UEFA Champions League
October 23, 2012
Manchester United v Braga: Preview
Team Stat Comparison
|Goals for *||1.3||1.7|
|Goals against *||1.0||2.0|
|Last 5 home||L-L-W-W||L-L-L-D|
|Last 5 away||D-L-W-W||L-L-W-D|
|* Goals per match - home matches for home club and away matches for away club|
|Stats: Manchester United | Braga|
Braga coach Jose Peseiro was among the guests at Manchester United's post-game Champions League winners' party in Moscow four years ago - but he wants to be celebrating alone at Old Trafford tomorrow.
Peseiro, a former assistant to ex-United coach Carlos Quieroz, revealed he had helped United scout Nani before the Portugal midfielder moved to Old Trafford in 2007, and he joined United in toasting the success Nani helped earn by scoring one of the penalties in United's dramatic shoot-out victory over Chelsea at the Luzhniki Stadium the following spring.
It as an evening Peseiro has naturally never forgotten.
"I first came to Manchester with Carlos and spoke with Sir Alex about Nani,'' he said.
"We probably talked about three or four times before he eventually decided to sign him over (Yuri) Zhirkov.
"When United got to the Champions League final, they invited me to the game.
"I stayed in one of the hotels the club used for the match and was there for the party afterwards.
"I was there for four or five days overall, together with my wife.
"It was a fantastic experience. But tomorrow I hope to be having a party at Sir Alex's expense.''
Realistically, though, Peseiro accepts it is unlikely to happen.
Although they are currently breaking the three-team stranglehold on the Portuguese league, Braga would appear to lack the resources to compete with European heavyweights such as the one they will encounter tomorrow.
Peseiro acknowledges his side are in a battle for second spot, and the Red Devils will take control of Group H if they win their third successive game.
United have had other issues to deal with in the build-up to this match, with Rio Ferdinand causing his manager a headache when the 33-year-old defender defied Sir Alex Ferguson's order to wear a T-shirt backing the Kick It Out anti-racism campaign.
Ferdinand did not wear the shirt as he is upset by what he believes is a lack of progress by the organisation, particularly following last year's incident involving his brother Anton Ferdinand and Chelsea's John Terry.
Ferguson was furious with Ferdinand and promised he would be "dealt with'', but the pair held clear-the-air talks at United's Carrington training HQ yesterday, during which Ferdinand put forward a "compelling argument'' for why he adopted his solo stance.
As a former shop steward, Ferguson remains committed to the idea of collective action, and also did not take kindly to being undermined in such a public way.
However, with their respective positions aired, the United boss is more than happy to concentrate on Ferdinand's attributes on the field and has suggested the veteran could get a new contract offer.
"Rio can play for two or three years,'' said Ferguson.
"He has different issues from Paul (Scholes) or Ryan (Giggs) in terms of injuries over the last couple of years.
"He is not as quick as he was but that is not a big problem because his experience is important.
"He is still a great footballer and, even at 33, there is no reason why he can't stay on.
"We have always adopted that policy of offering one-year contracts, so we will see as the season progresses.
"I didn't even realise his contract was up. You are making me panic.''
However, Ferdinand will not play tomorrow, joining captain Patrice Evra in being rested, with Scott Wootton and Alex Buttner to take their places.
Ferguson was anxious to make clear that Ferdinand was not being dropped as punishment.
"Tomorrow, so your false teeth don't fall out, I am not playing Rio,'' he said.
"We have a game at Chelsea on Sunday at Chelsea, which is a big one for us, so we will leave two of the older players, Rio and Patrice Evra, out tomorrow.''