Alex Ferguson has admitted defensive new-boys Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra will need time to adjust to life in England.
Manchester United’s £12m (€17.5m) investment in the pair has not proved its worth so far, with the Red Devils leaking goals at the back and neither Vidic nor Evra looking entirely comfortable in their new surroundings.
The pair are in Ferguson’s squad for tonight’s encounter with Portsmouth at Fratton Park but with Rio Ferdinand and Ryan Giggs returning after suspension and injury respectively, neither man’s place in the visitors’ starting line-up is certain.
Ferguson insists there is no mental or physical problem with either player and he remains confident in the ability of both to have a major impact on United’s season.
But the Scot also acknowledges the unrelenting pace of Barclays Premiership combat makes it hard for newcomers to find their feet and a recent fixture list which included high-octane derby clashes with Manchester City and Liverpool, plus three feisty encounters against Blackburn, just heightened the problem.
“You don’t get a rest in our game,” said Ferguson.
“By its very nature it is bang, bang, bang, all the time and it does catch people out.
“The types of games we have had recently are difficult enough in themselves and suddenly Patrice has gone from playing in front of a few thousand on a Sunday afternoon for Monaco to a game against Liverpool with 67,000 people there.
“Every played who comes into this country from abroad has taken time to adjust.
“Some start very well, then plateau before coming back again. You have to accept it is difficult to adjust.
“It will take time but I am pleased with the work they are both doing in training.
“The different parts of their game are very good, all we need to do now is get the understanding of the nature of our game in this country.”
With Ferdinand set to return in central defence and Giggs almost certain to fill a vacancy in the heart of United’s midfield, Vidic and Kieran Richardson could be the ones to miss out.
However, Cristiano Ronaldo seems certain to keep his spot after he capped an excellent all-round display against the Cottagers with a fine two-goal haul.
The effort represented a rare moment of triumph in an otherwise difficult campaign for the young winger, who has been beset by off-field problems and was sent off in the Manchester derby defeat at Eastlands last month.
But, on form, Ferguson knows Ronaldo is a rare talent and is hoping the 21-year-old can retain the same level of consistency for the remainder of the campaign.
“I was very encouraged by Cristiano’s performance against Fulham,” said Ferguson.
“You want your great players to be on song all the time but it does not always happen with young players.
“The sending off against Manchester City knocked him back but he got the three-week break and has possibly come back fresh from that and ready to do well.”