Ahead of Manchester United’s UEFA Super Cup game against Zenit St Petersburg, Sir Alex Ferguson has spoken about the big future he predicts for this current team, the strongest in his reign at United.
Whilst Fergie suffered much criticism for only winning one European Cup (whilst ignoring that one of our strongest teams, the Double winning side of 1994, had to compete with the foreigner’s rule in place, allowing just three non-British players in the team), he can now lay that pressure to bed, and focus on future glories without as much stress.
Like Scholes has said, it shouldn’t have take us 9 years to get the opportunity to win it again after 1999.
Every time we got knocked out of Europe, it seemed to be another year wasted. 2002 should have been our year, but lost out on away goals Leverkusen.
Then there was 2004, when we were cruelly knocked out by Jose Mourinho’s Porto, following incompetent refereeing ruling out what was a perfectly legitimate goal. The run they had to the final was painfully easy, taking on Lyon, Deportivo and Monaco after us.
With Ferguson’s time running out before his retirement, he, like Scholes is eager for us to press for another Champions League title, and won’t rule us out from winning it this season in Rome.
“No club has defended the Champions League and that is a great challenge to us,” said Ferguson. “I have looked into the eyes of my players to make sure they have retained the hunger you need to succeed — and I am satisfied we are ready to go again. We took an important step in Moscow towards improving our record and that continues to be our next challenge.”
This side has several key players who are even younger than the team that won it in the Nou Camp in 1999. David Beckham was the youngest player, having just turned 24-years-old, whereas in Moscow, we had a whole host of players younger than that: Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo, Carlos Tevez, Nani and Anderson. The potential to then go on and win the Champions League again is much bigger.
“We have a very good team emerging and they will get better,” Ferguson continued. “We have the strongest squad in my time as manager at Old Trafford and, what’s more, it’s going to get even stronger as we have a pool of players with time on their side. Some of them are so young that at times I’ve wondered how they have delivered such a technically high level of football. But the best is yet to come because so many of them have not yet reached their football maturity. I am thrilled to be in on the start of their great adventure.”
Does this team have what it takes to retain the Champions League?