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Ferguson: United just a kick from Champions final

 Manchester United's manager Alex Ferguson is seen during a press conference in London, Monday, May 4, 2009. Manchester United is to play Arsenal in t...
 Manchester United's manager Alex Ferguson gestures as he talks to the media during a press conference in London, Monday, May 4, 2009. Manchester Unit...

BRITAIN SOCCER CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Manchester United's manager Alex Ferguson is seen during a press conference in London, Monday, May 4, 2009. Manchester United is to play Arsenal in t...

BRITAIN SOCCER CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Manchester United's manager Alex Ferguson gestures as he talks to the media during a press conference in London, Monday, May 4, 2009. Manchester Unit...

Manchester United may be a clean sheet away from a second successive Champions League final, but manager Alex Ferguson has been condemned to semifinal failure too often in the past to take Arsenal's challenge lightly.
The defending champions take a slender 1-0 lead into the second leg Tuesday, but could have inflicted a much heavier defeat on Arsenal at Old Trafford last week.
"It may be a concern if we get so many chances again and miss them all the time," Ferguson said Monday at the team hotel in London. "There have been times in the last few years when we've thrown semifinals away."
Ferguson took charge of United in 1986, but had to wait until 1997 for his first European Cup semifinal. However, two 1-0 defeats by Borussia Dortmund earned the German club a spot in a victorious final with Juventus.
After winning the Champions League in 1999, United next reached the last four in 2002 against Bayer Leverkusen, but drew both legs and went out on away goals. Prospects looked brighter in 2007 after edging AC Milan 3-2 at home, only for United to lose 3-0 in Italy.
"The Borussia Dortmund semifinal was an absolute throw away _ we had so many chances to win the tie, it was amazing how we didn't win it," Ferguson said. "There were other occasions like the Leverkusen game _ we got a bit nervous in the first game and were very, very unlucky in the second game. We had three shots off the line, hit the bar, and really were unlucky not to win it.
"The semifinal against AC Milan we were not in it. We were really disappointing, so it's been a mixture of different things that have prevented us from going on to the finals. We've got to two and hopefully we can do so again."
Ferguson knows just how close his Red Devils are to the May 27 final in Italy, a year after beating Chelsea in a penalty shootout out in Moscow.
"We have the lead and we are only one kick away from Rome," Ferguson said. "I think we do need to score. We have that goal threat about us and that would be a big bonus, a big advantage to us if we scored.
"I don't think we'll be complacent. At this stage of the Champions League you can't be complacent."
With Arsenal being an all-too familiar foe for United, there is little Ferguson can do to spring a surprise on Arsene Wenger's side.
"If we were playing Barcelona we would have been very careful in our preparation and watching them rigidly to make sure everything we wanted to do was right," Ferguson said. "With Arsenal we see them every week and compete against them every season. It is not the same meticulous planning because the players know each other so well.
"There is nothing I don't know about Arsenal and there is nothing they don't know. With video analysis, there is nothing you can hide."
While Ferguson has won Europe's top club competition twice, he still dwells on the missed opportunities for United to close in on the likes of Real Madrid, which has won it nine times, AC Milan (7), Liverpool (5), Bayern Munich (4) and Ajax (4). United has been European champion three times in total.
"My biggest regret is we haven't won it more times," the 67-year-old Ferguson said. "We have a terrific history but it is not the same as AC Milan, Real Madrid, Liverpool or Bayern Munich. Ajax have won it four times as well. We have regrets about that.
"I've got long enough to do it. Whether I take long enough I don't know."


Updated : 2021-05-19 07:28 GMT+08:00