United slip ups give Galatasaray confidence

Posted by Mark Payne

Manchester United's European fixtures against Galatasaray come with a fiery backstory, thanks to the now infamous events of 1993, and the Turkish giants head into this clash eager to take the Red Devils' scalp, unbeaten so far this season and off the back of a 4-0 win at the weekend.

The 18 times Turkish champions, whose fans once famously greeted United with "welcome to hell" banners in Istanbul, would like nothing better than to stun United and after what Athletico Bilbao and Basle achieved in the Champions League at Old Trafford last season they will certainly fancy their chances in a game that could decide top spot in Group H.

When Alex Ferguson arrived at Old Trafford, United boasted a proud record of being unbeaten at home in Europe. That was back in the era of Martin Edwards's chairmanship and before United fans became literate in financial reports and the minutiae of high interest loans.

And few will forget the ties United played against Galatasaray when the great Peter Schmeichel was in goal and we boasted the legendary Lee Martin at left back. During United’s fledgling days back in European Cup in 1993 United coasted 2-0 at home against the unfancied Turks before slipping behind and scrambling a 3-3 draw at Old Trafford.

The away leg was expected to be a run of the mill affair but was anything but. United were met at the airport by hordes of frenzied Galatasaray fans intent on making the players' stay as uncomfortable as possible - complete with the now infamous throat-slitting gestures.

On the pitch, Galatasaray used every trick in the book to delay the flow of the game and wind up the United players as their fans dished out their own treatment from the stands. A shock 0-0 draw was enough to send the Turks through to the next round and Eric Cantona into a frenzy. The Frenchman was sent off for telling the referee exactly what he thought of him at the final whistle and then getting into a fight with a policeman.

Bryan Robson also became involved in the tussle as he left the pitch and needed stitches in his elbow after being pushed down the stairs by another policeman - sparking a dust up in the tunnel. The ruckus continued as United left Istanbul with defender Steve Bruce claiming he "nearly died" when a brick hit a window on the coach he was resting his head on.

It was a certainly a night to remember. Not just for the humiliating result and vicious treatment of the fans and the players, but also because it was the moment United began to learn just what it would take to win the European Cup. Six years later, in 1999, they did just that.

But last season's dismal failure in the Champions League was a traumatic bludgeoning of those memories and Fergie will not need reminding that it was fellow Turks Fenerbahce who recorded the first away win at OT.

Bubbling under the surface in Manchester is the goalkeeper issue. Earlier in the week Anders Lindergaard bemoaned the club's failure last year and vowed to put it right. In doing so he revealed himself to be a reasonably decent and balanced individual. "At this point I see David's and my roles as co-workers rather than No.1 and No.2. He has his strengths and I have mine," said the young Dane.

United head into the toughest week of the season so far still printing up a substantial injury list. Despite the encouraging performances of youngsters thus far, this week is one for the veterans and we can expect to see Scholes, Giggs, and Carrick take the field in this encounter. Darren Fletcher also completed a full training session on Monday.

One thing is certain, missing out on the knockout phase for a second year running is unacceptable to the hedge fund managers of New York, London and Hong Kong.

The release of United's revenue figures proves one thing. Their creditors are going nowhere.

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