Cluj v Man United: Ferguson warns Red Devils against complacency
Cluj v Man United: Sir Alex Ferguson warns the Red Devils not to underestimate their Romanian opponents on Tuesday night
Sir Alex Ferguson has warned Manchester United against underestimating Cluj when the Red Devils take on the Romanian side in the Champions League group-stage on Tuesday night.
The 19-time English champions limped to an underwhelming 1-0 victory over Galatasaray in their opening group tie and now face Ioan Andone’s side, who won 2-0 at Braga.
United failed to progress to the last 16 of the Champions League last season after losing 2-1 to Basel in their final game, and Ferguson is taking Cluj seriously after the Romanians knocked out the Swiss side in the play-off round.
“As part of our preparations we have to assess the opposition and we saw their performance in the last game against Braga,” Ferguson said.
“[Before that] they knocked out Basel, beating them twice. We know from our own experience last season that Basel knocked us out. That gives us every respect for Cluj because it tells you they’re a good team.
“Cluj defend quickly and get plenty of bodies behind the ball. The main strength is counter-attack, as they showed against Braga.
“Counter-attacking has become a very important part of European football. Now it’s done by four or five players, not one or two like 20 years ago, and the positive nature of the counter attack has made the Champions League much better.”
United suffered a shock 3-2 defeat by Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday, with Jonny Evans and Rio Ferdinand their centre-half pairing in the absence of Nemanja Vidic, and Ferguson moved to allay any concerns over the pair’s ability to play together.
“I hope the first half on Saturday was [an issue of] awareness,” said Ferguson.
“When Jonny and Rio played consistently every week last season [from December when Nemanja Vidic was injured], we got better.”
Cluj v Man United: Pre-match facts
• United’s only away success in last term’s Champions League came on Romanian soil, 2-0 at Oţelul Galaţi through two Wayne Rooney penalties. They ended the night with ten men after Nemanja Vidić’s dismissal.
• United’s only other trip to Romania was for the aforementioned Champions League third qualifying round tie against Andone’s Dinamo Bucureşti in 2004-05. Ryan Giggs scored United’s opening goal in a 2-1 first-leg win at Bucharest’s old Lia Manoliu Stadium – the site of the new National Arena.
• Cluj coach Andone has only victory over English opposition came against Everton FC in the 2005-06 Uefa Cup first round, his Dinamo team winning the first leg 5-1 in Bucharest to set up a 5-2 overall triumph.
• Ferguson visited Romania with Aberdeen in the 1981-82 Uefa Cup second round, earning a 2-2 draw – and a 5-2 aggregate win – against the club now called FC Argeş Piteşti.