Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has taken accountability for the club’s shocking Champions League group stage elimination last season and is determined to avoid a repeat of such a “careless” display in European football.
United, who won Europe’s most elite club competition in 2008 and subsequently lost twice to Barcelona in the final in 2009 and 2011, failed to make the knock-out stages in 2011-12.
A disappointing loss to FC Basel in their last Champions League group stage fixture pushed them into the Europa League, where they were once again humbled convincingly by Athletic Bilbao.
Sir Alex’s dubious squad selections as well as United’s lack of urgency in European competitions last season was criticized heavily and the manager is not surprised with the manner in which those failures were perceived.
“That was very careless. We can’t accept that. We’re better than that. And I played a part in that as well. I took too many risks with team selections, played too many young players in certain games,” Fergie was quoted at the club’s official website.
He added: “That won’t happen again next season. We’ll qualify from the group stages. I’ll make sure of it. European football is hugely important to this club and we need to be competing for the biggest trophies. We need to make a statement and show everybody last season was just a blip.”
Courtesy of their second-place finish in the Barclays Premier League last season, United will start the Champions League in the group stage again and with scrutiny poised to follow them in every match, there is simply no room for error this time around.