Owen, who impressed as a second-half substitute in United's 1-0 Champions League victor against Besiktas in Istanbul on Tuesday, has been told by manager Sir Alex Ferguson that he must wait patiently for the chance to play regular first-team football following his free transfer arrival from Newcastle in July.
Ferguson is keen to forge a partnership between Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov, leaving Owen as the odd-man out at Old Trafford.
The 29-year-old has scored just one competitive goal so far for United, a record which is placed in perspective with Owen having started just one game this season. But despite his slow start to life at United, Serbian defender Vidic insists that his close-hand experience of Owen in training has convinced him that the former Liverpool forward is approaching his best form.
Vidic said: "As a defender, I can say with some certainty that it is really tough to mark Michael Owen. He's dangerous from all positions, so you always need to be focused and on your toes.
"I'm sure our fans will soon realise that as well and see the best of him. I am pleased to be on his team.
"Michael has proven his quality through the years so I don't see any reason why he shouldn't be successful. He can help us a lot, so we are all very happy to have him in our team. He is an important signing for the club.
"Manchester United has always had fantastic forwards and certainly we have such a situation in the current team as well. No matter who plays, I'm sure we will be lethal in front of goal."
Ecuadorean winger Antonio Valencia, a £17m summer signing from Wigan, earned praise from Ferguson following his Champions League debut for United in Istanbul.
And Vidic is backing Valencia to be a success in his own right, despite the pressure of having to fill the right-side role vacated by Cristiano Ronaldo.
Vidic said: "Players like Valencia and Owen will make our team better this season. They are very good players who will help us improve. No one at Old Trafford expects Luis to take on Ronaldo's role in the team but he has many qualities of his own.
"I believe he will become an important member of our team over the coming season."
Although the player was technically a free agent, he was also under the age of 23, meaning that his previous club are entitled to compensation under the Bosman ruling.
Canadian defender David Edgar, another summer signing for the Clarets, was in a similar situation, but the Lancashire club have agreed a deal for him with Newcastle United. However, their valuation of Eckersley differs considerably from that of United, who reportedly feel the player is worth £2 million.
Burnley feel that a more realistic valuation is £250,000, and it looks now as though the case will have to be resolved by a tribunal.
"There’s a reasonable chance it will go to a tribunal," Burnley chief executive Paul Fletcher told The Lancashire Telegraph.
"We’re not a million miles apart on a fee, but it is a sizeable distance. It’s all down to people’s opinions. Right the way through, everything we do at the football club we back our manager.
"He sees him as one figure, and Manchester United see him as another, and we’ve valued him as a lot less than they have. We just hope that, if it does go to a tribunal, that we get a fair judgement."
Eckersley was offered a new deal by United in the summer, but opted to move across Lancashire to Turf Moor, where he inked a four-year contract. He made his Clarets debut in the League Cup against Hartlepool last month, but the night ended disappointingly for the 20-year-old, who was sent off in a 2-1 win.
Manchester United ready to pounce as Lazio stall in contract talks with Uruguay keeper Fernando Muslera
Lazio have been told to improve promising goalkeeper Fernando Muslera's contract or risk losing him to Manchester United.
Reports in Italy claim the Uruguay international is on Sir Alex Ferguson's short list in the hunt for Edwin van der Sar's replacement.
United have been also linked with CSKA Moscow's Igor Akinfeev, West Ham United's Robert Green, Schalke's Manuel Neuer and Bayer Leverkusen's Rene Adler as Holland veteran Van der Sar approaches the twilight of his Old Trafford career.
Handed an opportunity: Fernando Muslera has established himself as Lazio's first choice goalkeeper this season
Muslera, 23, has established himself as the first choice at Lazio this season and he is set to be rewarded with a new deal.
He is reportedly paid just £220,000 a year - less than £5,000 a week - and there are negotiations not only increase his pay but also insert a hefty buy-out clause in his contract.
The expected start from the English teams in the Champions League last night, but Manchester United looked far more like potential winners than Chelsea.
Carlo Ancelotti's side may have won all six competitive games under the Italian yet they stuttered and fluffed their lines at Stamford Bridge and were decidedly fortunate to keep up that record against a Porto side who were surprisingly impressive.
Chelsea were missing Didier Drogba but their passing was poor and their customary defensive tightness noticeable only by its absence, while if they continue to squander as many chances as they have done so far this season, it will eventually come back to bite them on the backside.
United, by contrast, were always in control in Istanbul, even if Wayne Rooney wasn't. Rooney's boot-throwing was more impatience and frustration than anything else and Fergie will not be concerned in the slightest.
One man who still bears a grudge - and carried more than a few worries with him to Belgium - is Arsene Wenger, whose verbal attack on Mark Hughes and Emmanuel Adabayor was pre-prepared and considered.
There is no doubt that Wenger was voicing the feelings of his dressing room, let alone the Arsenal fans, although what happens next has already been pre-determined by the FA, with an immediate three-match ban for the stamp on Robin Van Persie and the possibility of an extra game for the 100 yard dash to celebrate in front of the travelling supporters.
But Wenger has more pressing concerns at Stanard Liege tonight. Italian youngster Vito Mannone will fill in for the ill Manuel Almunia in goal, while Van Persie, Andriy Arshavin, Theo Walcott, Denilson, Samir Nasri and Johan Djourou are also all missing.
Arsenal should have enough in any event - how grateful Wenger must be that UEFA's U-turn cleared Eduardo to play - but after those back to back defeats in the Premier League the Gunners chief cannot afford to see his side having to play catch-up in Europe as well.
