YOKOHAMA-Sir Alex Ferguson added another piece of silverware to his extensive trophy cabinet on Sunday with Manchester United’s 1-0 win over Liga de Quito of Ecuador in the final of the Club World Cup.
The longtime coach of the Red Devils was Bandarq delighted by the performance of his club and said the win will act as a springboard to better things ahead in 2009.
Following are excerpts from his post-match press conference:
Q: Defender Nemanja Vidic was sent off in the second half. How did that affect your play?
A: It affected the penetration we showed in the first half. After his sending off we had to be more disciplined and make sure we didn’t concede. And I began to wonder if we were going to extra time. To play with 10 men with that long to go would have been a long road. But in fairness we played with good expression and still tried to win the match and that’s a measure of the ambitious players we have, so I was pleased with the performance.
Q: Wayne Rooney was named player of the tournament, do you think that was deserved?
A: Well I think he was the player of the game, there’s no doubt about that. I think he deserved it. Because I think he could have scored two or three times in the first half. It was a very, very good performance from him and a magnificent goal. I’ve seen him do that a lot, coming off the left side and bending it in with his right foot, and it was another example of that ability he has.
Q: With all the talk of jetlag and fatigue, why does Rooney seem have this limitless energy when other players look slightly less energized?
A: Well, people handle traveling differently. I was speaking to Edwin Van Der Sar this morning, and he said two day’s ago he a great sleep but last night he had a terrible sleep. Last night was the first night I slept more than two hours. Everyone’s different. You hope they all can handle it but that’s not the case. I think it showed in the last 20 minutes of the game on Thursday night when the game became too open for us. But tonight our discipline was very good and it had to be because you can’t leave gaps when you go down to 10 men.
Q: Were you more concerned about the offense of Quito than that of Gamba Osaka? You made some changes to your lineup tonight.
A: No, we made one change, Rafael Da Silva on for Gary Neville. I think that was the correct thing to do. At 34 years age, Gary needs more rest now, three days or so. You have to compliment Gamba for the quality of their game. I watched them again today and they could have scored 4 or 5 goals in the first half. Their quality, in particular Yasuhito Endo … nobody on Quito had the quality Endo’s got, for example. You have to admire their quality.
Q: You created a lot of opportunities, especially in the first half, but couldn’t find the back of the net. What were you thinking substitution-wise in the second half?
A: I felt we had to be more disciplined and not to concede. Had we lost a goal we would have lost the game. The important thing was to stay patient and hope either Cristiano Ronaldo or Rooney could do something special for us.
I also thought extra time could have been a big possibility, which is why I didn’t make any substitutions until late in the game.
Once we scored I could think about who could protect the lead and that’s why I brought on Neville and Darren Fletcher.
We’ve only scored 8 goals away from home this season, which is not good enough. But we’ve played with great expression and imagination and we have players who can entertain and in normal situations we can score goals. Hopefully that will change in the new year.
Q: What does winning this competition do for you as a club?
A: I think it will be a good springboard for us. We’ve come a long way. It may have been difficult for us to go to Stoke (on Boxing day in the Premier League) had we lost. I think it’s difficult to come back after losing a big tournament like this. But we’ve won it, so I think there will be a bounce at the club. It won’t be easy, no games in the Premiership are. But it does give us a platform to start playing with a real purpose to our game now and to chase the leaders.
For me personally, I said earlier it would be nice to look back in 30 years and see that Manchester United was world champion. I won’t be able to enjoy this 30 years from now, but I will enjoy it next year.
Q: After Vidic’s expulsion, I know you must have been concerned. But what was your mindset keeping Ronaldo and Rooney on and bring Carlos Tevez off?
A: We’ve been in that situation before. Rooney has such great energy to play as an attacker, to defend as a midfield player and he has such a great tenacity to do these things. Tevez was disappointed to have come off, but it was the only thing I could do. But as soon as I took Tevez off I though to myself, crikey, it could go to penalties and I’ve just taken Tevez off. But of course, Rooney scored the only goal so it didn’t matter.
I thought we played sensible football compared to how we played in the first half.
Q: What was the key to your victory tonight and what is your impression of Quito and the South American style of football?
A: I think the collective spirit of the team won the day, particularly when we went down to 10 men.
I think it’s a fantastic tournament. We’re here because we won the European Cup and we’re here to represent England and Europe. At the end of the day you always expect to play a South American team. Maybe we’ve played against better South American teams in the past … I think we were comfortable winners today but when you get to a final, you have still got to win it. And you can lose games like that because the game was so slow in the first half and although we made chances you start to worry that one counterattack could cost us. And if we had went behind tonight it would have been very difficult for us because the South American mentality is different from other places in that they can defend, as we saw tonight many times.