Bayer Leverkusen coach Sami Hyypia is looking forward to his first return to Old Trafford in four years, but urged his players to not focus on getting Wayne Rooney’s autograph.
Leverkusen have collected 12 points out of their first five games of the Bundesliga this season and are in a comfortable position domestically as they begin their European campaign. Early on Monday, Leverkusen boarded their flight to Manchester, where they will take on the Premier League champions in their first Champions League game since the 7-1 humiliation against Barcelona in 2012.
“Manchester is a great team. They have won everything in the past ten years,” former Liverpool captain Hyypia told Express, adding that he refused to give up on getting a result before the match had even begun by saying: “I won’t do that. Otherwise we could send our Under-19s.”
Hyypia warned that Leverkusen, whose attacking formation impressed once again during their 3-1 victory over Wolfsburg at the weekend, should not be overwhelmed by the occasion or the opposition.
“We should not stand in awe," he said: "I hope that my players not only want to look around the tradition-rich ground and line up for Wayne Rooney's autograph."
In another interview, this time with German football weekly kicker, Hyypia added that United and Old Trafford might be special but his players had played bigger grounds.
“The players won’t watch the stands wide-eyed when warming up," he said. "They know this atmosphere. The stadium in Dortmund is bigger."
Hyypia also reminisced about his last game at Old Trafford, Liverpool’s 4-1 win back in March 2009 as "one of my best games,” which turned out to be the last time he wore the Liverpool jersey for the full 90 minutes.