Fergie regrets rotation policy
The last time Manchester United played in Europe's secondary competition was in 1995 in a draw against Rotor Volgograd -- and their goals came from Peter Schmeichel and a 20-year-old Paul Scholes.
They lost the first-round tie on away goals.
Last night, Alex Ferguson's only concern about Scholes was that he might be so buoyed by his comeback that he will reconsider resuming an England career.
"Do you really honestly believe that?" was his response to the suggestion the 37-year-old might do so.
"I don't think there's any chance of that. I think his reason for refusing (an England comeback) last time was that (the request) came late in the day. But two years; to go back again... I think Paul will be concentrating (on United) if he decides to go on."
Ferguson said United had not discussed Scholes going on, but it certainly felt rather less than a hypothetical notion.
Indeed, the only moment Ferguson seemed lost for words was when it came to defining the difference Scholes' return has meant to him.
"It's hard to describe it," he said after a remarkably long pause.
"It's like Barcelona talking about Xavi in the way we talk about Scholes."
United, likely to be led by Rio Ferdinand tonight, might well have been heading into the Champions League again had Scholes not packed up, and as Ferguson contemplated joining Ajax, Bayern Munich and Juventus as winners of all three club competitions (the Champions League, the old Cup Winners Cup and the UEFA Cup) he seemed to admit that his squad rotation in the elite competition had been a mistake.
"I think we were depending on our previous form in group stages, we were making changes each year and it was working fine for us, because our home record was so good," he said. "But we threw it away against Basel. That caught us short."
The only player rested -- with Ryan Giggs and Dimitar Berbatov unfit to travel -- is Patrice Evra, after that high-intensity encounter with Luis Suarez and Liverpool.
"It was an emotional weekend for him. I think it was the right thing to do (to leave him out)," said Ferguson.
Some other players could have been left behind too, as United were held up at Manchester Airport yesterday because Nani and Danny Welbeck forgot their passports. (© Independent News Service)