Sir Alex Ferguson is convinced his players will bounce back from the disappointment of seeing their quintuple dreams shattered, following Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final penalty shoot-out defeat to Everton.
Despite the loss, Ferguson has been pleased that his men have been able to maintain their form for much of the season, and will now target the Premier League and the UEFA Champions League.
“Consistency wins things, there’s no question about that, and I think in fairness our side has shown good consistency this season,” the Scot said after Sunday’s defeat.
“We’ve had our little blips here and there but we all get them and I think the important thing is not to have as many as the rest.
“It is always disappointing to lose a semi-final but you can’t win them all and our targets are fairly obvious. We have to win the league and hopefully get to Rome (for the Champions League final).”
Ferguson blamed the state of the Wembley pitch for his decision to rest several senior players.
“When I saw the pitch (in the Chelsea v Arsenal semi), what I didn’t want was to go into extra-time with my strongest squad,” he confirmed.
“It looked spongy and dead and difficult to move the ball quickly around it. They’ve got all these lights around the perimeter to help the growth and the standard of the soil. But it looks dead to me.
“So we had to go with the bold decision of playing the younger ones. After all, our club is built on giving young players opportunities and they didn’t disappoint.
“Once we made our mind up, I was quite enthusiastic about it. It was the right thing to do. It was good for them.”
Ferguson has no worries about having to lift his players for the midweek Premier League clash with Portsmouth.
He explained: “They have got the experience and they have also got the incentives.
“We have got a massive game on Wednesday and that is the priority. We can look forward to that with a fresh team.”
United are currently just one point ahead of nearest rivals Liverpool, with Chelsea three points further back.
Ferguson is expecting the title race to go down to the wire.
“We have been used to that over the years,” he said. “It has gone down to the last game three or four times and I would be quite happy to do that again.
“You have to accept, with the Premier League as competitive as it is, that you will have to go to the last game to win it.”
United’s three matches against Arsenal could ultimately define their season, with the teams set to meet in the Champions League semi-finals and in the Premier League on 16th May.
But Ferguson does not feel that facing the Gunners so regularly will make it any easier or harder to prepare for the games.
He said: “We know all about Arsenal and they know all about us. Years ago, when there wasn’t sports science, you could hide things but it is pretty open now.”
A pivotal game in this year’s title race as Liverpool, who are hot on the heels of leaders Man Utd, entertain Arsenal. See all the match betting here.