Sir Alex Has European History in His Thoughts While Spectre of Defeat Is Haunting for Ferdinand
Johnson, Simon, The Evening Standard (London, England)
MANCHESTER UNITED and Barcelona have already celebrated their league titles, but defeat tonight will lead to one of football's biggest clubs ending the season unfulfilled.
Sir Alex Ferguson has won the Champions League trophy twice in the last 10 years and is desperate to cement United's place in the history books by adding a third.
The level of desire is, however, no lower at the Nou Camp where the Catalans are all too aware that Real Madrid still hold sway as Spain's big hitters in Europe.
Ferguson may have just helped his club draw level with Liverpool on 18 league titles but their bitter rivals retain the bragging rights in Europe with five successes to United's three.
Even though the 67-year-old is giving the impression he can go on and on, time is running out for him to bridge the gap and every opportunity must be grasped.
If they come out on top they will become the first team since the Champions League began in the 1992-3 season to win it in successive years.
The old European Cup provides a rich history of teams who had a period of domination and now Ferguson wants to add United's name to the list.
He said: "I cannot explain why it hasn't been done [winning Champions League back-to-back]. In the history of the European Cup it was done regularly.
"Some won it two or three times in a row. There were cycles of teams winning it like Ajax, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid.
"Now we have an opportunity to change that and hopefully we can take it. There have been a lot of unlucky teams in world football but when you look at the pantheon of great teams you need to have won the European Cup to have that tag. …