Ferguson reckons this crew superior to 1999 treble vintage

The Manchester United side that started in Madrid. Ferguson says he could have fielded another 11 and got the same result.

The Manchester United side that started in Madrid. Ferguson says he could have fielded another 11 and got the same result.


Alex Ferguson believes the 1999 treble-winning squad was not nearly as strong as his current Manchester United group, and said he could have played a different XI at Real Madrid on Wednesday and achieved the same result.

United drew the opening leg of the Champions League last-16 tie 1-1.

With Reading on Monday at Old Trafford in the fifth round of the FA Cup, and a 12-point lead in the Premier League, United’s tilt at winning a second treble is on course.

Asked about similarities between the 1998-99 campaign and the current one, Ferguson said: “We lost to Middlesbrough in December and we never lost again. It was a tough FA Cup run that season, really tough. We were up against Premier League teams in every round. It’s nice to look back at these things and how it was done with the squad of players I had, which is not nearly as strong as the one I have now.

“I could have played a completely different team on Wednesday and I think we still would have got a result. It’s not just the four strikers I could change, you could change the entire team now.

Second leg

“One, two or three who didn’t play on Wednesday could play in the second leg. As I said the other day, I’ve got all these international players, so why shouldn’t I trust them?

“I feel there’s a good spirit. That’s obvious. I know there were a lot of players disappointed not playing on Wednesday. ”

The manager is also keen that Reading should be prevented from causing an upset on Monday.

“You don’t want to be a shock. So Monday, in many people’s eyes, it’s Reading: ‘Yeah, we’ve just been to Madrid, it was a great night and Monday will take care of itself’. Monday can’t take of itself. We have to take care of it.”

Ferguson expects Paul Scholes to be missing for another fortnight with a knee injury. The United veteran has been struggling with the problem and sat out the midweek trip to Madrid.

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