Moyes relishing group stage chance
Published 16/09/2013 | 18:01
Eight years after his false start with Everton, David Moyes steps into the glare of Champions League combat on Tuesday night as Manchester United open their campaign against Bayer Leverkusen at Old Trafford.
Moyes has been desperate to experience the pinnacle of European club football, so much so it was assumed he would leave Goodison Park in the summer before United made their move.
Finally, 15 years after stepping into management with Preston, the Scot gets his chance.
"I am really looking forward to the Champions League," said Moyes.
"I have been there with Everton but we didn't quite make the group stages.
"This is something different. I'm now managing a club which is used to getting close to the final stages and I will try and do that again."
United's European history stands comparison with the very best clubs in the world.
The Red Devils may not have won the trophy as many times as Real Madrid, AC Milan or even Liverpool, but through the Munich disaster to last season's controversial exit, European combat is woven right into the entire construction of United as a club.
And if Moyes needed any reminding, he took a visit from Sir Bobby Charlton in the early days of his reign.
"It was a really important moment for me when Sir Bobby said he wanted to see me in my office," he said.
"Everybody, when they see Bobby Charlton, is in awe of him.
"He was an incredibly humble man and he explained what it is like to be at Manchester United and what a Manchester United manager should be like.
"I will keep what he said to myself but there is a way to do things at this club. I understand that and I will try to uphold those traditions."
Moyes has already revealed Ferguson told him a group containing Shakhtar Donetsk and Real Sociedad, in addition to Tuesday's opponents, is one of the toughest he can imagine.
And whilst Moyes pointed out his opposite number, former Liverpool defender Sami Hyypia, is also a rookie in the competition, it is an indication of the leap he has made that the man he will be most keen to stop on Tuesday, last season's Bundesliga top scorer Stefan Kiessling, was someone he looked at but knew he could never afford whilst he remained at Everton.
"He has a great goalscoring record," said Moyes.
"He has a smell for getting on the end of chances and is someone we will need to watch very closely. I didn't try to sign him though. I never had that much money."
Amazingly, Moyes walks into a woeful European record for United at Old Trafford.
The Red Devils have lost four of their last six games on home turf, most recently last season's controversial defeat to Real Madrid.
Romanian minnows CFR Cluj are also on that list, as are Athletic Bilbao and Ajax.
Moyes accepts if meaningful progress is going to be made this year, that record has to improve.
"I have been to Old Trafford for the Champions League games and I am always amazed by the atmosphere," he said.
"With the crowd, under the lights I am hoping that alone will give the supporters something to shout about.
"The players are already motivated because of the level of game it is and the competition it is. We will go in there and try and put on a good show and try and improve on that record."
Wayne Rooney is expected to start, although Moyes revealed the striker will require the special headband he wore on Saturday.
Rafael and Phil Jones also trained to varying degrees as did Shinji Kagawa, although he is yet to fully shake off the flu virus that kept him out of the weekend win over Crystal Palace.
One player who will definitely be absent is Adnan Januzaj, the 18-year-old Belgian who made such an eye-catching debut against Palace.
Moyes confirmed that the complicated UEFA eligibility criteria means if United wait to register him until October 7, by which time he will have been with the Red Devils for two years, he can go on the B list of youth players.
It means Januzaj will sit out both Tuesday's game and the trip to Shakhtar Donetsk next month.
Evidently though, the winger has a bright future, with Moyes confirming he expects Januzaj to sign a long-term contract extension at some point in the future.
"I am confident he will sign a new contract," said Moyes.
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