Phil Neville backs Manchester United to learn from Champions League exit

By Frank KeoghBBC Sport

Former Manchester United defender Phil Neville has backed Sir Alex Ferguson's side to learn from their shock Champions League exit.

United were left to face a Europa League campaign after a 2-1 defeat by FC Basel but Neville believes they will be back as a force next season.

The Everton captain told BBC Sport: "Through adversity sometimes you learn a lot about a squad.

"Next season when they come back they will know what is required."

Neville added: "Not qualifying is a shock but Ferguson will keep calm.

"The media will be intensely scrutinising the team because they have been outstanding in the competition, reaching three of the last four finals, and they haven't made it out of the group.

"But there is always a time in life when you are not going to reach the levels required and that has happened to Manchester United this year."

United will be joined by neighbours Manchester City in the Europa League after Christmas and Neville is confident that both sides will aim to win the trophy.

He said: "United have got a lot of young players and are in a period of building a new team. They haven't had much Champions League experience and they will learn from the defeat.

"I remember going out in the group stage as a youngster at United, it felt like a disaster. But it was a learning curve and acted as a springboard for us.

"Both of them will want to win the Europa League now. It's not ideal playing every Thursday and Sunday but they have the squads to cope."

Neville also believes that having United striker Wayne Rooney available for England's third group game at Euro 2012 will be a "massive boost" to England's chances.

Rooney was facing a three-match ban after he was sent off in Montenegro but successfully saw the penalty reduced after an appeal.

"It is a massive boost," Neville said.

"It takes a lot of pressure off the England team because all the talk in the build up would have been about whether Wayne should be selected or not and that should calm down a bit now.

"Wayne will be delighted that he can play his part in the group stages. He's England's best forward."

Top Stories