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Sir Alex Ferguson will go head to head with his former Manchester United FC assistant Walter Smith when Rangers FC visit Old Trafford to open UEFA Champions League Group C on Tuesday. The United manager, who once played for Rangers, could welcome back Rio Ferdinand from injury and already has his sights set on next May's final at Wembley.
Sir Alex Ferguson, United manager
Our home record [in Europe] over the years has been very good – I hope that continues and we can get off to the right start. No injuries to report: everyone is fit apart from Michael Carrick who is having treatment on his Achilles. I look forward to playing against Rangers, though it does bring a bit of focus on me being Scottish and having played for Rangers.
Every season we want to reach the final and we were disappointed not to last year. We've got pretty much the same squad, have kept hold of the same players and they've gained in experience. I think Rangers are an organised side, and with [Steven] Naismith and [Vladimír] Weiss coming in they're better than they were last year. They'll be organised, fit and will come here with a game plan – teams like that are always tough to beat.
Walter Smith, Rangers manager
Just being in the Champions League is always a big thing but the first game always brings extra excitement. We did reasonably well last season away in Europe but our home form let us down so we will be hoping to keep our away form going and improve at home. That said, there are few teams in the world, if any, that can afford to come here without paying proper attention to defending.
When I came back to Rangers [in 2007] I had no intention of staying this long, but I'm relishing it: the Champions League is where you want to be involved. We qualified out of the Champions League group phase into the UEFA Cup a couple of seasons ago and we need to be aiming for that level of performance again. Not that I'm aiming for third place, it's that level of performance I'm looking to recreate.
While Carrick is a doubt, Ferdinand (knee) "should get a game" against Rangers according to Sir Alex – he has not played since being ruled out of England's FIFA World Cup squad. Owen Hargreaves (knee) is a long-term absentee and Anderson has been out since suffering a cruciate knee injury on 23 February.
Andy Webster and John Fleck (both hamstring) are yet to feature this season while Steven Whittaker (calf) and Kirk Broadfoot (ankle) suffered knocks on UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying duty with Scotland. The latter started the weekend game against Hamilton Academical FC but injured his other ankle shortly before half-time.
11/09/10 Everton 3-3 Manchester United
(Pienaar 39, Cahill 90+1, Arteta 90+2; Fletcher 43, Vidić 47, Berbatov 66)
Sir Alex Ferguson's 700th Premier League game as United manager ended with former Rangers midfielder Mikel Arteta scoring Everton's shock equaliser within seconds of Tim Cahill pulling one back. Nemanja Vidić's goal was his first for club and country since the 3-0 defeat of Wolverhampton Wanderers FC on 15 December.
11/09/10 Hamilton Academical FC 1-2 Rangers
(Bougherra og 56; Jelavić 6, Miller 90)
Nikica Jelavić – ineligible for the UEFA Champions League – scored on his first start while Kenny Miller's last-gasp winner was his seventh goal in his last six games. He has registered in all four of Rangers' league matches – including a hat-trick in the 3-0 triumph over Hibernian FC.
Did you know?
Rangers manager Smith was Sir Alex's assistant when he led Scotland at the 1986 FIFA World Cup and also served as his No2 at Old Trafford in 2004.
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