Alex Ferguson determined to win FA Cup
Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed he felt "sick" for days after suffering his first FA Cup third-round exit 12 months ago.
Through all the trials and tribulations of his 24 years at Manchester United, Ferguson had never fallen at the first hurdle in his quest to win the game's oldest cup competition.
That statistic was wiped away by Leeds United, who belied their League One status to triumph at Old Trafford thanks to a Jermaine Beckford goal that sent 9,000 travelling fans wild with glee.
The joy was matched by Ferguson's despair. And contrary to those who think the Scot is too pre-occupied with the Premier League and Champions League to waste much energy on a tournament he has already won on five occasions, he has no intention of suffering such agony again.
"It is the first time I had lost a third round tie since I came to the club and it didn't sit well with me," said Ferguson.
"I did not enjoy it and was sick for a few days afterwards.
"I made a mistake picking the wrong team last year. Hopefully I don't pick the wrong one this time."
The perception of Ferguson having an uncaring attitude towards the FA Cup has been built around United's controversial withdrawal in 2000 to compete in the World Club Championship, which proved to be the forerunner for the current Club World Cup.
Although United suffered most of the negativity, the move was actually a political one, designed to assist in the first of two ill-fated World Cup bids.
Clearly, from his words, the competition did not have much resonance for Ferguson, whose side bowed out in the opening group stage.
The spin-off was the heat of Brazil at a time when the temperatures were freezing back home, and title rivals Arsenal and Leeds were imploding.
"I don't think that is true," said Ferguson, when challenged about the perception United don't care about the FA Cup.
"That has come about because of the year we went to Brazil for that tournament, I don't even know what they called it.
"There were teams from all over the place; Australia, Africa. I don't know what it was called but it was a great holiday.
"I really enjoyed it. We were away for three weeks and Leeds and Arsenal did not win a game between them."
These words cannot be greeted with any comfort by Liverpool, whose season is spiralling downhill dramatically.
Ferguson's personal friendship with Roy Hodgson presumably led to his decision not to comment on the turbulence at Anfield, whose record 18 league titles looks set to be claimed by the Red Devils at the end of the season.
Instead, the United boss is concentrating on ensuring his side prove worthy of their status as overwhelming favourites, which in turn would propel the Merseyside giants into another bout of naval gazing.
"It is a cup tie," he said.
"On this occasion, you have to forget the other side of it, the Manchester United against Liverpool side.
"There are shocks in cup ties and always have been; Hereford beating Newcastle, Yeovil Town, York City. Bournemouth beat United in 1984. It is a tournament you cannot take for granted."
Ferguson does not intend to, which is why he will check on the fitness of Wayne Rooney and Edwin van der Sar, who has missed two games with a bout of flu, before he finalises his line-up.
It appeared Rooney would be condemned to spend a spell on the sidelines when he limped off with an ankle injury at West Brom on New Year's Day.
However, the England forward startled many observers when he made his way back onto the field as United had already been reduced to 10 men.
That decision cost Rooney a chance to figure in Tuesday's win over Stoke.
But the 25-year-old has returned to training and could be in contention to face the team he, as a lifelong Everton fan, has always disliked.
"If it had been serious Wayne would not have come back on last week," said Ferguson.
"Maybe it was not the right thing to do in terms of getting him ready for Tuesday's game. But he started work yesterday and we just hope that he will be all right for Sunday."
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