In May 2005 Liverpool lifted the European Cup here, nine months after Owen had left them to join Real Madrid to challenge for the Champions League.
Four years on and Owen finds himself in Istanbul on Champions League duty with Manchester United with the reality beginning to dawn that he might just have to face up to the prospect of missing the boat again when Fabio Capello selects his England squad for the World Cup next summer.
Owen's surprise free transfer to Old Trafford two months ago has yet to result in the 29 year-old rediscovering the form he displayed in his prime.
So far, he has started just one competitive fixture and delivered one meaningful goal, a clinical finish after being introduced as a substitute in the 5-0 victory at Wigan last month. It has not been enough to catch the England manager's attention.
With United facing Besiktas in their Champions League Group B opener this evening, a game sandwiched between testing Premier League encounters with Tottenham and Manchester City, it would appear the perfect fixture for Sir Alex Ferguson to hand Owen some much-needed time on the pitch. But the United manager admits that Owen is unlikely to start tonight having made it clear to the forward that moulding a partnership of Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov is his priority.
Ferguson said: "Michael Owen has not been involved and I have explained that to him. The season has not really started and, because of the international fixtures, we are not really playing Saturday/Wednesday at the moment. So Owen doesn't come in to the equation because we are trying to get a blend of Berbatov and Rooney.
"He will play plenty of games, but just maybe not in the early stage of the season. Will he start tonight? No, I wouldn't think so, but we may change formation a wee bit.
"You have to respect this competition and we can't afford to not qualify. This is the first game, so we have to pick the right team.
"We can't take chances and we won't take chances. We have to go to Germany for the last game [against Wolfsburg], so we have to make sure we are in a good position. We won't be taking any chances."
With Rooney and Berbatov displaying signs of a fruitful partnership, Owen could be forced to push his claims from the bench for greater involvement with club and country.
Rooney's performances this season have emphasised his status as United's No 1 forward, however.
Five goals in five league games tell only half the story of his success so far in filling the void left by the sale of Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid.
The 23 year-old memorably scored a debut hat-trick for United against Turkish club Fenerbahce in September 2004, with Besiktas goalkeeper Rustu Recber on the receiving end that night, and Ferguson insists that Rooney is capable of becoming a prolific goalscorer at Old Trafford.
"Wayne is always wanting to score goals and you get this with players who are developing," Ferguson said. "He just needs consistency. He goes in bunches of sixes and sevens, goes quiet for a few weeks and then comes back again.
"We just need that consistency from him. Ruud van Nistelrooy was like that. Andy Cole, also.
"Van Nistelrooy once went nine games in a row and scored one goal – just one goal – in each. If we can get that kind of consistency from Wayne, it will make a difference to him and us.
"We need players to get us over 20 goals and Wayne has started the campaign well. He has five league goals and that's terrific.
"Berbatov will score. He will get us 15-20, I am sure of that. Owen will also get us 15-20."
Paul Scholes is set to play tonight but United's hopes of having him available for the Manchester derby on Sunday have been dashed after they were informed they could not appeal against the midfielder's one-match ban as a result of his dismissal for two yellow cards at Spurs.
Korean midfielder Ji-sung Park has agreed a three-year contract extension at Old Trafford until June 2012.
World Player of the Year,Cristiano Ronaldo started where he left off last season, grabbing a brace to lead the Los Galaticos to a comprehensive triumph in Zurich.
The trio of Raul, Gonzalo Higuain and Guti were also on target for the Spanish giants who also had the duo of Kaka and Xabi Alonso on parade.
At Stamford Bridge, Nicolas Anelka delivered in the absence of top striker, Didier Drogba to lead Chelsea to a lone goal victory over Porto as the English side extended their unbeaten run at home in Europe to 19 games.
Anelka fired in at second attempt in the second half to ensure a victorious start in the competition for new manager, Carlo Ancelotti.
Porto's Fernando was sent off on the dot of 90 minutes after he lunged into Ashley Cole for a second bookable offence.
Manchester United defeated Besiktas to earn their own three points, thanks to a 77th minute strike from Paul Scholes who was sent off in his team's last Premier League game against Tottenham Hotspurs last weekend at White Hart Lane.
Brazilian striker Grafite netted a hat-trick to lead Wolfsburg to a 3-1 victory at the Volkswagen Arena on their debut in the UEFA Champions League.
Nigeria's Obafemi Martins was handed a start by the German Bundesliga side, marking his return to the European competition with a lively performance before he was replaced by Karim Ziani on 65 minutes.
In France, AC Milan defeated Olympique Marseille 2-1 with ever-reliable striker, Filipo Inzaghi grabbing their two goals.
Gabriel Henze netted for the Ligue 1 who also had Nigeria's Taye Taiwo in 90 minutes action.
The other results saw Juventus endure a 1-1 draw with Bordeaux in Turin while Atletico Madrid were also held to a goalless draw by Cypriot side, APOEL Nicosia in Spain.
Bayern Munich also defeated Maccabi Haifa 3-0 away in Israel with Thomas Muller netting a brace.
A late header from Paul Scholes handed Manchester United a 1-0 win over Besiktas in Istanbul to give them a winning start in the Champions League.
The first hour of the match was an evenly matched affair as the well organised hosts stifled United with the full backing of their vociferous home support.
But the Red Devils made substitutions and a tactical change as the game began to open up in the closing stages and Scholes pounced with a header on 77 minutes after Hakan Arikan had parried Nani’s shot – a perfect response after his sending off against Tottenham Hotspur last weekend.
