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Bursaspor's İbrahim sets sights on third place

Former accountant İbrahim Öztürk has urged Bursaspor to cut their losses and turn their attention to the UEFA Europa League ahead of the visit of Manchester United FC.

Bursaspor defender İbrahim Öztürk
Bursaspor defender İbrahim Öztürk ©Getty Images

As a former accountant, İbrahim Öztürk is perhaps better placed than anyone to assess Bursaspor's balance sheet. He has called on his side to draw a line under three successive Group C losses and retrain their sights on the UEFA Europa League – starting with Tuesday's home meeting with Manchester United FC.

"We failed to take any points from our first three games," said İbrahim, in line to face the English side as Milan Stepanov struggles to shake off a knee injury. "Bursaspor lack experience so we have been a bit timid." Indeed, the Turkish titleholders are still waiting for their first goal after following up a 4-0 home defeat by Valencia CF with 1-0 losses at Rangers FC and, a fortnight ago, United. That failure has not helped the mood in the camp.

"When you can't score it obviously puts a lot of pressure on the team," explained İbrahim. "We think we can eradicate the pressure against Manchester United – it will be a new beginning for us. Starting from this game, we launch our Europa League qualifying campaign. There's nothing to lose but plenty to gain. Everybody will give their all."

Defender İbrahim is certainly champing at the bit having been restricted in the UEFA Champions League this season to a solitary substitute appearance at Old Trafford. The time on the bench at least allowed him to watch Rio Ferdinand, whose example he tries to follow at centre-back. An injury to the England captain has denied him a chance of viewing him at even closer quarters in Bursa, though.

That said, a meeting with the English giants is special in itself for a 29-year-old who was, prior to 2002, supplementing his football income by working as an accountant. That seemed a distant memory after a move to Bursaspor in summer 2008; and victory against United could similarly transform the fortunes of Ertuğrul Sağlam's men, who lie four points adrift of third-placed Valencia and Group C's UEFA Europa League spot.