Like every other Manchester United supporter, Sir Alex Ferguson will be hoping his former team can find a way past Barcelona in order to secure their place in the Europa League knockout stages.
Back in Ferguson’s time in charge Man Utd vs Barcelona was, at one point, the fixture that best represented the pinnacle of club football.
Indeed, the two European heavyweights went head-to-head in two Champions League finals during Fergie’s glittering managerial career (in 2009 and again in 2011).
Fergie’s United lost both finals to Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona and the Scot conceded after the 2011 final at Wembley that his side had never faced a better team.
"They're the best in Europe, no question about that,” Ferguson said in his post-match press conference, per The Guardian. “In my time as a manager, I would say they're the best team we've faced.
“Everyone acknowledges that and I accept that. It's not easy when you've been well beaten like that to think another way. No one has given us a hiding like that. It's a great moment for them. They deserve it because they play the right way and enjoy their football.”
Ferguson was acutely aware of how difficult it was to win the Champions League.
While he’s unlikely to have many regrets about his extraordinary 26-year spell as Man Utd manager, not winning the European Cup more than twice (in 1999 and 2008) will certainly be one of them.
Ferguson's blunt response to 'stupid' question after 2011 UCL final
Deflated after suffering another Champions League final loss to the seemingly invincible Barcelona, Ferguson received what he described as “the most stupid question I’ve heard in my life” in the media room inside Wembley after full-time.
Asked by a journalist which Barcelona player he would sign if he received a blank cheque from United’s owners, Ferguson couldn’t believe what he was hearing.
The legendary manager joked by naming Javier Mascherano, much to the amusement of those in the room, before adding: “You’re testing my patience.”
Watch the video here:
Throwback to Sir Alex Ferguson's golden answer to "one of the most stupid questions" he's ever heard in his life 😂 pic.twitter.com/IGP3Ox3Cq5— utdreport (@utdreport) April 2, 2020
Ferguson obviously would have signed Lionel Messi
While Mascherano was a fine player - and perhaps name-checking the former Liverpool midfielder was a little harsh from Ferguson - the obvious answer was, of course, Lionel Messi.
Maybe a few managers would have picked Xavi or Andres Iniesta at the time but Messi had just produced a Man of the Match performance against the Red Devils, scoring one of Barcelona’s three goals and terrorising United’s defenders over the 90 minutes.
The Argentine forward ended the 2010-11 campaign with an astonishing 53 goals in 55 games, he’d won the Ballon d’Or twice, and was already being widely spoken about as a serious contender for the title of football’s GOAT (greatest of all time).
Speaking months after the 2011 final, Ferguson found himself on stage with Guardiola and Messi.
He insisted that Messi, like all the great players, would have been capable of playing in any era throughout history.