United not content with just title

(Reuters) – Premier League champions Manchester United are determined to build on their latest success and will strengthen their squad to do so, chief executive David Gill said.

United clinched their 17th league title on Sunday and if they go on to beat Chelsea in the Champions League final on May 21, manager Alex Ferguson has said he would regard this as the best team in his 22 years at Old Trafford.

Regardless of this season’s achievements, Ferguson is set to add to his squad in the summer – an experienced striker such as Tottenham’s Dimitar Berbatov is top of his list – with the full backing of the United board.

Gill said: “Like any club, whether you are bottom, middle or the top you assess what’s gone well, what hasn’t gone so well and where you feel you can improve. And we will certainly be in a position whereby if we can improve it, we will.

“Alex would never let us rest on our laurels so we have to do that. You can clearly see intent. Tottenham have made a big signing already for next season in the Croatian midfielder Luka Modric. Everton have done very well to get fifth spot and Aston Villa have really made great strides.

“I think it is the best league in the world and therefore if we want to continue being at the top we have to make sure we look at the squad, improve it and ensure that we have this again next year and celebrate another win. That’s our plan, anyway.”

Before then, United have the chance to seal a double of domestic and European honours, which Gill said would be a fitting way to mark the 50th anniversary of the Munich air disaster in which eight of the club’s players were killed.

United begin their preparations for the Moscow final in earnest when they return to training today and Ferguson is optimistic about their prospects after they held off Chelsea’s title challenge with a 2-0 win at Wigan Athletic on Sunday.

“We’ve a great chance. There is a mood generated from that result that sees us in a very confident position,” Ferguson said.

“It won’t be easy. Cup finals are not easy. We expect a tough game but we expect Manchester United to express themselves in a fantastic way.”

England’s footballer of the year Cristiano Ronaldo added United’s player of the year award to his collection at Old Trafford on Sunday night, just hours after scoring his 41st goal of the season at Wigan.

Chelsea boss Avram Grant sent Ferguson a message of congratulations. Chelsea drew 1-1 at home with Bolton but even if they had won, Man Utd would have still taken the title on goal difference.

Grant also vowed to gain revenge in the Champions League final next week. With Didier Drogba likely to play his last match for the Blues, there will be no lack of motivation on Chelsea’s part.

Grant finished the season with a better win record in the league than the man he controversially replaced in September, Jose Mourinho. Ultimately, though, it was not good enough to wrest the trophy from United.

“I sent a message to Alex Ferguson congratulating him,” Grant said. “He is a great manager and a great person. I wished him all the best.

“It is amazing what he did. I remember at the start of his United reign, he had problems. It’s an amazing achievement.”

Grant has now taken charge of 32 games, winning 22 and losing just two.

“We started well but then all the good players got injured, then some went to the Africa Cup of Nations. But I am very proud of what they did in December and January, and we finished the season well and won the big games, so I can be proud.

“We have finished the league now and now we go to Moscow. We don’t want to go there only for the final and be part of it. We want to win it.”

After the game Grant joined the Chelsea players on a lap of thanks to the supporters and appeared, at last, to be in favour with the fans, many of whom shook the Israeli’s hands.

“It was not easy this season,” Grant added. “There were many good things, but we also had a very difficult time sometimes and at the end the fans showed they respected what we have done.”

Grant then promised that Chelsea had more to offer: “There is plenty left. I said our target was to be in the final and now we want to win, very much.

‘We wanted to win the League also, but it was never, for one minute, in our hands. The players gave everything against Bolton but when they heard it was 2-0 at Wigan the last 10 minutes were hard.

‘We have played good football in the last month, now we have one more game. It is a game we were dreaming to be in, one we want to win.”

United celebrate winning the title Photos: AP

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