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Sir Alex Ferguson is desperate to show he still cares about FA Cup

Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed he felt “sick” for days after suffering his first FA Cup third-round exit 12 months ago.

Through all the trials and tribulations of his 24 years at Manchester United, Ferguson had never fallen at the first hurdle in his quest to win the game's oldest cup competition.

That statistic was wiped away by Leeds United, who belied their League One status to triumph at Old Trafford thanks to a Jermaine Beckford goal.

Contrary to those who think the Scot is too pre-occupied with the Premier League and Champions League to waste much energy on a tournament he has already won on five occasions, he has no intention of suffering such agony again.

“It is the first time I had lost a third round tie since I came to the club and it didn't sit well with me,” said Ferguson.

“I did not enjoy it and was sick for a few days afterwards. I made a mistake picking the wrong team last year. Hopefully I don't pick the wrong one this time.”

The perception of Ferguson having an uncaring attitude towards the FA Cup has been built around United's controversial withdrawal in 2000 to compete in the World Club Championship, which proved to be the forerunner for the current Club World Cup.

The move was actually a political one, designed by the FA to assist in the first of two ill-fated World Cup bids.

The spin-off was the heat of Brazil at a time when the temper

atures were freezing back home, and title rivals Arsenal and Leeds were imploding.

“I don't think that is true,” said Ferguson, when challenged about the perception United don't care about the FA Cup.

“That has come about because of the year we went to Brazil for that tournament, I don't even know what they called it, but it was a great holiday.

“I really enjoyed it. We were away for three weeks and Leeds and Arsenal did not win a game between them.”

These words cannot be greeted with any comfort by Liverpool, whose season is spiralling downhill dramatically.

Ferguson's personal friendship with Roy Hodgson presumably led to his decision not to comment on the turbulence at Anfield, whose record 18 league titles looks set to be claimed by the Red Devils at the end of the season.

Instead, the United boss is concentrating on ensuring his side prove worthy of their status as overwhelming favourites, which in turn would propel the Merseyside giants into another bout of naval gazing.

“It is a cup tie,” he said. “On this occasion, you have to forget the other side of it, the Manchester United against Liverpool side.

“There are shocks in cup ties and always have been; Hereford beating Newcastle, Yeovil Town, York City. Bournemouth beat United in 1984. It is a tournament you cannot take for granted.”

Ferguson does not intend to, which is why he will check on the fitness of Wayne Rooney and Edwin van der Sar, who has missed two games with a bout of flu, before he finalises his line-up.

It appeared Rooney would be condemned to spend a spell on the sidelines when he limped off with an ankle injury at West Brom on New Year's Day.

Belfast Telegraph


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