Chris Smalling says United must use the forthcoming Manchester derby as a source of motivation to overcome the disappointment of exiting the FA Cup at the hands of Chelsea on Easter Monday.
The Reds lost 1-0 at Stamford Bridge, following Demba Ba’s second-half strike. The defeat ends United's bid to win the Double and leaves Sir Alex Ferguson’s side with the Barclays Premier League title to fight for in the remaining two months of the season.
While obviously disappointed to have missed out on a Wembley semi-final clash with Manchester City, Smalling wants his team-mates to get over the result by triumphing in next Monday’s league derby and then by sealing the title in style.
“It will take a couple of days to get over this because a lot of us came into it with great confidence and we felt we were going to win this game," Smalling told MUTV. “At least we have a good game next Monday but we need to make sure that we rally together and win this title with aplomb.
“Our fans will be right behind us and we need to make sure that we give them a good performance because the second half today was just not good enough.”
Having beaten Sunderland less than 48 hours earlier on Saturday, United were perhaps a little sluggish at Stamford Bridge but did largely control the first half and limited Chelsea to very few chances whilst looking relatively dangerous on the counter attack.
However, with quite a few tired legs on the pitch, the Reds struggled to keep the upper hand and created very few scoring chances, other than two excellent opportunities for Javier Hernandez and substitute Robin van Persie after Ba had broken the deadlock on 49 minutes.
“The dressing room is disappointed,” Smalling explained afterwards. “I think the first half went very well and we were on top, playing some good football so a lot of us are disappointed that we didn’t carry that on into the second half, which wasn’t like us.
“We were very confident that we would score today and judging by our first-half performance, we thought we