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Friday, 19 May, 2000, 14:48 GMT 15:48 UK
Keane rues Cup pull-out
Manchester United win the 1999 FA Cup final
Roy Keane lifts the FA Cup after last season's final
Manchester United's decision to withdraw from the FA Cup in order to take part in the World Club Championship will prompt fresh twinges of regret when Aston Villa play Chelsea at Wembley on Saturday.

The Old Trafford club completed the second leg of a historic Premiership, FA Cup and Champions League treble when they beat Newcastle in last season's final.

Their decision not to defend the trophy prompted anger from their own supporters along with many senior figures in the game, who accused the club of devaluing the competition.

United captain Roy Keane admits that he will have mixed feelings when this year's final kicks off.

"Come this Saturday afternoon, it will hit home when the FA Cup final actually starts," he said.

"It's the same as not qualifying for Euro 2000 with Ireland and obviously with the build-up happening, you think it would have been nice to have been given the opportunity to defend the Cup.

"But that's history, we all know United didn't have any option and it had to be done for the benefit of the team. Hopefully next season we'll be back in it and I'm looking forward to playing in it again."

Lucky losers Darlington filled United's place in the third round draw, ironically against Villa.

No compensation

David Beckham in Brazil
United won friends but nothing else in Brazil
But Sir Alex Ferguson's side did not find compensation in Brazil as they failed to make the semi-final stage of the inaugural World Club event, which was won by Corinthians.

"It was great to win the Premiership. But I feel the disappointment of losing to Real Madrid in the Champions League quarter-finals, the Brazilian trip and not being able to defend the FA Cup," Keane added. "So as much as it has been a good season, you have to remember the disappointments when you go back next season."

Keane meanwhile believes United's four main domestic rivals - Arsenal, Leeds, Liverpool and Chelsea - could pose an even bigger threat next season if they spend wisely on new players.

"These clubs are big enough and have the financial power to go and do it. We'll see in a few weeks which of the clubs do go out and buy the players."

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04 Jan 00 | Football
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