• United lose 2-1 at home to Crystal Palace
• Manager laments 'a big disappointment'
Sir Alex Ferguson was so incensed by Manchester United's performance as they went out of the Carling Cup he took the rare step of issuing an immediate apology to the club's supporters.
Ferguson seemed visibly shocked by the 2-1 quarter-final defeat to Crystal Palace and made little attempt to disguise his anger and disappointment. "I don't know where to start," he said. "My apologies go to the fans because that was not a Manchester United performance. I don't want to take anything away from Crystal Palace and I wish them every success because that was a fantastic, mammoth effort by every one of their players. But I'm just very disappointed.
"I'm so disappointed and I also have to apologise to the players who weren't playing. We never expected that. Any time we go on the pitch it means a lot to Manchester United. We have our pride to protect and our history to protect. Every time we walk on the pitch it's important. We didn't see that tonight. There were nine internationals out there, so that was a big disappointment."
Ferguson's mood was in stark contrast to that of the Palace manager Dougie Freedman. "It's a wonderful day for the club, especially when you consider the position we have been in for the last few years," he said. "We have come from relegation zones and administration and the players should be proud of themselves because they stuck together.
"In the last 15 to 20 minutes their desire shone through. It wasn't tactical genius, just desire. When you come to Old Trafford you know you have to give everything you've got and we've done that. We thought if we had a gameplan, could be strong and every player gave eight or nine out of 10, we could get a result."
Freedman was careful not to celebrate drawing Cardiff City in an all-Championship semi-final over two legs, diplomatically pointing out that his team have already lost to the Welsh club this season. However the Palace chairman, Steve Parish, offered a different view when he was asked if he was pleased to avoid Manchester City and Liverpool. "If I'm being honest, I'd rather have drawn Cardiff," he said. "Why can't we go all the way now after what has happened here?
"We know the Premier League sides will start playing their strongest sides now, and we know this wasn't United's strongest team, but it's still a great result for us."
Freedman reserved special praise for Palace's first goal, struck from 35 yards by Darren Ambrose. "He is capable of doing that. He has got wonderful ability, he works hard at his game and when he steps inside and takes shots like that, I'm not crossing my fingers."
The former United defender Gary Neville, in the Sky TV studio, said Ambrose's was the best goal he had seen by an opposition player at Old Trafford. Ferguson was less impressed with the winner, arguing that Glenn Murray's header should have been disallowed for offside.
"We don't seem to be getting much luck from linesmen at the moment," the United manager said. "It was offside from what I've seen. But I can't take anything away from the Crystal Palace side. They fought hard to get the result and they deserved it.
"I'm not going to dwell on it and go into the ins and out of why it happened – we were beaten and we're very disappointed."