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Ferguson: United still have magic

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has used his programme notes ahead of the Champions League clash with Marseille to hit back at claims from Didier Deschamps that his side lack the "fantasy" of their predecessors.

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United certainly did not have any spark in the first leg of the Champions League last-16 clash with Marseille that ended 0-0, but Ferguson is confident that his side have enough "magic" to progress to the next round.

''I hope we can show Didier Deschamps that despite his suggestion that our present side doesn't have as much 'fantasy' compared with our team of a few years ago, we are still capable of producing our fair share of magic,'' he wrote.

''I take his point because the side that captured the unique Treble [in 1999] was something quite special, but don't underestimate the boys of today.''

Marseille last visited Old Trafford in 1999-2000, with the United side still on a high after their historical feat but, despite their dominance in Europe so far, Deschamps is confident that his side can upset the odds.

"If you look at the match purely from a statistical point of view, Manchester United have not been defeated at home for a long time,'' he said. ''They have conceded only one goal in seven Champions League games and are a very strong side, so it is a tough task.

"In addition they are one of four or five teams who have a realistic chance of winning the Champions League. On paper you would fully expect Manchester United to qualify. But we have a chance, a little opportunity. Football is not about statistics alone."


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