Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson saw his dreams of landing five trophies kept alive, but admitted that the 2-1 FA Cup fourth round win over Tottenham came at a cost.
Dimitar Berbatov’s first-half strike against his former club settled the tie in United’s favour at Old Trafford after a Tom Huddlestone own goal had cancelled out Roman Pavlyuchenko’s early opener.
But Ferguson’s team didn’t emerge unscathed.
“Cristiano Ronaldo had a stomach bug and it showed because he was nowhere near the player we know he can be,” said the United manager.
“Fabio da Silva picked up a calf injury and Danny Welbeck has injured his knee. The full-back positions are causing us a bit of concern at the moment.”
United have already won the European Super Cup this season, are on top of the Premier League, in the last 16 of the Champions League and have an English League Cup final date with Spurs in March.
“We gave Spurs a start, but we recovered well. We played some good stuff and their keeper made some great saves, but Paul Scholes got us back into the game with his deflected goal,” said Ferguson.
“It was a great strike from a fantastic cross by Michael Carrick. It’s a dangerous game when you are only winning 2-1, but we were always comfortable.”
Ferguson, who dismissed claims that he had attempted to forego a replay for this tie as ‘absolutely scandalous,’ insisted that neither he nor United had any intention of calling for the game to be settled on the day.
He said: “There was never any issue of me not wanting a replay and I said that on Friday. How can you deny the likes of Torquay or Southend the chance of a big gate against one of the big clubs? It’s scandalous.”
Scholes, whose deflected shot opened the scoring, admits he is not certain whether the goal will be marked down as his first of the season.
He said: “If it was on target, then it’s my goal. If it wasn’t, then I won’t claim it.
“If it takes so long to score a goal, it isn’t great. We are in January now, the second half of the season, so you want to be scoring a lot sooner than that.”
Meanwhile, Spurs manager Harry Redknapp accused Teddy Sheringham of talking ‘absolute rubbish’ after the former Tottenham and United striker claimed the Londoners ‘lacked fight and looked happy to be out of the FA Cup’.
Spurs’ failure to turn the tie around earned scathing criticism from television pundit Sheringham.
Despite his team’s exit, however, Redknapp refused to accept the hard-hitting analysis of Sheringham, who spent a season under Redknapp at Portsmouth.
“I’m disappointed to hear Teddy Sheringham saying things like that. He ought to know better,” said Redknapp.
“It’s very unfair and I don’t what he is getting at. How can people say that the players weren’t trying?
“People are just jumping on the bandwagon at the moment, though, and getting on our back. It’s not as if we were beaten 6-1 here. We have lost 2-1 and we had chances to get a draw from the game.”
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