Fergie seeks improvement

Shares

MUNICH, March 30- Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson on Monday warned that his side were gunning to improve on their poor European record against German giants Bayern Munich.

The sides meet in the Champions League quarter-final first leg here on Tuesday night in a match that re-unites the teams that contested the 1999 final, in which United won 2-1 thanks to two injury-time goals to record their only win over Bayern in Europe’s top club competition.

"The two clubs have a great history, it does put an edge to the game I feel," said Ferguson.

"We have met quite a few times in European football and I was surprised to discover that we have never beaten them in European ties apart from once in Barcelona. We want to change that, the team is in good form and hopefully we will get the result we want."

Ferguson continued: "I respect Bayern Munich. I have a great admiration for this club. We are playing against history.

"They have a certain pride and we have to contend with that tomorrow, without forgetting the kind of history they’ve got."

Ferguson said Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand were both fit and raring to take on Bayern’s best including French midfielder Franck Ribery and Dutch winger Arjen Robben, who is an injury doubt.

"We plan to play against their best team. If something changes, it’s easier to adjust from the strongest team to a less strong team," he said.

"They have many good players. Whether Ribery and Robben will play I don’t know, I have to plan for that."

The Scot refused to countenance comments from Bayern coach Louis van Gaal that the German side are the underdogs.

"He (van Gaal) is a clever man, I don’t pay attention to that," said Ferguson. "I haven’t seen all their games this season, I have seen some footage. They have had one or two bad results recently, that doesn’t mean it is a bad team.

"Their motivation to play the first game at home will be strong, I don’t think at any moment it will be an easy game.

"We should aim to win the game first and it will be a difficult task. It’s not easy, they have very good players and a great coach, and we have to be aware of that."

Ferguson believes, however, that his side are at their peak, as they play in Munich after six straight wins, while the Germans are smarting after back-to-back losses.

"We have matured as a team in Europe. Over the last two to three years our record is fantastic," he said.

"We are undefeated over the last 17 games, which is a sign of our maturity and our understanding of how to play in Europe. There have been fantastic challenges in those 17 games.

"Our back four has been solid together again, (goalkeeper Edwin) van der Sar too. There was a time in the season where all these players have been injured.

"It wasn’t easy and we were very fragile, but their performances make a massive difference in the performance of the team.

"We are playing the best football of the year and there is a saying: ‘Strong at the back, strong as a team’.

"It’s a massive week for us, two great games against Bayern and a great game against Chelsea (in the league). This is the time of the year, you have to enjoy it and also know it is crucial."

The 1999 triumph in Barcelona brought Ferguson the first Champions League title of his glittering Old Trafford tenure but he insisted that all thoughts of that night were in the past.

"I don’t think they (Bayern) think about it," said Ferguson.

"In fact, I don’t think one of their (current) players played in the final."

 

Shares

Comments