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United looking to raise the bar

Sir Alex Ferguson will look to make his experience count as Manchester United FC meet FC Zenit St. Petersburg in the 2008 UEFA Super Cup at Monaco's Stade Louis II.

United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is going for a record third UEFA Super Cup win
United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is going for a record third UEFA Super Cup win ©Getty Images

Sir Alex Ferguson will look to make his experience count as Manchester United FC meet FC Zenit St. Petersburg in the 2008 UEFA Super Cup at Monaco's Stade Louis II.

• Zenit's Dick Advocaat has never led a side in a UEFA Super Cup game before, whereas Sir Alex is the most experienced manager in the competition's history.

• This will be Sir Alex's fourth appearance in a Super Cup final and he will break another record if United triumph as the first coach to have won the competition three times.

• The United manager first won the trophy with Aberdeen FC in 1983, his side defeating Hamburger SV 2-0 on aggregate to win a competition that was then played over two legs.

• Sir Alex won it for a second time as United defeated FK Crvena Zvezda 1-0 at Old Trafford in 1991.

• His only final since the competition switched to its current format and its regular base in Monte Carlo came in 1999, as United lost out 1-0 to S.S. Lazio.

• Aside from Sir Alex, four coaches have won two UEFA Super Cups: Raymond Goethals (RSC Anderlecht, 1976 and 1978), Arrigo Sacchi (AC Milan, 1989 and 1990), Louis van Gaal (AFC Ajax, 1995 and FC Barcelona 1997) and Carlo Ancelotti (Milan, 2003 and 2007). The United manager and Van Gaal remain the only coaches to have won the competition with more than one team.

• Sir Alex is one of eight coaches to have both won and lost UEFA Super Cup ties along with Bob Paisley (Liverpool FC, won 1977, lost 1978), Brian Clough (Nottingham Forest FC, won 1979, lost 1980), Johan Cruyff (Barcelona, won 1992, lost 1989), Fabio Capello (Milan, won 1994, lost 1993), Nevio Scala (won with Parma FC 1993, lost with BV Borussia Dortmund 1997), Vicente Del Bosque (Real Madrid CF, won 2000, lost 2002) and Juande Ramos (Sevilla FC, won 2006, lost 2007).

• Scala and Sir Alex are the only coaches to have won and lost the UEFA Super Cup with different sides while Guus Hiddink is the only one to have coached two clubs in UEFA Super Cup games without a win. His PSV Eindhoven side lost in the 1988 game, while ten years later his Real Madrid team were beaten by Chelsea FC.

• Sir Alex remains the only Scottish coach to have won the competition, while Advocaat can take comfort from the fact that a Dutch coach has claimed the UEFA Super Cup five times. In addition to Van Gaal's two triumphs, Gregorius Knobel won the competition with Ajax in 1973, Aad de Mos triumphed with Belgium's KV Mechelen in 1988 and Cruyff took the crown with Barcelona in 1992. More encouragingly for Advocaat, three of those triumphs came with foreign clubs.

• Advocaat and Sir Alex both have strong connections to Rangers FC, the side Zenit beat in the 2007/08 UEFA Cup final. Glasgow-born Sir Alex was a Rangers fan and played for the club as a striker between 1967 and 1969. Advocaat was the manager at Ibrox between 1998 and 2002, winning two league titles, two Scottish Cups and a Scottish League Cup.

• Advocaat has a fine record against sides from England as a coach but may prefer to forget his only meetings with English opposition as a player.

• He was a midfielder for ADO Den Haag as they faced Wolverhampton Wanderers FC in the second round of the 1971/72 UEFA Cup, losing 3-1 at home and 4-0 away.

• Advocaat was also Netherlands coach as they lost 4-1 to a side featuring both Gary Neville and Paul Scholes, the latter an unused substitute, in a UEFA European Under-18 Championship qualifier in 1993.

• His luck with the senior side was better. His Oranje side drew 2-2 away against England in 1994 FIFA World Cup qualifying and won 2-0 at home, with Ronald Koeman and Dennis Bergkamp scoring the goals in Rotterdam.

• At club level, his record is even more impressive. He played four games against English sides during his time as coach of PSV and won all of them.

• His side beat Leeds United AFC 5-3 away and 3-0 at home in a 1995/96 UEFA Cup second round tie and then overcame Newcastle United FC 1-0 at home and 2-0 away in the 1997/98 UEFA Champions League group stage.

• However, Advocaat did suffer defeat at Everton FC in the UEFA Cup group stage last season although his Zenit side went on to lift the trophy.

• The Super Cup final will be the clubs' first meeting in UEFA competition.

• It will also be Zenit's first game at the Stade Louis II.

