On the 21st anniversary of his arrival at Old Trafford, Sir Alex Ferguson spoke of his optimism that his Manchester United FC team "can go far" this season.
On the 21st anniversary of his arrival at Old Trafford, Sir Alex Ferguson underlined his optimism about Manchester United FC's prospects of further European success under him, stressing that they "can go far" in this season's UEFA Champions League.
'All the way'
United go into their fixture with FC Dynamo Kyiv knowing a fourth straight victory in Group F would guarantee a place in the last 16, yet Sir Alex, who led United to the 1999 continental crown, is looking further ahead. "I really believe we are capable of going all the way," he said in his programme notes, and the Scot continued the theme when he told reporters: "At this moment in time I am very positive about that. I think this team can go far."
So far, so good
It is certainly so far so good for United whose 2-2 draw at Arsenal FC on Saturday kept them joint-top of the Premier League and who, with a win here, would achieve their best start to a UEFA Champions League campaign since 2002/03. With that aim Sir Alex, who could recall Michael Carrick, spoke of the "incentive" to continue the European legacy of Sir Matt Busby, whose longevity – a 24-year reign as United manager – he could yet surpass. "That's the real link I have got with Sir Matt in terms of the years I have spent here – 21 years have been about achieving, about entertaining and about meeting the demands of the modern game," added the 65-year-old, for whom the only cloud on the horizon seems the calf problem that has postponed Gary Neville's comeback.
At the other end of the scale from Sir Alex in terms of age and experience is the visitors' 39-year-old caretaker coach, Oleh Luzhny. With Joszef Szabó sidelined by a heart complaint after last weekend's 1-0 home defeat by FC Metalist Kharkiv, Luzhny has taken charge for an indefinite period and the first challenge for the former Arsenal defender could not be more daunting. "I remember playing here and I think Manchester United are one of the best teams in the world," he said.
As a player, Luzhny's debut in England with Arsenal was a 2-1 victory over United in the 1999 Community Shield but he was also on the receiving end of a 6-1 drubbing at Old Trafford in February 2001. While he will expect to avoid a repeat of the latter ordeal, overall the omens are not good for Dynamo. Beaten 4-2 by United in Kiev, they sit bottom of Group F without a point and will be eliminated if they pick up fewer points here than second-placed AS Roma manage against Sporting Clube de Portugal. Luzhny is without Maksim Shatskikh and Valentin Belkevich, latest additions to Dynamo's injury list, yet could recall the fit-again Serhiy Rebrov and may give a UEFA Champions League debut to Oleh Dopilka, following the young defender's domestic bow against Metalist. "There will be some changes but I cannot talk about them right now because what can we change in two or three days? There is not enough time," said Luzhny.