Manchester United to face Lille

20th February 2007, Comments 0 comments

LENS, France, Feb 19, 2007 (AFP) - Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson admitted on Monday that his team's past failures in the Champions League is driving their glory quest this season.

LENS, France, Feb 19, 2007 (AFP) - Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson admitted on Monday that his team's past failures in the Champions League is driving their glory quest this season.

United face Lille at the Stade Felix Bollaert here on Tuesday in the first leg of the Champions League last 16 stage.

And despite qualifying for the knock-out stages of the competition in 10 of the last 11 seasons, United's post group-stage record since winning the competition in 1999 is poor.

In only one year, 2002, have they managed to progress through a knock-out round, and even then they lost to Bayer Leverkusen on away goals at the next stage.

"I think we should have done better every year, although for 10 of the last 11 years we've qualified for the quarter-finals or semi-finals each year which was consistent," said Ferguson.

"When you look at the winners of the competition, yes I think we should have done better and I hope over the next few years to do that.

"Having won it twice and other clubs such as Liverpool, Bayern Munich, AC Milan and Real Madrid have won it four or five times or even more, I really think we should have been better."

United's knock-out stage failures over the last few seasons, where Porto, AC Milan, and Real Madrid have been among those to halt them, are well documented, Ferguson does not believe the players need any extra motivating to spur them on this time.

"I don't expect them to be any different this year to the way they normally are," he added.

"What we've shown is consistency. The team is growing together, they have good challenges and tomorrow (Tuesday) is one of those challenges."

Ferguson has only won the competition once but he does not feel he is running out of time to repeat that success.

"We didn't build a team to win the European Cup. What we tried to do was restructure the team. We know the main issue is about being successful in our own country," he said.

"We are growing a team together for the next six or seven years and we hope and expect our calculations about them are right and we have a great chance of winning things, and one of those things is the Champions League."

Despite their knock-out woes, United hit rock bottom last season when they failed to make it out of the group stages, even missing out on a UEFA Cup place consolation thanks largely to a 1-0 defeat at Lille.

United's French full-back Patrice Evra had not even joined the club yet when that happened and he said the topic of revenge is not one that comes up in the dressing room.

"No, they've not spoken about it. All the players have a lot of respect for Lille and we're expecting two difficult matches.

"I hope we won't fall into the same trap as last year but it's not the same team. we've had hard times but we're feeling confident now."

United have reported a clean bill of health ahead of the game with Dutch goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar expected to make his comeback from a broken nose and feature in the starting 11.

Ryan Giggs, Rio Ferdinand, Gary Neville (all rested) and Wayne Rooney (suspended) are all expected to come back into the side that drew in the FA Cup against Reading on Saturday, while Paul Scholes, Evra and maybe Henrik Larsson, who all started on the bench, should regain their starting berths.

Lille will be missing influential attacking midfielder Kader Keita, who is suspended for the first leg.

Copuright AFP

SUbject: French news

0 Comments To This Article