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'Tactics not to blame for derby defeat' - Former Manchester United midfielder Butt

'Tactics not to blame for derby defeat' - Former Manchester United midfielder Butt

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The 37-year-old feels Sir Alex Ferguson was right to start the match with just one striker, and has refuted suggestions a lack of transfer activity has left the Red Devils short

Nicky Butt has defended his former Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson after the Scot came under criticism for his tactics in his side’s 1-0 loss against local rivals Manchester City.

The Red Devils went into the match aware that a draw would see them remain three points clear at the top of the table with just two games remaining, and Sir Alex decided to go with a five-man midfield and Wayne Rooney up front on his own.

Despite the loss, Butt is convinced that the 70-year-old’s tactics were right, arguing that City's winning margin could have been greater had United started the game with two strikers.

"We had to go there not to get beaten and the system was to stop City from dictating the play in midfield," the former midfielder told reporters.

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"Manchester City dominate midfield in 90 per cent of their games. We have seen how well they move the ball. If United had played two up front we would have been wide open and they could have scored three or four.

"Let's not underestimate Manchester City. They are a quality team, who have spent millions of pounds on world-class stars. It was bad defending by Chris Smalling but apart from that, United did the job. The plan worked for 46 minutes.

"We were trying to stop them creating chances, which [David] Silva, [Carlos] Tevez, [Sergio] Aguero and [Samir] Nasri can do. If we had got to half-time, who knows what would have happened?

"But I am convinced if we had played two up front we would have conceded more than one goal."

Butt, 37, also defended the Scottish coach’s recent transfer policy, insisting that Old Trafford chiefs should only pay for players deemed worthy of investment.

He added: "If they were there and available, the manager would have bought these players by now. He has money to buy players but he won't spend it on someone who can't improve the team.

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"You do need to look at replacing people like Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs but I can't see who is going to do it."

Manchester City currently sit top with just two games remaining but Butt still believes that Roberto Mancini’s side will fail to win the title, adding: "It is far from over. I still don't think City will win the league.

"I remember playing West Ham in 1995. People said we would tear them apart and win the league.

"But football is not like that. People have pride. City have got two tough games, as have United."

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