MANCHESTER, England, December 1 – Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson apologised to United fans after his side were beaten 2-1 by Championship side Crystal Palace in the League Cup quarter finals.
Ferguson was upset with the manner of his side’s defeat on Wednesday, which also saw the Da Silva twins and Dimitar Berbatov forced off with injuries.
Bulgarian striker Berbatov appeared to have suffered an ankle problem in the opening stages and left Old Trafford with a plastic boot on the injured leg and looks sure to miss Saturday’s game at Aston Villa.
Palace will now face fellow Championship side Cardiff in the semi-finals, while Manchester City face Liverpool in the other tie.
The defeat to Palace was the ninth time that United have lost a League Cup match to lower-league opposition since 1990 and Ferguson was baffled by his team’s display.
Palace took the lead through a Darren Ambrose strike from 30 yards before Federico Macheda’s equaliser ensured the tie went to extra time.
But Glenn Murray, who has spent much of his career at the third and fourth levels of English football, headed in from an Ambrose corner to dump United out.
“I don’t know where to start,” said Ferguson.
“I really apologise to our fans because that was not a Manchester United performance.
“I don’t want to take anything away from Palace and I want them to get to the final because it was a mammoth effort and they worked their socks off so we’re just very disappointed.
“When it went to extra time I thought we must win it but it wasn’t to be. We had a lot of possession but didn’t do anything with it.”
Ferguson had promised to blood some youngsters at Old Trafford but Ezekiel Fryers, Ravel Morrison and Paul Pogba had to settle for coming off the bench.
It was just a second home outing for Fryers and Morrison, while Pogba was making his first appearance at Old Trafford.
But despite the frustrating nature of the defeat, Ferguson insists the youngsters will not have been damaged by the experience.
“It was hard for them to come on when the team isn’t playing well around and about them but it won’t do them any harm.
“There was too much short passing and I’m not going to go into the ins and outs but we were beaten and it was a very disappointing night for United.”
Ferguson, whose side have not won in their last three matches, will now have to lift themselves ahead of the trip to Villa this weekend as he attempts to close the five-point gap to Premier League leaders City.
Crystal Palace manager Dougie Freedman maintains that Cardiff are the toughest draw in the last four despite having missed out on facing City and Liverpool.
He feels that reaching the last four is reward for a hard few years for the Selhurst Park club.
“It’s going to be difficult because we’ve already played Cardiff this season and been beaten,” said Freedman, who scored 95 goals in 330 appearances for the club in two spells there.
“It’s probably the harder draw and that’s not me trying to pull the wool over people’s eyes.
“They’re a good team, they’re on the up and they’re near the top in the Championship so it will be very difficult for us.
“I’m just proud that after being in relegation trouble and administration in the last couple of years. We’ve worked hard so we’re looking forward to it,” added the 37-year-old Scot.