PORTO coach Jesualdo Ferreira insists he would not swap places with Alex Ferguson and has vowed to go for Manchester United’s jugular tonight.
The Portuguese champions claimed a creditable 2-2 draw in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final at Old Trafford but know they face another stern examination from Ferguson’s team if they are to reach the last four.
They must also cope without the presence of Ferreira in the technical area after UEFA last night handed him a one-match touchline ban — reduced from two on appeal — for his gesticulating at the referee during February 24’s last-16 clash with Atletico Madrid.
However, Ferreira is quietly confident about his side’s chances of progressing and knows whose shoes he would rather be in as Ferguson plots an escape route.
“There is no way I would swap places,” said Ferreira. “I like my team and I don’t feel any pressure. We need to control the game and to do that we need to control our emotions.
“Manchester United are the best team in the world, but last week we proved they were only human and we aim to do the same again.”
Porto certainly caught the Red Devils off guard with their flying start and might have had the entire tie wrapped up if they had taken their chances and not gifted Wayne Rooney an equaliser.
Ferreira cannot promise an exact repeat but assured Ferguson his team will not be playing for a goalless draw that would take them through, as it did in the previous round against Atletico Madrid.
“We will not change, no matter what the circumstance,” said Ferreira.
“There is no other way for us to play than how we did last week, and I would never tell my team to operate below capacity just to achieve a draw.”
In fairness to Porto, they dominated against Atletico and would have been worthy winners had they been able to find a goal which they ultimately did not need.
Attacking trio Hulk, Lisandro and Cristian Rodriguez caused United’s defence a huge amount of problems last week, suggesting Ferguson will be thankful to have Rio Ferdinand available after a recent groin injury.
Porto know they have history on their side given they have never lost a European home game against an English club, while United went out in the 2002 semi-finals to Bayer Leverkusen when presented with the same scenario.
And Argentina midfielder Lucho Gonzalez fancies Porto’s chances, even if the visitors have the best player in the world in their ranks.
“Cristiano Ronaldo is probably the number one player just now, but they are all at Manchester United for a reason, that is why they are the best in the world,” he said.
“But such things don’t mean anything to me. I don’t know if United can play any better than they did last week but I will try to make sure they don’t.”
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