LONDON, England — Manchester United did not deserve to lose the FA Cup final because they were “the better team by far,” according to Ander Herrera.
Chelsea won 1-0 at Wembley thanks to Eden Hazard’s first-half penalty to leave United to end the season without a trophy for the first time in three years. Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba both had chances to equalise while Alexis Sanchez had a goal chalked off for offside and afterwards Herrera claimed they had done enough to win the game.
“Really disappointed because I think we were the better team by far,” the Spain international told reporters at Wembley. “I think we controlled the game. We played really well, we created a lot of problems and we were the better team.
“But in football, not always the better team wins the game, so I can congratulate them and hopefully we can come back next season.”
After finishing second in the Premier League — with more points and more goals than last season — United will be expected to challenge for the title next year.
They face the prospect of going toe-to-toe with a Manchester City team who have set new records for points and goals.
But Herrera insists the pieces are in place to win the biggest prizes.
“I think we are going to the right way,” he said. “This season, we cannot take credit out from what Man City have done because they deserve to be champions and they have been almost perfect this season, or perfect.
“I think we have to keep going in this way. I think we are doing things right and try to be back playing finals.
“I think I’ve been here already four seasons and I have played a lot of finals here, which is very good.
“This club is about trophies but first of all to win trophies you have to play finals and I think we are doing that.”
United ended the season with 81 points and despite defeat in the FA Cup final Herrera insists there are still positives to take from the campaign.
“I think we’ve done good,” he added. “Normally in a normal Premier League we should have been fighting for the title with the amount of points we had.
“But Man City did perfect, so the only thing we can do is try to do the same next season.
“Try to not make some mistakes that we made this season – some games that we should have won against teams that – with all my respect for team – we should win those games.
“As I told you, keep fighting for titles, keep coming to Wembley — hopefully — and that’s all we can do.”
Ashley Young says United should use their Wembley disappointment as motivation to launch a trophy hunt next season, telling his teammates they must “come back stronger.”
He told MUTV: “I think we have to come back stronger. Stronger in the league, stronger in the FA Cup, stronger in the League Cup, stronger in the Champions League.
“We want to be fighting on all fronts. We have the summer now to look forward to that and come back and prepare in preseason.”
United earned 81 points in the Premier League this season but still finished 19 points adrift of champions Manchester City.
The challenge facing Jose Mourinho’s team is to bridge the gap over the course of the summer.
“We wanted to win things, win titles, but it wasn’t meant to be,” Young added. “We finished second with the points we did, in a different season we would have won the league, but it wasn’t meant to be and today is a disappointing one.
“It will take a while to settle in and we now have the summer to prepare for next season.
“It’s disappointing starting the game like we did and coming away with nothing, it’s disappointing like I said you can see how the players reacted after the game, we didn’t feel like we should have lost the game today.
“We didn’t have clear cut chances, but on a different day there were chances we could have taken and we could have gone on and won the game.
“In the second half they were on the back foot, it was all us, but we couldn’t get the goal and we are disappointed with that.”
Rob is ESPN FC’s Manchester United correspondent. Follow him on Twitter @RobDawsonESPN.