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Manchester United’s Euro hangover lingers

Manchester United have enjoyed a smooth build-up to the biggest weekend of the season but Sir Alex Ferguson wishes it had been more chaotic.

United visit Sunderland on Sunday knowing that by kick-off they will have a good idea about their chances of winning a record fourth successive league title.

Barely 30 minutes before the Red Devils get under way at the Stadium of Light, Chelsea will have finished against Liverpool at Anfield, with most observers feeling victory for Carlo Ancelotti's men will be a championship clincher.

Yet deep down, the United boss wishes he had spent Monday flying to France and Wednesday coming home again.

Watching Bayern Munich advance to the Champions League final at Lyon's expense could have only made him squirm given how close Ferguson’s men were to dumping the Germans out.

“It has been absolute agony watching the matches,” he said. “But that is what happens when you are not in it. You have to watch it on TV. Undoubtedly not being in the Champions League helps our preparation for the weekend but I know what I would rather have. The ordeals of playing on a Wednesday and then a Saturday are exactly what you want here. We have got to have it.”

Midfielder Darren Fletcher said: “We are relying on a favour from another team, which is not the best position to be in, but we are coming into form.

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“We had that week where things didn’t go well, against Blackburn and Bayern, and there was a real low in the squad. But we had to pick ourselves up. There was a conscious effort not to feel sorry for ourselves.”

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