Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

We'll Rise Again, Warns Ferguson

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

We'll Rise Again, Warns Ferguson

Article excerpt

Byline: By Simon Stone

Three days after he brutally jettisoned Roy Keane, Sir Alex Ferguson has admitted Manchester United's lack of experience is a major handicap to their Champions League ambition.

While Keane has temporarily been reduced to walking his dog Triggs round the Cheshire countryside, Ferguson's youngsters must negotiate their way along a hazardous path to take their place in the knock-out phase of Europe's most prestigious club competition.

A single point from their two outings against Lille mean United will crash out should an Old Trafford defeat to Villarreal tonight be accompanied by a triumph for the French side over Benfica at the Stade de France.

The loss of up to pounds 15m in prize money would have a catastrophic effect on United's finances but, while Ferguson refuses to contemplate failure, the Scot does admit a repeat of the Red Devils' famous 1999 triumph in the competition is a long shot given the inexperience in his squad.

"At this moment in time, we do not have enough experience and that is a handicap," he said. "If you look at the graph of teams who win the European Cup, they are mainly very experienced teams with an average age between 28 and 30. You can't say that about us at the moment.

"What you can say is that we have incredible ability. In the next two or three years we hope for experience and consistency to go with that ability."

Although the debate over Keane's exit continues to swirl around Manchester like the dense fog which has enveloped the Theatre of Dreams over the past 24 hours, to Ferguson it is clearly yesterday's news.

Twelve years of sterling service ( including seven Premier League titles, four FA Cups and a European Cup ( has been reduced to just two paragraphs in Ferguson's pre-match programme notes.

An attempt to lure from Ferguson's lips the precise reason behind Keane's departure was met with a cursory `nice try' by the Glaswegian, although he did inadvertently hint the man who used to be his talisman had outlived his usefulness. …

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