Sir Alex Ferguson believes his young Manchester United stars will become Old Trafford legends if they win the Champions League.
Ferguson’s side retained the Premier League title on Sunday and now the Scot has turned his attention to the Champions League final against Chelsea, the team they edged out of the title.
He is adamant that success in Moscow on May 21 would make this United team the equal of any he has worked with in his glorious 22-year reign at the club.
United’s first European Cup triumph in 1968 made icons of George Best, Bobby Charlton and Denis Law, while Ferguson’s first victory in the competition in 1999 gave David Beckham, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Teddy Sheringham a special place in United’s illustrious history.
Ferguson insists the potential of his current crop is limitless and he expects Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez to join those famous names in United’s hall of fame if they beat Chelsea.
”If we win the European Cup I think you would have to put this group of players right at the very top of those I have worked with,” Ferguson said.
”It is an emerging team. Normally, the average age of teams who win the European Cup is about 29.
”We have a lot of young players. [Wayne] Rooney, [Cristiano] Ronaldo, [Carlos] Tevez, Anderson, Nani, [Darren] Fletcher.
”Anderson could play in front of a million people and not be bothered one bit. It is that Brazil mentality.
”They are all young players and are getting better. But you also need experienced players like Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Edwin van der Sar.
”That kind of experience allows young players to develop. The future is bright and we are all looking forward to Moscow.”
Ferguson is rightly basking in the warm glow of his 10th Premier League title and admitted he relished the part he played in Bolton’s 1-1 draw at Chelsea that ended the Blues’ title challenge.
The United manager had claimed Chelsea would get an easy ride against Bolton because their players were too busy celebrating avoiding relegation.
The Wanderers stars responded with a committed display and Ferguson said: ”I had a little nibble at them to keep their mind alert. I had a text from Gary Megson saying well done, your team talk was brilliant!”
If United can claim a third successive title next season they will equal Liverpool’s all-time record of 18 English championships. But Ferguson knows he will face a renewed challenge from Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool.
”I cannot say we are going to dominate again as it would be stupid to do that,” he said.
”I expect Arsenal to be very strong and Liverpool to buy a lot of players. I do not know what Chelsea will do as they already have a strong squad.
”Everton are continuing to progress under David Moyes and Tottenham will have a much bigger say, I am sure.”
Ferguson’s belief in his side is reflected in the confidence of the players. Rooney is certain United are already the best team in Europe and is determined to get the victory in Russia that would underline his claim.
”Winning the Champions League would be a great achievement, unbelievable,” Rooney said. ”It is a very difficult trophy to win but we are the only unbeaten team in the competition.
”That record speaks for itself and we have played some great football in Europe this season.
”Some people said we did not express ourselves enough against Barcelona but we knew we had a job to do and we got to the final.
”We want to go there and win it as well as the league. I feel we can do it.” — Sapa-AFP