Strachan happy with United draw

August 24, 2006

Celtic manager Gordon Strachan admits the Champions League draw has been relatively kind to his team despite the presence of Manchester United in Group F.

The Hoops will face the 1999 winners at Old Trafford and Celtic Park as part of their campaign.

The British giants will also face Benfica and FC Copenhagen in their pool.

But, after being comfortably beaten 3-0 by an under-strength United team last month in a pre-season friendly after a testimonial for Roy Keane in May, the Celtic boss jokes that another clash with Sir Alex Ferguson's team has left him 'fed up'.

Strachan said: 'I am fed up with the sight of Manchester United. We have played them twice in the past four months.

'They are on fire and the overwhelming favourites but, looking at some of the other groups, we are grateful for what we got.

'We are not at our best, but I hope we will be by the time the competition begins.'

Strachan will be lining in the opposite dug-out to his former boss Ferguson for the first time since both were managing in the Barclays Premiership.

But the ex-Scotland international has since complained in his autobiography of the way he was treated by the Old Trafford legend during his playing career with United.

Strachan claimed Ferguson tried to bully him while he was with United.

United are no strangers to playing a Scottish club in the Champions League though after defeating Rangers twice in 2003.

Former Celtic and United striker Lou Macari believes the Hoops can now qualify behind United.

He told Sky Sports News: 'On the evidence of the pre-season it will be a tough ask for Celtic to take anything from United.

'United played, what they would call a weakened side, and won quite comfortably at Parkhead in July, so Sir Alex Ferguson would be confident of picking up three points from both games.

'But Celtic are more than capable of beating both those other teams and it is a great draw for them.

'If they had been drawn in any other group, they could have kissed goodbye to their Champions League campaign.

'For me, United will win the group and Celtic could take second.'

Macari, who left Parkhead for Old Trafford, is relishing the England versus Scotland encounters.

He said: 'I could not believe it when the draw was made.

'I watched last season and thought United got a good group and they failed to make it, but this year it is easy.

'It also gives Celtic a good chance of nabbing second spot. There will be two fantastic games at Parkhead and Old Trafford.'

Celtic have only played Benfica once before - winning the European Cup second-round tie on the toss of a coin after a 3-3 aggregate draw.

FC Copenhagen defeated Ajax in the biggest shock of the final qualifying round when they trailed 2-1 from the first leg in Denmark before claiming a 2-0 win at the Amsterdam ArenA.

The UEFA Champions League Groups Announced ESPN Video