“Don’t let them have their heads up.”
Alex Ferguson’s team talk ahead of one of Manchester United’s greatest wins in European football has been revealed. In April 2007, the Red Devils hammered Roma 7-1 at Old Trafford in an exhilarating display of devastating attacking football.
Cristiano Ronaldo scored the first two of his 134 Champions League goals as Man United laid waste to a talented Roma team containing Italian legends Francesco Totti and Danielle De Rossi. Michael Carrick (2), Alan Smith, Wayne Rooney and Patrice Evra scored the other goals for the home side as they progressed to the semi-finals of the tournament.
Man United 7-1 Roma.
Ahead of the match against Roma at Old Trafford, the Scot recognised the magnitude of the occasion.
With Man United trailing 2-1 from the first-leg in Italy, Ferguson rallied the troops and delivered an inspiring team talk.
The Red Devils manager didn’t just want his team to beat Roma, he wanted them to crush the Italian side.
Alex Ferguson team talk ahead of Man United victory over Roma.
“Make sure that when the Roma players go through the airport tonight, their heads are down because they have been beaten by Man United,” Ferguson told his players, according to The Athletic.
“I want the airport staff to laugh at them, to feel sorry for them. Don’t let them have their heads up. You’re better than them. Let’s show them what you can do.”
Ferguson’s words had the desired effect. Man United played Roma off the pitch in one of the club’s most memorable performances.
“We had been beaten 2–1 in Rome, where Scholes had been sent off for a suicidal tackle right on the touchline,” the Scot wrote in his second autobiography.
“The boy was practically off the pitch when Paul arrived with his challenge. So, we were under some pressure in the return leg. Until the goals started flying in… We registered one of our greatest European victories.”
Alex Ferguson: Roma were a very good team but couldn’t live with Man United that night.
Ferguson also said that the victory was one of those very rare occasions when every single member of the team performed to the maximum of their ability.
“Top games of football are generally won by eight players,” he wrote.
“Three players can be carried if they’re having an off night and work their socks off, or are playing a purely tactical role for the team in order to secure the result. But half a dozen times in your career you achieve perfection where all 11 are on song.
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) April 10, 2019
“Everything we did that night came off. For the second goal, we produced a six-man move of one-touch passing. Alan Smith scored from a Ryan Giggs pass between the two centre-backs. First time – bang, in the net. Brilliant goal. So you have these moments when you say: we could not have improved on that.
“Roma were a bloody good side too. They had Daniele De Rossi, Cristian Chivu and Francesco Totti, and we absolutely slaughtered them.”
Man United lost to eventual winners AC Milan in the next round, but that night against Roma at Old Trafford will never be forgotten by any supporter of the club who witnessed it. Ferguson’s final great side came of age and the team won the European Cup a year later against Chelsea in Moscow.
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