Fergie: Champions League is now better than the World Cup
Published 16:43 26/09/11 By MirrorFootball
Sir Alex Ferguson insists Manchester United cannot look back at the last four years as a golden period for the club in the Champions League - because they were beaten by Barcelona in two of the three finals they reached.
The record books may show the current spell to be United's most successful ever in Europe, but Ferguson insists they need to take that final step and win the Champions League trophy outright again in order to make such a claim.
United will resume their European campaign at home to Basle tomorrow night - when they will be without leading strikers Wayne Rooney and Javier Hernandez due to injury - with Ferguson insisting his players need to strive for even better.
Ferguson told a news conference at Old Trafford: "The Champions League is the best competition in the world now, better than the World Cup, better than the European Championships, it's a fantastic tournament.
"But it's not a golden period for us because we have lost two finals, so I don't think it can be called a golden period.
"We have been consistent in the Champions League, our form away from home has been outstanding and we hope we can do better this year and win it, that's the aim of this club all the time."
Ferguson confirmed that Rooney would miss tomorrow's match with a hamstring injury and said that it was difficult to know when the England striker would be back in action.
"He's not playing tomorrow. It's difficult to assess with hamstrings but we hope we have him back quickly. He did a bit of jogging this morning but that's all," said the United boss.
Ferguson also said that Hernandez's dead leg would keep him out against Basle but that the Mexican should be back for when Norwich visit on Saturday.
Michael Owen and Dimitar Berbatov are likely to lead the attack against the Swiss club, though the fit-again Danny Welbeck could also feature - with Rio Ferdinand partnering Phil Jones in central defence.
Basle won their opening fixture in Group C 2-1 against Romanian side Otelul Galati and Ferguson said United would respect their opponents tomorrow.
He added: "We played Basle a few years ago and they have always been the premier team in Switzerland. Switzerland have started to produce good young players - in fact they got to final of the European Under-21s this year.
"The national team has always been reasonably good and always seemed to represent themselves quite well and of course the Basle team have good experience of being in Europe quite a few times so we will respect that."
Nemanja Vidic is also missing for United - Ferguson hopes he will have recovered from his calf injury by the time the international break is over - while Jonny Evans (ankle) and Chris Smalling (groin) are also missing.
Antonio Valencia is likely to again be pressed into service as an emergency right-back with Rafael's injury set to keep him out for the long-term.
Ashley Young is expected to make his Champions League debut tomorrow night and the England winger admitted it would be the fulfillment of a dream.
Young said: "I'm very excited by it. Coming to a club like Manchester United and playing in these big competitions is any boy's dream.
"I'm looking forward to being able to say I have played in the Champions League.
"I have been delighted with the performances I have put in so far but the matches are coming thick and fast and you have to be on your toes and ready every time you pull on the shirt."