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The Malaysian Insider :: Sports

Ferguson still desperate for more European glory

Posted: 14 May 2011 07:25 PM PDT

Manchester United's manager Alex Ferguson applauds during their Champions League semi-final second leg match against Schalke 04 at Old Trafford in Manchester on May 4, 2011. — Reuters pic

LONDON, May 15 — Even though Alex Ferguson has now confirmed Manchester United as England's most successful club in both main domestic competitions, the Scot still has unfinished business — in Europe.

Ferguson has made it plain that, even though he turns 70 on the last day of the year, he has no intention of retiring from the United job he has held since 1986.

He remains driven not only by the task of improving their record haul of 19 English titles and 11 FA Cups but by the desire to catch up with the likes of Real Madrid, AC Milan, Ajax Amsterdam, Bayern Munich and his old nemesis Liverpool, who have all been European champions more times than United.

Although even he would have to admit that equalling or bettering Real Madrid's record of nine European Cups is beyond him, Ferguson is still hugely ambitious heading into the May 28 Champions League final against Barcelona.

"I think it is an area we want to do better, we should have won more I think, we're in another final so we've got a chance," he said.

"The expectation from my point of view has always been very high in Europe because you do get envious of the other great teams — Real Madrid, Milan, Bayern Munich, Liverpool, and Ajax," he added.

"We are looking to get parity with those clubs. It is where we should be."

A 1-1 draw with Blackburn Rovers yesterday secured United's 19th league title, taking them out on their own ahead of Liverpool.

Significant milestone

With that significant milestone passed, Ferguson has the chance to improve on what he sees as their relatively poor record of three European Cups.

The reasons for United's relatively poor record in Europe are unclear.

They struggled with the tactical demands of the competition at times, going out on the away goals rule and failing to beat opponents they were expected to overcome including German sides Borussia Dortmund and Bayer Leverkusen and French team Monaco.

They did win the competition in 1999 and 2008 and victory over Barcelona in their third final in four seasons would make United European champions for a fourth time, bringING Ferguson level with the late Bob Paisley of Liverpool as the only other man to win three European Cups.

He would also emulate United's other great Scottish manager Matt Busby, who won their first European Cup at Wembley in 1968. — Reuters

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Djokovic battles past gutsy Murray to set up Nadal final

Posted: 14 May 2011 05:06 PM PDT

Novak Djokovic of Serbia celebrates after defeating Andy Murray of Britain in their semi-final match at the Rome Masters tennis tournament on May 14, 2011. — Reuters pic

ROME, May 15 — Novak Djokovic booked another dream final against Rafa Nadal but was pushed to the limit before he beat Andy Murray 6-1 3-6 7-6 in an exhilarating match at the Rome Masters yesterday.

Djokovic, who had defeated Nadal for the first time on clay in the Madrid Open final a week ago, stretched his unbeaten run for the year to 36 matches.

World number two Djokovic broke Murray's serve in the second game and then twice more as the Scot struggled to live with the Serbian's power and precision.

But Murray, who had won three of their previous four confrontations, found the slower pace of the second set much more to his liking. He prospered in the long backhand rally exchanges and broke in the fifth game to square the match.

In a thrilling deciding set, Djokovic broke Murray's serve in the fifth game but the gutsy Scot refused to give up and broke back for 3-3 with a blistering backhand followed by a forehand as the momentum swung back his way.

A flurry of breaks followed and it seemed as if Murray would finally snap Djokovic remarkable run this season when he served for the match at 5-4.

But an exhausted-looking Djokovic, helped by two double faults, dug deep into his energy reserves to break back again in a game lasting more than eight minutes.

Once in the tiebreak, Djokovic stepped up a gear and produced a drop shot and a lob to reach 6-2. After sealing the match with another drop shot, he signally his relief by letting out an almighty roar. — Reuters

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