Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Ferguson Wants to Gather the Full Set; Simon Stone

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Ferguson Wants to Gather the Full Set; Simon Stone

Article excerpt

HAT'S ON FOR GIGGS Sir Alex Ferguson wears a Wales Rugby Union hat, a present from Ryan Giggs, during a training session on the eve of the Europa League match between Ajax and Manchester United HAT'S ON FOR GIGGS Sir Alex Ferguson wears a Wales Rugby Union hat, a present from Ryan Giggs, during a training session on the eve of the Europa League match between Ajax and Manchester United SIR Alex Ferguson insists he would regard it as a significant achievement in Manchester United's history if they were able to join the select group of clubs that have won all Uefa's major prizes.

For the first time since 1995, the Red Devils will compete in a European competition other than the Champions League when they tackle Ajax in the first leg of a Europa League last-32 encounter in Amsterdam tonight.

It is the prize being paid for failing to emerge from a simple looking group, and not managing to win a single match from their four meetings against Benfica and Basel, who advanced instead.

Ferguson has admitted he made selection mistakes, particularly in two home games that yielded only a couple of points.

However, two months on from that shattering loss in Switzerland, the United boss is looking forward positively. And that means joining Juventus, Bayern Munich and Ajax as winners of all three European trophies given the Fairs Cup lifted three times by Barcelona was not a Uefa competition.

"It would be a significant achievement," said Ferguson. "Winning any European trophy is significant. Irrespective of those who have won the three trophies before it is important for us, with our own history, to win tournaments all the time." And, with no domestic match to sidetrack him at the weekend, Ferguson found it easy to state his intention to field a strong United lineup.

The absence of injured duo Ryan Giggs and Dimitar Berbatov, plus a "rested" Patrice Evra does partially erode the strength of Ferguson's words.

However, captain-elect Rio Ferdinand and Paul Scholes were both part of the travelling party when they could easily have been given the week off, so there is something in Ferguson's surprise admission that a policy of fielding weakened teams and relying on United's outstanding European home form had backfired this term. …

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