United fail their final task as Barça conquer Europe

Players let me down says Ferguson after Catalans win Champions League

The Championes chant which echoed around this Roman stadium last night belonged to the followers of a different side. "Campions" is the Catalan spelling and Barcelona are unarguably the masters of the Continent.

Sir Alex Ferguson, denied his 36th trophy and one which he knew would put Manchester United on new and elevated ground, made it plain that he felt some of his players had failed him against a side managed by an individual 29 years his junior. "It was a big opportunity and with the players we have we expected better at the end of the day," said the United manager, who was indignant when asked to confirm that the 2-0 defeat had not lessened his desire to lead his club on next season. "I don't understand that question on a night like this. I don't like that stupid bloody question," he said.

Gracious in his praise for a Barcelona side he said were one of the best United have faced in Europe, Ferguson was clearly distressed about the way his side defended, with Nemanja Vidic at fault for the first goal, on 10 minutes, and Rio Ferdinand deceived by the ball's flight for Lionel Messi's second 20 minutes from time.

"In our best performances this season we've defended very well," said Ferguson. "Tonight our defending was shoddy, especially the first goal which game them a boost. It was the first goal that told, that's for sure, and it gave them the opportunity to keep possession as they do very well. We didn't plan to concede that early but it's a fact and we didn't deal with it well enough. That's the story." Ferguson also lamented his side's failure to "do anything with possession".

Andres Iniesta and Lionel Messi caused both Michael Carrick and Anderson, substituted at half-time, substantial problems, and Ferguson said he felt the absence of the suspended Darren Fletcher greatly. "I thought before the game it may have been a problem, he is a big-game player, but they had players missing too."

Cristiano Ronaldo began well, shooting four times in an opening 10 minutes during which Barcelona could not gather possession, but he ended the game ignominiously, hacking twice at Carles Puyol, and was cautioned for the second offence.

Ronaldo implied afterwards, in an interview with Portuguese TV, that United's tactics had been wrong. "We only had 10 minutes and then they scored and we never found ourselves again. We didn't do well. The tactics were not good and everything went wrong," he said. Whether he will be back at Old Trafford to discuss that with Ferguson next season remains to be seen – yet again. Asked if he would be with United come August, Ronaldo replied: "I don't know."

Wayne Rooney paid tribute to Barcelona as "probably the best team in the world" – and Iniesta – "the best player in the world right now".

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea