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Guardiola delighted by manner of victory

What pleased Josep Guardiola most was the stylish display FC Barcelona gave in beating Manchester United FC, whose manager Sir Alex Ferguson was magnanimous in defeat.

Barcelona's players earned warm words from their coach for the way they performed at Wembley
Barcelona's players earned warm words from their coach for the way they performed at Wembley ©Getty Images

Josep Guardiola described himself as a "privileged" coach after his FC Barcelona side produced another masterclass to defeat Manchester United FC in the UEFA Champions League final for the second time in three years.

Guardiola also paid tribute to man of the match Lionel Messi and Carles Puyol, who allowed Éric Abidal to collect the trophy, and confirmed he would stay in charge at the Camp Nou next season. Sir Alex Ferguson, meanwhile, could only admire his conquerors, the United manager admitting his team had been well beaten by opponents he acknowledged as the best in Europe, adding: "No one's given us a hiding like that."

Josep Guardiola, Barcelona coach
I feel privileged to have these players. We've asked them to work hard and I'd like to congratulate everyone who's worked towards this. We played much better than in Rome [in 2009] – at the end of that final I said we'd played a good game, but when I looked at it again I wasn't that impressed. That served its purpose because we played much better today and created more chances than two years ago. The way we won is what I'm most proud of – this is how I want to play football.

We scored the first goal but still anything could have happened. United created problems – this is a team that wins its league title practically every year. We pressed the ball a lot, we were on top of [Michael] Carrick and [Ryan] Giggs and that shows the quality of our team. You'll always have problems in the Champions League final but we had less problems than in Rome – we had more chances and we made more.

While Carles Puyol has been out for three months, I think a player who had a liver tumour [Éric Abidal] is the one who suffered most. Players are human beings and you need to look at that too. Whether you win or lose there's a human quality and Carles made a great gesture to Éric which is to his credit.

United are a spectacular team, I have admiration for Sir Alex Ferguson and even more after tonight. Over four years they've been in three finals and that says it all. It's a great honour to [be called the best team in Europe] – that Sir Alex says it about our team is the best compliment. Lionel Messi is the best player I've seen, the best I will ever see probably. We have good players but without him I don't think we'd be able to make that decisive leap. Messi is unique, a one-off, and I hope he'll stay happy. Let's hope everything continues to go well and the club is sufficiently intelligent to put the team around him that he wants.

I'm so happy to be here as coach of these guys but it's not an easy job. I'll continue for one more year and then we'll see. My life is decided by passion and when that's gone I'll go home and rest a little bit – and try to get that passion back. My future will be very tough – at another club, to find these type of players ... but maybe that will be a challenge for me to go to another club and find these kind of players. To be at a huge club like United for 25 years, create new teams and new teams – my admiration is unbelievable.

Sir Alex Ferguson, Manchester United manager
We knew we were up against a good team and we planned as best we could. They do mesmerise you with the passing and we never really controlled Messi. When we got the lifeline from Wayne Rooney I expected us to do better in the second half but it wasn't to be. We tried to play as near to the way we normally play, it's alien for us to man-mark players. It wasn't good enough on the night, we acknowledge that, but we can step forward from here.

Great teams go in cycles and the cycle they're in at the moment is the best in Europe, no question about that. How long it lasts, whether they can replace that team ... they certainly have the philosophy but it's very difficult to say you can find players like Xavi, Iniesta and Messi all the time. Probably not, but they're enjoying the moment now.

In my time as manager, this is best team we've faced – I think everyone acknowledges that and I accept that. It's not easy when you've been beaten like that but no one's given us a hiding like that. It's a great moment for them and they deserve it because they play the right way.

It's not easy [to match Barcelona] but that's the challenge – you shouldn't be afraid of a challenge. We've been consistent in Europe the last few years, we've got better and better. This may be the same kind of stepping stone as a few years ago [1994] when they beat us 4-0. We improved from that and we want to improve now. We have a challenge with Barcelona, we all do – it's no consolation to say you're the second best team, teams likes AC Milan and Real Madrid would say exactly the same.

The challenge is always to improve and over the years we've done OK at that. This is another challenge – we have some very good players – and where we start to find a way for that is something we'll mull over this summer. We're not short of ideas at this club.

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