Sir Alex Ferguson was so impressed with Real Madrid's performance in winning 3-1 at Barcelona last week that his main hope is they cannot play that well again so soon. Manchester United are level at 1-1 with Real going into the second leg of their Champions' League last-16 tie at Old Trafford on Tuesday.
"Real were fantastic the other night," Ferguson said. "Every part of their game was spot on. You get that sometimes, I've experienced it myself. You need eight players to play well in a game but on an odd occasion you have 11 players who were absolutely superb. That's what they had. But I think it was a one-off performance. I don't think they'll reach that height on Tuesday."
As speculation mounted that Madrid's manager Jose Mourinho might return to Chelsea, Ferguson claimed he was unlikely to leave Real. "I don't know how they can replace someone like him anyway," he said. "A reasonable assessment of his term at Real Madrid has got to be countered with how good Barcelona have been.
"I think he's done a great job there, would you really want to let a good coach like that go? I don't think they would want that. I just think it would be difficult for Jose to leave Real Madrid, because he's at the very top."
He must hope the same goes for Cristiano Ronaldo – in every sense after the former United man's leap above Patrice Evra in the first game to equalise. Madrid produced 28 attempts and Jose Mourinho will expect counterattacking of the quality that undid Barcelona.
Ronaldo was outstanding on the left side, and Ferguson said: "All our former players who come back who have been great players get a good reception." As for stopping Ronaldo, he said: "I've got a plan. It's called a machete. Plan B is the machine gun!"