Premier League is our priority- Ferguson

With the sun beating down in South Africa on the Red Devils' pre-season tour, it seemed a world away from the travails of an arduous championship campaign - yet the painful manner in which they lost the title to Manchester City last season means what lies ahead has never been far from Ferguson's mind.

"After the disappointment of last year, we want to recover the title," he said in Durban.

"We either win the title or come second, it's an important part of the history of our club over the last 20 years. We have to recover, as we've done many times. That's our target this year. Priority number one is to win the title back."

The quest is a tough one, with City once again preparing to spend big, possibly on Robin van Persie, with whom Ferguson has also been linked.

United's manager is not one to shirk a challenge though, as he has proved so often before. "When Arsenal won the title from us in 1998 we won the treble the next year," he said.

"Then Chelsea came along and got off to a flyer in the league for the first two years, so we changed our pre-season a little to make sure we got off to quick starts.

"Recovery is so important and the same applies this season."

Not that the preparation is going to be particularly easy. For the first half of a pre-season campaign that will see them fly 22,000 miles - on this leg United also have a game in Cape Town on Saturday before a 13-hour flight to Shanghai for a single game next Wednesday - Ferguson will be without all but Anders Lindegaard of his Euro 2012 contingent.

After that, he will be missing Ryan Giggs and Tom Cleverley, who are about to try and win Olympic gold for Great Britain, but Ferguson insisted he is confident in his young players filling the gaps.

Source: PA

Source: PA