Sunday, 16 September 2012

Alex Ferguson Ready For Manchester United To Be "Pilloried" If They Make Champions League Mistake

Alex Ferguson
Confident Reds boss Alex Ferguson accepts Manchester United deserve to be "pilloried" if they fail to get through their Champions League group of "gimmes".

Whilst rivals City face an autumn of toil against Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund and Ajax, United can look forward to a relative breeze through the opening stage having landed soft touches CFR Cluj, Braga and Galatasaray in their group.

It's a scenario that should hold no fears for the Reds - and in the past Fergie would have been eyeing up which of his bright kids to offer European debuts to.

But Old Trafford is still haunted by the failure to negotiate a similarly easy opening six games last term when a 3-3 home draw with Basle put them on the back foot before defeat in Switzerland knocked them out.

That has seen a sense of doubt creep into the task, although Fergie is adamant lessons have been learned from last year's embarrassing early exit.

He said: "City with Borussia Dortmund and Ajax in there, as well as Real Madrid, are in a tough group.

"It doesn't mean they can't go through. The other teams will be looking at City and thinking their combinations are strong.

"The two that go through that group will deserve to go through because it is a tight group.

"Now, if we don't go through, we quite rightly will be criticised and pilloried for it. We went out early last year and I don't anticipate it happening this time."

That means an early Champions League outing for the superstar likes of Robin van Persie and Rio Ferdinand.

Nothing is going to be left to chance by Fergie this time round.

"We will play our strongest team on Wednesday, no doubt," Ferguson added.

"Last year hurt. It hurt everybody. It's not good to go out at the group stage. Particularly when we were in control.

"Over the last few years we were going through the group stage pretty comfortably so we were playing a lot of young players in the group stages but we never got out of it last time."

Ferguson hates giving up chances of catching the European Cup's dominant sides.

It still rankles him that United's three triumphs leaves them miles behind Real Madrid's nine and Milan's seven victories.

He added: "The European Cup has an incredible atmosphere in the build up to the final. It has great charisma about it.

"It also, without question, elevates your status in the game. I have always said about the likes of your AC Milans and Real Madrids, we want to be up there in terms of the number of trophies we have won.

"We have had opportunities. We have lost twice to Barcelona and we want to do better. I think we will do better than last year."

Watch How Manchester United were knocked out of the Champions League last season:

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