“Europe’s always big at this football club. The traditions are set within the European boundaries for Manchester United and we know we have to do better.” Mike Phelan
Last season, Manchester United exited the Champions League at the group stage for the first time since the 2005/6 season after a drab campaign ended with a loss to FC Basel.
It was a group that United seemed all but guaranteed to get out of on paper yet we fell way short of the standard. This year we have been given an equally as inviting group after being place with CFR Cluj, Galatasaray and SC Braga but United’s assistant manager Mike Phelan says that United are not going to fall short again.
He said: “We let Europe slip from our grasp too easily last year. The players are conscious and aware of that, although we haven’t dwelled on it as that wouldn’t be positive.
“We’ve put it down as a blip, but we know we have to do better.”
The squad for the Champions League is due to be released later today and Darren Fletcher’s potential inclusion one of the most anticipated aspects for it. After battling with a chronic bowel condition, Fletcher is now training with the Scotland squad and should he be part of the team, will bring a massive boost to United’s midfield.
As Mike Phelan points out, football is a team game and having a midfielder of Fletcher’s quality and bite will improve our options no end.
He said: “You learn it’s a team game, even though individuals change matches. Everybody has to be fully focused for the entire match – from first to last whistle. I think we also know that we need to score plenty of goals.
“The old days of being able to win the league by grinding out 1-0 victories is gone. In this league now, every goal counts so we want to create more chances and score more goals.
“We also have to defend well as a unit. All those elements are very important.“