Ferguson fired up by Busby's battles with Benfica

Simon Stone

ALEX FERGUSON wants to do justice to the memory of Matt Busby when Manchester United take on Benfica at Old Trafford tonight.

While the Portuguese giants are not one of the favourites for this season's Champions League, they do have a rich history in the competition.

Winners twice, Benfica were also beaten finalists in 1968 when United became the first English team to lift the European Cup.

Two years earlier, George Best had set the world alight with a mesmeric performance against the Eagles at the Stadium of Light as the Red Devils ran riot, earning the nickname 'El Beatle'.

"We will try to do justice to the memory of Sir Matt's tussles with Benfica in the old days because people of vision are rare," Ferguson told United Review.

"I always felt Jock Stein knew what was needed for football, and so did Sir Matt. I just hope I measure up in that way."

Ferguson's own legacy is set after an incredible 25 years in the Old Trafford hotseat.

However, he can never be challenged in the way Busby was, when the Scot openly defied the Football League in 1956 by sending United into European combat.

"The memories of many Manchester United supporters will fly back to those early days in European competition when George Best mesmerised Portugal's finest in the Stadium of Light, and then ultimately to the night Sir Matt Busby achieved his European dream in 1968 to make United the first English club to win the European Cup," Ferguson added.

"That must have been an emotional occasion for Sir Matt, who had defied the English football hierarchy to take United into the European Cup. Matt Busby was a man of vision.

"He persuaded his chairman to accept UEFA's invitation to take part in a championship of champions because he felt after proving his team the best in England, he wanted to measure them against the best of other countries.

"Even the air disaster didn't deflect his purpose and just 10 years later, he did in fact prove that in 1968 his team were the supreme champions.

"Now Europe runs deep in the psyche of Manchester United and Benfica evokes these memories."