'Rooney maybe went to United at wrong time'

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Sir Alex Ferguson admitted that his team were at a "low moment" after crashing out of the Champions' League at the hands of Benfica last night, but the former England coach Glenn Hoddle went as far as suggesting that Wayne Rooney had joined the team at the wrong time.

Ferguson said: "It is a low moment but part of your job is to recover from this. It's not the best moment for the club or the supporters but you regroup and start again.

"We were in a position at 1-0 looking well. We dominated in terms of possession, but when you're chasing a game like that desperation comes in and anxiety, which is understandable because they were keen to win," Ferguson said.

Hoddle, now the manager of Wolverhampton Wanderers, said: "Rooney maybe went to United at the wrong time in history. I'm not sure whether Roy Keane would have been fit and Paul Scholes is a good player - but he is past his best.

"But it was the manner in which they lost tonight which was disappointing. If you were Sir Alex Ferguson you would be saying, 'Let's get a good start' and they got it.

"But their football deteriorated from then on and Sir Alex will be scratching his head at how they performed from then on. They didn't stop Benfica controlling the game for long periods."

Ronaldo and Ryan Giggs were both substituted, and Hoddle continued: "There was no real width - was Ronaldo a wide player tonight or was he asked to play in the centre?

"It's very disappointing not having a fifth British side in the last 16 of the Champions' League - but United didn't deserve it tonight."

The former Chelsea and Newcastle United manager Ruud Gullit believed a lack of experience had cost the Old Trafford team.

Gullit, who won the European Cup with Milan, said: "They lost the plot totally and lost their shape - I think they missed the experience. Some players are not at the top level and Wayne Rooney has come into a team which is not the best Manchester United. Everything depends on a young guy like him - and I think that's too much.

"They didn't play at the level required - and it's ironic now that they are not in the Uefa Cup."

United's club captain Gary Neville said: "Qualifying for the knock-out stages has been par for the course - but we have not been good enough in this group. That is unlike us but it's difficult to explain why. Usually we score lots of goals.

"It was a dream start. We played quite well for the first 10 to 15 minutes but we didn't react very well after their first goal and for the remainder of the half we were all over the place at times - we lost our discipline a little bit, to be honest. We all tried but we're extremely disappointed."

Despite the defeat, Ferguson indicated that he has no intention of relinquishing the post he has held since coming south from Aberdeen in 1986.

"It does not make any difference whether I walk down the street backwards, it will not alter my profile," he said. "That is not a problem to me. We have a job to do and the rebuilding will carry on.

"I am not going to answer any questions about my future. I have a job to do, it is a good job and I have every confidence in my players."

Ferguson admitted the damage had been done with three largely ineffective home performances from which his side gleaned only five points.

Defeats to Lille left United on the brink of elimination and their agony only increased after finding that a draw would have been enough last night following the French side's defeat to Villarreal.

"We are disappointed," Ferguson said. "There is no doubt about that.

"We gave away possession far too easily so we only have ourselves to blame in that sense. We were desperate to win the match and with that came a sense of anxiety. I give my team 10 out of 10 for determination and effort but in the end it was not to be."

The Benfica coach Ronald Koeman insisted his team had thoroughly deserved their success.

He said: "At the start of the competition United were the big favourites but they did not show they were the best team."