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Celtic's home help keeps United on their toes

Sir Alex Ferguson expects Manchester United FC to face a very different Celtic FC team from the one the holders beat 3-0 a fortnight ago, saying: "With the support they have, they'll be very determined to turn it around."

United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is returning to his native Glasgow
United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is returning to his native Glasgow ©Getty Images

As manager of Aberdeen FC in the early 1980s, Sir Alex Ferguson made a habit of leaving Glasgow with three points. Should his Manchester United FC side repeat the feat at Celtic FC on Wednesday, the holders' place in the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League would be virtually assured.

Arsenal mission
United and Villarreal CF enjoy a six-point cushion above Celtic and Aalborg BK in Group E, so Sir Alex has been able to leave Wes Brown, Gary Neville and goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar in Manchester as he keeps one eye on Saturday's trip to Arsenal FC. "Obviously we have a big match in the league on Saturday, but that will take care of itself," he said. "The game against Celtic is incredibly significant for us. I'll try to pick a team that can [win]. There's absolutely no chance of us underestimating Celtic."

Keeping dilemma
Sir Alex must decide whether to hand Ben Foster – "England's next No1," according to the Scot – or Tomasz Kuszczak the keeper's jersey in the absence of Van der Sar. "It's a toss-of-the-coin decision," he said. The Scottish champions suffered a comprehensive 3-0 defeat a fortnight ago at Old Trafford, yet the United boss is only too aware the Red Devils face a different proposition this time around at a ground where they lost 1-0 in the 2006/07 group stage, and where Celtic have been beaten just once in 16 group matches.

'Passionate support'
"Perhaps they were chastened by the result in Manchester and with the support they have they will be very determined to turn it around," continued the 66-year-old. "Celtic have a fantastically passionate support – one of the best in the world. We will have to try to control that as well as matters on the pitch. Last time we played in Glasgow we did that and performed well, but we forgot to score goals. Now we are a different team, a more experienced team."

Special occasion
Scottish Premier League leaders Celtic have yet to register a goal in continental competition this season and that statistic is not lost on manager Gordon Strachan. Neither is the fact Manchester United are still to concede. Despite missing key personnel through injury, with strikers Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink and Georgios Samaras both sidelined, Strachan is hoping his side can conjure another "special" night on home turf. "It will be fun – another challenge and another dream," he said.

'Another dream'
"The better team won in Manchester, but at home we are a different prospect," Strachan went on. "We will try to put some pressure on Manchester United and the fans are always important. They've been fantastic. I'm not sure what the ingredient is on European nights here, but they're always very special. Throughout the history of this club we have had some cracking nights and we will try our best to make that happen again."

Nakamura memory
A sublime Shunsuke Nakamura free-kick made the difference when the English titleholders visited two years ago – a memory still treasured by the Celtic boss, who concluded: "Those kinds of moments can only occur if the team's overall performance provides a platform. But we have players who can do it, so who knows?"