Mark Hughes has warned Chelsea that a Big Red Machine is coming to crush them on their way. The Blues travel to Old Trafford for tomorrow night’s crunch Champions League quarter-final second leg. But Hughes, who played for both Chelsea and Manchester United, believes Alex Ferguson’s side have the bit between their teeth right now and will not let go.
Sparky, now boss at Fulham, said: “You sense there is a real drive and determination to win every game between now and the end of the season.
“When United teams have that mindset, it’s very difficult to overcome them. “They could win everything. They are ticking games off and, when you get to this stage of the season, they have been here, understand what needs to happen and what it takes. “It is a big ask. Sir Alex would say himself it is very difficult to do. But trust me, it is something they will try and achieve. Good luck to them.” Hughes witnessed first hand on Saturday a United team in red-hot form – even without the suspended Wayne Rooney – as they swept aside his Cottagers 2-0, with goals from Dimitar Berbatov and Antonio Valencia.
Now Hughes fears for the club he supported as a boy.
United lead 1-0 in their Champions League quarter-final after last week’s first leg at Stamford Bridge. Hughes believes a similar display in tomorrow’s second leg will be too much for Carlo Ancelotti’s side. Hughes said: “I thought United were excellent on the night at Stamford Bridge. “They contained Chelsea, were asking questions of them, got a great goal and really were very comfortable. They saw the game out without any real pressure.
“Chelsea found it very difficult to sustain any kind of pressure on United and I think that’s by virtue of United’s understanding of what it takes at this time of year. “It was a huge game for them in the Champions League but it just looked like a very easy exercise for them.” Next up for United will be Manchester City next Saturday in a gigantic FA Cup semi-final clash at Wembley. But former Eastlands chief Hughes believes City’s 35-year quest for a trophy is about to extend another year, even with Rooney suspended for that game too.
Hughes said: “Obviously it’s a bonus for City that Rooney is not involved. “But, as we saw, they have people who can come in that have good quality that can affect the outcome of any game they are involved in, regardless of the opposition.
“The one thing you have to do when you go up against United is get a foothold in the game and have something you can protect to make it more difficult for them. “They are an attacking outfit and they will commit players and sometimes you can catch them going the other way – but it’s a big ask for any team to do that.
“City are still a team that is forming so they need to make the next step and they’ll look to try to do that against United. But I wouldn’t back against United these days.” Despite the position United are in – seven points clear at the Premier League summit – people are still questioning the strength of this United team. But Hughes said: “Maybe the individuals have not shone as brightly but maybe the collective is stronger. “They have guys working really hard for each other and when they make changes, the quality of what they can produce doesn’t waver, it doesn’t lower. It’s about managing resources and they do it very well.
“It’s about winning matches and getting trophies on the sideboard again, that’s what this club demands and it is very likely that’s what they are going to do again.”
Ferguson was not totally convinced by Saturday’s performance but it was their sixth straight win after that double loss to Chelsea and Liverpool. The United boss has plotted it perfectly and now believes the momentum is with them. Fergie said: “We’ve six left now and the important thing is we keep the momentum going because it’s amazing how the confidence grows. “We’re not doing a great deal in training, just preparing after difficult games and getting ready for the next one. “We’ve got the squad. Wes Brown’s back, Rafael should be OK for Tuesday, Anderson is back, Valencia is back and that gives us a heck of a boost.” Defender Chris Smalling said: “Any team would love to be in our position. Hopefully we can keep putting in these performances.”
Copyright 2011 by The Sun