x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

Denmark trip not plain sailing for Ferguson's men

Eric Cantona was busy airing his worries yesterday over what will become of his cherished Manchester United when the manager Sir Alex Ferguson departs.

Gary Neville has been left out of Manchester United's squad.
Gary Neville has been left out of Manchester United's squad.

Eric Cantona was busy airing his worries yesterday over what will become of his cherished Manchester United when the manager Sir Alex Ferguson departs, but a journey to Denmark tonight provides the English champions with concern of a more imminent nature. It is dangerous talk to suggest United will plunder Scandinavia without any local resistance and make off with an away win against the Danish champions Aalborg.

Aalborg, run by the former Arsenal manager Bruce Rioch, may give off the air of being no worthier than a mob of willing lumberjacks, but these are a side who represent a clear and present danger. Perhaps even more so after they collected an unlikely point against the Scottish champions Celtic at Celtic Park in a 0-0 draw two weeks ago. United traditionally have problems in this area of Europe. The French forward Cantona has been described as Ferguson's best signing in his 22 years at Old Trafford, but he was part of a squad who suffered a 3-1 loss to the Swedes IFK Gothenburg in the 1995 Champions League.

Two years ago in Denmark, at a time of the year when temperatures reached zero, United were sent home without a point as Marcus Allback scored the only goal of a boorish and frozen game that FC Copenhagen won 1-0. It emerged yesterday that Gary Neville has been left out of United's squad, and Owen Hargreaves is also missing due to a knee problem. Celtic were part of United's group two seasons ago, and they went on to suffer defeat to them after the Copenhagen loss.

With home-and-away games due against their British opponents in October and at the outset of November, United must avoid allowing a recent slice of history to repeat itself.
dkane@thenational.ae