Manchester United legend Paul Scholes says the side’s 2008 Champions League success was more about Sir Alex Ferguson than it was about team itself.
Despite being widely recognised as the greatest manager in history, Ferguson had just one European Cup to his name by the time that United took in Chelsea in Moscow.
The side’s 1999 success was supposed to be a springboard for United to dominate on the European stage but their best finishes in the nine years between Barcelona and Moscow was two semi-final exits.
Scholes missed the 1999 final through suspension but he insists the 2008 final against Avram Grant’s Chelsea was not about redemption for himself and was instead about ensuring Ferguson got his hands on the trophy again.
‘It was kind of strange going to Moscow – everything was different,’ Scholes told DAZN.
‘The time difference meant we were kicking off at quarter to ten at night and it was just the longest day in the history waiting for that game.
‘I don’t know why but for a couple of days I just kept thinking about the manager and it’s wrong really it’s nothing to do with the game itself but I just couldn’t see how Avram Grant could beat Alex Ferguson.
‘Without even thinking about the game or the football, which is obviously the most important thing because any team or any manager can beat Alex Ferguson – of course they can – but for some reason that day I always felt we’d win it.’
United took the lead in Russia when Cristiano Ronald headed in a Wes Brown cross and they had chances to build on their lead through Michael Carrick and Carlos Tevez.
But Chelsea responded brilliantly in the second half, equalising through Frank Lampard and going close to finding a winner through Didier Drogba and Joe Cole.
However, after a nervy period of extra-time, the game went to penalties and the shootout was won when Edwin van der Sar saved from Nicolas Anelka after John Terry famously missed his opportunity to win it for Chelsea by slipping.
‘It’s never nice watching penalties,’ continued Scholes, who had been subbed before the shootout.
‘I was confident in our lads, confident in our keeper but when John Terry stepped forward I expected him to score,’ said Scholes.
‘Unfortunately for him he slipped and fortunately for us Edwin went on to save Anelka’s penalty as well. I always felt he’d win it for us.’
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