United players taking the iRoad to victory - Rio
Published 23:01 26/05/11 By David McDonnell
Manchester United have turned to the latest technology in their bid to beat Barcelona and be crowned European champions.
United have issued every member of the squad with an iPad, to which Sir Alex Ferguson's coaching staff have sent downloads packed with detailed statistics on every Barca player.
Despite being an old-school boss with traditional coaching principles, Ferguson has embraced modern technology and wants United to make use of everything at their disposal if it means giving them a edge.
When United won the Carling Cup against Tottenham two years ago, their then-keeper Ben Foster attributed a crucial save in a penalty shoot-out to watching iPod footage of Spurs players taking spot-kicks moments before.
And with the advent of iPads, Rio Ferdinand said United's players had been able to receive invaluable data on Barcelona, from possession info to data on the areas of the field where they are most dangerous.
Nothing has been left to chance as United aim to avenge their 2-0 defeat to Barcelona in the 2009 final in Rome where, Ferdinand admitted, Fergsuon's players simply "didn't turn up".
"Individually we all get stuff put onto our iPads about certain players, week-in, week-out," said Ferdinand. "It's more fine-tuned stuff in terms of what you get to see.
"It's all about different scenarios in games. We do it for every game. We watch different players doing different things and what their habits are.
"We've been studying Barcelona just this week, collectively, but no more than we would do with any other team to be honest with you.
"We've also watched a re-run of the defeat to Barcelona in the final two years ago. Some of us watched it on our own and some of us watched it as a team experience.
"It's all part of doing your research before a game and there's no better time than a week before."
Ferdinand admitted patience is going to be a key factor for United tomorrow.
With Pep Guardiola's side certain to dominate possession for long periods, Ferguson's players will have to remain disciplined and tight as a unit.
"You have to be adaptable and in this game we will have to do things we don't normally do," said Ferdinand. "We play against one or two strikers, traditionally, but this time we might have no-one around us for long periods, yet they will be still as dangerous."
Reflecting on United's defeat to Barca side two years ago, Ferdinand said there was a determination among Ferguson's squad to atone for their abject display that night.
"We didn't turn up," he said. "It wasn't the Manchester United we all knew that had got to that final - beating Arsenal home and away in the semi-finals.
"We want to change that this season. It's not about revenge as such, but personally you don't want to be left with any ifs or buts and we had a lot of them after the last game against Barcelona.
"We just need to make sure we give the right account of ourselves. If the real Manchester United team goes out and gives the right account of ourselves, then hopefully we'll get a better result.
"It's our third [Champions League] final in four years and that tells you everything about our consistency - as does four Premier League titles in five years.
"We're a consistent club and we know what it takes to win. But on any given day you can be beaten by anybody and I'm sure Barcelona will be thinking the same thing.
"They've got players who can hurt us and we've got players who can hurt them, so it makes for a good final.
"We know Barcelona won't be underestimating us. We know what we are capable of and they know what we're capable of."
Ferdinand knows achieving the right balance between defence and attack will be crucial tomorrow, with the 32-year-old confident in the gameplan Ferguson has set out.
"That's the key in all games," said Ferdinand. "You've got to have a good balance in your team and that's what we've done better than anyone else in the Premier League this year.
"We need to take this into the game, but against a team like Barcelona they've got so many attacking threats that you have to make sure everything is clicking in the right order. If we do that, we know we can win."