Man United v Galatasaray: Defence the key to Euro success – Sir Alex

Man United v Galatasaray: Sir Alex Ferguson believes that a successful European campaign is built from a stable defence

sir alex ferguson
Sir Alex Ferguson's side take on Galatasaray on Wednesday Photo: The Sport Review

sir alex ferguson

Sir Alex Ferguson believes Manchester United must keep their key defenders fit if they are to stand any chance of progressing into the knockout stages of this season’s Champions League.

The Red Devils take on Turkish outfit Galatasaray in their group-stage opener at Old Trafford on Wednesday night as they look to put last season’s disappointment of failing to progress into the last 16 behind them.

Chris Smalling and Phil Jones are both currently sidelined with long-term injuries – and Ferguson admits he cannot afford to lose any other defenders ahead of a busy season.

“I think the key is to keep the defenders fit,” Ferguson told a news conference on Tuesday. “I mean that. We had a rough ride with defenders being injured in the last two or three years. If they remain fit that gives us a better opportunity.

“At the moment with Smalling and Jones out long-term, I’m down to three centre-backs – [Nemanja] Vidic, [Rio] Ferdinand and [Jonny] Evans. If I could be guaranteed two would be fit for the rest of the season, I’d gladly take that right now.

“But that’s not been the case over the last few seasons. It’s a key issue for us and we can’t hide it. I just hope we get a bit of luck in that respect.”

Ferguson also told his side not to underestimate Wednesday night’s opposition and warned that they must remain focused until the death to secure maximum points, admitting his side “carelessly” squandered opportunities to win games in last season’s group stage.

“Finishing off games has to be a driving force for us,” he continued.

“I think we all agree we were careless in two of the games at home last season. The Basel game was the one where the criticism quite rightly lies. We were 2-0 up and playing well and then got careless in the second half and ended up drawing 3-3.

“That ended up knocking us out, really. We had to go there [to Basel] and get a result and we ended up chasing our tails. Hopefully our home form, which had been good for many years, will be good again this year.”

Manchester United v Galatasaray: Pre-match facts

• Galatasaray beat United on away goals in the 1993-94 second round after a 3-3 aggregate draw.

• The clubs met in the 1994-95 group stage, drawing 0-0 in Istanbul before a 4-0 United home victory on 7 December 1994, featuring David Beckham’s first goal for the club. United finished third in the section with Galatasaray fourth.

• Galatasaray have never won in England, where their record reads W0 D3 L4. Their most recent trip brought a 3-2 group stage defeat at Liverpool in 2006.

• United are beginning their 17th successive Champions League group-stage campaign.

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