Champions League – Ferguson expects a Wembley classic
Sir Alex Ferguson says Saturday’s Champions League final between Manchester United and Barcelona could be a classic between two of the finest teams of the last decade.
The Manchester United manager said it was impossible to predict what would happen when the two sides meet at Wembley Stadium in a repeat of the 2009 final which Barcelona won 2-0 in Rome.
But he 69-year-old, bidding to join Bob Paisley of Liverpool as the only coach to win Europe’s top club competition three times, agreed Saturday’s match could be the best final of the decade as he heaped lavish praise on his opposite number Pep Guardiola.
“The success that both teams have had in the last decade has been enormous and it could not just be the final of the decade, but the best final,” he said. “The two teams have great histories, that’s obvious, but it’s an appealing final in what could happen tomorrow – anything could happen.
“There could be a lot of goals, a lot of excitement and there will be a lot of good football, I’m sure of that, so it is all set up, and hopefully it turns out that way.”
Ferguson also spoke of his admiration for Guardiola, 40, as both a player and coach and said he tried to sign him for United when he left Barca as a player to join Brescia a decade ago.
“I spoke to his agent when he left Barcelona and in the end he decided to go to Italy and maybe it was a moment lost because I admired him as a footballer.
“I thought he was a fantastic passer of the ball. The Barcelona team that beat us 4-0 at that time with players like (Jose Maria) Bakero and (Txiki) Beguiristain was superb.”
Ferguson had equal respect for Guardiola as a coach.
“Since taking over he has changed the way they play and brought maturity to the team.
“From beating us in Rome to the present day, you can see that maturity, and also he has changed the way they press the ball which has been very impressive in the last year or so. For a young coach, he has done fantastically well.
“He has a presence about him and he played for Barcelona, which helps of course. If you look at the history of Barcelona’s Dutch coaches, he has made a big step forward for Spanish coaches.”
However, Ferguson added, he was confident that his team would triumph on Saturday.
“We are not looking for revenge,” he said, “but I trust in the players and believe they will do the job.”