Sir Alex Ferguson does not take criticism lightly. He is also vehemently defensive of his side, particularly the young players he is pinning the club's future upon. Ferguson will field some of his fledglings against Tottenham in the Carling Cup quarter-final tonight with criticism ringing in his, and their, ears after the 1-0 Champions League defeat to Besiktas last week. Gabriel Obertan, Federico Macheda, Danny Welbeck and Rafael will be among those given another chance to impress.
The Scot believes in their potential and is keen to silence the detractors, recalling the young talents that have risen through the United ranks in the past to become household names. "They got anxious [against Besiktas]," said Ferguson. "They'd made good chances, but hurried things. That's not the biggest crime in the world. We're not talking about ability here, we're talking about experience. "That's why we have to play them. Games are the one thing we have to give them. We can't just give them that old head that helps you deal with situations like [last] Wednesday in the final third of the field.
"The number of young players we have is stacking up. They need to be challenged. Their future is well marked out, I think. I thought they did OK and I didn't think they deserved that kind of criticism." Ferguson is most famous for his young side that won the Premier League title in 1995/96, at the start of over a decade of dominance of the English game and he added: "One journalist wrote, 'There's no future for these players, no tomorrow for them.'
"I can't believe that. It's unbelievable. When [David] Beckham, [Nicky] Butt, [Paul] Scholes and all those lads played in 1996, they were 22 years of age - three years ahead of these players. So that kind of reaction is amazing, isn't it? Of course they will grow from that experience. I was confident of playing them, and they had every right to play." Harry Redknapp will also rotate his squad and has used a United player as an example for his players to follow if they become disgruntled at missing out on the first team. Not that he has seen any evidence of that.
Jermaine Jenas and Robbie Keane were among those who did not play at Aston Villa on Saturday, but Redknapp said: "When I first came here last year, early doors the subs were sitting there and I don't know if they were even watching the game. "There is a big difference in their attitude, and I've said all along that if we are going to be a team everybody must pull together. It's hard for lads who don't play, but we're all part of it. It was difficult leaving Jermaine out. He's got in the England team and suddenly I'm not picking him.
"Last week his attitude in the dressing room was like you wouldn't believe, he has been fantastic around the place. "Then when they [Villa] scored, Robbie Keane jumped up four foot in the air, ready to come on. You want that. People don't understand the importance of having a good spirit. I've said all along from when I first came here that if we are going to be successful we need to be like that. I said the other week, when Gary Neville was on the bench and Man Utd scored, he jumped up. He's won championship after championship. You need people like that."
The Premier League's club Portsmouth host Villa in the night's other tie, hoping to put their struggles behind them. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org Manchester United v Spurs, KO midnight, Aljazeera Sport + 3