Fergie welcomes Ajax meeting

United boss satisfied with Europa League pairing

Sir Alex Ferguson: Looking forward to facing Ajax in the Europa League

Chris Smalling: Believes Ajax will present a "good test" for United

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Sir Alex Ferguson says he is looking forward to going up against Ajax with Manchester United for the first time in his managerial career.

After crashing out of the UEFA Champions League last week, United have been drawn against the Dutch giants in the last 32 of the Europa League.

Neighbours Manchester City and Stoke, the only other English sides left in the competition, have also been paired against tough opposition in Porto and Valencia respectively.

United boss Ferguson initially described dropping into the competition as a "penalty", but later suggested he had been misunderstood.

After Friday's draw in Nyon the Scotsman welcomed the Ajax tie, which will be staged over two legs, starting at the Amsterdam ArenA on February 16th.

He said: "I have never played them before in competitive football in my managerial career. They are a good team and we are looking forward to it."

Challenge

United defender Chris Smalling believes the Ajax meeting will prove a good challenge for the Red Devils.

"(Exiting the Champions League) was a massive disappointment, but then you look at the calibre of teams that are in there (Europa League)," he said.

"We have drawn Ajax, they have a lot of history. That will be a good test.

"If you are in there, a lot of the teams will be kicking on. Whoever wins the competition will be a good team."