Saturday 24 February 2018

United will never have better chance to beat weary Barca - Wenger

Jeremy Wilson

ArsEne Wenger has described Barcelona as "on their knees" after their four battles with Real Madrid and believes Manchester United may never have a better chance of avenging their defeat in the 2009 Champions League final.

Wenger also expects Alex Ferguson to adopt radically different tactics in next weekend's Champions League final to those which he employed in the 2-0 defeat against Barca in Rome two years ago.

"On what I have seen in the last three weeks, there will never be a better moment to win it against them," said Wenger.

"Barcelona look quite exhausted and Man United look quite sharp. For me, it takes three weeks to recover physically. I'm not sure Barcelona will have enough time. They looked on their knees so I would give Man United a good chance."

Wenger, who is voting for Ferguson as his manager of the year, also expects the Wembley factor to benefit United. "It will be an advantage," he said.

"You know that Barcelona will have the ball for 70pc of the time and Man United will have to be very efficient in the 30pc of the time they have the ball.

"I have an instinctive feeling that Man United will change completely their style against them this time and go for a rougher midfield, a more direct display that they did in Rome.

"It can mean playing (Javier) Hernandez, but use him as a runner to go very direct. You know how Barcelona will play. You don't know yet how Man United will play."

Wenger, who has persuaded assistant Pat Rice to spend another season at Arsenal, also evoked memories of Brian Clough yesterday when it was implied that he is not sufficiently challenged by his backroom staff.

"I speak openly with them and ask them their mind," said Wenger. "And after, I make the decision. That's the democracy we have here."

Asked whether a fresh voice might help, he said: "We are open-minded. It will be difficult to find a coach who teaches me how to manage a football team." (©Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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