Manchester United will be humiliated if they don’t escape Champions League group, claims Sir Alex Ferguson

By Dean Wilkins

Lightning won’t strike twice for Manchester United in the Champions League, as Sir Alex Ferguson will not accept anything less than plain sailing in the group stages this year.

The three-time winners failed to squeeze out of their group last season after several lacklustre home ties sent them deservedly crashing out.

And having watched rivals Manchester City be thrown into a nightmare group – facing three fellow league winners – United will be scorned if they do not escape their straightforward draw.

“If we don’t go through, we will be criticised and pilloried for it and quite rightly,” Sir Alex said. “We’ve had our warning and I don’t anticipate going out this time.”

United face Galatasaray at Old Trafford in their first fixture on Wednesday – while FC Braga and Cluj open their Group H campaign in Portugal.

And Fergie is remaining focussed on bringing European success to the club for the fourth time, after losing two finals to Barcelona in the past four years.

“We’ve had opportunities in the competition,” he added. “We’ve lost two finals to Barcelona and won two in the last decade or so but we want to do better.

“Certainly, we’ll do better than last year – no question about that.

“The European Cup is incredible. There’s an atmosphere in the build-up to a European final and great charisma about it.

“Also, without question, it elevates your status within the game like the Real Madrids and AC Milans. We want to be up there in terms of the number of trophies won in European football.”

And despite nine-time winners and strong competition favourites Real Madrid being forced to fight their way out of the Group of Champions, along with City, Borussia Dortmund and Ajax, Fergie is vigilant of the threat of lesser-known clubs.

“We’ve seen some examples of that [small clubs finding success] over the last few years,” the Scot said.

“For instance, the Cypriot team [Apoel Nicosia] getting to the quarter-finals and Basel beating us and getting to the next stage against Bayern Munich.

“There are a couple of other examples of the lesser-known teams doing well and Monaco played Porto in the final one time, which was a surprise. But, at the end of the day, you always think one of the big ones is going to win it.

“It doesn’t do the competition any harm, to be honest with you and who would have predicted Chelsea winning it last season?

“The only thing you can think about is qualifying. Manchester City are with Borussia Dortmund, Ajax and Real Madrid and it’s going to be a tight group. It doesn’t mean to say City can’t get through as the other teams will be saying City are strong but the two who go through will deserve it.”

For more on this story and many others, follow Mancunian Matters on Twitter and Facebook.

Related Articles