Sir Alex Ferguson admits Norwich City deserved victory over Manchester United

Sir Alex Ferguson believes Chris Hughton's stamp is all over his Norwich City side now after admitting Manchester United were second best at Carrow Road.

Ferguson sees a club heading in the right direction towards Premier League survival again, under a manager who appears to have instilled a disciplined defensive outlook after early season woes.

'They defended for their lives and you know from the past few weeks there has been a big improvement in their defensive record,' he said.

'Not losing a goal against Arsenal, not losing a goal against Stoke, so there is an indication that Chris has got their act together in terms of not losing goals. If you don't lose goals then you always have a chance of winning the match.

'We're disappointed to lose the game but we have to give credit to Norwich for the way they fought and battled for every ball on the pitch. They defended fantastically well and the goalkeeper also had a really good night so it's disappointing.

'He has made a couple of good saves. One from Anderson at the end and the one he tipped over the bar. We had a couple of half chances from Robin (van Persie) but it didn't turn out quite correct. The goal was a marvellous cross and a marvellous touch so the goalkeeper could do nothing about that.'

United's famed late onslaught foundered on John Ruddy's defiance and home resistance. Ferguson's side never looked capable of reprising their Villa Park heroics, when they hit back from 2-0 down the previous weekend to claim all three Premier League points.

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'I always feel we can do that, the history of the club is like that and the players we've got are used to making comebacks, particularly in the last minutes of matches, we're always a threat,' he said.

'Although we had a lot of possession and one or two half-chances without having great chances it just wasn't our night.

'Any chances we got seemed to be half-chances and the goalkeeper has had a good night. He made some saves at vital moments. Towards the end we had a lot of pressure but we just didn't get the goal we needed.

'We had plenty of possession in the first half as well but you have to give credit to the way they defended. They deserved the win just because they worked so hard for it.'

Not even Paul Scholes' second-half arrival could tilt the contest back in United's favour. Ferguson insisted on the eve of his side's trip to Norfolk the former England man is still the best in the business after coming out of premature retirement last season.

The United chief wants the midfielder, who turned 38 on Friday, to continue whilst he can influence games at the highest level, but Ferguson is adopting a softly, softly approach over any potential fresh contract negotiations.

'There's not a time to make a judgement on that. I think Paul will know himself,' he said. 'But he is still the best passer of the ball in the country. That's not stopped. He has still got the desire to play. He is 38 and Ryan is 39 on November 29.

'It's amazing, particularly with Scholesy, because he has had one or two injuries over the years and he quit last summer and then came back again. He made a fantastic contribution in the second half of last season. I just think he's doing what he's doing and he'll sort it out.'

Scholes and Giggs look set to miss the midweek Champions League trip to Turkey with United already qualified for the knock-out stages. England striker Wayne Rooney may be available after missing the Carrow Road defeat with tonsillitis. Ferguson, however, refused to offer Rooney's absence as an excuse.

'We always miss our good players but we had plenty of good players on the pitch,' he said. 'He's had tonsillitis. We hope he'll be in over the weekend – we'll see what he's like then. If he does (come in) hopefully we can get him ready for Tuesday.'