As Manchester United’s hopes of European success and the potential for another elusive treble crashed and burned at Old Trafford on Tuesday, Sir Alex Ferguson’s side have little time to dwell on their controversial Champions League short comings.
Now only able to challenge for domestic honours this season, Ferguson’s side face an unequivocal challenge in their FA Cup quarter-final tie against Chelsea on Sunday. A failure to win against the West London club will have seen United crash out of two cup competitions in a matter of days and should this happen another devastating confidence blow will undoubtedly be handed to the Red Devils.
In the space of one week United could be resigned to competing solely for their 20th League title. Whilst this remains an exceptional triumph, one that any other Premier League club would envy, it seems likely this will not be enough for the United boss.
Despite a turbulent week for Ferguson and his team, there remains no manager in the game more adept at lifting his squad following a painful loss. Unquestionably the Red Devils attentions will now be focused implicitly on achieving a league and FA Cup double, and with the Premier League looking as good as wrapped up, Sundays game is sure to be of utmost importance to United.
In the aftermath of Tuesdays dramatic Champions League tie, Chris Smalling has reiterated the importance of the FA Cup to him and his team.
He told the club's official website: "The competition holds a very high status for me.
"When you’re growing up you see a lot of the lower league teams and sides from around your area playing against some of the bigger teams in the competition.
"And it gives every kid and every young player a chance to feel that they can be a part of it and that they can relate to the FA Cup because anybody can take part.
"I played in some of the qualifying rounds. You have to play quite a few qualifiers to even get to the first round of the Cup when you’re in the lower leagues. I recall we were close to playing a League Two side, but lost in the fourth qualifying round.
"It’s a competition that I’m very fortunate to be a part of, whether with Maidstone or Manchester United.”
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