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Last Updated: Sunday, 15 May, 2005, 17:29 GMT 18:29 UK
Ferguson praises professionalism
Man Utd boss Sir Alex Ferguson
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson praised his side for their professionalism after a 2-1 win away at Southampton relegated the Saints.

"I thought it was a very long day, the game seemed to last forever simply because of what it meant," he said.

"It's one of those games you'd rather not have, but you've got to do your best because your reputation and pride have a lot to answer for.

"I was pleased with our quality but it was difficult as they fought hard."

Ferguson paid tribute to Saints boss Harry Redknapp and assistant Jim Smith and backed them to win promotion from the Championship.

"It's not easy for players on a day like today, especially their players, but even for ours when we know they are fighting for their careers some of them," he added.

"Harry and Jim are great pros, maybe they just came to Southampton and the wrong time when they were on their way down.

"But they've got great experience and they will bring them back up."

The game was Man Utd's last before Saturday's FA Cup final and Ferguson thinks it was a good preparation ahead of the game against Arsenal in Cardiff.

"It's done us no harm before what is a massive game. Everyone is available who we want to be except Gabriel Heinze, who we're hoping will train on Monday or Tuesday.

"We've got options but we won't make a decision until maybe Thursday because he's been one of our star players."

Man Utd skipper Roy Keane, who was left as an unused substitute, emerged on to the pitch after the final whistle for a run-down and appeared to to respond to some barracking with a thumbs-down sign to Saints fans.

Stewards had to step in to usher Keane down the tunnel as Southampton fans rushed to express their fury at the United skipper.


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