Ferguson pins Man Utd Champions League hopes on defence

Sir Alex Ferguson believes if his Manchester United side are to right the wrongs of last season’s Champions League campaign, they will need a settled and fully fit defence to do so, the Daily Mirror has reported.

The Mirror adds that in the 10 games United played in Europe last season – six in the Champions League, four in the Europa League – the same back four was only selected twice, and never in consecutive games.

Ferguson had to contend with a series of injuries that necessitated the constant upheaval of the defensive unit, and lost Serbian centre-back Nemanja Vidic to a season-ending injury in their final Champions League fixture against Basel. United only needed a draw in the match in Switzerland to reach the next stage, but fell to a 2-1 defeat to finish third in the group.

Vidic is back fit now but Chris Smalling and Phil Jones are both absent, leaving Ferguson with Vidic, Rio Ferdinand and Jonny Evans to choose from to form the central partnership. Ferguson said: “The key for us is if we can keep the defenders fit. I really mean that, because we’ve had a really rough ride with defenders being injured for the last two or three years.

But if they remain fit, it definitely gives us a better opportunity, as we are particularly strong in the attacking part of the team, so hopefully that makes a difference to us.

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