Man Utd eager to reclaim title
Durban - Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson wants the English Premier League trophy back at Old Trafford next season.
He told a media conference on Tuesday that regaining the symbol of English football supremacy was "priority number one" after being pipped at the post by neighbours Manchester City last season.
City scored twice in stoppage time to defeat QPR 3-2 at home on the final day of the season and win the title on goal difference from United, who won 1-0 at Sunderland in a match played simultaneously.
"I want to recover the title after the disappointment of last season," said Ferguson ahead of the first of six pre-season matches here on Wednesday against mid-table South African Premiership outfit AmaZulu.
"We either win the title or come second - it is an important part of the history of our club over the past 20 years," he stressed on a warm mid-winter day in a city that attracts millions of tourists annually.
"United have to recover as the club have done so many times in the past. That is our target this year. Priority number one is to win the English Premier League title back."
Amid rumours that Manchester City are preparing to woo prolific Dutch scorer Robin van Persie from Arsenal, Ferguson gave a brief Premier League history lesson to illustrate the resilience of his Red Devils.
"When Arsenal won the title from us in 1998, we won the treble the following year. Then Chelsea came along and got off to a flier in the league for the first two years so we changed our pre-season a little to ensure quick starts."
With stars like Wayne Rooney resting after Euro 2012 commitments, others like Ryan Giggs competing at the London Olympics and captain Nemanja Vidic among those injured, United have brought a severely depleted squad to South Africa.
However, Ferguson once again went back in time to demonstrate that AmaZulu should be wary of his Red Devils when they clash before a sell-out 50 000 crowd at Moses Mabhida Stadium.
"When I started picking young players, we played Port Vale in a League Cup game and an MP protested to the government, saying we were cheating the public and they wanted their money back.
"Little did she know she was watching perhaps the greatest group of young players to come through at a football club in England. The same applies here," he said.
The United manager hinted that midfielders Jesse Lingard and Robbie Brady could face AmaZulu, who are coached by Swede Roger Palmgren and captained by Zimbabwe goalkeeper Tapuwa Kapini.