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World is not enough for Man United

December 23, 2008 17:44 IST

Manchester United's [Images] players had already switched their body clocks back to GMT before beating Ecuador's LDU to capture the Club World Cup in Japan [Images].

The Premier League champions became the tournament's first British winners when a Wayne Rooney [Images] goal gave them a 1-0 victory over LDU in Sunday's final in Yokohama.

Their mission in Japan complete, the newly-crowned world champions face a tough turnaround with a visit to Stoke City in the Premier League on December 26.

United captain Rio Ferdinand admitted that losing to LDU after flying halfway around the world could have had a calamitous effect on their season.

"Hopefully this sets a tone for the rest of the season," he told reporters. "We've been inconsistent up to now and tonight we played like the Manchester United of the last two years."

Ferdinand credited a paint-stripping battle cry from United manager Alex Ferguson for the side's refusal to buckle following defender Nemanja Vidic's red card for elbowing an opponent.

"The manager's team talk hit the nail on the head," said Ferdinand. "I won't get into what he said but he got us into gear and that's the sign of a great manager.

"Winning could be the turning point of the season -- from being quite mediocre results-wise to challenging for all the big titles.

"Sometimes you need to be told the basics and we were reminded what got us here in the first place. Even great players need reminding and we've got a few of them in our squad."

DREAM TREBLE

After completing a dream treble of the English, European and world titles, United can ill afford a slip-up at Stoke or at home to Middlesbrough three days later as the fixtures pile up.

"We have to make sure we get as much sleep as we can before Stoke," said Rooney, who was named player of the tournament after scoring twice in the 5-3 semi-final win over Japan's Gamba Osaka.

Vidic's red card was a major blow to Ferguson, ruling the Serb out of United's next Champions League game. His ban could be as long as three games if the incident is deemed violent conduct.

"It depends how FIFA interpret it and how UEFA [Images] act on the information they get," said Ferguson. "Vida is disappointed but he gave the referee no option."

The Club World Cup has traditionally been viewed with scepticism in Britain and the US $5 million United earned for winning is loose change for the Red Devils.

However, Ferguson defended the seven-team competition, insisting it had merit and would give his team an important psychological lift.

His side sit fourth in the league with 32 points from 16 games, seven points behind leaders Liverpool with two games in hand.

"To be world champions in December is a huge mid-season boost," said the Scot. "It gives us a platform to start playing with real purpose and chase the leaders."


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