Man Utd lose but Powell and Jones hint at a bright future
Alex Ferguson declares himself pleased with his young team after Galatasaray test
Galatasaray 1 Man Utd 0. Manchester United lost their 100 per cent record in the Champions League as they were beaten by Galatasaray last night, but with Alex Ferguson's team already into the knockout stages of the competition, events in Instanbul were easily overshadowed by Chelsea's defeat against Juventus and the sacking of Roberto di Matteo.
However, the match could prove significant in the long term as defender Phil Jones made his first appearance of the season after months out with a series of injuries and young midfielder Nick Powell was handed a first ever start for United in one of the most intimidating arenas in European football.
Jones emerged unscathed from the match, but it was Powell who caught the eye with an assured performance in midfield.
The Turkish side were victorious and kept their hopes of qualification for the next round alive thanks to a second-half header from Burak Yilmaz, but Ferguson was not downcast after seeing his second-string side, with an average age of 24, put in what he described as a "very competitive" performance.
"I think they handled the atmosphere and the temperament was good," he said, reported the BBC. "We had some good attacking play in the first half and, at that point, the only trouble they gave us was from outside the box."
The Manchester Evening News said the game could have ramifications for the future. "It is on hostile and challenging nights like this where Sir Alex Ferguson sorts out the wheat from the chaff in his squad," it said. "Fergie will be delighted to have confirmation that there doesn't appear to be any chaff to consider discarding in the near future."
The star was Powell, said Goal.com, but it was much less impressed by United's overall display. "While some United players let a Turkish side full of energy and urgency overrun them for long periods... the teenage summer signing looked undaunted and was one of few positives in a side that overall created little."
Website Soccerlens agreed, and said on the basis of his showing in Turkey Powell, who hit the bar with a header, "looks like he could be the bargain of the season".