• The match will be United's third visit to the Monte Carlo arena. They earned a goalless away draw against AS Monaco FC in a 1997/98 UEFA Champions League quarter-final – drawing 1-1 at home to lose out on away goals – and returned for the 1999 UEFA Super Cup final, which they lost 1-0 to Lazio.

• Thus Sir Alex's side have neither won a game nor scored a goal at the Stade Louis II.

• Advocaat will have fonder memories of the stadium having earned a 1-0 victory on his only previous visit with Rangers FC in the 2000/01 UEFA Champions League first group stage, Giovanni van Bronckhorst scoring his side's only goal after seven minutes. Current Zenit player Fernando Ricksen was an unused substitute for the Light Blues.

• Oddly, the two UEFA Super Cup contenders are competing after winning major honours in each others' home countries last season.

• United won the UEFA Champions League in the Russian capital, Moscow, beating Chelsea FC on penalties after a 1-1 draw at the Luzhniki Stadium.

• Zenit, meanwhile, lifted the UEFA Cup at the City of Manchester Stadium, home of United's local rivals Manchester City FC, defeating Rangers FC 2-0.

• An English club has won the UEFA Super Cup seven times and finished on the losing side on five occasions.

• PFC CSKA Moskva are the only other Russian side to have played in a UEFA Super Cup, losing the 2005 final 3-1 after extra time to English opponents in the form of Liverpool.

• United's record against Russian sides heading into the UEFA Super Cup is strangely inconclusive. They have played four games against Russian teams in European competition and drawn all of them.

• They drew 0-0 with FC Torpedo Moskva in both legs of a 1992/93 UEFA Cup first round game, losing out on penalties in the Russian capital.

• Then in the first round of the 1995/96 UEFA Cup, they met SC Rotor Volgograd, drawing 0-0 in Russia and going two down at home before goals from Scholes and goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel brought them level. However, they could not prevent their opponents proceeding on away goals.

• Thus United have gone out in both of their previous competitive ties against Russian sides without losing a match.

• Gary Neville, Giggs and Scholes were all involved in those previous meetings against Russian opponents.

• Neville came on as a substitute in the home game against Torpedo, while Giggs played all 120 minutes of the away leg.

• Giggs, Neville and Scholes all started in the away game against Rotor. Giggs started in the home leg, with Scholes coming on as a 26th-minute substitute.

• Zenit have also played four games against English opponents, winning two and losing two. They met Bradford City AFC in the semi-finals of the 2000 UEFA Intertoto Cup, winning 1-0 at home and 3-0 away.

• They visited both Bolton Wanderers FC and Everton in UEFA Cup group stage games, in 2005/06 and 2007/08 respectively, and lost 1-0 both times.

• One player who will be on familiar territory at the Stade Louis II is Patrice Evra. The United left-back played for Monaco between 2002 and 2006, when he joined United, helping the Ligue 1 club reach the 2003/04 UEFA Champions League final, where they lost 3-0 to FC Porto. He won the 2002/03 French League Cup with Monaco.

• Evra played 120 Ligue 1 games for Monaco, scoring once.

• The only United player to have played a competitive game against Zenit is Serbian defender Nemanja Vidić, who played in the Russian Premier-Liga for FC Spartak Moskva from 2004 to 2006.

• Vidić played in three games against Zenit. His side lost 2-0 in St Petersburg on 21 August 2004, and drew 1-1 at the Petrovsky Stadium on 11 June 2005, drawing 1-1 again at home on 16 October that year.

• Thus Vidić goes into his fourth game against Zenit still looking for a first win.

• The Korean Republic national team provides an important connection between Zenit and United, with United's Ji Sung Park and Zenit's Lee Ho and Kim Dong Jin all playing under Advocaat at the 2006 FIFA World Cup finals.

• Advocaat's side failed to progress beyond the group stage, finishing third in Group G behind Switzerland and France. The Dutchman was nonetheless impressed enough to make Lee and Kim among his first signings when he moved to Russia.

• United's Dutch goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar also played under Advocaat during his time as Netherlands coach, and was included in his squad for UEFA EURO 2004™, where the Oranje lost 2-1 to hosts Portugal in the semi-finals.

• First contested in 1972, as an unofficial competition, the Super Cup originally involved the winners of the European Champion Clubs' Cup playing the winners of the UEFA Cup Winners' Cup.

• Ajax beat Rangers in the inaugural edition before it became an official UEFA club competition the following year.

• In the 24 editions of the competition held until the final UEFA Cup Winners' Cup in 1999, the European Cup holders won 12 UEFA Super Cups and lost 12.

• Since the 2000 edition, the European champions have played the UEFA Cup winners in the UEFA Super Cup.

• The European champions have won four of those eight games, and lost four.