London: Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has urged his players to learn from their Champions League final defeat to Barcelona and dethrone the Spanish giants as Kings of Europe.
Ferguson told British media outlets on Tuesday that the next generation of United players would need to rise to the challenge of downing Barcelona while noting that winning the Premier League was equally important.
Ferguson suffered one of the most chastening nights in his 25 years at United in May, when Barcelona outclassed his team 3-1 at Wembley to clinch their third Champions League crown since 2006.
However the United manager believes an infusion of youth at Old Trafford, which has included the summer signings of Ashley Young, David de Gea and Phil Jones, will help the club rise from the ashes of their defeat at Wembley.
"I've got young players coming in that I hope will take inspiration from what we experienced in the Champions League and challenge Barcelona," Ferguson said.
"They are an exceptionally good team. But that does not mean it can never be achieved. Barcelona is a team of its time and it's a fantastic cycle for them. “
"We will try to move on and get above them, but the target is to be in Munich (for the Champions League final) in May next year. Only then, if it's Barca, can we assess how we are able to cope with that."
Ferguson dismissed any suggestion that trying to find a way past Barcelona would become an obsession, insisting United would always attach equal importance to winning the domestic championship.
"You have to combine the two," he said. "The Premier League is such a tribal confrontation between different parts of the country that you're forced into trying to beat them all the time. You can't get away from that. “
"It's not like athletics where you can programme yourself to win the one-mile at Oslo and then maybe wait until Stuttgart five months later to win there. We play every seven days so you're forced to go for the league. “
"I've got absolutely no doubt Real Madrid would give up anything to win the European Cup. I think AC Milan did that. They were concentrating on trying to equal Madrid with those nine European titles. “
"You can do it in these countries because the European Cup is the most important thing. But our mentality is different. “
"I've got to try and show that we're challenging for the league all the time, and hopefully have the bonus of winning the European Cup. We've only won it twice in my time so that shows it's not easy to combine the two."
Ferguson also believes Manchester City's victory in the FA Cup last season, their first major trophy for 36 years, would give them the confidence to challenge for this season's Premier League.
"I think winning a trophy does that," Ferguson said. "It does a power of good. It takes the pressure off the manager and gives confidence to the players. “
"We've experienced it ourselves over the years and we expect them to be challengers this season."
First Published: Tuesday, July 19, 2011, 16:40