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“Wrong or unstoppable” – Sir Alex Ferguson’s Lionel Messi regret explained amid claim he ‘took Man Utd’s soul’

Sir Alex Ferguson regrets his approach to dealing with former Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi

Sir Alex Ferguson has regretted not man-marking Lionel Messi with Park Ji-Sung during the 2009 and 2011 Champions League finals when Manchester United played Barcelona.

 

That is according to former United central defender Rio Ferdinand, who was reflecting back on both matches in which Messi scored in each showpiece and Barca ran out two-goal victors on each occasion. United were unable to handle the Argentine superstar, who was hitting the top form of his career.

Ferguson had guided United to the European trophy in 1999 and again in 2008, before reaching two more finals in the subsequent three seasons – although they were unable to overcome Pep Guardiola’s Barca in either game.

Ferdinand explained in the BBC Sport documentary Messi that United – who had beaten Messi and Barca on their way to their 2008 success – had believed they would be able to nullify the Argentine’s threat once more, but by that stage it was not possible.

The former England international said: “In 2009, we thought we were ready for Messi. We had played against him before and we had locked him down. But this was a different Messi. This was a Messi with more freedom to run around, pop up anywhere and surprise you.

“That one team had four of the best five players: apart from Cristiano Ronaldo they had Messi, Xavi, Andres Iniesta, Sergio Busquets. And they had Pep Guardiola coaching them. What I used to do was gamble on their lack of ability to get the ball past me, but my problem was the player they had on the ball was Xavi!”

 

Messi got the better of Ferdinand in 2011

Have Your Say! Is Messi the greatest footballer ever? Tell us what you think here.Ferdinand added of Messi: “In 2009 and 2011, we were facing the best team in the world with one of the best players ever to play. I look at that now and think it was so unlucky to then have to play them. Messi never made any eye contact, nothing. He just separated himself entirely, playing away from you and then all of a sudden he would turn up. Bang.”

The former defender then explained boss Ferguson’s regret in his approach to dealing with Messi, but he disagreed with his former manager that it would have made much of a difference.

“Ferguson said that he should have put Park Ji-Sung on him,” Ferdinand added. “If anyone could have done it, then it would have been him. But I have watched so many clips of that game when he moves Park around a lot.

“Maybe Park would have been able to slow him down, and maybe that would have been enough. But would that have stopped a prime Lionel Messi? I very much doubt it. I don’t think one player could do it. I was just on the pitch at the end and thought that we need to get off there. They took our soul, basically. Messi was the main ingredient.”

Source: mirror

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