Sport : Football

Ferguson ready for Gala 'racket'

15th September 2012, 02:15pm

Ferguson: Already preparing for Turkish trip

Ferguson: Already preparing for Turkish trip

Sir Alex Ferguson is preparing to meet Galatasaray next week with a renewed sense of focus - but he accepts it is the trip to Istanbul in November that will really get the juices flowing.

After last season's Champions League debacle, when Manchester United crashed out at the group stage for only the second time, Ferguson is determined not to get it wrong on this occasion.

Beating Galatasaray at Old Trafford would be the perfect start to a campaign that also features a second successive trip to Romania, this time to take on CFR Cluj, and also back-to-back encounters with Portugal's FC Braga.

But it is that trip to Turkey that revives all the memories.

In 1993, United were greeted by 'Welcome to Hell' banners at the Ali Sam Yen stadium. Amid chaotic scenes, Eric Cantona was sent off and Bryan Robson was hit over the head by a police truncheon as United were eliminated.

United have been back since, and Galatasaray have also changed stadiums, but Ferguson has never forgotten.

"Our fans don't need reminding about Galatasaray," he told MUTV.

"I remember our first game there, when we arrived at the airport and there were all these banners, 'Welcome to Hell'.

"Eric Cantona was sent off. Bryan Robson was hit by a policemen's truncheon. It was a nightmare.

"The one good thing about that game is that the atmosphere will be fantastic. The fans will be in the stadium from lunchtime, shouting, singing and bawling. They make such a racket."

Ferguson admits he knows little of Cluj, who gave Chelsea two tricky games in 2008 without managing a victory.

Braga are rather better known and by gatecrashing Portugal's elite, Ferguson expects them to be the greatest threat to a smooth progression into the knockout phase.

It was something United missed out on last term, winning just two of their six matches and losing their final group game in Basle when only a draw was required.

Ferguson is promising not to make the same mistakes again.

"You always have to respect your opponents in this situation," he said.

"Last year we were a bit careless with the group. It looked easy but didn't turn out that way so there will be no complacency this time.

"I will play my best team to make sure we qualify."

Whether Ferguson sticks to that promise is open to debate given the difficulty of the matches that follow European nights.

Next week for example, United visit Liverpool, whilst trips to Newcastle, Chelsea and Manchester City also come immediately after Champions League games.

It is hardly ideal, and Ferguson is acutely aware of the need to get his juggling right, at a time when injuries have caused major problems for the Old Trafford outfit anyway.

"The great part of European football is that you have different experiences all the time," he said.

"My dream as a young coach with Aberdeen was to play at places like the Bernabeu and Nou Camp and Bayern Munich.

"Since they changed the European Cup to the Champions League we have played all the best teams in Europe.

"From time to time you get the odd situation, like last year, when we played another Romanian team and Basle, they surprise you in terms of their quality.

"You cannot take it for granted now. You have to dismiss the fact we are not in the Nou Camp, or the Bernabeu, or Bayern Munich.

"We are playing teams who will be desperate to beat us."

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