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Sam Allardyce insists defensive solidarity will ensure a successful campaign for West Ham and though disappointed by a 1-0 defeat at Old Trafford last night he pointed to confidence boosting strong rearguard performances against both Manchester clubs.

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Robin van Persie struck after 32 seconds of last night’s Premier League clash via a deflected strike – the fastest in the top flight this term - but the Hammers gave very little away, having kept champions Manchester City at bay in a 0-0 draw earlier this month.

“We’re disappointed,” said Allardyce, before adding: “You could argue that if we’d got a drubbing it could destroy the players’ confidence but if you defend well as we have done, it maintains confidence.

“We played against the champions, Manchester City, had a good goal disallowed and drew 0-0. [Against United] we lost to a deflected goal.

“We’ve now played the top two teams in the country and you could arguably say that we were unfortunate not to get another 0-0 tonight.”

The United opener aside, the Hammers boss was largely happy with his side’s showing against Sir Alex Ferguson’s world class multi-million pound attack.

He said: “It was obviously a problem to concede a goal inside the first 30 seconds but after that our response was really very good tonight.

“I know that we didn’t create very much - you never do here at Old Trafford - but we continued to try and grow into the game and we went looking for the equaliser towards the finish, too.

“They scored that early goal but after that I felt that our defensive structure was outstanding.

“What chances did Manchester United create? The answer is not many apart from one Jussi Jaaskelainen save and for 92 minutes - apart from a deflected goal - we were outstanding from a defensive viewpoint.

“We right to the very end and got better as an attacking force as the game went on. We tried to see if we could get the equaliser but we couldn’t quite manage it.”

He added: “We know that it’s defensive solidarity in this league that will win you points and I think that the disappointing thing is that this is the first time for a while when Fergie has got a ‘nil’ against his side. They’ve been letting a few in lately but tonight they’ve got a clean sheet and won 1-0.

“Building on the base of a solid defensive unit is how we’ve got to pick up points because we haven’t got the strikeforce that Manchester United have.

“We created some chances - albeit not too many - but they weren’t taken like the top boys, say, Manchester United or Chelsea.

“We need to be strong in defence so that when we do score, it’s good enough to win us the game.

“Manchester United have got lots of players who can come up trumps and even if they haven’t played to their potential and we’ve defended well they still have a nasty habit of winning.

“Robin Van Persie is a quality player, who will score 20 - maybe 30 - goals a season and we’ve largely kept him at bay.”

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