Champions League: Alex Ferguson promises Manchester United will cause chaos against Real Madrid

Manager says his team will go for victory tonight and feels they are good enough for Champions League glory

Madrid

Sir Alex Ferguson has declared that his players are being judged against "foggy memories" of how strong his previous Manchester United teams actually were and that they have a better chance of brushing Real Madrid aside in the Champions League last-16 round than people think.

Ferguson made it clear that there are no certainties and that the Bernabeu will be "the acid test" of the squad he has been assembling since Barcelona tore his aside apart in their last major European challenge nearly two years ago. His look of hungry anticipation – which contrasted with the gloom of a Jose Mourinho, who declared his next job would be in England – was evident when asked if United could win this competition: "Our team?" he laughed. "I think so, yeah. There's a great spirit about them."

The United manager, who has everyone but Darren Fletcher and Paul Scholes fit, insisted that his tactics would be ambitious and warned there could be "chaos" on the Bernabeu pitch. "There won't be a 0-0 tomorrow," he said. "There will be goals. Of course it can live up to expectations. History always plays a part in these matches. We have to play our own game. Our intention is to win and score and that can cause chaos in games we play. There can be late drama but we have to balance that with responsibility not to leave the door open."

Madrid's attempts to shake United out of their focus came on the front page of Tuesday morning's Marca, dominated by the image of a screaming Wayne Rooney and labelling him a "freckled demon" and a "football player and a hooligan all rolled into one." Mourinho did not attempt to take the sting out of the paper. "I don't think it was written in that context of calling him a hooligan but, anyway, if I can support Rooney it is just that I was called week after week worse than that," he said. Ferguson deftly brushed the insult away. "I'm not interest in what a Madrid paper says. Rooney can't speak Spanish can he? So he's alright."

The United manager did not flinch when the press conference's second question concerned a Patrice Evra sex scandal – "Was that a grenade that was thrown in there?" he asked – and declared that this was a "fantastic" moment to play Mourinho's side with United 12 points clear in the Premier League and no injuries.

With the prime tactical question being about how to blunt Cristiano Ronaldo – a player who Mourinho passed up the chance to describe as the greatest ever – Ferguson predicted that his old Portuguese managerial adversary would overtake his own haul of trophies.

"He is 50 years of age. He has 20 years to catch up on me and it is quite possible he could," the United manager said. "I'm trying to guess what surprise they could do to blunt us and what I could to annoy them."

The United manager also launched his most emotive defence yet of his goalkeeper David de Gea, back on home turf. "The boy has shown character because he has taken a lot of criticism, sometimes unfair. What we are good at is developing people and their characters. He is a young kid still to mature in the game but it's like a kid making his first steps forwards. He wobbles, gets up, wobbles, gets up and he is walking now."

Mourinho's virtual state of war with Madrid was evident when he addressed the question of the perceived problems at Real. "Are you worried about a crisis?" he replied. "I don't think you are. I'm not. I think it easier for you to let the press conference end and at the end speak with the guys who write all the stories."

Mourinho claimed he could not replace Ferguson because the United manager would work until he was 90. Ferguson replied: "It's against the law to force retirement so I've no worries. I won't be working until 90 – believe me. He can work until 70. I enjoy my work, and while my health is good I will carry on."

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Reimagined: Gwyneth Paltrow and Toni Collette in the film adaptation of Jane Austen's Emma
books
Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan
Cannes 2015Dheepan, film review
Sport
sport
News
Richard Blair is concerned the trenches are falling into disrepair
newsGeorge Orwell's son wants to save war site that inspired book
Arts and Entertainment
The pair in their heyday in 1967
music
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine