This Manchester United side have achieved everything they could have this season. They deserve great credit and I am proud of them. Faced with a far superior opponent we looked second best, there is certainly no shame in that. We held our own for long periods against what may well be the finest football team in history.
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Rooney was nothing short of brilliant. Not only his goal but also his work rate were inspirational. You can see from the look in his eyes that this will not be his, nor our, last Champions League final.
You could not have asked much more from our players. Perhaps Chicharito was a little anonymous, maybe Valencia a touch too sulphurous, but frankly, it wouldn’t have mattered much either way. We were simply torn to pieces.
The tremendous thing about Barcelona is that they are brilliant both with the ball and brilliant without it. As late as the 86th minute they were chasing the ball down in our penalty area. There was constant pressure. They didn’t need to do that. It is just one of many reasons why they are so good. It should also be said that this was a fair game. There was no play-acting, no dirty tackles that I could see. It was only impressive.
In his last game as a professional footballer Van Der Sar put in a performance that reminds us how much he will be missed. The acquisition of a new goalkeeper will be just one of the moves United make in this summer’s transfer window. The elder statesmen, Giggs and Scholes will now need to be replaced too. There can be no more chastening way to learn you need to spruce up your midfield.
One suspects that we have seen the last of Dimitar Berbatov as a Manchester United player too. He was not sat among the players party during the game and his omission from even the bench was glaring. Whatever the story is there you can be pretty sure it is goodnight Vienna for the Bulgar.
Much like in Rome two years ago Ferguson was left motionless on the bench for the last half hour, out of ideas. He knew the jig was up, it would be physically impossible to maintain the pressure we put on them in the first 17 minutes. The great man is realistic enough to recognise quality when he sees it; "In my time as a manager, it's the best team we have ever faced. No one has ever given us a hiding like that".
Well done to Barcelona, they are worthy champions and we are lucky we didn’t lose by more. But as a Manchester United fan I hold my head high, we gave it a real go and that was one of the best European Finals for a long while. Besides, we’ll be back; "We've raised our play in Europe over last few years because we wanted to. We'll get better next year," says Alex Ferguson. It has still been a great season and Manchester United will march again.
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