Manchester United 3 Burnley 0: Lack of time means Laws will be quick to get tough

Brian Laws has embarked on a "brutal" process of assessment before he attempts to find the players he hopes can keep Burnley up.

Having only been appointed as Owen Coyle's successor on Thursday, the first 48 hours of Laws's reign were spent getting to know his new charges ahead of their defeat to champions Manchester United.

Now the former Sheffield Wednesday manager knows something about the ability and character of the players at his disposal, Laws will looks for players with the attributes he feels are missing.

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But as time is not on his side, he admits there will be no room for pleasantries. "The first thing I have to do is assess the squad," he said. "It is a clean slate for everyone but I am going to be making some brutal decisions because I don't have time.

"There is no better way of assessing your players than facing Manchester United but I already know we need to strengthen.

"You have to do business in the transfer market because when that window shuts, there is no turning back – and I don't want any regrets."

The first task is to secure David Nugent on a permanent deal.

Given Portsmouth's financial plight that would seem to be a fairly straightforward task and Laws is hoping an agreement can be reached in the next 24 hours.

However, Nugent's confidence has started to climb at Turf Moor and there could well be rival interest from other, more wealthy, suitors.

However, Nugent missed a glorious chance at 0-0 against the champions went put clean through by the outstanding Chris Eagles at Old Trafford; had he scored Burnley might well have recorded their first Old Trafford victory since 1962.

Instead, the one-time England forward saw his effort roll wide, and the Clarets went on to suffer their 10th defeat in 11 top-flight away games that have yielded just a single point.

It is a record that must change if Burnley are to preserve the Premier League status that is Coyle's impressive legacy, no matter how indignant the club and their fans are about his switch to Bolton.

"We didn't have any fear, which was really heartening to see," said Laws.

"But what is evident is that we are a little bit gung-ho.

"We overload when we are attacking and that leaves us vulnerable when we don't finish the move off. You are under the cosh from that moment.

"I wouldn't like to curb the enthusiasm but there is a little bit of work to be done there because there is a time and a place for such tactics.

"Away from home maybe you have to be a little bit more patient."

United's manager Sir Alex Ferguson is hoping the old and the new can combine to produce another successful Manchester United title challenge.

For so much of the season, United have appeared below their best and it was the same again on Saturday as they laboured for over an hour against Burnley.

But eventually, Dimitar Berbatov made the breakthrough, setting the Red Devils on their way to a win over the Clarets that was rounded off by a goal from newcomer Mame Biram Diouf on his home debut.

Sandwiched in between Wayne Rooney slotted home a 16th goal while a clean sheet marked Edwin van der Sar's first action since November 21.

Manchester United: Van der Sar, Neville, Brown, Jonathan Evans, Evra, Valencia, Carrick (Anderson 66), Scholes, Nani, Berbatov (Owen 73), Rooney (Diouf 74). Unused substitutes: Kuszczak, Park, Fabio Da Silva, Rafael Da Silva.

Burnley: Jensen, Mears, Edgar, Duff, Jordan, Alexander, McDonald (Gudjonsson 73), Eagles (Blake 83), Elliott, Nugent, Steven Fletcher (Thompson 36). Unused substitutes: Penny, Kalvenes, Eckersley, Guerrero.

Referee: Lee Probert (Wiltshire).