Cole: United will come back stronger

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Andy Cole was part of the Manchester United side that famously bounced back in 1996 after failing to retain the Premier League title the previous year, and the Old Trafford favourite is confident that Sir Alex Ferguson's current crop of stars can do exactly the same next season.

The former England striker dismissed any suggestion that the players could struggle to get over the agonising manner in which they surrendered their domestic crown to local rivals Manchester City on the final day of the 2011-12 campaign, believing that his old club are "made of stronger stuff".

"I see that in whatever United team there is," 1999 treble winner Cole, told the Manchester Evening News. "No-one wants to lose, especially on the last day of the season.

"You can't wait for pre-season to come around because you want to get started again. I would imagine that next season the boys will come back much stronger, determined to try to win the Premier League again.

"The gaffer's very, very disappointed that we lost it the way we did but, ultimately, he says, 'Hey, it's gone now – let's look towards next season'. He always does that.

"He'll bring in new players and he'll have a right good go at it again because that's what the manager does. He loves a challenge. Whoever throws down the gauntlet, we're prepared to challenge them. Man City have done that now and, no doubt, are going to be a challenger."

After releasing injury-plagued striker Michael Owen, and reports intimating that Dimitar Berbatov is poised to leave the club, United may look to strengthen in the forward department, and Cole also thinks that a creative midfielder will be at the top of Ferguson's list of summer recruits.

"He's let a centre-forward go in Michael Owen, so he might look at that position," he added. "He's been linked with a couple of midfield players as well, so we'll just have to wait and see."

But, despite numerous names being linked with moves to the Premier League giants, Cole insists that club veterans Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs will still be important parts of the United squad next season.

"For their age, the way that they played was unbelievable [last season]. If you use Scholesy and he plays 20-25 games, what a 25 games he'll give you – he's a phenomenal player.

"If Giggsy plays 25 games, he'll give you a fantastic 25 games as well. [And] if he [Ferguson] looks to bring in new players to have those married in with Scholesy and Giggsy, it's going to be absolutely fantastic."

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