Success not easy for Fergie

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Sir Alex Ferguson has defended his Manchester United team as worthy champions - but admitted this campaign does not compare with the 1999 treble-winning season.

A 73rd-minute Wayne Rooney penalty proved enough to earn United a 1-1 draw with Blackburn - after Brett Emerton gave the hosts the lead - at Ewood Park and secure the Red Devils a record 19th championship.

"It is not fair to say it's a bad Manchester United team or a bad league," he said. "It is a tighter league, a harder league to win."

The win also meant United will end the season with only five away wins, matching the total of Liverpool in 1977.

Yet Ferguson still feels his side deserve the accolades that should come their way, despite repeated doubts being cast over the quality of this particular season. "Any campaign has got blips for anyone," he added. "You have got to look at the league in general."

However, even though his team could yet win the Champions League and were one game away from reaching the FA Cup final, Ferguson knows the overall campaign has been below the standards set in 1999.

"Let's not get carried away," he said. "The treble season was something special. I don't think anyone will ever do it again. We made a go at it, as a manager of the club, you have to try that.

"But I didn't think it would happen. I thought we would get knocked out somewhere along the line. Fortunately it was the one you would want to win least of all because the Premier League and the Champions League are paramount."

United have now won the championship more times that rivals Liverpool, an amazing achievement given in 1990 the score was 18-7.

"It's not so much passing Liverpool," said Ferguson. "That thing about knocking Liverpool off their perch, I don't think I actually said it, but it's more important that United are the best team in the country in terms of winning titles."

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Brett Emerton
European News
Blackburn Rovers
Premier League
UEFA Champions League
Manchester United
Wayne Rooney
FA Cup

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