Football: Squad power and the glory

Strength in depth is again the key to United success.

IN SEEMINGLY the most obvious and predictable remark after Manchester United's dismissal of Newcastle's flimsy Wembley challenge yesterday, Ryan Giggs said that although the early loss of captain Roy Keane was a "disappointment", the outcome was assured because "it's a squad game".

Newcastle's side reflected the comparative inadequacy of their resources. Alex Ferguson, the Manchester United manager, emphasised the difference by saying: "We had to reorganise after the injury to Keane but it was a squad effort. They were marvellous, but Teddy Sheringham was the decisive factor."

Ruud Gullit, Ferguson's Newcastle counterpart, admitted: "We gave them far too much space. All the time we let them get to the ball first." He acknowledged that the lack of depth in his squad had not only led to a one-sided final but been a problem all season. "We have already signed two players [for next season]," he said afterwards. As to the day itself, he said: "For a time it could have gone either way. Then we gave it away. When Duncan Ferguson came on we were in control in midfield but you can't give the ball away the way we did. Overall, though, it's been a positive year for us."

But will he be at Newcastle next season? Rumour has it he is being tempted to leave for Italy but he was adamant: "I haven't signed my new contract yet - that's in the hands of the lawyers and I have a good one - but I will sign."

After that he acknowledges for next season his priority must be "to stop giving away the stupid goals". He added: "That made all the difference, it's been happening all season. We've got to get the players to stop that going on. United have the quality to take advantage. They punish you immediately for your mistakes."

Ferguson and Gullit acknowledged that it was far from a fine final, but Ferguson said: "I thought we had a great second half." Unusually, he gave individual praise. As well as stressing Sheringham's contribution, he said David Beckham had been "absolutely magnificent".

He said the midfielder had "responded ever so well to the reorganisation. I knew he wouldn't let us down." Also, Keane's injury came "not from a bad tackle but a reckless one". He added: "I had to consider what was the best substitution. I considered Jesper Blomqvist. Then I felt we should have the three strikers on the field. So [Ole Gunnar] Solskjaer was not in his natural position but he worked his socks off - everyone made a good contribution."

Asked if he had been tempted to send out a reduced team to keep United's powder dry for the European Cup final against Bayern Munich on Wednesday, he said: "I think that over the past five or six weeks I've spread the squad as best I can. We go to Barcelona very confident. I've rested Andy Cole quite a lot and Dwight Yorke today because he has done fantastically. The one who has played all through that period, though, is Beckham. But knowing the nature of him and what he's made of I knew he had the best stamina of all of them. I think we've done well to pick the team we did and keep the appropriate selection for Wednesday. The confidence now is even higher."

For many United fans the only disappointment was seeing the last performance in Britain of the goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel, who left the field in delight but not sufficiently so to give even a hint of a change of mind over his decision to end his United career after Wednesday's final.

Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
Jonathan de Guzman of the Netherlands and Willian of Brazil compete for the ball
world cup 2014LIVE BLOG: Hosts Brazil take on the Netherlands in third-place play-off
Tommy Ramone performing at The Old Waldorf Nightclub in 1978 in San Francisco, California.
peopleDrummer Tommy was last surviving member of seminal band
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Several male celebrities have confessed to being on a diet, including, from left to right, Hugh Grant, Benedict Cumberbatch and Ryan Reynolds
life...and the weight loss industry is rubbing its hands in glee
Spectators photograph the Tour de France riders as they make their way through the Yorkshire countryside
voicesHoward Jacobson: Line the streets for a cycling race? You might just as well watch a swarm of wasps
Life and Style
lifeHere's one answer to an inquisitive Reddit user's question
Arts and Entertainment
'Eminem's recovery from substance abuse has made him a more potent performer, with physical charisma and energy he never had before'
arts + entsReview: Wembley Stadium ***
Joe Root and James Anderson celebrate their record-beaking partnership
cricketEngland's last-wicket stand against India rewrites the history books
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily World Cup Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, Accreditation, ITIL)

£70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...

C# Developer (HTML5, JavaScript, ASP.NET, Mathematics, Entity)

£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Integration Developer (.NET, Tibco EMS, SQL 2008/2012, XML)

£60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...

Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice