Euro exit still painful for Ferguson
Sir Alex Ferguson has declared 2009-10 a qualified success for Manchester United - but he knows the real pain will not be felt until May 22. Ferguson has no intention of torturing himself about the point his team lost the title to Chelsea and his planning for the new campaign has already started with the purchases of Chris Smalling and Javier Hernandez. However, when he sees Bayern Munich stride out at the Bernabeu Stadium to face Inter Milan in the Champions League final, the real injustice will sink in. "The European Cup was the biggest disappointment," reflected the United boss. "We should be in the final because we were the better team." Instead of reaching a third final on the trot, Ferguson will be forced to watch Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho scrapping it out for the season's final club prize. Then, giving a nod of acceptance to the World Cup, Ferguson's attentions will switch back to his own team, having decided a long time ago this would not be the summer which marked his retirement. "How you view the season depends on whether you focus on the low moments or look at the positives," said Ferguson. "It is the old conundrum as to whether you see the glass as half empty or half full. "My job as manager is to assess and analyse in the cold light of day and get things into perspective. "Did I always make the right team selections? Do we have a strong enough squad? "I have to separate fact from fiction, like the suggestion we have not seen the vintage football associated with Manchester United. "We have to measure the successes against the disappointments and, taking everything into account, I think we are on the credit side." Ferguson has already hinted at a freshening-up exercise. If Nemanja Vidic is taken at his word in expressing a desire to remain at Old Trafford, Michael Carrick and Wes Brown would appear to be the long-serving members of Ferguson's squad whose positions are in most doubt. Ben Foster's move to Birmingham should be rubber-stamped fairly quickly, although with Edwin van der Sar remaining for another season, experienced goalkeeping back-up is not certain. Defence also looks solid, providing the volume of injuries that struck this season does not happen again, as Jonny Evans is a very capable performer at centre-half, where the fitness of Rio Ferdinand can no longer be taken for granted. Carrick's position has been undermined by the fact he did not start any of United's last seven league games. He was a member of the Red Devils line-up for both games against Bayern Munich, although as he was the man brushed aside by Ivica Olic for the goal just before half-time in the second leg that eventually proved to be so crucial, that can now be viewed in a negative light. The things United would appear to be in greatest need of are pace, in addition to that provided by Nani and Antonio Valencia, and some additional striking support for 34-goal Wayne Rooney, crucially absent for the matches against Chelsea and Blackburn that cost the Old Trafford outfit a chance to become the first team to win four championships in a row. If Dimitar Berbatov remains - and that will be questioned until the beginning of September - he must deliver more, more often. Ferguson will also point to the presence of, currently injured, Michael Owen, Federico Macheda and Danny Welbeck, plus the arrival of Hernandez, as proof his side have sufficient firepower. Yet only Rooney is capable of occupying the single striker role that has proved to be so effective this term. As Ferguson has already stated, he has no intention of announcing his intended targets in public, but he does have a few options. Valencia's David Silva may be one, although the United boss insists what he already has gives him plenty of confidence for the future. "Darren Fletcher has emerged from the shadows to become recognised as a really top footballer," said Ferguson. "Nani has come of age, Darron Gibson has had a good season and Jonny Evans has been fantastic, while Antonio Valencia has done incredibly well in his first season. "Behind them I have great faith in the futures of players like Danny Welbeck, Federico Macheda, Javier Hernandez, Gabriel Obertan, Mame Diouf and Chris Smalling. In fact, we could field a very good under-21 team."
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