We”re nothing like my past Euro flops, insists Fergie ahead of do-or-die Basle clash
Sir Alex Ferguson does not believe there are any comparisons between the dismal 2005 Champions League campaign and the make-or-break situation Manchester United find themselves in.
Six seasons ago, the Red Devils staggered through the group phase before being dumped out by Benfica thanks to a final-day defeat in Lisbon.
United have been better than that this season, yet they still need to collect at least a point from their visit to Swiss champions Basle to ease their passage into the last 16, knowing Group C supremacy has virtually gone already.
Bit of a headache, Sir Alex Manchester United must avoid defeat in Basle
“The side that played then was a very young team that suffered with a lot of injuries,” Ferguson said. “That period was disappointing. But it is six years ago. Our record since then has been outstanding.”
Even though his resources are badly depleted through injuries to Javier Hernandez and Dimitar Berbatov and the suspension that rules out Michael Carrick, Ferguson clearly retains an immense amount of confidence in his players, dismissing the effect any additional pressure may have given the stark situation United are in.
“People say we are not doing well but we are second in the league and we are at a stage where we could be qualifying for the next phase of the Champions League,” said Ferguson. “The pressure won”t affect us.
“Look at the number of big games these players play in. Every year for the last few years they have been involved in finals and semi-finals and quarter-finals and big games in the Premier League.
Just warming up: United training at St. Jakob-Park on Tuesday evening
“Tomorrow is exactly the same situation. It is another big game. But we have a strong squad and that squad will see us through without question.”
There could certainly be no better time for Wayne Rooney to improve a recent goalscoring record that has seen him find the net just three times in his last 10 games, all of them against Romanian makeweights Otelul Galati.
Yet Rooney goes into the game knowing he faces a UEFA disciplinary hearing in Nyon tomorrow morning that will determine whether he plays any part in England”s Euro 2012 group phase.
On yer bike: Basle players Valentin Stocker, Marco Streller, Roman Buess, Markus Steinhofer and Fabian Frei cycle to their training ground
In the immediate aftermath of the suspension being imposed, Ferguson opted to leave Rooney out of his starting line-up for the trip to Liverpool, revealing the striker had been left “devastated” by the knowledge he would miss the entire European Championships if England fail to emerge from their group, which they now know contains France, Sweden and Ukraine.
The fear clearly remains but Ferguson expects Rooney to ignore England on Wednesday night.
“I don”t think that comes into it at all,” said Ferguson. “He has a game to play. An important game.”