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No room for sentiment at Ibrox

Alex McLeish is putting emotion aside as Rangers FC meet Manchester United FC for the first time.

By Alex O'Henley

Rangers FC and Manchester United FC may be the dominant teams on either side of the Scottish-English border - but they meet for the first time in European competition in Glasgow on Wednesday.

Emotional ties
However, there is one clear link between the teams - Rangers FC manager Alex McLeish played under Sir Alex Ferguson for an Aberdeen FC side that won the 1982/83 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup. Still, even though the British media has focused on the bond between him and the United manager in the frenzied build-up to the game, McLeish knows there will be no room for sentiment at Ibrox.

'A proud moment'
"It is a proud moment for me to be manager of Rangers going into this Champions League game against Manchester United," McLeish said. "I have tried not to get too involved in the media hype surrounding the game.

'Mouthwatering prospect'
"What is important is to focus on what Rangers should be doing so that our preparation is meticulous. The game brings me together with my old boss again and we have a good relationship, but when the referee blows his first whistle I will only have eyes for one team. It is a mouthwatering prospect and I will enjoy every minute of it - as long as we win!"

De Boer ruled out
Rangers go into the match having taken four points from their first two fixtures in Group E, beating VfB Stuttgart and drawing at Panathinaikos FC. However, since then they have lost ground domestically, losing 1-0 at home to Celtic FC in the first Old Firm derby of the season and could only manage a 1-1 draw away to Motherwell FC at the weekend. The influential Dutchman, Ronald de Boer, is ruled out for the home side as he continues to recover from a knee operation.

United squad improved
Defender Henning Berg, a member of the United squad that won the Champions League in 1999 but now with Rangers, knows the Scottish champions will have to raise their game against his old club. "They had a good side when I was there but they are even better now," Berg said. "Players like [Rio] Ferdinand, [Ruud] Van Nistelrooij and [John] O'Shea have come in to make an excellent squad even better."

'Fright in Stuttgart'
United arrived in Glasgow determined to make up for the disappointment of losing to Stuttgart on Matchday 2. Ferguson said: "We got a fright in Stuttgart but it is still early enough to do something about it. Sometimes the tension can get to the players in games like this but with the experience in my team I would hope that would not be the case."

'Fantastic experience'
Ferguson added: "It is an exciting game for the supporters and creates competition between Scotland and England which you do not have now at international level. I went to the game when Rangers met Leeds United [AFC] in 1992 and it was a fantastic experience."

Fortune doubt
Quinton Fortune is the only injury doubt for United after the South African picked up a knock in Saturday's 1-0 English Premiership win at Leeds.