No room for sentiment as Fergie plots downfall of old club

  • Other Sport
  • Tuesday, 04 Nov 2003

LONDON: Apart from the occasional explosion of purple-faced rage on the touchline, Sir Alex Ferguson is not someone who makes a habit of displaying his emotions in public. 

But even the Manchester United manager could not disguise his pleasure at the warmth of the reception he received when he returned to his native Glasgow for last month’s Champions League clash against Rangers. 

The Scottish champions would be ill-advised, however, to expect any favours in return when they travel to Old Trafford today. 

Having lost to United on home soil, Rangers know another defeat could end their hopes of reaching the knockout stage of the tournament. 

Unfortunately for them, United are equally in need of a victory that will all but ensure their own progress and Ferguson will have no qualms about crushing the ambitions of his former club. 

“They have to come here to get a result, but if we win we will be 80-90 percent sure of qualifying,” the Scot said. 

“Rangers will be left with four points having to go to Stuttgart to get something to qualify, so they know what they have to do. But we don’t want to be going to Panathanaikos in our next game having to get a result.” 

Rangers more than matched United at Ibrox two weeks ago and, but for some wayward finishing, would have taken at least a point from the match. 

But their prospects of emerging from Old Trafford with something have not been helped by a string of injury concerns. 

Hopes that influential Dutch playmaker Ronald de Boer would be fit in time for the match have been dashed and Saturday’s league win over Partick Thistle has resulted in German midfielder Christian Nerlinger being ruled out of the trip south, and Dutch defender Fernando Ricksen is highly doubtful. 

“It is not ideal when you are facing the calibre of Manchester United,” Rangers manager Alex McLeish admitted. 

United will be without Paul Scholes, who is ruled out until December following surgery to correct a groin problem, but Brazilian midfielder Kleberson is set to return to the squad after a six-week absence due to a dislocated shoulder. 

Despite their injury concerns, Spanish midfielder Mikael Arteta, who scored twice in Saturday’s win, believes Rangers can get a result in Old Trafford after ending a run of three league games without a win. 

“We think that we can do something in Manchester as now the confidence is okay,” Arteta said. “Of course it is better for the confidence to always be winning, but the team spirit is better in the changing room. 

“We have seen tapes of United and they are very good, but it depends on how they play and we will decide what are the best tactics to use and what can be dangerous to them.” – AFP 

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