Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Football: Ferguson Backs His Men of Destiny; Manager Relishing Clash

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Football: Ferguson Backs His Men of Destiny; Manager Relishing Clash

Article excerpt

Byline: KEN GAUNT

MANCHESTER United manager Sir Alex Ferguson believes his players have the potential to shape their own destiny and enter Old Trafford's 'Hall of Fame', writes KEN GAUNT.

However, he has resisted the temptation to take his vibrant squad down memory lane as he returned to the city which hosted a never-to-be-forgotten Champions League final.

Nine years ago Ferguson's side recorded an astonishing last-gasp victory against Bayern Munich thanks to goals from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Teddy Sheringham to lift the trophy.

Today they return to the Nou Camp for the first time since that memorable night.

This time Barcelona provide the opposition in the semi-final first leg of Europe's top club competition.

Ferguson insists his squad do not need a history lesson. Instead he tipped his players to set their own benchmark.

"It is almost 10 years since we won the final," said the United boss.

"The team of today do not need to worry about the past and be reminded of the past.

"They have seen the game many times on video and television, so I do not think it is lost on any of them.

"What is more important is that they can shape their own history. I think they are good enough to do that."

United went out at the semi-final stage to AC Milan last season but Ferguson insists they are much better equipped to go the distance this time around.

The likes of Owen Hargreaves and Carlos Tevez arrived in the summer along with outstanding prospects Nani and Anderson to boost the playing pool.

With 38-goal Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney showing remarkable maturity this season, United have good reason to go forward with confidence.

Ferguson said: "We are in a much stronger position this year in terms of the energy of the team, not to mention the ability in it. Last season we played much the same team every week because of injuries. Now we have bigger squad, you can see the difference and how it has helped us."

United were involved in two enthralling games against Barcelona in the group stages on the way to beating Bayern - both ending 3-3. …

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