Looking ahead to their clash with Celtic, Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson promised he “won’t let the fans down this year” as the club look to avoid repeating the mistakes of recent seasons.
Several seasons of underachievement in the Champions League culminated in United being knocked out at the group stage last year, and the United manager admitted he felt “apprehension” at the memory of last season’s failure in this competition.
However, Ferguson was confident that last season’s performance was a blip that would not be repeated.
“We were disappointing and it’s not going to happen again,” said the Scot.
“I think experiences are great, even when you lose, if you have young players who want to learn from that.
“All the players know they are better than they showed last year. At vital moments, we did not have enough experience.”
Celtic have enjoyed some success against English clubs in European competition. Four years ago they overcame Blackburn and Liverpool en route to reaching the UEFA Cup final. However, with only Neil Lennon surviving from that team, current manager Gordon Strachan has been eager to play down any comparisons between the two eras.
“They were guys at the top of their game. We have a more inexperienced side,” said Strachan.
Strachan’s task is not helped by injury concerns in his backline with Gary Caldwell (heel), Stephen McManus (thigh), Stuart Naylor (ankle) all doubtful tonight.
“We’ll try and give our back four as much protection as possible but there will be times they have to stand on their own two feet,” said Strachan, who is expected to restore Kenny Miller to his attack.
United, meanwhile, welcome back Wayne Rooney and Paul Scholes from suspension.
“Wayne particularly needs to get back playing,” said Ferguson.
Edwin van der Sar; Gary Neville, Rio Ferdinand, Wes Brown, Mikaël Silvestre; Darren Fletcher, Michael Carrick, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs; Wayne Rooney, Louis Saha.
Artur Boruc; Mark Wilson, Gary Caldwell, Stephen McManus, Lee Naylor; Shunsuke Nakamura, Neil Lennon, Thomas Gravesen, Aiden McGeady; Kenny Miller; Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink.