Quite obviously, I like many reds, is delighted that we've got the plum draw in the competition. Fair enough, we cannot afford to underestimate our opponents too much but you do feel that Sir Alex has got the European formula right these past few seasons so much so that a place in the last four every year is now looking like a minimum requirement.
I mean, forget the kids; the manager does have a perfect blend of youth and experience to see us over the line in tricky home and away Champions League ties. To think that we won more away games in Europe last season than in the EPL shows you what I'm talking about.
However I was least concerned about who we got in the Group stages because going through shouldn't be problem regardless of the group we're in. What I was bothered with most was getting opponents not so far from the United Kingdom. I mean playing a tie in Russia on Wednesday and then flying back immediately to prepare for a Saturday evening kick-off in the EPL the same week can take its toll on the players. Take a case of the 2009/10 season in which we lost every league game after an away match in the Champioons League in mid-week. You might remember that we had to go to places like Moscow in that season. So given that we lost the title by the odd point, I think it would also be fair to conclude that our European adventures cost us the title that year.
Regular readers of this blog know that I unlike Roman Abramovich, prioritises the league every season ahead of the Champions League. So its comforting to not that just about every after away game in Europe, we're home in the league. That does reflect in the long run.
Looking at the group, I'd like to think that Benfica will pose the greatest challenge but United have such a perfect record away from home in the Champions League that you feel that the Portuguese outfit will have to be at their very best throughout the six games to deny us top spot. If things go our way, we might just have qualification wrapped up by the end of October. What's for sure is that this is an easier group than the one we had last year.
We've got a load of players on our team who do not have Champions League experience so you feel that we've got a group that allows for them to get games without necessarily undermining our cause. I expect that the manager will call on the likes of Park, Carrick, Giggs and the like when he needs to be tactical and get a result away from home.
Finally, David Gill says that we shall input be making any more signings this summer---much to the disappointment of many fans. Fergie's Babes have given us reason to hope for a lot this season so hopfeully they vindicate the manager's decision to have faith in them.
Labels: UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE