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Ferguson: I've got balance of Man Utd squad just right

Sir Alex Ferguson is content to sit back and watch his rivals scramble around in the transfer window knowing his Manchester United squad is well balanced. United are currently sitting two points clear at the summit of the Premier League after an unbeaten campaign so far and the Scottish tactician is now looking to consistency to claim a record 19th title.

He told the latest edition of Inside United magazine: "I'm happy with the squad size. I just hope now that we can hit a consistent vein of form.

"We'll hopefully have Antonio Valencia back in February, which will be a great boost to us and will give me more options with Nani."

Ferguson is particularly pleased that a right mix of older and younger players has been achieved.

He added: "It's been our plan for years to have that spread of ages here, so that when the older players retire we have the people with the right experience and ability to replace them.

"At the moment we have several players in that mid-to-late 20s group: Nemanja Vidic, Michael Carrick, Patrice Evra, Darren Fletcher, John O'Shea.

"Then we have that group of older players in their 30s: Ryan Giggs, Wes Brown, Gary Neville and Paul Scholes.

"Finally there's the younger group, which contains a lot of players aged 24 or under, including Nani, Gibson, Anderson, Obertan, Macheda, Hernandez, Evans, Smalling, Rafael and Fabio, plus players out on loan like Diouf, Welbeck, Cleverley and Drinkwater. That's a good nucleus of youngsters coming through the ranks.

"It's very important for us [that these players are growing up together]. That's why it was so disappointing to get knocked out of the Carling Cup. If they'd had another semi-final over two legs, it would have been great experience for them - the kind that they have enjoyed over the last two seasons in winning the competition."

But Ferguson acknowledges it is harder for youngsters to make their mark now than it was for the likes of Giggs and Scholes.

"The demands are greater now because the standards have risen, and the expectations too because of the club's success over the last 15 years," he said.

"So it increases each year. When I first arrived there wasn't that same level of expectation because we were still a growing club, trying to achieve that success. Now it's true that the young players find it a bit harder."

 It's all kicking off again! Click here for the No1 coverage of Manchester United's winter market transfer news.

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Dave Williams

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