Sir Alex Ferguson: Champions League obsession could be Chelsea's downfall

11 April 2011 06:39
Sir Alex Ferguson is hoping to make Chelsea pay for what he reckons is an unhealthy obsession with the Champions League.

Chelsea have lost four semi-finals and also the 2008 final to Manchester United in Roman Abramovich's so far vain pursuit of the ultimate club prize.

The Blues will have their dreams ended for another year on Tuesday night unless they can overturn a first-leg deficit in their quarter-final clash with United at Old Trafford.

United front: Wayne Rooney (centre) and Wes Brown (right) were in a good mood at training on Monday

If they do go out, many believe CarloAncelotti will get sacked in Abramovich's relentless quest for Europeanglory. But Ferguson feels the Chelsea owner has set himself a stiff target.

However, as someone who suffered the same affliction himself until that memorable triumph over Bayern Munich in 1999, the United boss does not necessarily blame Abramovich for it.

'It does seem to be an obsession withChelsea to win the European Cup,' said Ferguson. 'That is why they signed Fernando Torres.

'The owner has every much nailed his colours to the mast in that respect. I have felt that for quite a while with him.

'To have an obsession of winning the European Cup is stretching yourself a wee bit. At the end of the day it is a very difficult competition to win.

'But I can understand it because I had the obsession myself for quite a while. I lost semi-finals and you say to yourself you are never going to do it.

'When we achieved it in Barcelona, it was the greatest feeling of all time. It took the monkey off my back.'

All smiles: Defender Rio Ferdinand and Sir Alex Ferguson spoke to the media ahead of Tuesday's clash

Not that Ferguson's comments should be interpreted as Chelsea having extra hunger.

His United side may still have the consolation of a Premier League title and FA Cup to go for should it allgo wrong. But he wants to win.

'Chelsea are no more desperate than Manchester United, believe me,' he said. 'For any club when the expectations are high you come to a situation where it is all or nothing.

'People talk about us winning the league but we are desperate to win this game.'

Against virtually any other side in Europe, any sort of advantage from the away leg would leave United asoverwhelming favourites to reach the next stage.

As Ferguson acknowledges though, in Chelsea's case, familiarity breeds a different attitude.

Ancelotti's men realise a repeat of their 2-1 win on their last trip to Old Trafford 12 months ago would take them through.

'A British team coming here is different,' he said. 'Though Juventus and Milan have played here a few times over the years, Chelsea play here every year.

Getting ready for the big one: (From left) Michael Carrick watches Paul Scholes and Nemanja Vidic get stuck in

'In that respect there is a familiarity about it. The stadium, the size of the pitch, the condition of the pitch all these things are in their favour over other European teams.'

Ferguson is not expected to stray too much from the side whose victory last week was fully deserved even though they operated with a minority of possession.

Brazilian full-back Rafael is a majordoubt, with his manager claiming he would need to impress in training on Tuesday to stand any chance of ousting John O'Shea.

There must also be a possibility thatNani will get the nod ahead of Javier Hernandez, allowing Wayne Rooney to slot back into the lone striking role Ferguson prefers on occasions such as this.

The real boost for United is that they have choices to make. Ferguson himself cannot quite understand how a side that was weakened and derided so often during the early weeksof the season should reach this point still in with a chance of emulating their 1999 Treble-winning counterparts.

However, without question, they are now hitting top form, which Ferguson feels is crucial.

'Momentum is key,' he said. 'When you get that momentum it is difficult to knock you off your stride.

Crucial: Wayne Rooney was in the right place at the right time to beat Chelsea keeper Petr Cech last week

'Hopefully that is what will drive our players on. We are at an important time of year in that every game is a cup final now and the players are thriving on that.

'There were probably a lot of games earlier in the season when I might have been hesitant about making the changes I did on Saturday.

'Having the momentum, whoever comes in is carrying on the fight.'

The winners on Tuesday are likely to face Schalke in the semi-finals as the Germans hold a 5-2 advantage over Inter Milan.

In the other ties, Real Madrid are 4-0 up against Tottenham and Barcelona lead Shakhtar Donetsk 5-1.

'Can you imagine the Real Madrid v Barcelona semi-final? I'll be going to that,' said Ferguson. 

 Chelsea 0 Manchester United 1: Rooney the hero for FergieSave our Season! Ancelotti vows to do 'something special' ahead of United tieUnited in fitness boost with Rafael the only doubt ahead of Chelsea clashAll the latest Manchester United news, features and opinionAll the latest Chelsea news, features and opinion

 Explore more:People: Alex Ferguson, John O'Shea, Wayne Rooney, Roman Abramovich, Fernando Torres, Nani, Carlo Ancelotti Places: Barcelona, Milan, Europe

Source: Daily_Mail

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