Defensive continuity key for United boss

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Sir Alex Ferguson believes Manchester United are a different proposition heading into the second half of the season as injuries start to ease.

United welcomed back a trio of key defenders in Nemanja Vidic, Wes Brown and Rafael da Silva at Hull and immediately looked stronger than the side humbled by Fulham last week. The champions still needed to battle hard to shake off a determined Hull but their eventual 3-1 win left them well placed behind leaders Chelsea midway through their Barclays Premier League campaign.

Ferguson told MUTV: "It was a bonus having two centre-backs back - it made a heck of a difference to us. Hopefully in the next few weeks Jonny Evans will be back, as for Rio Ferdinand we will have to wait and see."

He continued: "But I'd think when the European campaign gets going again we should have a strong squad together.

"Rafa and Fabio [da Silva] were both back too and it makes a difference to us.

"You'd expect us to get some continuity defensively soon and that will make a difference."

United have already lost five games this season but such has been the competitive nature of the league, none of their rivals have been able to take full advantage.

Ferguson added: "There have been some strange results in the first half of the season - I said in a recent conference I thought that 41 points had been dropped by the recognised top four but I think it's about 65.

"It's unusual and maybe good for the league in the sense no-one is winning games easily, everyone is battling for the points.

"The Premier League is the only place to be so you can understand the way Hull battled."

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