Ferguson appreciates why Abramovich is so determined to win Champions League

Sir Alex Ferguson has claimed Roman Abramovich is “obsessed” with winning the Champions League.

However, as someone who suffered the same affliction himself until a memorable triumph over Bayern Munich in 1999, the Manchester United manager does not condemn Abramovich for it.

Chelsea have lost four semi-finals and also the 2008 final to Manchester United in Abramovich’s so far vain pursuit of the ultimate European club prize.

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The Blues will have their dreams ended for another year tonight unless they can overturn a 1-0 first-leg deficit in their quarter-final with United at Old Trafford.

If they do go out, many believe Blues coach Carlo Ancelotti will get sacked in Abramovich`s relentless quest for European glory. But Ferguson feels the Chelsea owner has set himself a stiff target.

“It does seem to be an obsession with Chelsea to win the European Cup,” said Ferguson.

“That is why they signed Fernando Torres. The owner has very much nailed his colours to the mast in that respect. I have felt that for quite a while with him.

“To have an obsession of winning the European Cup is stretching yourself a wee bit. At the end of the day it is a very difficult competition to win.

“But I can understand it because I had the obsession myself for quite a while. I lost semi-finals and you say to yourself you are never going to do it. When we achieved it in Barcelona, it was the greatest feeling of all time. It took the monkey off my back.”

Not that Ferguson’s comments should be interpreted as him anticipating Chelsea will have extra hunger tonight.

His United side may still have the consolation of a Premier League title and FA Cup to go for should it all go wrong tonight, but he said: “Chelsea are no more desperate than Manchester United. For any club, when the expectations are high you come to a situation where it is all or nothing.

“People talk about us winning the league (for what would be a record 19th time) but we are desperate to win this game.”

Against virtually any other side in Europe, any sort of advantage from the away leg would leave United as overwhelming favourites to reach the next stage.

As Ferguson acknowledges though, in Chelsea’s case, familiarity breeds a different attitude.

Ancelotti’s men realise a repeat of their 2-1 win on their last trip to Old Trafford 12 months ago would take them through.

“A British team coming here is different,” he said. “Though Juventus and Milan have played here a few times over the years, Chelsea play here every year.

“In that respect there is a familiarity about it. The stadium, the size of the pitch, the condition of the pitch – all these things are in their favour over other European teams.”

Ferguson is not expected to stray too much from the side whose victory last week was fully deserved.

Brazilian full-back Rafael is a major doubt, with his manager claiming he would need to impress in training today to stand any chance of ousting John O’Shea.

There must also be a possibility that Nani will get the nod ahead of Javier Hernandez, allowing Wayne Rooney to slot back into the lone striking role Ferguson prefers on occasions such as this.

Ancelotti claims he is excited and not feeling any pressure ahead of tonight’s game.

The Italian said: “I think that, a lot of times, I played this kind of game with this pressure. But it’s not pressure – it’s excitement.

“To be involved in this game is fantastic for my job, for my career. So I’m not afraid.”

The pressure is also growing on striker Fernando Torres, who has failed to score in 10 appearances since his British record £50m move from Liverpool in January.

Ancelotti insists there are no specific demands on Torres to score but confirmed the Spaniard will play some role tonight.

The Blues boss said: “I’m interested in Chelsea winning this game. If he scores it’s good for him and for Chelsea, but it’s just important to win here.

“He will play (tonight).”