Alex Ferguson has told his young players the devastation of last season’s Barclays Premier League title disappointment will be the making of them.
On the way back from Sunderland, after that fateful couple of minutes when it appeared United had won their 20th championship, only for it to be snatched from their grasp by Sergio Aguero’s momentous injury-time winner, Ferguson took a walk on the team bus.
He singled out the youngsters in his squad, Danny Welbeck included, and told them never to forget what had just happened.
“On the last day of the season, when we were travelling home from Sunderland he went round the coach, spoke to a few of the youngsters and said ’you will never forget this, this will win you titles. This will make you into men and be the best you can be’.
“When he says something like that, you take note of it.
“I will never forget that day.”
The misery should provide additional motivation for the Red Devils, who begin their campaign at Everton this evening.
It certainly will for Welbeck, a lifelong United fan.
“How the last day of the season finished was epic,” he said.
“It was not good for us but it was for the other side of Manchester.
“I am a United fan. We lost it to our biggest rivals, so it did hurt that little bit more. It cut deep.
“It would be massive for us to win it back off them.”
Robin van Persie’s arrival has livened up the atmosphere around Old Trafford after three years of seeing all the marquee players join City.
Van Persie is expected to start on the bench, although he should be introduced at some stage.
Not that everything is rosy for Ferguson amid reports that Rio Ferdinand is set for an extended period on the sidelines after picking up a training ground injury.
With Jonny Evans, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling also sidelined, Michael Carrick seems certain to partner skipper Nemanja Vidic in central defence tomorrow.
And Vidic’s fitness cannot be taken for granted as he only made his comeback from major knee surgery a fortnight ago.
Rafael is set to be handed the right-back berth even though he did not feature at all during pre-season as he was part of the Brazil squad that failed to land that elusive Olympic gold medal.
Meanwhile, United look set to bolster their ranks with the signing of defender Alexander Buttner from Vitesse Arnhem.
According to reports in Holland, the 23-year-old left-back flew to England yesterday to undergo a medical with United today ahead of penning a five-year contract.
Buttner was quoted as saying in Omroep Gelderland: “This is truly a dream come true. It all went very quickly and I am of course very happy.”
Neither United or Vitesse have made any official announcement regarding Buttner.