As a result Wolfsburg and United lead the way in Group B after the first match-day, with CSKA Moscow and the Turkish champions getting off to losing starts.
Besiktas' key men, striker Nihat Kahveci and experienced goalkeeper Rustu Recber were only fit enough for the substitutes' bench.
As expected, Manchester United made some changes; five in total. Gary Neville, Jonny Evans, Antonio Valencia, Nani and Michael Carrick were the players to come in as Wayne Rooney started as a lone striker.
The first half got off to a slow start as the visitors had more of the possession but struggled to break Besiktas down.
Carrick came close with a long-range effort in 12th minute, but his shot was well held by stand-in stopper Arikan, who also had to be alert to tip away a wayward header from one of his own defenders after Nani’s near post corner two minutes later.
Despite having less of the ball than their more illustrious opponents, it was the home side who came closest to scoring in the first half. On 26 minutes, Serdar Ozkan turned well on the edge of United’s area and unleashed a powerful shot that deflected up off Evans and was inches away from looping over Ben Foster and into the United net, falling just over crossbar.
Ozkan had another effort shortly before the break, but was more wayward than in his first attempt and failed to work Foster.
Immediately after the break United caused panic in the Besiktas box for the first time with an excellent cross from Nani that prompted a goalmouth scramble. Eventually Matteo Ferrari and Arikan were able to end the danger after Carrick had been unable to get a clean shot away.
Ten minutes later, Rodrigo Tabata shot straight at Foster after Nemanja Vidic made a poor clearance as the first hour of proceedings failed to produce a clear-cut opportunity for either side.
It was a frustrating night for Wayne Rooney in Istanbul.
As a result, Sir Alex Ferguson changed things up for United, bringing on Dimitar Berbatov and Michael Owen for Carrick and Rooney, switching United to a more familiar 4-4-2 for the last 25 minutes. Rooney did not look impressed when is number came up on the touchline.
After 70 minutes the lively Valencia flashed a shot across the face of goal and Owen was harshly adjudged offside before Mert Nobre headed wide at the other end.
A breakthrough finally came inside the last 15 minutes and it arrived for the visitors. United worked the play out to the left, finding Nani, who shifted onto his left foot and forced Arikan to parry his shot into the air. Unfortunately for the keeper the ball fell straight into the path of the onrushing Scholes and the Englishman composed himself to guide a header into the far corner.
Evra blocked Filip Holosko’s shot, while Nobre almost got on end of substitute Nihat’s threatening cross as the hosts looked for a late equaliser, but it was United who came closest to scoring the game’s second goal when Owen shot narrowly wide after being slipped through by Berbatov.
LONDON — Cristiano Ronaldo scored twice on his Champions League debut for Real Madrid to lead his new team to a 5-2 win at FC Zurich, while the Manchester United side he left after last season's final won its opening match 1-0 at Besiktas.
World player of the year Ronaldo scored a pair of free kicks for the record nine-time European champion, although the second was punched into the net by Johnny Leoni as the goalkeeper tried to clear it.
Former European champions AC Milan and Bayern Munich also won their first group matches, while Chelsea beat visiting FC Porto 1-0 and Juventus stuttered to a 1-1 draw with Bordeaux.
Milan won 2-1 at Marseille, Bayern Munich won 3-0 at Maccabi Haifa and Atletico Madrid was held to a 0-0 draw by debut-making Cypriot side APOEL Nicosia.
Without a European title since 2003, Madrid was 3-0 ahead at halftime in Switzerland and sealed its win with another two goals in the closing moments.
Ronaldo opened the scoring in the 27th minute with a trademark free kick past Leoni, and Raul Gonzalez made it 2-0 seven minutes later with a close-range tap in.
Gonzalo Higuain scored from a pass by Raul in first-half injury time to seemingly put the match beyond Zurich, but the debut-making side scored twice in a minute.
Xavier Margairaz hit a 64th-minute penalty following a foul on Alexandre Alphonse by goalkeeper Iker Casillas and Silvan Aegerter headed in to make it 3-2, but Ronaldo's second kick and a goal by Jose Maria (Guti) Gutierrez made the game safe.
Filipo Inzaghi, who is vying with Raul for the title of the Champions League all-time leading scorer, hit another two goals to give Milan victory at Marseille.
Inzaghi opened the scoring in the 28th minute when he beat Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda from close range and, although Marseille equalized just after the interval through a header from Argentina defender Gabriel Heinze, Inzaghi scored again from a cross by Clarence Seedorf.
The win put seven-time winner Milan level with Madrid on three points in Group C.
Manchester United could have used some of Ronaldo's scoring prowess in Istanbul as it created few openings in its first tournament match since losing 2-0 to Barcelona in Rome in May.
Midfielder Paul Scholes, who was sent off in the Premier League on Saturday, headed the ball into the net from about 12 yards with 13 minutes remaining after goalkeeper Hakan Arikan pushed out a shot from Nani.
It was a slow start to the European season for United, which lost last season's final 2-0 to Barcelona.
"Being the first game, you always want to win that, but I was quite comfortable with the performance," United manager Sir Alex Ferguson insisted. "I thought they did quite well most of the time, kept good possession."
Still, United shares the Group B lead with its next opponent after Wolfsburg beat CSKA Moscow 3-1 with a hat trick by Brazilian striker Grafite.
"It was a perfect evening - first Champions League game and first victory," Wolfsburg striker Edin Dzeko said.
Wolfsburg plays at Manchester United on Sept. 30 in the next round of group matches.
