Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Sir Alex Ferguson says Real Madrid is unlikely to threaten in Europe

Big guns: AC Milan coach Leonardo, Luis van Gaal of Bayern Munich,

and Alfio Basile of Boca Juniors pose with Sir Alex Ferguson in Germany

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has joined forces with two of European football's superpowers to cast doubt on Real Madrid's prospects of securing success in return for their huge summer spending.

Ferguson, in Munich preparing for United's Audi Cup opener against Boca Juniors in the Allianz Arena on Wednesday, will hand £18 million summer-signing Antonio Valencia his club debut against the Argentines.

Valencia has been United's most expensive summer recruit following the £80 million sale of Cristiano Ronaldo to Madrid last month. The Spanish club have also invested a further £92 million in Kaka and Karim Benzema.

With Real president Florentino Perez signalling a newgalacticos era at the Bernabeu, however, Ferguson, supported by Bayern Munich manager Louis van Gaal and AC Milan coach Leonardo, claims that Madrid will require more than star names to conquer Europe.

"There is a great example of a team not buying success," said Ferguson.

Sunderland spent so much money in the Fifties that they became known as the Bank of England club, but they didn't win anything and, in the end, they got themselves relegated.

"I'm not saying Real Madrid will get relegated, but they will have plenty of problems with balance. I do not know how coach Manuel Pellegrini plans to pick his side because it has no balance.

"I told Ronaldo before he flew out that he will end up playing centre-half because I don't think they have one!"

Milan, who will play Bayern following the United-Boca clash, sold Kaka to Real for £55 million, but newly-appointed coach Leonardo believes Madrid's policy is flawed.

"It will not be easy for Real and they have not succeeded in the past. They had their experiment with the galacticos, yet at the end of it all, they did not win anything.

"You can buy up good talent and create possibilities, but it is not easy to construct a squad and manage players like Kaka, Ronaldo and Benzema.

"You need more than just money to build a team. You need more than talent, you need spirit and we will have to see if Madrid have this spirit."

Bayern coach Van Gaal said: "My philosophy and belief is that you have to make a team. You just cannot go out and buy one.

"Sometimes you can – Alex Ferguson has done it for 20 years and I believe that I have managed to do it sometimes – but I know it is very, very hard." Having spent the last 10 days at United's Carrington training base while his new team-mates have played a four-game tour of Asia, Valencia will begin his career at the club in the right-sided position vacated by Ronaldo.

The positivity surrounding Valencia's debut has been overshadowed by the failure of Owen Hargreaves to link up with United in Munich.

Hargreaves, 28, had been due to begin light training with the squad in Germany after undergoing double knee surgery during the winter.

But the England midfielder's return to first-team action could be delayed until late autumn with Ferguson admitting that Hargreaves has remained in the US to continue rehabilitation.

Ferguson said: "Owen hasn't joined us in Munich because he is still in the United States.

"We hoped that he would be here with us, but he had two major operations and there is no point rushing him.

"He is still young and he has plenty of time on his side, so he won't be rushed."

Source: telegraph.co.uk

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