Manchester United Must Get off to a Winning Start in the Champions League

Simon Edmonds@@Eddie_EdmondsCorrespondent ISeptember 18, 2012

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 15:  Nick Powell of Manchester United celebrates with Robin van Persie and Javier Hernandez after scoring the fourth goal during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Wigan Athletic at Old Trafford on September 15, 2012 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Last season saw one of the most embarrassing European campaigns in the history of the Manchester United football club, as the Red Devils could manage to finish no higher than third in a group that any top side across the continent should have easily brushed aside.

Benfica, Basel and the previously unheard of Romanian side, Otleul Galati, were not opponents that any footballing fans expected the then-champions of England to struggle with.

However, sloppy performances and poor showings—particularly at the heart of the United defence—meant that one of the greatest upsets in Champions League history occurred, as United failed to advance through this group of relative minnows.

Really, the writing was on the wall as soon as the first game was played. A trip away to Benfica is not an easy fixture for any side, but it was imperative that Sir Alex and his men got off to a good start to get the ball rolling early on.

United were for the most part completely outclassed by the Portuguese side, and were somewhat lucky to walk away with as much as a point.

Having been so impressive at the start of their Barclays Premier league campaign, many fans put the result down to it just being one of those days where things weren't going right.

If that was the case, then United had a few more of "those days" before the European season was through.

Even after being demoted into the Europa League, United struggled past Ajax before being humiliated at the hands of Athletic Bilbao.


This year, Ferguson will not tolerate any sort of slip up of this nature again, and has made it more than apparent that failure is not an option for his side.

A win—and a convincing one at that—would be the perfect way to start this year's tournament, in which United once again find themselves in an all-too-easy group.

Tomorrow night Manchester United take on Galatasaray at Old Trafford. It is likely that all of United's big names (bar possibly Wayne Rooney) will be available for selection.

If the first team can go out and win by a healthy margin of three or maybe even four goals, then it will set up the rest of the group stages perfectly for the Red Devils.

Galatasaray are the team most would expect to finish second in this particular section of qualifying.

A resounding win against them early on would not only give United the confidence to forward with, but also sends a message to the other two sides in the group who might have thought that they could repeat the feats of last year and upset one of the world's most successful sides.

Anything less than a victory, though, and the memories of last season will creep not just into the minds of the United contingent, but also there rivals for a place in the last 16.

United cannot afford to give this mental edge to their group opponents. They have to win tomorrow night to ensure that that doesn't happen.

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