Bayern took the early lead in Group A after two goals by Thomas Muller helped it to victory in Israel, with Bordeaux and Juventus next after their 1-1 draw in Turin.
Neither side was able to impose itself in rainy conditions but Vincenzo Iaquinta gave Juventus the lead in the 63rd when he linked up with captain Fabio Cannavaro.
Jaroslav Plasil equalized for Bordeaux in the 75th, scoring at the far post after Fernando had flicked on Yoann Gourcuff's free kick.
Nicolas Anelka scored the only goal in Group D when he gave Chelsea a 1-0 win over Porto.
The remaining opening eight matches are played Wednesday, with Inter Milan against Barcelona, Liverpool hosting Debrecen and Arsenal playing Standard Liege.
Arikan - 6 - Shaky with the ball at his feet but dealt with everything in the air. Not to blame for the goal.
Kas - 6 - Handled Nani well, kept his eye on the ball and the Portuguese in front of him.
Sivok - 6 - Clattered Rooney at the start for a booking. Little to do at the back, but provided a physical presence when he came up for corners.
Ferrari - 6 - Quieter evening than he would have expected. Wasn't pushed during the game and kept Rooney quiet.
Uzulmez - 5 - Failed to clamp down on Valencia and let the Ecuadorian through too many times for comfort. Failed to deal with his pace and on another day he would have paid a dearer price.
Dag - 6 - Sat in front of the defence and rarely moved from that position. Alongside Ernst, was solid but not spectacular.
Ernst - 6 - Much more defending than attacking for the German dynamo. Did nothing wrong, but should have asserted himself on proceedings to a greater degree.
Rodrigo Tabata - 6 - The highlight of an average home debut was when he didn't take advantage of Vidic's poor clearance which resulted in a chance.
Ozkan - 6 - Tried, but lacked the ability to dent the United rearguard. Was slightly unlucky to be hooked for Yusuf.
Holosko - 7 - Floated between midfield and attack, and caused a few problems for the United defence. Looked comfortable amongst this company.
Nobre - 6 - Forced to feed off scraps and took his frustration out on Evans for a booking.
Nihat - n/a
Tello - n/a
Yusuf Simsek - 6 - Decent introduction, but failed to offer a different threat to what had been on before.
Foster - 6 - Well shielded by his defence, had one nervy moment when Ozkan's shot looped off Evans.
Neville - 6 - One of the easiest games of a long career, the slower pace of European football suits the old warhorse.
J. Evans - 6 - Good experience for the young defender, playing in such a electrifying cauldron. Handled the hostile environment well and is a solid replacement for Rio Ferdinand.
Vidic - 5 - Shaky at times, the Serb didn't seem at the races and wasn't his useful bombastic self.
Evra - 6 - Bombed up and down his flank in trademark fashion to little effect.
Carrick - 6 - Visibly lacking confidence, he did himself few favours for the future with a quiet performance which ended just past the hour mark.
Scholes - 7 - Still oozes class from deep. He wound back the years with a well timed run into the box for the goal.
Anderson - 7 - Dominated central midfield and sprayed several long distance passes around the pitch. He's regaining his spot at the front of the queue when Sir Alex Ferguson picks his starting side.
Valencia - 7 - Is growing into the United shirt. Ran his opposing full-back ragged, constantly charging past him. Only down side was the lack of a regular final ball.
Nani - 7 - Bag of tricks as per usual. Constantly pecked away at his opposite number and his shot set up Scholes for the goal.
Rooney - 6 - Toiled and tussled up top, but lacked the support and service to steal the headlines once again.
Owen - 6 - A willing runner but four and a half years out of the Champions League picture told as he wasn't sharp enough. Unlucky to be flagged for offside.
Berbatov - 6 - A welcome introduction to the fray. The extra body was evident as more numbers in the box equalled a goal.
Park - n/a
Jermain Defoe put Spurs ahead inside a minute, but the Reds hit back through Ryan Giggs and Anderson. Scholes was dismissed for two bookings - the second of which appeared harsh - before Wayne Rooney crowned a magnificent display with a superb late clincher.
Sir Alex Ferguson has admitted he would relish another chance to face Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League final this season.
The Manchester United boss witnessed his side succumb 2-0 to the Catalans in last season's showpiece in Rome and Ferguson revealed that some harsh lessons were learnt that night.
The Scot also confirmed that the manner of the defeat affected him so much he took DVDs of the game with him on holiday to analyse.
However Ferguson insists his squad is now better for the experience and conceded that he would love the chance to gain some revenge over Pep Guardiola's men.
"I would love the chance to redress the situation with Barcelona. Absolutely. I would love another final with them," he told the Daily Star.
"You look at that defeat and you can look at reasons and excuses. But it's always better to look at the reasons.
"We're now quite clear about where it went wrong and that's always helpful.
"There were valid reasons and so we were able to move on. I wouldn't go into the reasons for the defeat but I did take the DVDs with me on holiday and watched the game again.
"We went through everything too, with my backroom staff. The whole build-up. Everything. Was it the right hotel, was the training right? So we are quite clear about where we are now with that defeat.
Defeat will be put right
"I quite like these games. It's not a problem. What went wrong against Barcelona can be put right. Certainly it will all be put right.
"I didn't kick myself over the summer. I have been long enough in the game to know that you can't win them all.
"Sometimes you just have to accept that bad days come along and you move on from there. It was disappointing though.
"You don't like losing finals of European games. It was the first one I have lost so it was really disappointing for everyone."
The Red Devils begin their European quest with a trip to Besiktas on Tuesday and Ferguson is expecting a lively atmosphere.
