Andy Cole believes the prospect of winning the double will galvanise Manchester United following a disappointing week in which the Reds exited the UEFA Champions League and were held to a home draw in the FA Cup.
United were controversially knocked out of Europe via a 3-2 aggregate defeat to Real Madrid before dropping a two-goal lead against Chelsea just five days later, forcing a sixth-round replay that will now be played at Stamford Bridge on Easter Monday.
But Treble winner Cole, who scored 121 goals in 275 United appearances, does not think those results will have any bearing on squad morale and hopes Sir Alex Ferguson’s side can return to winning ways against struggling Reading at Old Trafford on Saturday.
“I don’t think it will be difficult to lift the team because everybody will still be very motivated,” Cole explained. “The players will obviously be very disappointed to lose to Real Madrid and then to throw away a two-goal lead against Chelsea, but on the brighter side, we still have a great chance of winning the double.
“That will motivate all of the players to get a good result against Reading at the weekend and possibly move 15 points clear in the title race, depending on other results. Then, we can hopefully get a positive result in the replay at Stamford Bridge and secure a semi-final against Manchester City.
“We’ve not won the FA Cup for almost 10 years, which is very surprising. During my time at United, we won it twice and almost won it three times - in 1995 we lost 1-0 to Everton in the final when I was cup-tied.
“But we’re still in with a great chance of winning the double this season. First and foremost, we have to win our league games and hopefully seal the league title. Then, if we can navigate ourselves through the FA Cup tie against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, we’ll have a massive derby with City at Wembley.”