United shrug off talk of crisis and decline

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The Independent Online

Manchester United's chief executive, David Gill, has dismissed talk of a crisis at Old Trafford.

Manchester United's chief executive, David Gill, has dismissed talk of a crisis at Old Trafford.

The team are out of the Champions' League, almost certainly out of the Premiership title race after Sunday's 4-1 defeat by Manchester City and must overcome Arsenal to reach the FA Cup final. Various explanations for United's fall from grace have been put forward but Gill said yesterday that a combination of factors - and some bad luck - have been to blame for a drop in the club's normally high standards.

"It is dangerous to pin it down on one thing," he said. "We've got the quality of players there and we've got to make sure we turn around our performances and really go for the last 10 games in the league. We've got a massive game against Arsenal at Villa Park and 89 other teams would like to be in our position."

Gill refuted suggestions that the slump could be attributed to either the sale of David Beckham to Real Madrid last summer or to Sir Alex Ferguson's decision not to sign a defender in the January transfer window despite the threat of Rio Ferdinand being suspended for the rest of the season.

On Beckham, Gill said: "That was the decision taken last summer and we realised some capital from the sale and invested it into players. Up until Christmas we were playing fantastically well and no one was asking at that point whether we were missing David Beckham."

Gill said he and Ferguson had discussed signing a defender but the manager concluded it "wasn't necessary".

"There was no point bringing in a player as a stop-gap measure; we would have wanted someone good enough to play in the Champions' League and they are few and far between.

"It was very disappointing to go out of the Champions' League but if the goal by Paul Scholes had been given, which was patently onside, we might have gone through. But football is judged on little things like that."

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