United look for a legacy
© AFP

Speaking to the international media at Manchester United's inaugural press conference at the FIFA Club World Cup Japan 2008, Sir Alex Ferguson stressed that a victory in the tournament would help to add to Manchester United's legendary status.

The Red Devils may have won the Intercontinental Cup back in 1999, but the FIFA Club World Cup is currently not on the Mancunians' honours list and Ferguson believes that in years to come, victory in Japan and glory that goes with it might be as warmly celebrated as the club's domestic and European titles.

We could look back in 30 years and say that Manchester United were the world champions in 2008. That is what this club is about.
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson on the importance of the FIFA Club World Cup

"This tournament can add prestige to a football club which is why we are here and why we want to win," he said. "We could look back in 30 years and say that Manchester United were the world champions in 2008. That is what this club is about and that is why it is important for us to win it."

Ferguson, who also claimed that his single most important quality as a manager was his experience, also made the point that he wishes that he could compete in the FIFA Club World Cup every year - a tournament which he believes has grown in importance given the fact that all six continental champions are involved.

"Playing different types of opposition will certainly do us no harm, but the big incentive is to win the Club World Cup," he continued. "We can win the Club World Cup in December but we can't win the Premier League in December.

"We are here as champions of Europe and I hope to be here again in Abu Dhabi next year. This tournament has grown because, with countries developing on the football side, there needed to be a better balance. We have an extra game [as the team from Europe], as do the South Americans, but the prestige attached to it is now even greater."

Mind over matter
Sitting alongside his manager was Scotland international Darren Fletcher, who looked reasonably refreshed, despite having completed the 11 and a half hour journey less than 24 hours previously.

The United midfielder admitted that Gamba have an advantage over the European champions in terms of their preparations for Thursday's semi-final, but believes that his team-mates have enough desire and quality to make it through to the final.

"We are doing the best we can to prepare for the game," said Fletcher. "It does have an effect when you have a lack of sleep. Lack of sleep affects anybody's performance no matter what they do. We will be affected, but dealing with it is part of the challenge.

"We only have a couple of days to acclimatise so Gamba have a huge advantage in that respect. It is a case of mind over matter. We have to put it out of our minds and concentrate on our game and hopefully we will have enough to get through.

"We are a professional team and the lads are doing everything we are told to conquer it. We waited up until 2am last night and then got woken up in this morning. The medical staff have done their research and we have to believe they are right come the match."