United v Rangers Preview!
This Tuesday evening Manchester United start their Champions League campaign with a Group C opener against the Scottish champions, Glasgow Rangers.
The fixture gives Sir Alex Ferguson to engage in a tactical battle with his old adversary and friend Walter Smith, as well as giving everyone associated with Manchester United the chance to quickly erase from their memory banks the shocking conclusion to what should have been a comfortable win, at Goodsion Park, on Saturday.
Having played for Rangers back in the 1960`s, Sir Alex is obviously relishing the encounter with his former club, remarking to the media,
"I`m looking forward to it."
"It brings a bit of focus on me being a Scot and playing for Rangers but when we`re playing at home it doesn`t matter who we play, we want to win."
The fixture should also see the return to action of a certain Wayne Rooney, the striker missed the trip to Goodison Park after the shenanigans relating to his personal life were splashed all over the media during the last seven days.
Speaking about the Rooney situation, Sir Alex had this to say at his press conference,
"I`ve no regrets about leaving him out. I did the right thing."
"He`s a terrific player and he`ll be looking forward to tomorrow. We expect a good performance from him."
Another United player hoping to make a comeback is Rio Ferdinand. The central defender came through a reserve team run-out last week and might well be recalled to a defence that buckled late-on, on Saturday.
Sir Alex, obviously concerned about a run that has seen us lose late goals in our last two away trips, quipped a this press conference,
"It`s not frailty, it`s been a lack of concentration in our defending."
Whilst adding about Rio possibly coming back into the defence
"Rio has trained the last few weeks and he needs to play games now."
Definitely out though are recent Achilles victim, Michael Carrick and Anderson who had an injury recurrence during his reserve team run-out last week.
Our visitors, Glasgow Rangers, will be cheered on by a vociferous support who will have had to have undergone a military style operation to arrive at Old Trafford after their last visit to Manchester, for a UEFA Cup Final ended in shameful scenes.
Walter Smith has doubts about the fitness of Steven Whittaker and Kirk Broadfoot and will also be without the services of the illegible striker Nikica Jelavic who played in the qualifying rounds for another club.
The Scottish champions enter this tie having a miserable record in the Champions League, they didn`t taste victory in any of their six games last season and haven`t won for ten games in the competition now.
On journeys into England, they don`t normally fare well and have only a 2-1 win over Leeds United (1992-1993) to crow about in their last five visits south of Hadrian`s Wall.
On the two previous occasions our paths have crossed in the Champions League, back in 2003, United were victorious on both occasions, winning 1-0 at Ibrox and 3-0 at Old Trafford.
However, Sir Alex Ferguson isn`t taking the visit of an old adversary easy, commenting,
"Rangers will be organized, they have no problems with temperament and fitness and they won`t be overawed coming here. It won`t be easy."
From a United point of view I`m reliably informed that a win will bring up our 150th European victory in 279 games whilst also giving us a decent foundation to mount another European campaign to hopefully better the one of last year where we crashed out to Bayern Munich in the quarter-finals.
It promises to be a good night at Old Trafford, let`s hope it`s remembered for all the right reasons though!
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