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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 December 2005, 23:15 GMT
Stunned Ferguson vows to rebuild
Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson
Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson refused to answer questions about his future after his side were knocked out of Europe by Benfica.

Ferguson said he had the nucleus of another successful United side but needed time to build a quality squad.

But when asked if the club's new owners would give him that time, Ferguson said: "I am not going to answer that.

"(The media) will have plenty to say. I've got a job to do, it's a great job and I've confidence in my players."

United have not won a trophy since the 2004 FA Cup final, while their premature exit from Europe is the first time they have failed to get past the group stages since the 1994-95 season.

And by finishing bottom of Group D, United do not even have the consolation of a place in the Uefa Cup.

Ferguson said the exit was a setback, but would not put a stop to the rebuilding work he had in mind.

"That is not a problem to me - we have a job to do and the rebuilding will carry on," he said.

"We are disappointed, there's no doubt about that.

"It's a blow and you have to regroup. This club has always risen from difficult situations and we will again."

Ferguson blamed a fundamental lack of respect for possession for the result that finally ended United's European hopes, but conceded that his team's home form earlier in the competition had been the real problem.

Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson
I give my team 10 out of 10 for determination and effort but in the end it was not to be
Man Utd boss Sir Alex Ferguson

"I think we depended always on our home form," said Ferguson.

"Even if we'd won the game I'd still be talking about our home form. That's where we've let ourselves down a little.

"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.

"You couldn't argue it was an unfair result, but I don't think it would have been unfair if we had got an equaliser either."

Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs both played for United, but Ferguson said a lack of experienced heads at crucial stages of the campaign had cost United dearly.

"We probably lacked that experience and ability and when we needed top players they weren't there," he added.

"The confidence is coming back into the team and in the last few (league) games there's been a growing sense of confidence in the club and they've played well."

Skipper Neville said it is important the team respond positively to their European exit.

"Qualifying for the knockout stages has been par for the course - but we have not been good enough in this group," he said.

"We know over the next few days people will criticise us and rightly so because our performances haven't been up to our standards.

"But we have to stick together and perform in the league because we have to close on Chelsea.

"The responsibilities of the senior players stay the same. We have to lift everybody."

Benfica coach Ronald Koeman thought United were too direct when they were chasing the game.

"Maybe they were playing the long ball a bit too much, our team can defend very well and we have strong players in central defence," he said.


WATCH AND LISTEN
News conference: Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson



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