Alan Hansen has been forced to defend himself after Sir Alex Ferguson reacted angrily to quotes attributed to the BBC pundit in January.

Ferguson used his programme notes for Manchester United's match against Stoke on Tuesday night to denounce Hansen's assessment that his team had "been woeful for the past 18 months".

"I noticed Hansen was at it again, saying we had not played well for one-and-a-half years," the Manchester United boss is quoted in The Sun.

"I reckon that comment goes alongside his claim a few years ago that you don't win anything with youngsters. And you know how he ended up with egg on his face after dismissing the Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, David Beckham, Gary Neville crop of [manchester United] kids so foolishly."

However, Hansen has since denied he said what Ferguson accused him of and used last night's Match of the Day programme to rebuke the Manchester United manager's comments.

"I really don't know where that has come from,' Hansen is quoted in the Daily Mail. "I never said that at any stage. What I said was that, over a period of 18 months, they haven't been as good as they have been in the past.

"I have also said that if you take the three teams at the top, Manchester United have consistently played worse than Tottenham and Manchester City. But it is to their credit that they are where they are and they will be the team to beat.

"In 1995 I said you can't win anything with kids. In 2012, I never said you can't win anything if you are hopeless."

Despite winning last season's Premier League title, Hansen intimated in January that Manchester United are not the force they once were and instead believes they are benefitting from their years of experience in winning the Premier League title.

The Match of the Day pundit believes Ferguson's side know how to last the distance in a league title campaign and because of that, Manchester United are the only club that can prevent Manchester City from winning the Premier League title.

"By their own standards, (Manchester) United have been woeful for the past 18 months. I can't recall Sir Alex Ferguson's team being so bad for two successive seasons." Hansen told The Daily Telegraph.

"At times, they have been at the bottom of the scale, but United are United and they are still just three points off the top, having been so unimpressive at times this season."

Hansen suggests Manchester United are sure to improve on their squad in the summer following something of a transitional period, and therefore the rest of the division must follow suit or risk being left behind by the two Manchester clubs.

"Despite being so bad, their experience of winning has seen United win the title last season and reach another Champions League final, so they can never be overlooked." He added. "I cannot see any way that they will not improve next season, so that is the challenge that Spurs face."