"There's a lot to be admired in that, their fanaticism," he added. "You expect that. The stadium is full at 12 o'clock on the day. It's amazing how they make that noise but you just have to deal with it.
"The Champions League is the priority. It's a great tournament, with all the best players and teams.
"So there's always the two challenges for us - the Premier League and the European Cup.
Sir Alex Ferguson’s men will have little time to enjoy the gritty comeback win against Tottenham Hotspur, before embarking on the long trip to Turkey for the Tuesday night match.
United have had prior experience in dealing with the volatile fans of Istanbul, having travelled there previously for their European meetings with Galatasaray and Fenerbahce.
Rustu, however, said that the intimidating atmosphere at the Inonu Stadium far surpassed that generated at Besiktas' neighbouring venues.
“The level of hostility at the Inonu is unique. United have been to Galatasaray and Fenerbahce, but the Besiktas fans are in a league of their own,” Rustu said, according to The Daily Mirror.
“They are the noisiest, the most passionate, and they stay with the team for 90 minutes.
“The noise is incredible. It will be a new experience even for those United players who think they have seen everything. Our fans can really make it hell.”
The 119-times capped goalkeeper is perhaps best remembered internationally for his exploits at the 2002 World Cup, where he was one of the stars of the Turkey team that unexpectedly reached the semi-finals, losing to eventual champions Brazil.
Now nearing the end of his career at 36 years of age, Rustu says his biggest regret was not joining United after Ferguson showed interest following the tournament in Korea and Japan.
Rustu said: “There was an opportunity to go to England. My agent spoke to Sir Alex and he wanted me as his goalkeeper.
“In the end I allowed my heart to rule my head and I joined Barcelona. But my experience there was a bitter one and looking back I should have gone to England.”
The charismatic Turk will be hoping that it will be a case of 'if you can’t join them, beat them' come Tuesday night.
It was his first ever goal for United after a whopping 78 competitive appearances. Not that you could tell, as the sweetly struck left-foot shot was drilled low past Spurs goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini with spades of composure.
Among the team-mates congratulating the Brazilian on breaking his duck was Rio Ferdinand, who said that there were signs that the goal was on the cards.
"I think the lads have seen it coming," Rio told United’s official website.
"The international break gave him plenty of time to train and we've seen glimpses of what he can do. He scored a good goal for the reserves and I think he's got the knack now of scoring.
"Hopefully he can go on a good run now and score more because if he does that he'll be a top-class player."
The 21-year-old had previously only scored in competitive matches for United in penalty shootouts. He put one away in emphatic style against Chelsea in the Champions League final in 2008, and scored the final penalty that secured the League Cup against Spurs last season.
For a man that had waited so long to finally score, his celebration was remarkably calm and restrained. The Brazilian slid onto the ground, firing his arms in a machine gun spraying motion while seated on the pitch.
The celebration wasn’t to everyone’s liking, according to team-mate Ryan Giggs, who curled home an emphatic free kickin the first half to cancel out Jermain Defoe’s acrobatic opener.
"He's had a bit of stick about his celebration," Giggs said.
"But we're all pleased. His performances have been really good since he's come to the club. He's a top player. He knows he needs to add goals to his game and hopefully he'll score a lot more."
Sir Alex Ferguson also praised the performance of Anderson and insisted that although he had been on the fringes of the squad in recent times, the Brazilian had an important part to play this season, particularly under the Scot’s midfield rotation system.
"I hope that drives him on to get more [goals] because he's capable of that,” Ferguson said.
“He hasn't played a lot of games but he's part of a squad, we have so many midfield players and we have to rotate it at various times in the season and Anderson will play his part. He had a marvellous performance for us today."
Sir Alex Ferguson has backed Manchester United to defy their critics and secure a fourth consecutive English Premier League title this season.
United were widely seen as being severely weakened by the departures of Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez this summer and the doubts mushroomed after an unconvincing start to the season, which included a defeat at newly-promoted Burnley.
But Ferguson's side are now finding an ominous rhythm and, two weeks after crushing Wigan 5-0 at the DW Stadium, they chalked up another impressive victory on Saturday, ending Tottenham's unbeaten start to the new campaign with a 3-1 victory.
"It's early in the season and too early to say, but I think we will be in the shake-up," Ferguson said.
"We said before the season that we have the players here, we're improving all the time.
"Look at Darren Fletcher now and the way he is playing. You've got the experience of Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville. There is no reason why we can't win the league with these players. I've got confidence in them but obviously it's going to be tight."
Ferguson admitted that United's display was their best of the new season, and all the more impressive as it was gained in adversity.
Spurs had forged ahead after just 52 seconds when Jermain Defoe fired a spectacular overhead kick into the bottom corner, but United's response was emphatic.
Giggs curled in a superb free-kick in the 24th minute and then Anderson slammed the visitors ahead just before half-time.
Hope flared again for the hosts mid-way through the second half when Scholes was dismissed for two bookable offences but it was snuffed out when Wayne Rooney tucked in a late third.
Ferguson was thrilled with the performance, although the dismissal of Scholes - after a collision with Tom Huddlestone - left a sour taste.
"It was a terrible sending off and the referee got it wrong," he said.
"He lifted his leg above the other player and, in fact, the Tottenham player has done him.
"He (Huddlestone) should have been punished. It was a bad sending-off and, having looked at the tape, I think he has been sent off because his name is Paul Scholes.
"Even so, it was probably the best we have seen of us this season, given the fact that we were a goal down after one minute. We had to gather our game and show composure.
