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Zenit sign Bart Simpson

The Toe Poke 13 hours ago
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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Apr 28, 2008

Ferguson rubbishes talk of failure

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has scoffed at suggestions his team could be on the wane entering the most crucial phase of the season.

Instead, he maintains they are still well on course for a Barclays Premier League and Champions League double.

United face Barcelona at home tomorrow in the second leg of the Champions League semi-final looking to book their place in Moscow after a 0-0 draw at the Nou Camp.

However, they go into the match on the back of a 2-1 defeat against Chelsea on Saturday, which saw their rivals move level at the top with two games to go.

As United have taken only five points from their last four games, questions are being raised about their ability to make it to the finishing line in style.

But with matches to come at home to West Ham and away to Wigan, Ferguson is convinced they can achieve their goals.

Asked if he was worried, he said: 'Not at all. We should be sitting here as champions of the league. I think decisions, bad decisions have gone against us. But it does not matter about those decisions now.

'When we signed on in August, it was to play 38 league matches and we need to win the last two to win the league. So be it.

'No matter what has happened, terrible performances or great performances, bad decisions, that's in the past.

'We have a semi-final tomorrow, then a home game on Saturday (against West Ham) and a game against Wigan away... disaster.'

Ferguson took issue with referee Alan Wiley for giving Chelsea a penalty with four minutes remaining, describing it post-match as a 'diabolical decision.'

Michael Ballack took no notice of the furore to score the winner - his second goal of the game - and leave United fuming.

Top German official Herbert Fandel will be in charge tomorrow, and Ferguson said: 'The referee's performance is always important. They have a big part to play in football matches, particularly major matches.

'This referee has experience of big games, so it is a big responsibility.'

Ferguson defended his decision to leave Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez on the bench at Stamford Bridge and revealed the Barcelona game took precedence.

PFA Player of the Year Ronaldo, who has weighed in with 38 goals, came on in the second half but was unable to change the face of the game.

Ferguson said: 'Given we had played Barcelona on a Wednesday there was no way I could play the same team at Chelsea as it was a lunchtime kick-off.

'I have to give my team the best possible chance of getting to the Champions League final.

'This club should have had more success in Europe, so it was very easy for me to make those changes on Saturday.'

United hold the Champions League record for straight home victories and Ferguson has spoken of his pride in his players as they aim to extend that run to 12 games.

He said: 'There was a lot of disappointment in the dressing room at the time up at Chelsea, especially in the manner which we lost.

'But we have the incentive of a big game tomorrow, so you put that behind you quickly. A training session will reflect that.

'I trust these players. I am a lucky manager to have such good lads.

'Character-wise, they are fantastic. You saw that in the second half on Saturday, they were absolutely magnificent.

'That character is also a part of Manchester United. It epitomises the kind of player you have to be to play for the club.

'I am proud of those players representing me and the club tomorrow.'

Wayne Rooney (hip) and Nemanja Vidic (face) are doubtful for the match after missing training following injuries suffered against Chelsea.

Ferguson added: 'It is an important game, so we have got to give them every chance.

'It is a difficult one. Both of them could make it but I cannot be dead certain about that.'