Manchester: Sir Alex Ferguson rued the week that cost United ‘everything’ on Friday and the ‘travesty’ that his side was not challenging for Europe’s glittering prize in the Champions League final later this month.
Ferguson’s side need to beat Stoke at Old Trafford on Sunday and hope leaders Chelsea slip up against Wigan at Stamford Bridge if they are to clinch a record fourth successive Premier League title.
Yet it was a week in April that saw United exit the Champions League to Bayern Munich, temporarily lose striker Wayne Rooney to injury and lose to Chelsea in the league that saw the title momentum swing inexorably in the favour of Carlo Ancelotti’s side.
“We are disappointed we haven’t won other things,” said Ferguson, whose side won the League Cup in February. “But the biggest disappointment was the European Cup. It is an absolute travesty we are not in the final.
“It’s an absolute travesty, we were the best team, that’s the disappointment. That brought a certain disappointment for the first half against Chelsea.
“That was a bad week for us. One bad week of the season is maybe going to cost us everything.
“It’s not easy to overcome these things but the second half against Chelsea the players buckled down and got on with their job.”
Bayern face Inter Milan in the Champions League final although Ferguson has no doubt his side should be contesting the Madrid showpiece on May 22.
“We had a good opportunity,” said Ferguson. “We should be in the final against Inter. It would have been a difficult game, because Inter, without question, have improved tremendously this season. But it’s a pity we won’t be in the final because we would have relished that.”
The fact that Rooney was missing, or not fully fit, during that pivotal week of the season supports the thought that United are over-reliant on the England forward but Ferguson said he was happy with the make-up of his squad.
“Apart from the older players we keep talking about - (Ryan) Giggs, (Paul) Scholes, (Gary) Neville - the rest of the squad is reasonably structured in terms of age,” said Ferguson.
“There is a strong nucleus of young players and they are the future, there is no question about that. There is a good foundation there.
“It is going to be more competitive next season with Tottenham’s achievement of reaching the Champions League and with (Manchester) City, who have money to spend and could buy a new team if they wanted to. I think they will be strong again next season.
“It motivates you. The challenge is always there, we’ve always accepted that challenge and we have to again. It comes from different areas.
“Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool are the established members but, in that gang of four, Tottenham and Manchester City are now going to be there.”