Alex Ferguson believes English coaches must be allowed to spend more time with young players if they are to ever reach the passing ability displayed by Barcelona at Wembley on Saturday night.
In the aftermath of Manchester United’s 3-1 Champions League defeat at the weekend, Ferguson admitted he had encountered the best club side he had ever faced as a manager.
The statistics to back up that claim were pretty obvious.
United completed 301 passes but Barca’s Holy Trinity of Lionel Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta beat that between them as the Catalans achieved 63% possession.
The Red Devils’ inability to deny their opponents the ball after an encouraging start led to a relentless stream of attacks that eventually yielded three goals.
Even Ferguson and his players acknowledged the passing and movement of Barcelona belonged to a different sphere of the game completely.
However, as he faced up to the task of trying to find a solution ahead of next season’s tournament, the United boss feels English teams are being handicapped by rules agreed between the Football Association and Premier League that prevent clubs working with youngsters aged 16 and under for any longer than 90 minutes a day.
“People have to understand the mechanics of the industry we are working in,” Ferguson said.
“We are only allowed to coach youngsters for an hour and a half, they [Barcelona] can coach every hour of the day if they want to.
“That’s the great advantage they have got. It is a fantastic philosophy.
“We hope that in years to come our coaches will be able to spend more time with young kids, to teach them the basics, the technical abilities and the confidence to keep the ball all the time.
“We are good at it, but not as good as Barcelona at this moment in time.
“It is a wonderful challenge and we should always accept a challenge.”