Date:Tuesday July 3 2007
Sir Alex Ferguson praised his players (and himself for the manner of United's title win and even their earlier struggle.
We won the Premiership by playing fantastic attacking football etc., you all know that. Of course, the boss is ready to praise the style of his teams any time and rightly so.
'The modern game has changed so dramatically that it can be very difficult to uphold standards,' he told the official site, www.manutd.com. 'The last two years have been difficult, yet we have still played the Manchester United way and worked our way to the top of the Premier League - and that reflects the principles of this club.
'Last season we scored 83 goals in the Premiership and to score that many in the modern game is phenomenal. A few seasons before we were three short of 100 goals.
'There has been such a rise in standards in the Premiership, the bar has been raised and you saw that last season between ourselves and Chelsea. There was not much in it in terms of points.
'However, to score 83 is testimony to a great achievement and answers any questions that have been asked of us. What makes it even more special is that the goals were from fantastic open play.'
All of the above is true but it's hard to hide that Fergie's been experimenting for six years now with a pragmatist approach, especially in European away games. You remember how we played at the Nou Camp in 1998? The compare it to our stifling performances at Benfica, Celtic, Lille and Roma though the latter is a bad example, of course, due to Scholes' relatively early dismissal.
But the point is still valid: while praising attacking football, Fergie has dropped his cavalier, gung-ho, all-out-attack style that characterised the '90s and the very beginning of the 2000s.
But Fergie reassured us that we should not worry about it as he very much aims to uphold the traditions.
'The world profile United holds gives you a certain responsibility.
'A responsibility to deal with situations in a professional way, in almost a perfect way. It becomes your mission to uphold the tradition of play in the right way.
'Winning the title last season was the club's greatest achievement, simply because it's a relatively new team together, and hopefully it's going to get even better because of that.'
Yeah, hopefully. For the first time in years, I'm looking forward to a new season with absolute optimism. Last season, I was cautious but this time I'm sure we have a good chance of achieveing success.
Sir Alex agrees but stressed that the young players must rise to the challenge and not to lose their hunger.
'When it comes to the new season I never ask questions of the likes of Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Gary Neville,' he added.
'They answer themselves. But to the ones who have won their first trophy, they need to ask themselves - will that be enough?
'If you achieve anything it creates excitement, develops you as a person and gives you the understanding not to lose and to go on and win again.
'After you have won a trophy, you enjoy it but the next day it leaves you and the hard works begins again. You're looking for the next one, the next challenge and that is what drives the best players on.'
Date:Tuesday July 3 2007
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