No treble, but 2 big trophies remain for United

BY foxsports • April 17, 2011

Just a day after Alex Ferguson talked up Manchester United's bid to emulate its 1999 treble, Saturday's FA Cup semifinal loss to Manchester City left only the Premier League and Champions League to pursue.

But winning a record-breaking 19th English title and delivering the club's fourth European Cup would be far sweeter for United than winning a domestic cup that has lost some of its prestige in recent years.

''There are another two opportunities for some silverware and we have to make sure we take them,'' United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar said. ''I won't lose any sleep because I haven't won this one.''

Winning the double could overshadow City winning its first trophy since the 1976 League Cup if United's big-spending neighbor builds on its 1-0 semifinal victory by overcoming Stoke in the FA Cup final.

In fact, United could capture the league title at Blackburn on May 14 when City contests the cup final, which is unusually being played on the same day as Premier League matches.

In the Champions League, Ferguson's side must oust Schalke over two legs before facing either Barcelona or Real Madrid in the final at Wembley Stadium on May 28.

For now, though, the priority is just beating Newcastle on Tuesday and registering a fourth successive win in the league.

''We must forget the City game now and concentrate on winning the title,'' United captain Nemanja Vidic said. ''It will not be easy but we have to perform, play good football and try to win the league.''

United will have to rediscover its defensive solidity after Yaya Toure seized on a couple of mistakes to clinch City's victory on Saturday. Van der Sar's poor clearance was followed by midfielder Michael Carrick's sloppy pass which was intercepted by Toure.

''You don't like to concede but if it's a 25-yard (meter) screamer you can sometimes live with it but it was a scrappy goal and we didn't really clear the ball out of defense,'' said the 40-year-old Van der Sar, who is playing his final season before retiring. ''It's not the way we normally defend so we have to do something to take the blame - all the players who have been on the pitch.

''Nobody really performed to their standard I think. So we need to make sure we do better on Tuesday.''

Striker Wayne Rooney will be back in contention after completing his two-game ban on Saturday for swearing into a TV camera during a goal celebration.

Taking his place in the starting lineup against City was Dimitar Berbatov, who squandered early chances to put United in front. First the Premier League's top scorer was blocked by goalkeeper Joe Hart when he found himself in a one-on-one situation and the Bulgaria striker then scooped the ball over from close range.

''The chances that Dimitar missed - there was a great save by the goalkeeper but the second chance, from under the bar - if he'd have scored there, I had a feeling whoever scored first would win the match,'' Ferguson said.

United is now set to be without Paul Scholes for three matches after the midfielder was sent off with around 20 minutes to go for a thigh-high lunge on Pablo Zabaleta as his team searched for an equalizer.

''We've seen over his career Paul has had unbelievable moments - he's one of the greatest players this club has ever had,'' Ferguson said. ''But he has his red-mist moments, he caught the boy on the thigh.''


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