Rio Ferdinand says United will return stronger next season

Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand says his team-mates feel pain at losing their Premier League title to neighbours City, but will return stronger in the next campaign.

Ferdinand, 33, has five previous Premier League winners' medals with the Reds, but United were beaten to the 2011/12 title on goal difference.

"It is a cruel way to lose the title, on the last day," he admitted.

"We have got to make sure we push on... and don't let it happen again."

Despite beating Sunderland 1-0 through a Wayne Rooney header, Manchester United's chances of a 20th league title were crushed - two goals in the final five minutes at the Etihad gave Manchester City a 3-2 win against Queens Park Rangers and the Premier League trophy.

For a few minutes before news of City's late winner began to filter through, United players stood on the pitch at Stadium of Light unaware of where the title was heading.

"Tasting defeat, especially in this cruel way, makes it much better when you win, remembering what it is like to lose," said Ferdinand.

"It is a feeling you don't want. You have got to take it on the chin. We have got to be man about it, dust ourselves down and make sure we come back next season ready to fight to get that title back."

Ferdinand was keen to emphasise the positives of United's campaign, with 89 points traditionally enough to seal a Premier League title win.

"We have had to deal with a lot this season. The squad has been put to the test," he said.

United have blooded some younger players in the past year, with the likes of David de Gea (21), Phil Jones (20), Tom Cleverley (22) and Danny Welbeck (21) all contributing significantly.

"A lot of young players have come in and done remarkably well, so there are positives to take from it," added Ferdinand.

United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who was unable on Sunday to add to his record of 12 Premier League titles as manager, also highlighted the positives for his team, and particularly his youngsters.

"The players we think we have here, the younger players, they've got a good resolve about them. There should be a good response because they have got the right character," he said.

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