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Sir Alex reveals big Messi regret after losing 2011 Champions League final

22:03 BST 22/05/2021
Sir Alex Ferguson
A decade on from the Argentine's masterclass at Wembley, the Scotsman has acknowledged that he should have tailed him with Park Ji-sung more

Former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has admitted that his tactical decisions surrounding Lionel Messi are what cost his side the 2011 UEFA Champions League Final against Barcelona.

The Red Devils, competing in what was their third European showpiece finale in four seasons, were beaten 3-1 at Wembley Stadium by Pep Guardiola's Blaugrana, in no small part thanks to an inspired match-winning turn from the Argentine.

Speaking a decade on from the defeat, the veteran Scotsman has now opened up on where he feels the game was won and lost, adding that he feels that United could have won had he tailed Messi with Park Ji-sung throughout the contest.

What has been said?

"That's where I lost the final against Barcelona at Wembley," Ferguson stated in a video Q&A session with former player Gary Neville for SPORTbible.

"I should have changed at half-time and put Park Ji-sung on Messi. That was a mistake... I was going to do it at half-time, then I said: 'Well, we just equalised before half-time, they may see the game differently, we may grow into the game better'.

"We were actually quite good in the last 10 minutes of that half. We came into it and we could have been in front. But if I'd played Park against Messi, I think we'd have beat them. I really do."

Park 'underrated' figure for Man Utd

Ferguson further called the former Korea Republic international one of the three most underrated players he coached during his time at Old Trafford, with the midfielder often flying under the radar next to his big-personality team-mates.

A Champions League title winner in 2008 with the club - albeit excluded from the final squad to face Chelsea, in what Ferguson later called one of the hardest decisions of his career - Park has remained a highly considered figure in the eyes of his former clubmates.

Only last year, Paul Scholes described him as a "nightmare" to play against in training due to his man-marking skills, evidence that only points to Ferguson's belief that he would have been able to tame Messi.

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