Football: Ferguson set to call on United's artisan aspect

THOSE Manchester United players who had a fine view of the Alps as the team flew south to Nice yesterday may have considered a few footballing cliches about mountains and peaks.

The English champions' now perennial quest for the club game's highest honour begins anew here tomorrow when they meet Monaco in the European Cup quarter-final first-leg. United are confident, but wary. As Gianluca Vialli, a European champion with Juventus, noted after their weekend victory over his Chelsea team: "You can play well for eight months but one bad performance and the Cup is gone."

United have not been scaling the peaks recently but they have been gradually rediscovering the form of autumn. Saturday showed their artisan side, an aspect which may need to be to the fore again tomorrow.

"I hope Saturday was a barometer to Wednesday night," said the manager, Alex Ferguson, yesterday. "We had to defend against clever players like Vialli and [Gianfranco] Zola. It was a guide to what we will face from Monaco."

United's only concern - with the injured Ryan Giggs definitely out - is Gary Pallister, who lasted 27 minutes at Stamford Bridge before departing with a back injury. "He had treatment on Sunday and again this morning," said Ferguson, "but we will not be taking any risks." With Monaco possessing exceptional pace in attack, notably in Thierry Henry and Victor Ikpeba, Ferguson is likely to turn instead to Henning Berg.

Ikpeba scored twice in extra-time as Monaco, third in the French league, beat Marseilles 2-0 in the cup at the weekend. Yet that competition is no more of a priority to Jean Tigana, the Monaco coach, than the English one was to Ferguson. David Trezeguet, the 20-year-old striking prospect who made his France debut in January, defender Franck Dumas and Scotland's John Collins were rested and the Algerian midfielder Ali Benarbia and Henry put on the bench. All are expected to be fit tomorrow.

United's supporters began arriving yesterday, accompanied by one of the Football Association's security officials. The club have sold 2,200 tickets and a similar number of ticketless fans are expected to travel. Trouble, apart from isolated drink-fuelled idiocy, is not expected, partly through the high drink prices, and partly because there is no one here to fight.

Monaco's average gate is about 5,000 and their club shop is smaller than the burger vans on Sir Matt Busby Way. If it were not for the regal Grimaldi family's subsidy the club would be little bigger than Emley. As it is, they are meeting United on equal terms.

United are staying across the border near Nice but, when they cross into the principality for training at the Stade Louis II tonight, they should feel at home. This is a millionaire's playground after all.

l The Manchester-based bookmaker Fred Done is paying out now to punters who backed United to win the Premiership, irrespective of who wins the title. Within hours, pounds 15,000 had been snapped up.

Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all