Sir Alex Ferguson has rejected John Terry's claim that Manchester United will struggle to reproduce the form that delivered a Premier League and Champions League double last season.
Chelsea skipper Terry recently suggested United peaked last May when they pipped the London club to both trophies.
But Ferguson, who had already claimed that Chelsea's core of thirty-somethings would struggle to find an extra gear under Luiz Felipe Scolari, was quick to highlight the youthfulness of his Old Trafford squad.
Responding to Terry's comments, the United manager said: “Well it's a challenge for us, isn't it?
“You'd think that with young players like Anderson, Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Nani, there will be improvement there.
“I think that's the most natural thing you can say about this club. These players have the capacity to improve. So we'll see.”
Ferguson's side will start their title defence against Newcastle United at Old Trafford on Sunday with the manager having so far failed to add to his squad.
The Scot has indicated he wants to bring in a new striker with Tottenham Hotspur's Dimitar Berbatov remaining at the top of his list.
Spurs have so far been reluctant to do business with United despite reports that the champions are willing to pay 25 million pounds (31 million euros) for the Bulgarian international.
But speaking ahead of the Newcastle clash, Ferguson remained tight-lipped about his pursuit of the player. “I've nothing to say about that. Nothing's changed,” he said.
With Louis Saha and Cristiano Ronaldo injured and Nani suspended, the United manager admits he is currently low on forward options, although he has been lifted by the return to fitness of Wayne Rooney.
Rooney missed last week's Community Shield clash with Portmsouth after picking up a virus in Nigeria on the club's pre-season trip to Africa and Ferguson had feared the England star would miss the Newcastle clash.
“Wayne is fit and the good thing. He has done very well this week and has been progressing really well,” Ferguson said.
Without Rooney and Ronaldo, Ferguson's side failed to score before clinching the first trophy of the season in a penalty shoot-out against Portsmouth.
“We had quite a few opportunities last week, that has to be said,” Ferguson said. “We would have liked to have taken them and put the game to bed. And if you don't take these chances in games that are close, you can regret it.
“Fortunately last week we were in control of the situation when it went to penalty kicks but we never looked as though we were going to lose it.
“But we have a good variety of midfield players and the back four are fit so we have a good foundation. If we keep creating chances, then we will start taking them.”
And he added: “In terms of attacking options we really are down to the bare bones but we have plenty of variety in midfield and hopefully that will enough for us to get through the first hurdle.”
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