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Sep 4, 2014

Sir Alex Ferguson says seeding not important in UCL group draw

Former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson has played down the significance of seeding in the UEFA Champions League.

NYON, Switzerland -- UEFA is looking to change how Champions League clubs are seeded, though its coaching adviser Alex Ferguson thinks that's not important.

"I don't necessarily think the seeding plays a great part" in group draws, said Ferguson, a two-time Champions League winner with Manchester United.

He spoke Thursday after chairing a two-day UEFA meeting of top club coaches, who were told the seeding format could change next season.

One option UEFA will consider is automatically putting the winners of the highest-ranked leagues and the Champions League title holder among the top-seeded teams.

Currently, UEFA ranks clubs solely on five years of competition results in the Champions League and Europa League -- leaving national champions Manchester City, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain among No. 2 seeded teams.

In last week's draw, Man City was drawn in a group with Bundesliga winner Bayern Munich, and Juventus got Spanish champion Atletico Madrid. PSG's group includes top-seeded Barcelona.

The eight clubs in Pot 1 included Arsenal and Porto, who placed fourth and third in their respective leagues last season. They are seeded based on consistency despite neither reaching a Champions League semifinal in the past five seasons.

Still, Ferguson believes the depth of some groups in this season's draw means there is little difference in quality.

"You take what you get and your performance is the most important thing," said Ferguson, who led former clubs Aberdeen and Man United to win a combined four European club competitions. "Does it matter if one is the top seed or second seed or third seed?"

Ferguson's opposition to change was backed by Jurgen Klopp, whose Borussia Dortmund team is still only second-seeded after being Champions League runner-up in 2013.

Klopp's Dortmund was only fourth-seeded in 2012-13 when, as Bundesliga champion, it won a group ahead of Real Madrid, Ajax and Man City.

"It's not impossible," Klopp told The Associated Press. "If you are in the wrong [seeding] group, it's your own responsibility. You have not had enough success in the last season."

"Everything is OK for us," said the German coach, whose team will play Arsenal for the third time in four seasons.

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