolation.

United fielded a strong starting line-up against their second-tier opponents with defender Rio Ferdinand returning to the fold for the encounter.

And Phelan was impressed with his players' performance, adding: "It wasn't just Rio Ferdinand who needed the game - there were a few players out there who needed the game. A few of the young players as well needed the game.

"So I thought Rio and Michael Owen have done exceptionally well. He showed what a top, top player he is. I think he contributed to everything tonight, he covered the ground really well."

Phelan also praised keeper Tomasz Kuszczak, who made a string of fine saves to keep Iron at bay: "He did exceptionally well. He was a little bit concerned about the flight of the ball but he dealt with everything that came his way."

The United No.2 also gave Scunthorpe credit for their performance in an entertaining clash. He said: "I thought Scunthorpe played their part in a very, very good game.

"They've created a few opportunities, even when we managed to get it to 5-1 they've created six chances which they possibly could have done better with.

"Overall it's a great scoreline from our point of view because it was a new team out there put together over a couple of days but from Scunthorpe's point of view they should take a lot of pride and credit from the game."

Source: Sky Sports
Date Published: 23 September 2010