Sir Alex Ferguson claimed it was fate that saw the Premier League champions stuff even more silverware into their trophy cabinet on Wednesday evening. It is exactly 50 years after the Munich air disaster and it was rather fitting that Sir Bobby Charlton was involved in the presentation ceremony, a true Manchester United legend that none of the team have yet come close to emulating.
However, were the Red Devils really the best team in Europe this season? They were second best for much of the final against Chelsea, eeked past a sub-standard Barcelona team in the semi-finals and struggled at home to Roma in the last eight stage. The Press Association reports that Fergie is sticking to the fate theory.
Ferguson said: “We had a cause which was very important. People with causes are difficult to battle against and I think fate was playing its part. I feel very, very proud.”
He added: “We’re delighted. It’s my first victory in a penalty shootout apart from the Charity Shield. I’ve lost three with Aberdeen and three with United so this is seventh time lucky.
“The slip by (John) Terry gave us an opening and I thought we would win it then.
“We were fantastic in the first half but the goal gave them an impetus and they were the better team in the second half. But in extra-time I think we were the better team. It was tight and there were some fantastic moments.”
Were United the better team in the final? While they could have been out of sight by half-time, especially if Carrick had found the top corner with his shot, the Blues were much stronger after the interval, hitting the woodwork twice and looking the likelier winners before the penalty shoot-out.