Sir Alex Ferguson insists his team’s Carling Cup triumph can trigger another golden era for Manchester United. Ferguson believes the victory against Wigan at Cardiff can be the catalyst which binds his young players into a new force.
The United manager said to the Daily Telegraph:
“I hope they can go on to match our exploits of the past. If they can grow up together and keep that group together we have a chance. When we beat Nottingham Forest to win this cup in 1992 it set us off on a very good spell. That was one of the reasons I brought Kieran Richardson, Patrice Evra and Nemanja Vidic on. Kieran deserved to be on because he has been part of the League Cup team. But I wanted to give the others the experience of being on a winning side in a cup final, if only for a few minutes, to feel the atmosphere at the very end. It tells them a bit about Manchester United and might develop them in terms of the winning instinct.”
The Carling Cup is the consolation in a disappointing season for Ferguson’s team, who slumped out of Europe before Christmas, lost in the FA Cup fifth round, and are 15 points behind Chelsea in the Barclays Premiership title race. The average age of the United players were below 25- including Ji-Sung Park, Rooney, O’Shea and Wes Brown.
The United boss continued:
“The competition is harder than ever. It is a very competitive Premier League and you can see the standard in Europe from some of the amazing results last week. The challenge is there for everyone – not just us. We need more experience in Europe. Hopefully we can stick together and get that experience.”
United’s players showed their unity by dedicating their success to Alan Smith, who broke his leg in the FA Cup defeat to Liverpool. They lifted the season’s first silverware in T-shirts bearing the slogan:
‘For You Smudge‘.
Smith was forced to watch the game at home on television but United will try to get him a winners’ medal.
“It was the players’ idea to wear the T-shirts. The message was appropriate. He deserved that. He had a bad injury just a week before the final. I don’t know how many medals we get but, if we need to apply for another one for him, we will. He showed unbelievable courage last week. He took courage to a whole new level as far as I am concerned and that is what convinces me he will be okay.”
Glazer brothers Avi, Bryan and Joel joined the players in the dressing room after the game.
“They got soaked in champagne. Welcome to England.“