Ferdinand: United will 'bounce back'
Rio Ferdinand is convinced Manchester United's vast experience will drag them through their UEFA Champions League nightmare.
United flew home this afternoon, still coming to terms with the shattering experience suffered in Switzerland, when a 2-1 defeat to Basel turfed them out at the group stage of European football's most prestigious competition for the first time since 2005.
In terms of prestige, the setback is even greater given Sir Alex Ferguson's men, finalists three times in the past four seasons, are five points adrift of Manchester City in the Premier League race and also visit the Blues in the FA Cup next month having suffered a surprise Carling Cup reverse to npower Championship outfit Crystal Palace last week.
Ferdinand insists it is a time for cool heads. As one of the survivors from 2005, the English defender knows exactly how much criticism will be unleashed on the Red Devils. But he retains the utmost faith in the situation being turned around very quickly. "We are definitely good enough to bounce back," Ferdinand said.
"It is only a couple of weeks ago people were saying we were going to be champions and we were going to do this and that. It doesn't change after one night in Europe. We have a lot of players here with valuable experience. That will come into play now. I have no worries or qualms about this weekend coming. We will be up for it."
"You don't want to experience this type of feeling often," Ferdinand added . "It leaves a bitter taste in your mouth. The young players in the squad who haven't been here long know what that is like now."
The immediate priority for Ferguson is to restore enough self-belief to claim a win over Wolverhampton Wanderers at Old Trafford on Saturday. After that, encounters with Queens Park Rangers, Fulham, Wigan Athletic and Blackburn Rovers offer a further opportunity to collect points and exert some pressure on City ahead of that crunch FA Cup tie at the Etihad Stadium on 8 January.
Not even the presence of Wayne Rooney on the flight back to Manchester after his successful UEFA hearing could lift the immediate gloom though. And Ferdinand concurred with Patrice Evra about the low Champions League elimination has brought, although he denied completely any suggestion United may have been complacent about the task they faced in gaining a single point at St-Jakob Park.
"There was no complacency," Ferdinand said. "That is way off the mark. The manager wouldn't stand for complacency at this club. But it is embarrassing to go out at this stage and any player with pride in his performance and in his job doesn't want to feel that. We don't like this. We will try and rectify it."
As far as continental action is concerned, that means the UEFA Europa League, which will no doubt be greeted with exactly the same mirth across the country United fans enjoyed when Liverpool found themselves in the same position two years ago.
"We have to be prepared for the ridicule about playing in the Europa League," he said. "But no matter what gets said we will respect the tournament and try to win it."