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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Apr 22, 2008

Fergie challenges stars to enter united 'hall of fame'

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson believes his players have the potential to shape their own destiny and enter Old Trafford's 'Hall of Fame'.

However, he has resisted the temptation to take his vibrant squad down memory lane as he returned to the city which hosted a never-to-be-forgotten Champions League final.

Nine years ago Ferguson's side recorded an astonishing last-gasp victory against Bayern Munich thanks to goals from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Teddy Sheringham to lift the trophy.

Tomorrow they return to the Nou Camp for the first time since that memorable night.

This time Barcelona provide the opposition in the semi-final first leg of Europe's top club competition.

Ferguson insists his squad do not need a history lesson. Instead he tipped his players to set their own benchmark.

'It is almost 10 years since we won the final,' said the United boss.

'The team of today do not need to worry about the past and be reminded of the past.

'They have seen the game many times on video and television, so I do not think it is lost on any of them.

'What is more important is that they can shape their own history. I think they are good enough to do that.'

United went out at the semi-final stage to AC Milan last season but Ferguson insists they are much better equipped to go the distance this time around.

The likes of Owen Hargreaves and Carlos Tevez arrived in the summer along with outstanding prospects Nani and Anderson to boost the playing pool.

With 38-goal Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney showing remarkable maturity this season, United have good reason to go forward with confidence.

Ferguson said: 'We are in a much stronger position this year in terms of the energy of the team, not to mention the ability in it.

'Last season we played much the same team every week because of injuries.

'Now we have bigger squad, you can see the difference and how it has helped us.'

United were involved in two enthralling games against Barcelona in the group stages on the way to beating Bayern - both ending in 3-3.

Ferguson expects a similar feast of football.

He said: 'Looking back it could have been more than 3-3, especially at the Nou Camp.

'There were periods where I thought we could lose by 10, then other periods I thought we could win by 10.

'It was a marvellous open game and demonstration of how both clubs believe the game should be played.

'United and Barcelona remain well balanced teams in terms of history and the way they play.'

Barcelona are trailing Real Madrid and Villarreal in La Liga but Ferguson is not under-estimating the opposition and claims the match would a worthy final.

He said: ' I do not see that we should be favourites. It is a very balanced game if you look at the number of quality players on both sides.

'Manchester United and Barcelona must be among the strongest sides in Europe as they have come to this stage of the competition.

'Both clubs deserve to be there and this match would be an attractive final, a fantastic occasion.

'I believe the winners of this game have a great chance in the final.'

There were fears for Rooney's fitness after he came off in the second half against Blackburn at the weekend.

But they have proved to be unfounded.

'Wayne took a knock on the hip but it will not stop him from playing,' said Ferguson.

Goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar is also in line to return between the posts. He missed the clash at Ewood Park because of a groin strain.

Hargreaves and Nani were also absent at the weekend but travelled out to Spain with the rest of the squad.