"Our football in the first half was fantastic - our one-touch play carved them open time and time again. It was a surprise that we had to wait for a free-kick to score. It was a very good performance."
Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp was philosophical in defeat and maintained his side are still exceeding expectations.
"I have never got carried away. We've still had a great start, with 12 points from five games," he said.
"I fancied us to get something today. We had a fantastic start and we were seeing three points again.
"But we knew they would come back - that's why they win titles and European titles. They have outstanding players."
LONDON — Manchester United and Chelsea rallied to victories Saturday, while Manchester City's expensively revamped team passed its first big Premier League test against Arsenal.
Brazil midfielder Anderson ended his two-year wait for a United goal as the defending champions won 3-1 at Tottenham despite Paul Scholes being sent off.
Chelsea won 2-1 at Stoke on Florent Malouda's stoppage time goal. Emmanuel Adebayor scored against former club Arsenal in a 4-2 win that gave Man City its fourth straight triumph.
After opening the season with five wins, Chelsea has a three-point lead over United, City and Spurs — all separated by goal difference. Liverpool is three points behind those three after routing Burnley 4-0 on a hat trick by Yossi Benayoun.
"To be top of the league is very important," Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti said. "We have good confidence in our play and a very good atmosphere in the dressing room."
United was trailing inside a minute after Jermain Defoe's acrobatic overhead kick. But Ryan Giggs curled in a free kick to tie it for the visitors and Anderson scored before halftime.
Despite the Red Devils playing more than 30 minutes with 10 men after Scholes was sent off, Wayne Rooney added a third goal in the 78th minute.
MADRID (AP) — Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Lionel Messi gave Barcelona a 2-0 Spanish league win at Getafe on while Real Madrid beat Espanyol 3-0 after Cristiano Ronaldo came on as a second-half substitute to score.
Ibrahimovic toe-poked Seydou Keita's deflected pass under goalkeeper Oscar Ustari and off the inside of the far post to open the scoring in the 66th minute. The Sweden striker controlled the ball with his chest and crossed to a streaking Messi for a header in the 79th minute for the Spanish champions.
Ronaldo, who left Manchester United in June in a record transfer of $131 million, watched from the bench as Esteban Granero put Madrid ahead in the 40th after being set up by Kaka. The Brazil playmaker then fed Jose Maria "Guti" Gutierrez in the 77th for the second goal before the Portugal winger scored his second of the season in the 90th.
Barcelona and Real Madrid both have a maximum six points while Atletico Madrid remains without a win after drawing 1-1 against Racing Santander.
PARIS (AP) — Michel Bastos scored a second-half header to give Lyon a 1-0 victory over Lorient and first place in the French league. The Brazilian midfielder capitalized on a cross from Sidney Govou to give Lyon 13 points from five matches.
Marseille beat Le Mans 2-1 after dropping points in its last two games. Brazilian forward Brandao scored the winning goal by heading in a free kick from Benoit Cheyrou in the 70th minute.
Mamadou Niang delivered a volley in the 14th minute to open the scoring. Modibo Maiga evened the score for Le Mans in the 61st with a bicycle kick after a cross from Anthony Le Tallec.
Lucho Gonzalez made his French league debut with Marseille. The Argentine playmaker missed his team's first four matches after injuring his left collarbone.
FRANKFURT (AP) — Bayern Munich routed Borussia Dortmund 5-1 for its second straight victory, while Hamburger SV and Bayer Leverkusen both won to open a four-point lead in the Bundesliga.
Hamburg beat Stuttgart 3-1 and Leverkusen won 3-2 at defending champion Wolfsburg, which dropped its third straight.
Thomas Mueller came off the bench to score two goals for Bayern one day before his 20th birthday. Mario Gomez, Franck Ribery and Bastian Schweinsteiger added the others as Bayern rallied after conceding an early goal.
Simon Rolfes scored two goals for Leverkusen in Wolfsburg, with both teams finishing with 10 men.
After five rounds, Hamburg and Leverkusen top the standings with 13 points, with Hamburg ahead on goal difference. Eintracht Frankfurt won 2-0 at promoted Freiburg to remain unbeaten and take third place at nine points, one more than Bayern.
GLASGOW, Scotland (AP) — Allan McGregor saved a late penalty kick to help Rangers maintain an unbeaten start to their Scottish title defense with a 0-0 draw at Motherwell.
Jim O'Brien's kick was saved by McGregor in the 87th minute after Madjid Bougherra had conceded the penalty by fouling Lukas Jutkiewicz. The Rangers defender picked up two yellow cards in quick succession: one for the foul and then for complaining about the decision.
Rangers kept the league lead, however, after Celtic managed only a 1-1 draw at home against Dundee United.
Dundee United went ahead with a goal from David Goodwillie in the sixth minute, but Scott McDonald tied it in the 17th with a short header off Danny Fox's cross.
ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Defending champion Olympiakos was held to a 0-0 draw against newcomer Kavala in its home opener.
Olympiakos has four points after two games, three behind league leader Aris, which beat Giannena 1-0. Panathinaikos is second with six points and plays at Panthrakikos on Sunday.
Kavala, promoted to the top league after 28 years in lower divisions, also has four points from three games.
Larissa drew 2-2 at home with Atromitos.
Premier League champions Manchester United overcame the second-half dismissal of Paul Scholes to end Tottenham Hotspur's 100% start to the season with a 3-1 win at White Hart Lane.
It was meant to be the game when Spurs proved their top-four credentials after four straight wins but instead it was United who showed their steel, if anyone thought they would not challenge for titles without Cristiano Ronaldo.
