Fergie wants defensive stability
Manchester United boss bemoans previous injury problems
Last Updated: September 18, 2012 5:46pm
Sir Alex Ferguson: Aiming to avoid a repeat of last year's early Champions League exit
Sir Alex Ferguson is praying for some defensive stability as Manchester United begin their latest UEFA Champions League campaign aiming to exorcise painful memories of last season's early exit.
The United boss faced a catalogue of defensive headaches as his team conceded eight goals against Basel and Benfica to crash out of the group stage for only the third time in 17 years.
Now Ferguson has told his players they must tighten up at the back - and most importantly stay fit - ahead of Wednesday's opener against Turkish champions Galatasaray.
"I think the key is to keep the defenders fit," said the Scot. "I mean that.
"We had a rough ride with defenders being injured in the last two or three years. If they remain fit that gives us a better opportunity."
England pair Chris Smalling and Phil Jones are currently injured for prolonged spells, leaving Ferguson with only Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand and Jonny Evans as recognised centre-backs.
"If I could be guaranteed two would be fit for the rest of the season, I'd gladly take that right now," confessed Ferguson.
"But that's not been the case over the last few seasons. It's a key issue for us and we can't hide it. I just hope we get a bit of luck in that respect."
Poor home form was also a major contributing factor to United's shock exit last season.
Ferguson watched his side throw away leads to draw against both Basel and Benfica, with their sole Old Trafford win coming against Romanian minnows Otelul Galati.
"Finishing off games has to be a driving force for us," said Ferguson.
"I think we all agree we were careless in two of the games at home last season. The Basel game was the one where the criticism quite rightly lies.
"We were 2-0 up and playing well and then got careless in the second half and ended up drawing 3-3. That ended up knocking us out, really.
"Hopefully our home form, which had been good for many years, will be good again this year."