Ferguson: Gala reception no issue

  • Last Updated: November 19 2012, 21:13 GMT

Manchester United dodged a Galatasaray welcome committee in Istanbul on Monday evening - but Sir Alex Ferguson insists a return to 'Hell' poses no problems.

Sir Alex Ferguson: Getting used to the Turkish enthusiasm
Sir Alex Ferguson: Getting used to the Turkish enthusiasm

It is 19 years since Ferguson led his newly-crowned English champions into the cauldron of the Ali Sami Yen stadium and ended up crashing out of Europe amid chaotic scenes.

Galatasaray have swapped stadiums since - to the plush Turk Telecom Arena - but their supporters remain some of the most fanatical in Europe.

They turned out in vast numbers to await United's arrival on Monday evening, only to discover Ferguson and his players had exited through a separate terminal.

There will be no escape on Tuesday as the Red Devils look to defend their 100% record in this season's competition. And Ferguson cannot wait.

"We didn't get the greeting by the fans (this time) - we dodged that," said the United boss.

"In 1993 when we came here it was incredible.

"It was something new and quite frightening.

"But we've been here a few times since and we're getting used to the Turkish fanaticism and enthusiasm.

"It's no issue for us."

With almost all his most experienced players - including Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney - remaining behind in Manchester, Darren Fletcher is likely to captain the visitors.

He has only heard stories of Galatasaray - Ryan Giggs could have been the single playing survivor but the Welshman also remained at home - but the midfielder has enough experience of Turkish football to know the best way of dealing with what is to come.

"It'll be hostile - the fans are really passionate," he said.

"I've not played against Galatasaray but I've been to Bursaspor and Besiktas and it's a unique atmosphere.

"It's a challenge and something we have to experience. For me it's a new stadium, a new occasion and you want to enjoy the experience. Hopefully that brings out the best in your performance."

With Chris Smalling amongst those not to make the trip, presumably to ensure he is fit to face QPR at Old Trafford on Saturday, Michael Carrick is tipped to partner Scott Wootton in central defence.

Phil Jones will get his first start of the season though, an important step after a back injury was followed by knee surgery.

"It's a big day for Phil Jones," said Ferguson.

"He's been out all season but has done enough training to make sure his fitness is okay.

"They've all been different types of injuries and because he is young, he's still to develop physically.

"He's only 20 years of age so there's plenty of time for him."

Ferguson has vowed to play an experienced team, even though United have already booked their place in the last 16 as group winners.

However, the United boss indicated he is ready to hand a first start to 18-year-old midfielder Nick Powell, a summer arrival from Crewe.

"Most of them will have experience of big games and big crowds," said Ferguson.

"Obviously for Nick Powell it's completely different - he's played in front of 76,000 as a substitute but this will be his first European away game.

"It will be a big day for him but he has the temperament, which is important."

Six days ago, Tom Cleverley and Danny Welbeck were starting for England in Sweden, so Ferguson can hardly be accused of selecting a weak team.

However, with the second qualification spot so delicately poised between Galatasaray, Braga and CFR Cluj, he is mindful of the need for Tuesday's game to be a competitive one.

"We don't consider the young players a gamble," he said.

"What we do consider is our reputation and we have to be fair to the other teams in the group.

"When we discussed the team for tomorrow we had to give serious consideration to how the media and the public would react, so we had to think hard about the team we picked."

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