Alex Ferguson insists Manchester United won’t be favourites to win the Champions League this season.
Ferguson’s side, who lifted the trophy after a dramatic penalty shoot-out victory over Chelsea last season, begin their defence of the European crown next month.
The Premier League club have been drawn in a relatively comfortable group with Scottish champions Celtic, Spain’s Villarreal and Danish club Aalborg.
But Ferguson believes the presence of the likes of Inter Milan and Barcelona in the competition means United cannot be regarded as the leading contenders to triumph in next year’s final in Rome.
“It is a great challenge for us, ” said the United boss. “First of all we have to progress from the group stage and to do that you need 10 points to qualify.
“The tournament really kicks off in February. That is when it gets exciting, the one-off knock-out stages.
“I think we have a squad to challenge the best but you cannot think of yourselves as favourites when you see teams like Barcelona, Inter Milan and Juventus – all great names.
“We will make sure we apply ourselves in the right way, then we will have a chance.”
Ferguson insists the Champions League is getting tougher and used Standard Liege as an example.
The Belgians ran Liverpool close and he said: “There is a good standard at this level.
“Standard Liege were a surprise to me because Belgian football has not been that great for some years now. But it was an excellent performance against Liverpool.”
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