Reds legend focused on big two
PADDY Crerand insists United's campaign will not be judged by their domestic cup exploits. The 1968 European Cup winner says the Premier League title and the Champions League will be the true measure of the Reds' season. "The Leeds FA Cup exit was a shock and a huge disappointment," Crerand told MEN Sport. "The major disappointment for me was that certain individuals who were given their chance, and I am not naming names, just didn't grasp the opportunity. But that wasn't the sole reason why United lost because there was still enough quality in that team to beat Leeds. "Everybody thought we'd do it, including the manager and to say Sir Alex Ferguson was angry is putting it mildly. "I know people have been critical and to lose at home to a lower league side in the FA Cup isn't good but I think it is what United do in the title race and in Europe that ultimately we will be judged by. "The FA Cup and Carling Cup are third and fourth priority really. You want to win anything but it is the two major trophies that will determine how good United's season is. "Win one of those or both and the FA Cup will be almost forgotten by the end of May." Crerand, however, admits the Carling Cup took on a new dimension when the December draw for the last four paired the Reds with City. The last time the two met in a semi-final was in December 1969 in the League Cup. The Blues won the first leg 2-1 at Maine Road and a 2-2 draw at Old Trafford meant City progressed to Wembley where they won the trophy. The Scottish midfielder played in both ties and says, "The 60s were great times for the Manchester derby. "There was an incredible fervour because there was a feel for the city inside both camps. There were local lads and other Brits who lived in Manchester. We all knew what it meant. "With so many foreign players now you wonder if it means the same. But I think the influx of money at Eastlands has probably changed that. "I think City are finally capable of challenging now. They are a threat so the spirit of the 60s has really been revived in these matches." When the delayed semi takes place United could be over the Leeds humiliation and new Blues boss Roberto Mancini will be further into his Eastlands reign. But as it stands at present Crerand believes the temperature in the tie has increased. "It was always a big eagerly anticipated couple of games but I think circumstances have upped it up a notch further," added Paddy. "Hopefully by the time the matches are played United will no longer be smarting as much from the Leeds upset and the wounds will have healed slightly. But there is no doubt the United fans will still be hurting and won't want to add to the Leeds insult by being beaten in a cup tie by neighbours City. That would just be too much added misery. "Since the draw was made last month United have lost to Aston Villa, Fulham and Leeds so there is a lot of making up to do. As we stand today Roberto Mancini has come in and done a decent job after taking over from Mark Hughes. "I felt sorry for Mark but the one thing I thought about City this season despite all their improvements was how shocking they were defensively. "But Mancini has addressed that immediately. "So for both sides the stakes have probably increased over the past few weeks. It reminds me so much of those exciting times in the 60s that I cannot wait for the games."
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