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Fergie hungry to make amends for Roman ruin

sports Updated: Aug 15, 2009 09:32 IST

AFP
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Sir Alex Ferguson insists there will be no hangover from Manchester United's crushing Champions League final defeat as his side begin life without Cristiano Ronaldo in their Premier League opener against Birmingham on Sunday.

Ferguson admitted in the close-season that the pain of May's defeat to Barcelona in Rome's Stadio Olimpico took a long while to ease as he relaxed with his family on holiday in the south of France.

Yet he is convinced his players will be more than capable of putting it behind them as well as adapt to being without the talismanic Ronaldo in the wake of his 80 million pounds world record move to Real Madrid in June.

Few teams could cope with such a loss, but Ferguson admits he is excited at the young talent emerging at Old Trafford and curious to discover how United tackle another season of challenges without Portugal international Ronaldo - their leading goalscorer for the past two seasons.

Ferguson said: "There can't afford to be (a hangover). You just have to move on and it's a new season and a fresh challenge.

"We have some good young players here who all want to do well. That gives me great encouragement.

"We still have a very good young squad. Some of the young players are developing very well and I'm quite happy with what we've got.

"I hope the young players can learn from the more experienced ones and from what they have achieved.

"They have the right motivation to achieve and that's the value of having players like Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Gary Neville here.

"Probably most of the players expected Cristiano Ronaldo to leave at some point so it wasn't a big shock to them.

"The problem now is how we progress as a team, in a different shape, different way to when he was here. It's something I'm looking forward to."

Ferguson believes facing newly-promoted Birmingham will be the acid test of whether or not the club was right to prepare for the new campaign with a long trip to the Far East as well as a mini-tournament in Munich.

"I've never noticed any decline in the motivation of the players," he said.

"Pre-season has gone very well and we should have won the Charity Shield and done better in Munich, but these games had a good edge to them and now Sunday will prove to be the acid test of whether or not the pre-season was the right one."