Ferguson: Forget past triumphs

2008-08-12 10:06

England - The Premier League and Champions League trophies are locked away in Manchester United's museum: out of sight and out of mind.

Time to forget that feat and move on in Alex Ferguson's final two years before his planned retirement.

The veteran manager has started with an off-field victory, buoyed after preventing Cristiano Ronaldo from taking his 42-goal-a-season prowess to Real Madrid.

And after a nine-season interlude for a second European Cup, Ferguson craves two final victorious domestic campaigns to overhaul Liverpool's record 18 titles.

"Although mighty proud of our Premier League achievements and success in the Champions League, we know that we have to start all over again," Ferguson said. "Certainly that's the point I have been emphasizing to the players during our pre-season preparations.

"For while I enjoyed the celebrations as much as anyone last May, I never allow myself to get carried away."

'Evaporates'

Little wonder after capturing 22 trophies in 22 seasons at Old Trafford.

"The euphoria for me evaporates very quickly as I lock the memories away and start to prepare for the next challenge," Ferguson said. "I expect the players to follow that lead and I know they will because, as always, I have studied their reactions and I am satisfied that the driving hunger for more success is still burning within them."

The players at times appeared uncomfortable during last week's 10-minute victory parade around Old Trafford, 77 days after beating Chelsea on penalty kicks in the Champions League final. The Blues were also edged in the Premier League title race on the final day of the season.

Ferguson is undaunted by Luiz Felipe Scolari, who led Brazil to World Cup glory in 2002, replacing Avram Grant at Stamford Bridge.

"I read that Scolari is more experienced than me," Ferguson said. "What have I been doing for the last 34 years? I must have missed something or been asleep somewhere.

"They are saying because of Scolari's experience Chelsea are going to win the league. I do not understand that."

Goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar sees no reason why this season shouldn't be equally successful, though capturing six trophies - with the European Super Cup and World Cup Championship also available - looks a very long shot even for United.

"The core of the team is still the same," Van der Sar said. "Of course, we had a little thing with Ronaldo this summer but we have a good squad of players.

Ankle injury

"During the season we are bound to suffer setbacks, every team does. There will be injuries, loss of form, red cards and clearly we need luck at crucial times as well."

Luck hasn't been forthcoming ahead of Sunday's season-opener against Newcastle. While Ronaldo was denied his wish to join Madrid, the top-scoring winger is due to be sidelined until October having played with an ankle injury as the double was captured.

Wayne Rooney is also a doubt as he recovers from a virus he contracted during the club's off-season trip to Nigeria.

That leaves Carlos Tevez as the only regular striker available unless Ferguson completes his first major signing of the off-season, in contrast to Scolari who has added Deco and Jose Bosingwa to his squad and still hopes to buy Robinho.

Ferguson is excited about his young squad's development, but still sees key roles for veteran players.

"The likes of Anderson, Rooney, Nani and Ronaldo - they're all going to progress," Ferguson said. "The young lads will continue to progress -I'm looking for big things from them - and hopefully that progression will help us retain the trophies we won last year.

"We also have the experience of the likes of Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Gary Neville. They're remarkable men."

And great role models.

"They've led their lives the right way," Ferguson said. "Their desires have never changed and, as a result, they've had great success and created great lives for themselves."

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