Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 12 July 2014

I regret Manchester United's FA Cup pull-out: Fergie

Sir Alex Ferguson has admitted he “regrets” Manchester United pulling out of the FA Cup 10 years ago.

The move created a storm of controversy, with United getting much of the blame for devaluing the tournament.

Indeed, many critics argue the FA Cup has never fully recovered from the decision, taken as a direct consequence of United's involvement in the Club World Championship in Brazil.

Ironically, Ferguson has always felt the move benefited United that season because they were able to recharge their batteries in the South American sunshine while major rivals Arsenal and Leeds were starting to struggle and, refreshed and raring to go, the Old Trafford outfit went on to retain their title by a massive 18 points.

However, as a traditionalist, Ferguson was never entirely comfortable with the move.

And, looking back, Ferguson knows the entire situation did not reflect well on the club.

“It turned out to be a disaster for us,” he said.

“We did it to help England's World Cup bid. That was the political situation.

“I regretted it because we got nothing but stick and terrible criticism for not being in the FA Cup when really, it wasn't our fault.

“The FA and the government felt that playing in this tournament would help England's bid to host the 2006 World Cup.

“There was a lot of undue criticism — but it was a great two-week break.”

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