Man United’s Sir Alex Ferguson: We’ll be pilloried if we don’t reach last 16
Sir Alex Ferguson admits Manchester United will be "pilloried" if they don't reach the last 16 of Champions League this season
Sir Alex Ferguson admits Manchester United will be “pilloried” if the 19-time English champions fail to reach the Champions League knockout stage.
The Red Devils begin their European campaign against Turkish outfit Galatasary at Old Trafford on Wednesday night, with Braga and Romanian side Cluj completing the line-up in Group H.
“If we don’t go through, we will be criticised and pilloried for it and quite rightly. We’ve had our warning and I don’t anticipate going out this time,” said Ferguson.
Ferguson saw his side make a premature exit at the group stage last season following a 3-1 defeat by Basel in their final game, with the Red Devils punished for failing to beat Benfica and the Swiss outfit both home and away.
And the United manager believes the Champions League is becoming more competitive, highlighted by Basel’s victory over the Premier League outfit last December.
“We’ve seen some examples of that [the smaller teams getting stronger] over the last few years,” said Ferguson. “For instance, the Cypriot team [Apoel Nicosia] getting to the quarter-finals and Basel beating us and getting to the next stage against Bayern Munich.
“There are a couple of other examples of the lesser-known teams doing well and Monaco played Porto in the final one time, which was a surprise. But, at the end of the day, you always think one of the big ones is going to win it.
“It doesn’t do the competition any harm, to be honest with you and who would have predicted Chelsea winning it last season?”
He added: “The only thing you can think about is qualifying. Manchester City are with Borussia Dortmund, Ajax and Real Madrid and it’s going to be a tight group.
“It doesn’t mean to say City can’t get through as the other teams will be saying City are strong but the two who go through will deserve it.”