Keane sees victory as launchpad for new side

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The Independent Football

Not so long ago, less than two years in fact, Roy Keane dismissed a season with only the FA Cup to show as one offering nothing more than a "consolation prize, an afterthought".

Not so long ago, less than two years in fact, Roy Keane dismissed a season with only the FA Cup to show as one offering nothing more than a "consolation prize, an afterthought".

Yesterday the Manchester United captain, 32, was more enthusiastic in his appraisal and he called for "patience" as the club rebuilds. He said "it would take time" following the widespread changes made by Sir Alex Ferguson last summer.

Keane also compared United to "the great Liverpool sides of the 1980s" adding "they did not win it [the championship] every year. So sometimes you have to accept defeat. You're not going to play well all the time."

The Irishman added: "Over the years, when we've had our disappointments, and we've had a few, the sign of a top team and a top club is how you respond. And I feel we've always bounced back well. All the great teams have had their disappointments. And you have to remember that we have won championships consistently. We've done it back-to-back three times."

Keane insisted he was not "looking for excuses", although he did highlight the number of young players in the United team. He went on: "I said all along that our targets should always be the European Cup and the Premiership but we cannot keep looking back. The season has gone now and we've finished on a high. And we start afresh pre-season and try to get back to the top where we belong.

"You always have to look forward - win, lose or draw. We always have to look to improve because we've not really produced in the Premiership. We were unfortunate against Porto in the second leg [of the Champions' League]. But that's football.

"We've got a lot of young players coming through as you saw - Cristiano [Ronaldo], young Darren [Fletcher]. But it doesn't cover the fact that we've been disappointing in our League form, to lose nine matches. But you know sometimes you have to be patient and we've got a lot of talented players and hopefully we'll be better next year."

Keane continued: "It takes time. We've got a top manager, with really good staff and good players. But no matter how good your team is, you're not going to win the League every year."

His sentiments were echoed by his young team-mate, for club and country, the defender John O'Shea, who said: "The aim was to retain our title and to do better in the Champions' League. We failed there but we end the season on a high. We'll forget about this season now and concentrate on next season. Arsenal have set a great record and we have to chase that, try and achieve that.

"When we played Arsenal we showed there was not much between the two sides. We just have to concentrate on ourselves. We let ourselves down against the lower sides and we have to make sure we win those games. There's no problem. We showed that Arsenal are not a better team than us. We just need that consistency."

Amid all the talk of the Premiership and Arsenal, it was easy to forget that an FA Cup final had been played, and easily won, against Millwall but O'Shea added: "All the pressure was on us. We had everything to lose and we put in a solid performance and scored some great goals and showed what we were capable of."

Indeed it was Dutchman Ruud van Nistelrooy, like O'Shea getting his first FA Cup winners' medal - unlike Keane who was gaining his fourth - who appeared the most enthusiastic about victory in United's first appearance in the final for five years. "It's great to win this Cup. It's a big trophy in England and far beyond," said the striker who scored two of the goals on Saturday and six in all in United's Cup run.

"Winning this Cup we had a tough run - Aston Villa, Man City, Fulham, Arsenal in the semis. It was a great achievement and it showed everyone what we were able to do. It was great to lift that Cup.

"We can build on this for sure," Van Nistelrooy added. "We didn't have the best of seasons, I agree with that. But winning this Cup helps for next season. But first we enjoy this Cup because I was so happy to win it."