Ferguson demands response from United
Sir Alex Ferguson will be looking for a typical response from his Manchester United side when they head to Newcastle on Wednesday.
The Premier League champions suffered a surprise 3-2 home defeat on 31 December and although leaders City also slipped up with a defeat at Sunderland, Ferguson will still be deeply frustrated at the lost points. United are still in the grips of an injury crisis and there will be plenty of attention on Wayne Rooney ahead of Wednesday's match.
The England striker missed the Blackburn game and has reportedly been fined, along with Jonny Evans and Darron Gibson, after an ill-timed night out following the 5-0 victory over Wigan. Ferguson has acknowledged that the manner of United's defeats this season have been particularly painful.
After the 6-1 home loss to neighbours Manchester City in October, they were knocked out of the League Cup by Championship team Crystal Palace and also slipped out of the UEFA Champions League with a shock defeat in Basel.
Ferguson described the 3-2 home defeat to Blackburn, which came on his 70th birthday, as "a disaster." But as he looks for his United team to bounce back once again, at least he can console himself with their impressive recent record at St James' Park. United have not lost there since a 4-3 defeat in 2001 but they will be keen to make up for their 1-1 home draw with Newcastle in November.
Cavalry not imminent
Despite his team's ongoing injury concerns, Ferguson does not expect to dip into the transfer market this month. The United manager has consistently ignored the winter window in recent years and has not made any major additions since snapping up Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra in 2006.
"The reason there may not be many big signings in January is because the players clubs want are not available," Ferguson said. "To be honest with you, who would want to sell their best player in January?
"I don't see it happening. There are cases of players whose contracts are running out in the summer but they won't get the same money anyway. It'll be well reduced."
Ferguson has already allowed young Italian striker Federico Macheda to join QPR on loan for the rest of the season. But he insists he will bide his time before deciding on whether to allow any more youngsters to leave Old Trafford on a temporary basis.
"We don't need to do anything until the end of January. We can take our time with that one. We've got, say, three weeks before we can make up our mind on that issue," he said.
"I'd like to get one or two on loan, particularly the young strikers but, at the moment, we don't need to do anything and don't need to make a decision."
Evans, Rio Ferdinand, Chris Smalling, Ashley Young, Tom Cleverley and Michael Owen all look set to miss out once again, while Darren Fletcher and Vidic are long-term absentees. Gabriel Obertan, who left Old Trafford for Newcastle in the summer, is likely to miss out against his former team after sustaining a foot injury in the 3-1 defeat at Liverpool.
Newcastle have raised plenty of eyebrows with their impressive start to the campaign - though their recent form has dipped - but their Dutch goalkeeper Tim Krul sees no reason why Alan Pardew's team can not maintain their good showings. "This year I want to stay in the team at Newcastle and double the points that we have now and if I can go to the European Championships in the summer, that would be amazing," he said.
"2011 was a breakthrough year for me. I made my debut for my country, I have been playing for Newcastle week in, week out as number one this season and it has been an incredible change for me."