Fergie seeks home comfort


MANCHESTER UNITED manager Sir Alex Ferguson hopes home advantage will have a decisive say in the outcome of his side’s delicately poised last 16 Champions League tie against Marseille.

The French champions managed to avoid the concession of an away goal but failed to force United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar into serious action.

By the same token, however, Marseille stopper Steve Mandanda enjoyed a relatively comfortable evening as United’s much vaunted front three of Wayne Rooney, Dimitar Berbatov and Nani failed to fire.

“Marseille made sure they did not lose,” Ferguson reflected. “It was a poor game for the spectators. Nothing happened.

“On our ground we will be much better. Scoring away from home is always important and we didn’t do that tonight.

“You always worry at this stage of the season because there are no bad teams left in the competition. But we will have two or three players back and whilst we won't be taking anything for granted, this result is fine.”

Darren Fletcher had United’s best opportunity, a first-half snap shot from the edge of the area that Mandanda managed to keep out after originally being wrong-footed.

Ferguson reserved the majority of his praise for central defensive partners Nemanja Vidic and Chris Smalling, who once more produced a sure-footed performance in Rio Ferdinand’s absence.

Wayne Rooney also earned plaudits from his manager after an industrious shift on the left wing.

“He did what we wanted him to do,” said Ferguson. “The way we normally set up, with Nani or Ryan Giggs on the left, gives us more natural width.

“But Wayne worked hard, as he always does. He has great spirit but he was better when we played him through the middle in a 4-4-2 at the end.”

Marseille coach Didier Deschamps added: “We know the away game at Old Trafford is going to be complicated for us but hope is still alive. I think for the first game it is very important, not to concede a goal.”