The Reds boss embarks on his 18th campaign with United in Europe’s elite club competition in Lisbon tonight, having already added two European Cups to the Old Trafford trophy cabinet – leaving it late to secure a 2-1 victory against Bayern Munich in 1999, and in dramatic style, yet again, winning a penalty shootout against Chelsea in 2008.
“We are coming closer all the time to getting another Champions League trophy. The consistency has been very good for the last few years” says Ferguson.
“That is a good guide to the standard we have just now in Europe and also the progress we are making. We want to continue that.”
“But it is different winning the Champions League in the present day than it was 30 years ago. All the best teams are in Europe – Real Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, Villarreal from Spain, Benfica, Porto from Portugal. Then there’s ourselves, Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City from the Premier League. It is a very difficult tournament to win now.
That is why I am pleased with the progress my team has made because you can see the consistency has been the hallmark of our game in the last few years.
“You always want to improve. It is the drive of every coach and every player. We hope we can, in all areas. The improvement we really do want is to win it.”
Manchester United have a long history against tonight’s opponents Benfica, having beaten them at Wembley in the 1968 European Cup final for their first trophy in Europe.
Ferguson will be hoping that come next May in Munich he will have added a fourth.