Ferguson hoping European approach sinks Chelsea

LONDON - Having failed to win on his last 10 visits to Chelsea, Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson is hoping a "European approach" to Wednesday's Champions League quarter-final first leg will tilt the tie in his favour.

Chelsea have won six and drawn four of the teams' last 10 meetings at Stamford Bridge, including last month's 2-1 Premier League victory. United's last success was a 3-0 win in 2002.

"We used to have fantastic record there and although the last few years have been poor in terms of results we have played well most of the time," Ferguson told a news conference at Lord's cricket ground, just across the road from United's team hotel.

"We had the two-legged game against Arsenal two years ago and we tried to approach it as we would away in a European tie.

"This time we're away first and the name of the game is to go back to Old Trafford with a goal or two in our pocket.

"It won't change our attitude to trying to win the match but we want to go back with a live chance of qualifying and if we go back with some sort of advantage we will be very difficult to beat on our own ground.

"Being an all-British tie I was happy to have the second leg at home. It's a magnificent atmosphere and when it's like that Old Trafford is a wonderful place to be."

Full-back Patrice Evra echoed his manager's feeling that United's poor run at Stamford Bridge was not a fair reflection of their performances.

"I have a lot of respect for Chelsea and the sensation is that we always play well against them," he said. "Last month we lost 2-1 but there was only one team on the pitch."

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The teams' only previous meeting in the Champions League was the 2008 final, decided in United's favour via a penalty shootout, but Ferguson said that rainy night in Moscow had no relevance to this year's battle.

"To lose on penalties is always a sore one for the loser but I don't believe players think about revenge. it goes out of the mind quickly," he said.

"The main ambition is to win the match and win the cup, not what happened three years ago, that's not the motivation."

"The major difference is there's no Ronaldo - he was fantastic - but most of the team are still there and there's more maturity," he said.

Sitting in a room overlooking the most famous cricket pitch in the world, Ferguson dead-batted questions about striker Wayne Rooney, though United later announced the striker would be appealing against his ban for swearing at a TV camera.

Of more concern to Ferguson was the England forward's fitness after he missed training on Tuesday.

"He got a really bad bruise on the shin but I'm sure he'll play tomorrow," said the Scot.

Ferguson said there was light at the end of the tunnel too with the rash of injuries to defenders that have hit his squad in recent months.

Rio Ferdinand has been training for a week and John O'Shea, Wes Brown and Rafael da Silva are also back at work.

"Things are getting better and despite the defensive troubles there's been a decent goal threat from us," Ferguson said.

"The return of (Antonio) Valencia has been a magnificent bonus for us. He's a fantastic footballer - he's been out for seven months and it's as if he's never been away.

"Nani's back, Ji-sung Park is fit, Rooney's form is coming back so we have forwards who can win matches."

While United are going strong on three fronts as they lead the Premier League and face Manchester City in the FA Cup semi-finals, Chelsea's only realistic hope of a trophy this season is the biggest one of all.

"There's no question it's (owner) Roman Abramovich's driving force," Ferguson said.

"They'll be desperate to win the European Cup - but no more desperate than we are."


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