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Feb 22, 2011

Deschamps: United lack star quality

Marseille coach Didier Deschamps thinks Manchester United lack the star quality they used to boast but are no less effective as a result.

• Heinze wants Fergie forgiveness
• Giggs and Rio miss Marseille trip

Deschamps goes head-to-head with Sir Alex Ferguson in the Stade Velodrome on Wednesday as Marseille take on the 2008 Champions League winners Manchester United, who are depleted by injuries.

Seven key members of their squad are missing, including Ryan Giggs, Rio Ferdinand and Antonio Valencia, who could come into contention for the second leg in three weeks time as he edges towards recovery from a serious ankle injury.

Yet, even with those players, Deschamps believes it is not a United squad glittering with brilliance, the mesmeric skills of Cristiano Ronaldo replaced by a more functional approach that saw the Premier League leaders concede just one goal during the opening group phase.

''The winning culture is part of the DNA at a club like Manchester United,'' said Deschamps.

''They always have talented players and people such as Nani, Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov can make the difference at any time.

''I have heard a lot about the style of play. But the most important thing is winning games.

''I concentrate on the fact they conceded one goal in six games. Maybe there is less fantasy about them than there was in the past but the Marseille team I was part of in 1993 wasn't the nicest and we still won the European Cup.''

Although that honour was stripped of Marseille after the bribery scandal which engulfed them, Deschamps still finished a winner, lifting the trophy with Juventus, part of a glittering career that also saw him lift the World Cup as captain of France in 1998.

It was with some sadness therefore that Deschamps watched events unfold in South Africa this summer, when Patrice Evra was fingered for leading the strike action following Nicolas Anelka's expulsion from the French squad by Raymond Domenech.

Deschamps knows Evra well given the defender played in the side he managed at Monaco that reached the Champions League final in 2004, when they lost to Jose Mourinho's FC Porto.

Deschamps said: ''Okay, Patrice Evra was the captain in South Africa but there were a lot of staff around him who were linked to that as well,'' said Deschamps.

''I prefer to remember what happened when he played for me at Monaco. 'I am really proud of what he has done since then at a great club like Manchester United.''

Although Evra pocketed a new three-and-a-half year contract with United on Monday, that may not save him from a particularly nasty reception from notoriously vociferous Marseille supporters on Wednesday, when he plays his first game in his homeland since that summer debacle.

The sour taste it left with the French public will not easily be washed away, and turned out to be one of the reasons why Deschamps snubbed Liverpool in the summer when they approached him about replacing Rafael Benitez.

''I am very involved with this club; with the fans, the players and the president,'' he said. ''After what happened at the World Cup I didn't think it would give the right impression to leave two days before the season started.

''I am very proud Liverpool thought about me but it was my decision not to go.''

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