Ferguson apologises to United fans after Carling Cup defeat to Palace
ALEX Ferguson has issued an apology for his side’s Carling Cup exit to Crystal Palace at Old Trafford.
United were beaten 2-1 after extra-time in their quarter final, with Darren Ambrose’s extraordinary 30-yard strike and a Glenn Murray header securing a Carling Cup semi-final with Cardiff.
Ferguson was furious his side failed to join his club’s fiercest rivals, Manchester City and Liverpool, in the last four. Those two will meet in the other semi-final.
A much changed United line-up failed to perform, despite a Federico Macheda penalty equalising Ambrose’s stunning opening goal.
"My apologies are to the fans today because that was not a Manchester United performance," said Ferguson.
"It was a fantastic, mammoth effort from Crystal Palace and it is very disappointing. I don’t want to take anything away from them, when it went to extra time I thought we must win it, but it was not to be.
"Their second goal was offside and we’re not getting any luck from linesman, but it was a hard, hard game. They started well then we got a lot of possession but didn’t do anything with it. We played too much short passing and didn’t spread the game. Overall it has been a very disappointing night for Manchester United. It was hard for them but it won’t do them any harm."
Palace manager Dougie Freedman said he was not surprised by the brilliance of Ambrose’s strike, which shifted the momentum to the Londoners.
Gary Neville claimed he’d never seen a better goal by a visitor to Old Trafford.
"That’s a wonderful thing to say," said Freedman. "Darren is capable of that because he has wonderful ability. When he does it I don’t have fingers crossed because he tests a lot of keepers. The whole team put in a performance to be proud of.
"I just felt in the last 20 minutes our desire shown through. There was no tactical genius, buy we showed hunger to get through.
"We had a good game plan but every single player came on and stuck to it. By pressuring them in a certain way we helped to nullify them and reduce their chances."
Palace chairman Steve Parish admitted the draw with Cardiff was the most attractive as he hoped to take his side to Wembley, but Freedman was cautious having avoided Liverpool and City in the last four.
"It’s going to be difficult because I’ve seen them a few times," said Freedman. "It’s a hard draw and they are on the up but I’m just proud of the lads.”
Parish added: "If I’m honest we’d rather have had Cardiff but we know how difficult it will be. We’ve only been to one cup final in our history so that matter more to us than any financial benefits. Why can’t we go all the way after winning at Old Trafford?
"We’re realistic and we know it wasn’t United’s best team out there but it is still a great achievement for us.
"The proudest thing for all of us is we deserved it and we were getting stronger as the game went on. Wilfried Zaha was man of the match. I’m so pleased for everyone at the club, especially our supporters."