London: Alex Ferguson has conceded that Chelsea deserved to win the first match of their FA Cup quarter final at Old Trafford because his side were emotionally exhausted from the heartbreak of their Champions League exit.
Ferguson believes Nani’s controversial red card that saw United crash out of the Champions League to Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid still weighed on the minds of some of his players when Chelsea came to United in the Cup.
United won in the Premier League at Stamford Bridge this season, but a less experienced side lost in extra time in the Capital One Cup three days later. This time the United boss believes he will pick a side that will not throw away a lead in similar fashion — even though they face the defending FA Cup champions.
“I thought we were lucky to be honest with you (in the first leg),” Ferguson said.
“I thought that tiredness had got into the team and, from a comfortable position for the first 20 minutes, you could see the signs when we started to give the ball away just before half-time. That is a definite sign of tiredness.
“The tiredness came, possibly, from the emotional intensity of the Real Madrid game and also the way we lost it. I think that affected two or three players. In the second half in particular there was no doubt that Tom Cleverley’s and our two full-backs’ (Rafael and Patrice Evra) legs had gone.
“That was (due to) emotions. The way full-backs are, they put so much energy into getting forward but they found it difficult getting back.
“That made it a long game against Chelsea and they had the advantage of extra players in midfield... But we’re fresher now and we’ve got a strong squad.”
“In the last few years, we’ve had some very difficult draws in the FA Cup. Chelsea have enjoyed a great benefit of home draws and I don’t think they have had one hard game in the run-up to the semi-finals over the years. That helps, no doubt about that. But they have to play us at Stamford Bridge on Monday and we won’t be easy for them.” (Agencies)