We've learned from last season - Fergie
Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has vowed there will be no repeat of last season's European disappointment.
Despite being drawn in what was generally accepted to be one of the easier Champions League groups, the Red Devils failed to make it out, losing to Swiss outfit Basle in their final game when a draw would have been enough to progress.
"That definitely won't happen next season - there is no chance of that," Ferguson said. "Over the last few years we have used the group stage as an opportunity to play the youngsters. But last season we changed the team too much and it backfired."
That loss was a shattering blow, both in terms of prestige and finance, condemning the club to a loss of income that might have been a factor in the Glazer family pushing forward with their intended initial public offering (IPO) in the United States.
Considering Basle conceded seven to eventual runners-up Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena later in the competition, United's problems can only be viewed as self-inflicted. "Basle were just an ordinary team and they showed that when they played Bayern," Ferguson said.
For all the transfer talk surrounding Robin van Persie, most United fans would argue another central midfielder is United's priority. It is not an observation he refutes, although it is to Michael Carrick that Ferguson is looking for an answer.
"There is no doubt we do have an issue in central midfield because getting a [Paul] Scholes or a Carrick is very difficult these days," he said.
"Carrick is the key to it. If you look at the central midfielders in the Premier League, he can match up against any of them in terms of quality. He can read the game and also play in front of the back four," he added.
Given those qualities, therefore, it is something of a surprise that the 30-year-old only has 22 England caps to his name. Selected for the last World Cup, he remained on the bench throughout, which may have played some part in him excusing himself from Euro 2012 duty this summer.
And, speaking on Friday, Carrick avoided the question of whether he would make himself available for the Three Lions during the new season. He said: "I have had as long a rest as I have had in my own career, really. It was seven weeks. At this stage, I feel refreshed and revived. Sometimes you need that break to go again."
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