Manchester City romped to a 4-2 victory over Arsenal at Eastlands as the big-spending Premier League club underlined their title ambitions with an impressive performance.
Emmanuel Adebayor scored against Arsenal
City striker Emmanuel Adebayor, a £25m summer signing from the Gunners, scored the decisive third goal against his former employers on the same day he attacked the London club's supporters for booing him during his time at the Emirates Stadium.
The emotional striker ran the length of the pitch to celebrate his goal in front of the visiting fans as City made it four wins out of four. He was booked for the provocative celebration and later apologised for getting carried away.
"I shouldn't have done what I did but the emotion took over me and I'm sorry for what I've done," he said. "Scoring today made me feel freedom but I'm sorry, it was a big mistake and these things won't happen anymore."
Chelsea maintained their 100% record with their fifth win of the season but needed a last-minute Florent Malouda goal for a 2-1 victory at Stoke City. It was tough luck on the Potters, who had gone ahead through Abdoulaye Faye only for Didier Drogba to equalise in first-half stoppage time.
Yossi Benayoun scored a hat-trick as Liverpool ended their sticky run - suffering two defeats already this season - by thrashing Burnley 4-0 at Anfield.
The Israel international scored his first goal after 27 minutes from the edge of the area, and then saw his shot blocked for Dirk Kuyt to score the second before the break. Steven Gerrard set up Benayoun to tap home the third before substitute Andriy Voronin played him in for his third and Liverpool's fourth near the end.
Portsmouth and Bolton Wanderers, without a point between them at the start of play, produced a thriller at Fratton Park with Bolton snatching the points in the last few minutes when Gary Cahill gave them a 3-2 victory.
Jason Roberts led Blackburn Rovers to their first Premier League win of the season with a performance which banished the goalscoring woes at Ewood Park with a 3-1 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Darren Bent continued his resurgence as he claimed a double to help Sunderland thump Hull City 4-1, while Wigan Athletic striker Hugo Rodallega scored his second goal of the season as the Latics edged West Ham United 1-0 to ease some of the pressure on manager Roberto Martinez.
More than two years after Anderson joined United from FC Porto, the 21-year-old Brazil midfielder's powerful 41st-minute strike consigned Spurs to their first loss of the season.
"As a young player he was always capable of scoring goals," manager Alex Ferguson. "Hopefully that's the encouragement that will see him do more of that. He had a marvelous performance for us today."
Jermain Defoe's early acrobatic overhead kick had stunned the visitors, but Ryan Giggs leveled in the 25th when he curled in a free kick.
Despite the Red Devils playing more than 30 minutes with 10 men after Paul Scholes was sent off, Wayne Rooney was able to add a third in the 78th from an energetic counterattack.
"Rooney works his socks off, holds the ball up, dribbles and beats people, scores goals, heads it, tackles you twice as hard as anyone else and doesn't stop running around," Spurs manager Harry Redknapp said. "He's like a little kid in the playground."
The victory moved Ferguson's side up to second in the standings, above Manchester City and Spurs on goal difference. Chelsea has a three-point lead after opening the season with five wins.
Spurs had been enjoying their best start to a season since last winning the title in 1960-61 and their vibrancy took just 52 seconds to unpick United.
Benoit Assou-Ekotto scooped the ball over to the far post and Nemanja Vidic headed it into the center while trying to outmuscle Peter Crouch.
The ball dropped for Defoe and the England striker beat goalkeeper Ben Foster with a spectacular overhead kick.
Former Spurs striker Dimitar Berbatov was denied an equalizer when Carlo Cudicini was equal to the Bulgarian's glancing header from Ryan Giggs' inswinging free kick.
But with his next set piece, the 35-year-old Giggs -- who was captain for the day on his 700th start -- curled the ball into the top corner to maintain his record as the only player to score every season since the Premier League's inception in 1992-93.
"We didn't have a look in with free kicks when Cristiano was here," Giggs said, referring to Cristiano Ronaldo's offseason transfer to Real Madrid.
After such a bright start, Spurs were now feeling the power of United. A shot from Berbatov was pushed over by Cudicini before United came close in quick succession in the 30th.
First Rooney was denied by Cudicini's block, then Berbatov's effort on the rebound was cleared off the line by Sebastien Bassong and the Bulgaria striker struck over when he pounced again.
Tottenham's main threat came in the air from the lanky Crouch, who headed just wide when he rose above Rio Ferdinand to meet a corner.
The England forward was making his first league start since an offseason move from Portsmouth, replacing the injured Luka Modric to partner Defoe while Robbie Keane was on the left.
"We missed Modric because he makes us play -- he is a fantastic player and makes us tick," Redknapp said. "It's difficult to get (Keane, Defoe and Crouch) in the team together. It is a problem getting the balance and I'll have to work it out this week."
There was no way back for Tottenham after Anderson's powerful, low strike that slipped through Cudicini's fingers.
After the break, it was Foster's left fingertips that denied Jermaine Jenas as the midfielder made his first appearance of the season following a calf injury. From the resulting corner, Crouch headed against the crossbar.
United was reduced to 10 men in the 59th when Scholes was shown a second yellow card for clattering into Tom Huddlestone. The 34-year-old midfielder, who was sent off twice last season, had been booked at the start of the half for a badly timed challenge on Defoe.
"It was a terrible sending off, I think the referee got it wrong," Ferguson said. "I've looked at the video twice and I don't see any sending off. I think he was sent off because he is Paul Scholes."
