Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson says the Barcelona side that denied him a third European Cup is the best he has faced in 25 years at Old Trafford.
Sir Alex Ferguson has paid tribute to Barcelona after being beaten by the Spanish giants in the Champions League final, saying: “No one has given us a hiding like that.
The La Liga champions outclassed United at Wembley and emerged 3-1 winners thanks to second half strikes by Lionel Messi and David Villa.
Wayne Rooney‘s first half equaliser, cancelling out Pedro’s opener, was the only positive for the United manager, who admitted Barcelona’s passing game had been too much for the Premier League champions.
Ferguson said:”In my time as a manager it is the best team we have faced. I think everyone acknowledges that. I accept that. It’s not easy when you have been well beaten like that to think any other way.
“No one has given us a hiding like that. It’s a great moment for them. They deserve it because they play the right way and they enjoy their football.
They mesmerise you with their passing and we never really controlled Messi. Sir Alex Ferguson
“They mesmerise you with their passing and we never really controlled Messi. When we got the lifeline of Wayne Rooney I expected us to do better in the second half but it wasn’t to be.”
Ferguson insisted that United had decided to stick to their usual style, and said he had never considered man-marking Messi, who was voted man of the match after scoring for the first time on English soil in a Barcelona shirt.
He added: “We tried to play the way we normally play. It’s alien to us to man-mark players, It wasn’t good enough on the night. We understand that and we acknowledge it and we can step forward from here.
“Great teams go in cycles and the cycle they are in at the moment is the best in Europe, there’s no question of that. How long it lasts, whether they can replace that team at another point…they certainly have the philosophy.
“Can you find players like Xavi and Iniesta and Messi all the time? Probably not. But they are enjoying the moment that they have just now.”
Barca coach Pep Guardiola said he had not been satisfied with the club’s 2-0 victory over United in Rome two years ago and the current side was even better.
He said: “When I looked again at how we’d played in Rome I wasn’t that impressed. But the match served its purpose. We trained harder and tonight we had more chances and used them better.”
Asked how he would rate Barcelona’s line-up against the great teams of the past, Guardiola said: “It’s impossible to say as I didn’t see the Madrid of Di Stefano, the Santos of Pele or the Ajax of Cruyff. I would just like people to remember us a team that are enjoyable to watch.”