Derby County take a 1-0 lead into Tuesday evening's second leg of their Carling Cup semi-final against Manchester United - but newly appointed manager Nigel Clough admits that the Rams will undoubtedly be the underdogs at Old Trafford.

With United manager Sir Alex Ferguson ominously warning: "We expect to recover from a 1-0 deficit against anyone at Old Trafford," Clough knows his side will have to better their excellent first leg performance in order to reach the Wembley Final.

On the day of his appointment as the new Derby boss, Clough watched from the stands as the Rams out-fought the European and World club champions to win through a Kris Commons goal in an emotional atmosphere at Pride Park.

Almost 42 years after his father Brian had begun what became a legendary managerial stint at Derby, it was a great start for Clough junior - but he was brought crashing down to earth when he took charge of his new team for the first time on Saturday.

On the same Pride Park pitch in a Coca-Cola Championship game against Queens Park Rangers, the Rams never remotely approached the levels they reached against United and lost 2-0 to fall to within two points of the relegation zone.

Meanwhile United, who three years ago won The League Cup for the second time, were beating Bolton Wanderers to take over at the top of the Premiership. So Clough, as brutally honest as was his father, is approaching Tuesday's clash with stark realism.

"Even with our 1-0 lead," he says, "United are very strong favourites. A fortnight ago we weren't expected to get anything - but with the way our players performed on Saturday, it almost suits them to be going to Old Trafford rather than Blackpool or Barnsley.

"I was in a state of shock after the QPR game. It's been three months since I tasted defeat (Clough's previous club Burton Albion had won 11 successive Blue Square Premier matches) and had that horrible feeling in the pit of the stomach.

"It certainly spoiled my Sunday. You don't forget performances like that, but I wasn't too surprised - I'd seen glimpses of it in training and Saturday's display just highlighted and emphasised the problems we've got."

Derby have never reached a League Cup final, their only semi-final appearance having come under Brian Clough in 1968. And United boss Ferguson is determined to prevent Clough's son from establishing a new Rams record.

Instead Fergie wants to create a record an incredible record for United - with half the season gone they are still in line to make what would be a truly amazing clean sweep of Premiership, Carling Cup, FA Cup, Champions League and World Club Cup.

And despite having to overcome a 1-0 deficit from the first leg of their Carling Cup semi-final, the United supremo is confident of making it to the Final to set up title number two after December's World Club Cup triumph.

"The only positive to take from the first game," says Ferguson, "is the fact that we only lost 1-0. It was a fantastic result for us considering the performance. We were so bad - but Derby will rue the fact that they didn't score more."

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