Weed out 'weaksides' says Neville

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The Independent Football

Gary Neville has launched a stinging attack on the Champions' League, claiming there are too many weak teams.

Gary Neville has launched a stinging attack on the Champions' League, claiming there are too many weak teams.

The Manchester United defender does not like the new format introduced last year by Uefa, which means some teams which finish third and fourth in their domestic leagues can qualify. He feels Europe's premier club competition should be open to only the top two sides in each country.

United, bundled out of the competition at the quarter-final stage last season by Real Madrid, begin their Champions' League campaign against Anderlecht at Old Trafford tomorrow - and they will have to play 19 matches if they are going to triumph in May's final in Milan.

"The Champions' League system now isn't good," Neville said. "I don't like it and I don't think the players do.

"No disrespect to some of the clubs in the first group stage, but there is no point in them being there.

"Although you get the odd upset here and there, it should be just the champions of each country and maybe the runners-up. Now that it is getting to the third and fourth teams, it's getting ridiculous. We have to make sure the competition is not over-exposed."

Jaap Stam remains United's main injury concern for tomorrow's opening Group G game against the Belgian champions and current league leaders. The Dutch central defender came off at half-time during United's 3-0 Premiership victory over Sunderland at Old Trafford on Saturday complaining of a sore Achilles and he missed training yesterday.

Stam remains optimistic that he will be fit to play and mark Anderlecht's towering striker Jan Koller. Roy Keane is available, although he is currently suspended for Premiership matches, and he will partner either Paul Scholes or Nicky Butt in midfield.

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