FOOTBALL: EUROPEAN CUP FINAL - MANCHESTER UNITED

MANAGER

ALEX FERGUSON

Age 57, Scotland

On the brink of equalling Sir Matt Busby's greatest achievement, having matched his five domestic titles earlier this month with a similar mix of talented youth products and expensive imports. An aggresive centre- forward whose playing career peaked with brief spell at Rangers in the late 1960s, he moved into management at East Stirlingshire and St Mirren. Successful spell at Aberdeen, including the 1983 European Cup-Winners' Cup, attracted Manchester United, whose board have been rewarded for standing by him during initial struggles with 11 trophies this decade.

LIKELY STARTING LINE-UP

PETER SCHMEICHEL

35, Denmark

Playing his last match for United after eight memorable seasons. Past his peak but still a formidable presence and in much better form than when making the mistake, in Munich, which kept Bayern in the tournament.

GARY NEVILLE

24, England

Finishing the season strongly after a rare dip in his consistency during the spring. Cool head, reads the game well, becoming increasingly influential in attack, especially in tandem with Beckham.

JAAP STAM

26, Netherlands

Derided for poor start to season after pounds 10m signing from PSV Eindhoven, but has become one of United's strong men. Sees attacks early and stays on his feet well. Troubled by Achilles injury.

DAVID MAY

28, England

If he plays, it will be because of Henning Berg's injury and the need to play Ronny Johnsen in midfield. United fan who began at Blackburn and is wholehearted, if prone to lapses in concentration.

DENIS IRWIN

33, Rep of Ireland

Dependable left-back approaching the veteran stage. The only survivor from United's European Cup- Winners' Cup success of 1991. Penalty- taker and free-kick expert.

DAVID BECKHAM

24, England

Triumphant season which began in ignomy after World Cup dismissal and will end in the wedding of the year to Victoria, aka Posh Spice, this summer. Been in outstanding form all season. Potential match-winner.

RONNY JOHNSEN

29, Norway

Reliable defender likely to move into midfield to cover for suspended pair of Keane and Scholes and keep an eye on Stefan Effenberg. Useful at set-pieces with unexpected penchant for running at defenders.

NICKY BUTT

24, England

In and out all season but now given chance to command midfield in the absence of both Keane and Scholes. Gritty tackler, neat passer and an under-estimated influence who needs to regain his youthful eye for goal.

RYAN GIGGS

25, Wales

Devastating at his best, which is often in a European arena providing the challenge denied him at international level. May play in centre but likely to start on wing. Reputedly terrifies Bayern.

DWIGHT YORKE

27, Trinidad & Tobago

Fully justified pounds 12.6m fee at home and abroad, notably against Internazionale. Quick-thinking and quick-footed, though his form has dipped. Twenty-nine goals this season, only three in last 13 games.

ANDY COLE

27, England

Another whose form has dipped but his championship-clinching goal against Spurs, his 24th of the season, underlined his improved composure. Good link-up player who has developed a fine understanding with Yorke.

KEY SUBSTITUTES

TEDDY SHERINGHAM

33, England

Coming good when it matters with fine FA Cup final display. Aerial strength and ability to find space and team-mates likely to earn him some involvement, possibly from the start.

OLE GUNNAR SOLSKJAER

26, Norway

Began more matches on the bench than on the field but still scored 17 times. Solid FA Cup final display gives Ferguson another option.

JESPER BLOMQVIST

25, Sweden

Useful squad player yet to find best form since pounds 4.5m summer move from Parma. Could start if Ferguson moves Beckham or Giggs to centre. Good crosser, could score more.

PHIL NEVILLE

22, England

Regaining best form despite impact of his rejection from England's World Cup squad and his inability to gain a regular place. Possible but unlikely starter in midfield.

THE ROUTE TO BARCELONA

First qualifying round

Progressed with a bye

Second qualifying round

Man Utd 2 LKS Lodz (Pol) 0

LKS Lodz 0 Man Utd 0

Man Utd won 2-0 on aggregate

Champions' League Group D

Man Utd 3 Barcelona 3

Bayern Munich 2 Man Utd 2

Brondby 2 Man Utd 6

Man Utd 5 Brondby 0

Barcelona 3 Man Utd 3

Man Utd 1 Bayern Munich 1

Man Utd finished second in group

Quarter-final

Man Utd 2 Internazionale 0

Internazionale 1 Man Utd 1

Man Utd won 3-1 on aggregate

Semi-final

Man Utd 1 Juventus 1

Juventus 2 Man Utd 3

Man Utd won 4-3 on aggregate

European Cup record 1998-99

P12 W5 D7 L0 F29 A15

Scorers

Yorke 8, Giggs 5, Cole 5, Scholes 4, Keane 3, Beckham 2 Solskjaer 1, P Neville 1.

CLUB PROFILE

Formed: 1878.

Previous name: Newton Heath.

Nickname: Red Devils.

Stadium: Old Trafford.

Capacity: 56,024.

Record crowd: 70,604 v Aston Villa (December 1927).

Club membership: 150,000.

Supporters' branches: 202.

Season ticket prices: pounds 304-pounds 418.

First colours: Red, white and black.

Change strip: All white.

Price of replica kit: Adult shirt, pounds 45; shorts, pounds 23; socks, pounds 7. Total: pounds 75.00.

Web site: http://www.ManUtd.com

Celeb supporters: Mick Hucknall, Zoe Ball, Angus Deayton.

Quality merchandise: Toothpaste, popcorn, cakes, ketchup.

Honours: League titles: 15.

FA Cups: 10. League Cups: 1.

European Cup: Winners,1968.

Cup-Winners' Cup: Winners, 1991.

European Super Cup: Winners, 1991.

Last European Cup final appearance: 1968 v Benfica. Won 4-1 at Wembley.

Most capped player: Bobby Charlton, 106 caps.

Most expensive signing: Dwight Yorke. pounds 12.5m from Aston Villa in September 1998.

Current foreign players: 9.

1998-99 record in all competitions: P62 W35 D22 L5

Goals for: 124.

Goals against: 59.

Leading scorer: Dwight Yorke (27).

Comments