Ferguson: United Won’t Be Fooled Again
- Football – Champions League Draw
Sir Alex Ferguson has told his Manchester United players they cannot afford to make the “stupid errors” they committed in Europe last season after the Reds were handed another relatively easy-looking Champions League group.
United are expected to qualify for the knockout stages of the competition after being drawn alongside
Braga, Galatasaray and CFR Cluj in Group H.
The United boss is conscious that his side were predicted to make round two last year after being given a favourable draw against Benfica, Basel and Otelul Galati, however, and for that reason, he insists his squad cannot afford any slip-ups this time around.
Ferguson, who has bolstered his squad since last season by signing Robin van Persie, is also aware that his team will find it extremely hard to come through the test of playing in a very hostile environment in
Turkey when facing Galatasaray. “We have the experience of playing against Galatasaray in the past and we will always remember
the ‘Welcome to Hell’ banners,” Ferguson told ManUtd.com.
“So it’s always a difficult type of match.“We have drawn Portuguese clubs a number of times over the past few years – the likes of Benfica, Sporting [Lisbon] and Porto – so we have the experience of playing in Portugal on many occasions.
“Braga are one of the improving teams in that country.
“Obviously, we’ve never played Cluj before but, after the experience of last year, we don’t want to make any stupid errors this time. We will play our strongest team to make sure we get through.”
While United have an appealing draw, their neighbours Manchester City were handed a tough test.
City, who pipped the Red Devils to the Barclays Premier League title last year, face Real Madrid, Ajax and Borussia Dortmund – all current national champions – in Group D.
The draw also throws up an interesting sub-plot in the return of Real boss Jose Mourinho and former Manchester United forward Cristiano Ronaldo to the north-west.Real Madrid director of football Emilio Butragueno says Mourinho’s players will be excited about the prospect of playing in England.
“Playing in England is a great pleasure because the fans are extremely passionate,” Butragueno told Sky Sports News.
“It’s a unique experience so I’m sure they will be excited about it.”
Football – Champions League Draw
Ronaldo, who spent six years at Old Trafford before moving to the Bernabeu, admits his team could not have wished for tougher opposition.
“In my opinion, it is the most difficult group and the most competitive. But we are champions of Spain.
We are ready,” he was quoted as saying on City’s website.
City skipper Vincent Kompany said his team-mates should be philosophical about the draw.
“Looks like we’re not going to get any easy games again this year but it is certainly a good group for the fans,” he tweeted.
“I’m looking forward already!” Celtic also face a huge task to make the knockout stages after they were drawn against Barcelona, Benfica and Spartak Moscow.
Bhoys manager Neil Lennon, who takes his team into their first Champions League group campaign in four years, admits it will be extremely hard to qualify, but is still nevertheless looking forward to travelling to the Nou Camp to take on four-time champions Barca.
“It’s just fantastic to be in a group with Barcelona,” he told a press conference.
“It will be tough but that’s a real glamour game for the club and the other two are huge clubs in theirown countries.
“We are familiar with all three teams. We have recent history with all three.
“Under Gordon Strachan we played Barcelona and Benfica and we also known about Spartak because we beat them in a play-off.
“It is a tough, tough group. All the teams play good football so it should be good to watch.”
Chelsea will have to overcome Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk, Juventus and Champions League debutants Nordsjaelland in Group E if they are to clear the first hurdle on their way to retaining the cup.
Former Blues assistant Ray Wilkins expects the Londoners to top the group despite the difficulty of travelling to Shakhtar and Italian champions Juventus.
“You’d expect them to go through, probably as top of the group,” he said.
“Shakhtar is a difficult game. It’s a great stadium there but it’s a lot of travelling and you don’t want to be doing too much of that and Juventus is a classic game.
“They were undefeated last year, they have their own ground now, which is very compact.
“That will be a very difficult game but Chelsea have a fantastic squad now.”