HEARTACHE BOOSTS FERDINAND RESOLVE
Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand believes the club's shattering disappointment in Sunday's Barclays Premier League title battle could ultimately prove to be a positive experience.
When their game ended at Sunderland, United were seconds away from being crowned champions for a record 20th time, having secured their win at the Stadium of Light and knowing Manchester City were being held by QPR.
All United's hopes were dashed by Sergio Aguero's stoppage time winner though, leaving Sir Alex Ferguson's men to reflect on what might have been given the Red Devils had established an eight-point advantage with only six games remaining.
Ferdinand accepts it was a hard blow to take but feels the setback will only make United's less experienced players more hungry to succeed.
"It is disappointing to say the least," Ferdinand told BBC Sport.
"It is a cruel way to lose the title, with the last kick of the ball this season.
"But there are positives. The squad has been put to its test and done magnificently well.
"A lot of the young players have done remarkably well.
"Hopefully that will put us in a good position next season.
"Maybe with the benefit of hindsight the experience will have done us good."
And, with Ferguson clearly intent on strengthening his squad, Ferdinand knows what the target is going to be by August.
"We don't feel like it now. I am sure none of the lads do," he said.
"But tasting defeat, especially in this cruel manner, makes it much better when you win.
"We have to take this on the chin, be man about it and dust ourselves down for next season.
"We have to make sure we are ready to fight to get that title back."
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