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Fergie plays it cool

Alex Ferguson has admitted there is no chance of Sunday's Carling Cup final matching the semi for raw emotion.

Manchester United famously confirmed a Wembley date with Aston Villa by edging a two-legged thriller with Manchester City.

The atmosphere surrounding the two derby clashes will live long in the memory, as will the stoppage-time header by Wayne Rooney that sealed United's passage to their third final in five years.

And Ferguson admits that while this weekend's showpiece will be a special occasion, it will not be the same.


"I don't think the final can reach the same level of emotion as the semi," acknowledged Ferguson.

"It is a different type of game.

"Wembley is an occasion. It has always been that way.

"But the only way you can enjoy Wembley is by winning.

"We have got an opportunity to win something on Sunday. It is not a nice day when you lose."

There may be no 'noisy neighbours' for United to overcome on Sunday but the team carefully pieced together by Martin O'Neill was good enough to take four points off them this term, including that long-awaited Old Trafford victory.

A grudge, if there is one, comes from the 1994 final meeting between the sides when a Villa team managed by Ron Atkinson recorded a 3-1 win that ultimately cost Ferguson a domestic treble.

"I hope we are involved in a treble this time too," said Ferguson.


Although United will start as favourites, their build-up has not exactly been trouble free, with both Rio Ferdinand and Anderson ruled out through injury.

Ferguson confirmed Ferdinand would be missing on Tuesday, after the new England skipper suffered a twinge in his back that meant him missing the Premier League victory against his old club West Ham.

The United boss hopes to have Ferdinand back in a couple of weeks.

For Anderson, who hobbled out of United's Carrington training base on crutches yesterday lunchtime, the absence will be far longer after scans revealed he suffered a ruptured cruciate knee ligament as he stretched to make a pass during the first half of the Hammers clash.

"It is strange, when you see cruciate injuries it is usually something simple," said Ferguson.

"He stretched out for the ball and his knee just popped.

"We have assessed the situation and know he needs the operation.

"That will be done in two weeks' time in Portugal once the swelling has gone down.

"He will be out for six months and hopefully that should have him about right for the new season."

Rafael, Republic of Ireland international Darron Gibson and Jonny Evans are among the younger members of Ferguson's squad likely to be included this weekend, although it would be a surprise if last season's penalty shoot-out hero, Ben Foster, was handed the chance to repeat his heroics as United look to reach another notable milestone by retaining a cup competition for the first time in their illustrious history.