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Man Utd Champions League expectations too high - Ferdinand

22:32 IST 17/09/2018
Rio Ferdinand Champions League 2008
The former United defender says that the club are shouldn't be considered regular contenders for the last four as they were a decade ago

Rio Ferdinand has told Goal that Manchester United cannot be expected to be amongst the front-runners for the Champions League this season.

Jose Mourinho’s side begin their European campaign on Wednesday with a first-ever trip to face Young Boys in Group H, and many are expecting them to improve on their showing last season when they were eliminated by Sevilla in the Round of 16.

But BT Sport pundit Ferdinand, who spent 12 years with the club and captained them to the 2008 Champions League title, believes United still have a long way to go to match their status under Sir Alex Ferguson.

“With Manchester United the pressure of being there is that the expectations are to be going into the later stages, definitely,” he explained. “But it’s not the Man Utd of 10 years ago where they were dominating and that was the given every single time we went into the Champions League they were minimum semi-finalists.

“So it’s different now and this is a process of building still, Man Utd aren’t where they want to be as a team yet and they’re building towards that so I don’t think anyone can sit there and say Man Utd should be semi-finalists or finalists because even in their own league they’ve not won it yet, they’re still building.”

Despite the disappointment of last year’s campaign, Ferdinand says he is hopeful of United getting out of a tough group which also pits them against Valencia and Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus.

“It wasn’t the ideal scenario seeing them go out like that, against a team that you would probably have expected them to beat on paper, but that’s football,” he said of the Sevilla setback. “I think looking forward to this season it’s a tough group but it’s an exciting group.

“You’ve got Juventus coming to town as well with Ronaldo which is a great factor added to it. I think they’ll qualify from that group. I think Mourinho tactically knows how to play in the Champions League.”

The former England defender says that Ronaldo’s exit from Real Madrid leaves the field wide open for English clubs to be successful after the Spanish giants’ three successive European crowns.

“I don’t think they’re going to be as potent. We saw it last year, whenever he’s there when the chips are down and something needs doing, Ronaldo would step up and get them out of a hole. I don’t know if they’ve got that player anymore.

“The pressure’s now on Gareth Bale, can Bale step up and be that man? We all know he’s got the ability and potential to do it, the stage is there for him now so I’d love to see him be that guy.

“I think Liverpool and Manchester City are contenders, and it hurts me to say that but it’s a fact. I think them two are definite contenders, the only two English teams who are capable of winning it, but whether they do or not remains to be seen.”

BT Sport brings you the moments that matter this season, with exclusive live and highlights coverage of the UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League. Watch live on TV and via the award-winning BT Sport App. For more info visit bt.com/sport