Ferguson anticipating fantastic final

MANCHESTER - Barcelona and Manchester United boast the type of players who can ensure the Champions League final is a more entertaining affair than in past years, United manager Alex Ferguson said on Wednesday.

"It will be a fantastic final," Ferguson told reporters a week before his team take on the Spanish champions in Rome.

"The players that Barcelona have got and Manchester United have got, it suggests a good final and I hope it lives up to that.

"European finals can be disappointing and if you look at the results over the years there were some really disappointing games and results, penalty kicks.

"I have a feeling it won't be like that on Wednesday but there are very few high-scoring finals."

He praised coach Pep Guardiola for an excellent first season in charge at the Nou Camp, saying he had had his doubts about the wisdom of the club installing as their coach a man who had spent 11 years there as a player.

"My experience of big football clubs is that when a former player takes over it doesn't always work and I think there was always a big question mark on Pep going back to Barcelona after being a great player there," said Ferguson.

"But in his first season he had won the league so I think he has done fantastically well.

Ferguson, whose team sealed their 18th English league title at the weekend, said he had been impressed by Barcelona's 6-2 thrashing of last year's Spanish champions Real Madrid earlier this month.

"We're playing a team that have a fantastic philosophy of football and I watched their game against Real Madrid and thought 'Christ, we've got to play them possibly'," he said.

"But then Chelsea showed they can be beaten. I take some encouragement from that but they are a fantastic team with fantastic individuals."