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Rewind to Boxing Day 1963

Barclays Premier League
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Ferdinand: United will bounce back from defeat

Rio Ferdinand insists his Manchester United team-mates are big enough to handle the shattering disappointment of Wednesday's Champions League final defeat in Rome.

Ferdinand was desperate to enter the record books as a back-to-back European Cup winner but those dreams were quashed at the Stadio Olimpico as Barcelona registered a richly-deserved triumph.

So, instead of a bus parade around the city, United flew back to Manchester with an acute sense of deflation, although Ferdinand thinks United are strong enough to bounce back.

''If we had won it would have been an unbelievable end to the season but we knew if we lost we would be finishing on a low no matter what we had achieved before,'' he said. ''We were not silly enough to think the garden will always be rosy

''We are grown men. We can handle it. We just have to brush ourselves down and come back stronger.''

Ferdinand is happy to postpone the debrief that must follow as Sir Alex Ferguson works out why United were so badly outplayed.

Poor tactics are being blamed in some quarters, although the argument is difficult to fathom given United set up in exactly the same way as when they defeated FC Porto and Arsenal earlier in the competition.

Ferdinand has no in-depth answers to add. However, his gut feeling was that too many players made too many errors at the wrong time against talented opponents well capable of taking advantage.

''To play a team like Barcelona you need your A game. We didn't have it,'' he said. ''We did well in those first 10 minutes. If we had scored then it might have been a different game.

''But we gave away two soft goals at crucial points in the game and didn't put away the chances we had. In a Champions League final, if you do not play well, either as individuals or a collective unit, you do not deserve to win.''

Ferdinand accepted it was scant consolation for the 30,000 United fans who bellowed their backing to their team and magnanimously applauded Barcelona at the end, but is confident when the new campaign begins again in August, the Red Devils will be fully motivated and ready for battle.

''The belief is still there,'' he said. ''We have come a long way in these last few years. You do not lose all that by getting beaten in one match.

''We need strength of character now but we have it in abundance.''

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