Ferguson responded by replacing Berbatov with midfielder Michael Carrick, another former Spurs player.
But a superb solo effort from Rooney on the counterattack sealed the points as the striker collected Darren Fletcher's ball and cut inside Alan Hutton and shot through Cudicini's legs.
Eleven people gathered in a Manchester home in 1839 to start one of the fledgling community's first churches. That event — the founding of the Manchester United Methodist Church — will be celebrated Sunday by its current 154 members and the public during a special 170th anniversary service, festival and pig roast. All events are at the church, 501 Ann Arbor Road.
Activities begin with 9 a.m. Sunday School classes, followed by a 10:30 a.m. worship service featuring music from the "Manchester Brass Band." The Rev. Larry Wik, the church's pastor for the past four years, will arrive from the parsonage in a horse-drawn carriage, much like the original pastor, George Bradley, might have arrived at that first meeting.
Festivities, including a petting zoo, old-fashioned children's games, pony rides and face painting, will begin after the services. The pig roast and pot-luck meal will start at 1 p.m. All events are free, but goodwill donations are welcome, Wik said.
"We want to celebrate each other, our community and the gifts and blessings we've received from the church members who've gone before us," Wik said.
Tours of the former church building at the corner of Main and Washington streets in downtown Manchester also will be conducted. The building, vacated by the church when it moved to its current building in 1971, now houses a doctor's office.
"We're all really excited about this event," said Sandy Smith, a 30-year parishioner. "Some of our former pastors are coming back, and we're putting together lots of pictures. It's going to be really fun."
The event also will give people a glimpse into the future of the church, including a $400,000 building project slated to begin next spring that will increase space and make the church more accessible to elderly and physically challenged members and visitors, Wik said.
The project will add space to the front of the church and accommodate room for a lounge, more classrooms, restroom improvements and an elevator. Approximately $12,000 needs to be raised by the end of the year to allow construction to begin, Wik said.
"We're going to get a lot out of this small project," he said. "It will make our church much more accessible to everyone. We will have plans available and things marked off somehow so people can visualize what it will be like."
The Manchester United Methodist Church is a vibrant congregation of people of all ages, Wik said. Members do caroling at Christmas, conduct bottle drives for Manchester Family Services, donate to the Community Resource Center food pantry and make cookies and shawls for senior citizens and others.
"I like the closeness of the church," said Sandy King, church secretary. "We are a family. People are warm and caring, and they care about each other."
Sunday's celebration will be a primer for the church's 175th anniversary in five years, Wik said. Members are working on gathering as much history as they can to present then and hope to hear and learn from people at Sunday's festivities, he said.
Hargreaves has been sidelined for almost a year with tendinitis in both knees, but Ferguson hopes to have the England midfield player fit in time for the Champions League group B match at home to CSKA Moscow on November 3.
Given that he has insisted that he will not rush the player back for fear of jeopardising his recovery, however, Ferguson’s forecast may be slightly optimistic.
Hargreaves is scheduled to return to Manchester on Thursday week from the United States, where he has been recuperating after operations on both knees.
Having barely kicked a ball since his previous appearance for United on September 21 last year, the prospect of Hargreaves getting up to speed in the space of six weeks seems improbable, but Ferguson is confident about the player’s imminent return.
With England lacking a natural holding midfield player, the expected return of Hargreaves will also be a timely boost to Fabio Capello, the national team manager, before the World Cup finals in South Africa next summer.
Asked about why he included Hargreaves in his Champions League squad at the expense of Zoran Tosic, the Serbia winger, Ferguson said: “It was a dilemma, but we came down on the side of Hargreaves because, having taken medical advice, we think he will be available for the last three Champions League [group] games.
“That will be the time when we want to push him back into action. And he is such a versatile player, a man who can play in so many positions, that he could be a very important player for us at that time of the season.”
In the absence of Hargreaves, United have relied on Darren Fletcher to bring bite to their midfield, with Ferguson launching a staunch defence of the Scotland player before the Barclays Premier League champions’ trip to face an in-form Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane this evening.
Fletcher was the focus of Arsène Wenger’s ire after Arsenal’s 2-1 defeat at Old Trafford a fortnight ago, when the Arsenal manager accused United — and, by inference, Fletcher — of “anti-football” tactics by going out to foul his players deliberately, but Ferguson has dismissed the Frenchman’s claims.
“I think he [Wenger] was a bit agitated right from the start,” the United manager said. “He knew it was a big game for them. It was a bigger game for Arsenal than it was for United because the last two or three seasons had been disappointing for them.
“Fletcher was fantastic. I said right after the game that, for me, he was the star man. Wayne Rooney, who got the man of the match [award], said it should have gone to Fletcher and we all agreed.
“Darren is one of the most honest and fair players in the game. Because he wins the ball and he does it fairly, maybe that has annoyed him [Wenger].”
Spurs may prove as troublesome opposition tonight as Arsenal did for United, with Ferguson claiming that he sees no reason why Harry Redknapp’s team cannot sustain their challenge for a top-four finish this season.
“I think they can [sustain it],” Ferguson said. “First of all, getting a good start is always important for a team that is rising. I’ve watched a couple of their videos and they are certainly going to be a handful for us.
“It’s difficult to say at this stage whether they will be the strongest challengers to the top four, but Spurs and Man City are probably ahead of the rest at the moment.”
Redknapp believes the United game, and the trip to Chelsea a week tomorrow, will define whether his team are capable of maintaining their push for a European place. “I would take four points from the next two games, then we would all start believing if we did that, but it’s two tough games,” he said.