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Monday, January 9, 2006
Fergie admits shock is good for the cup

Sir Alex Ferguson has admitted Burton Albion's amazing FA Cup draw with Manchester United was good news for football, even if it left the Scot squirming in his seat for the second season running.

Twelve months after the Red Devils were held by Exeter, Ferguson watched on as his multi-talented side again failed to overcome Conference opposition fully 104 places below them in the pyramid system.

Nigel Clough's part-timers were well worth their draw, which booked them a January 18 trip to Old Trafford, and a 500,000 pay-day.

And, after the heroics of Burton's fellow non-leaguers Nuneaton and Tamworth 24 hours earlier, Ferguson feels the Conference sides have put the fun back into the FA Cup again.

'We didn't want a replay and I didn't expect one but there is nothing wrong with the result as far as football is concerned,' claimed Ferguson.

'Over the previous couple of years the FA Cup had gone a bit flat in terms of shocks but the Conference clubs have really made the FA Cup this year.

'Tamworth and Nuneaton had already done the FA Cup proud and Burton worked their socks off to get the result.

'The money will give Burton a lifeline, just as it did for Exeter last year, but the most important thing from our point of view is that we are still in the competition.'

New signing Nemanja Vidic made the journey to Staffordshire with his new team-mates, although what the 7million Serbian made of the Pirelli Stadium experience is anyone's guess.

Right from the start, Burton served notice they would be no pushovers and had Phil Bardsley not been on hand to clear headers from Jon Shaw and Darren Stride off the line, the Brewers would have been in front at the break.

The introduction of Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo off the bench just before the hour mark briefly looked like easing United towards victory.

But it was not until the final minute, when Saul Deeney superbly turned away Ritchie Jones' thunderous effort, that the home goal was seriously threatened.

He may only be in the formative stages of his own managerial career, but the manner of Burton's performance and the result would have made Clough's late father Brian proud.

And while chairman Ben Robinson will be rubbing his hands in glee at the unexpected windfall about to come Burton's way, for Clough the experience of leading a team into battle at Old Trafford is the bigger thrill.

'I don't know how much this will mean to the club in financial terms but if you had seen the look on my players' faces at the end, you would realise it will mean an awful lot more for them just to get the chance to play at Old Trafford,' said Clough.

'I was in the Nottingham Forest side that beat United in the FA Cup at Old Trafford in 1989 but we have absolutely no chance of doing that.

'We will lose the replay I am sure but I am equally sure my players will enjoy that occasion even more than this one.

'For a group of part-time lads to get a 0-0 draw with Manchester United is staggering.'




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