Date:Wednesday April 23 2008
As has been previously stated on this site, United have a woeful record in European Cup semi-finals: Fergie himself lost three of these. He's reached his fifth one this year and does not intend to bow out again.
Barcelona will provide a great test for our finest - and should make it a wonderful game in the process.
'It is about raising the bar,' Fergie said. 'I think last season we were undone by circumstances in Milan, but the previous time in Milan we failed badly in the last 16.
'We have failed in some semi finals when we should have won. Leverkusen and Dortmund are two we should have won.
'We need more concentration and a better retention of the ball, definitely.'
Oh, his old obsession. Retaining a ball has become a mantra for Fergie before big European nights - and too often we then utterly failed to do so. Perhaps we should put less emphasis on it and we would be more successful? But I could cite the example of our not-so-beloved neighbours at the other end of the East Lancs: they had about 30% of possession at the Nou Camp last season yet won 2-1.
Still, we are better equipped than ever before and our displays in Europe have shown that.
'Our performances have been good, no question about that. The Roma and Lyon performances were good - as you know their European record has been good over the years so we have come through well to this point.
'But I don't see us as favourites. We have two very balanced teams in terms of the history of both clubs and the way they play. Both teams have good quality players. I think it is a very balanced game.
'Hopefully, we can score the goals that matter and take them back to Old Trafford without the worry of not having scored. If we get a goal, it gives us a massive advantage. I think this would be the most attractive final. If it had been the final it would have been a fantastic stage for two big clubs like Barcelona and ourselves. I think the winners will stand a great chance in the final.'
Date:Wednesday April 23 2008
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