Manchester United manager has emphasized that his team will not lose focus or intent in the UEFA Champions League this season and that the mistakes that occurred last year in the tournament will not take place for the Red Devils this year.
Speaking out before United's opening round group match against Galatasaray on Wednesday, the veteran manager was quick to concede that whilst complacency was an issue last year, it would not be a part of United's Champions League campaign this year, and that they were fully focused on qualifying through to the knockout stages.
"If we don't go through, we will be criticized and pilloried for it, and quite rightly. We've had our warning and I don't anticipate going out this time.
"Certainly we want to do better than last year—no questions about that.
"The European Cup is incredible. Also, without question, it elevates your status within the game like the Real Madrids and AC Milans. We want to be up there in terms of the number of trophies won in European football.
"The only thing you can think about [now] is qualifying..."
Manchester United have a favorable group in the Champions League this year—drawing Turkish club Galatasaray, as well as Braga and CFR Cluj—and should have no problems progressing through to the knockout stages of the tournament.
Having said that, smiler sentiments were said last year when the English Premier League giants drew Benfica, Basel and Otelul Galati in the group, yet sensationally failed to qualify.
Much of it was put down to a lack of intensity and focus—a mistake that Ferguson is desperate to rectify this time around, and a goal that he is taking very seriously already.
Both Robin van Persie and Shinji Kagawa were potential inclusions for the Red Devils on Saturday, but were omitted from the starting side that beat Wigan Athletic 4-0 on the weekend in order to recover from their niggling injuries.
Van Persie would come on as a substitute later in the match whilst Antonio Valencia, David de Gea and Patrice Evra were also not used.
What lineup Sir Alex Ferguson will field against the Turkish giants is an interesting question, with the veteran manager likely to field a full-strength team for this important match.
I'd expect to see a 4-2-3-1 formation from United—one that works well without the inclusion of Wayne Rooney but still provides with plenty of attacking depth and options.
The Red Devils will bring back most, if not all, of their big guns for this one, so expect to see the likes of Van Persie, Kagawa, Valencia and De Gea back in the starting side. They are taking the group stages of the tournament extremely seriously this year, and we should expect to see a starting side that reflects that focus.
And it's that focus and intensity that Ferguson will be looking out for the most on Wednesday night—regardless of what team he plays on the pitch.
Can Manchester United win the UEFA Champions League this season?
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