Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Red Devils Are Sure They Will Be Better Prepared

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Red Devils Are Sure They Will Be Better Prepared

Article excerpt

SIR Alex Ferguson is convinced Manchester United will be better prepared for their Champions League showdown with Barcelona than they were two years ago.

United left the Stadio Olimpico with a stinging sense of regret at a 2-0 defeat that seemed comprehensive at the time, even if their players have claimed this week their performance was not that bad.

Dig a little deeper though and the recurring word is "regret". Even Ferguson now accepts he got things wrong in the build-up. He cannot say the same now.

"This game is not a matter of revenge," he said. "It was a matter of our own personal pride that we lost the game on that particular occasion. Therefore we are very focused this time.

"Our preparation has been better. Maybe we made one or two mistakes last time."

One of those errors might have been to excuse his entire starting line-up any involvement in their final Barclays Premier League game at Hull.

Although done for the best of reasons, it meant United's main men had gone 10 days without a game. This time, only the ones who needed a break got one, with Wayne Rooney, Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes all starting Tuesday's testimonial for Gary Neville, who travelled with his former team-mates when they boarded the train to London on Thursday.

"That was a good thing because it took a bit of the focus of this game away for a day or so," said Ferguson.

"It enabled everyone to relax because the week leading up to a final can be long. We did most of the preparation before the Blackpool game. Winning the league the previous week helped us in that way."

It also allowed for more time to analyse United's opponents. Ferguson and his players hardly needed to pore through DVDs to work out Lionel Messi (pictured left) can play, or that Xavi, Andres Iniesta and David Villa are fairly decent as well.

However, any morsel could prove so crucial at a level of the game where differences can be wafer-thin.

"It would be unwise to go into a game not preparing your team for how your opponents play, their strengths and weaknesses," Ferguson said. "Every team gets that respect. …

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