Manchester United’s new manager David Moyes is itching to taste the Champions League group stages for the first time after narrowly missing out on the world’s premier club competition with Everton.
United, three-times winners of the top European club prize, take on the 2002 runners-up Bayer Leverkusen from Germany at Old Trafford on Tuesday.
“I’ve been excited about it ever since I’ve joined Manchester United,” said Moyes, who left Everton this summer after over 11 years in charge of the Merseyside club.
“Every game has offered a new challenge and a tough one as well. I’ve been there before with Everton – we didn’t quite make the group stages but this is different. This (United) is a club that’s used to getting to the latter stages.”
In 2005-06 Everton lost controversially in the qualifiers before the group stages, so Moyes knows all about how tough it is to get into the competition to begin with.
The Scot isn’t anticipating any let up come Tuesday.
“I think all groups are tough. You used to be able to always pick out the group winners but in the last few years that has become more difficult.
“It is more unpredictable than it was. We’ve got a leading team from Germany, one from Spain and we go to Donetsk to play Shakhtar. It’s a tough group,” said Moyes of the group containing Real Sociedad, Shakhtar Donetsk and Leverkusen.
Moyes will look to experienced campaigners such as Ryan Giggs in his first stab at Champions League success, knowing reputations can be made or broken by European campaigns.
“I think it’s become a competition that everybody wants to do well in. Maybe some teams can afford to rest players in their leagues and use them in the Champions League but that’s hard in the Premier League,” said the Scot.
“It’s a competition the players here at Manchester United are used to and experienced in.”
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