Sir Alex Ferguson insists Manchester United must not live in fear of former star Cristiano Ronaldo when he returns to Old Trafford for the Champions League meeting with Real Madrid.
Ronaldo scored Real’s goal in the 1-1 draw at the Bernabeu that leaves the last 16 tie delicately balanced ahead of Tuesday’s second leg.
Asked if he was concerned about Ronaldo, Ferguson said: “My biggest concern is that he turns up.”
He added: “It is not something we should fear. If we worry about the danger Cristiano can give us we will forget some of the things we can do ourselves.”
Ferguson accepts that the player he nurtured at Old Trafford before his £80m move to Real in 2009 will pose the biggest threat to United’s hopes of reaching the last eight.
“What do you expect when you play against a team with Cristiano in it?” said Ferguson. “You expect problems during the match. We have to try to curtail that as much as we can and as best we can.
“The experience young Rafael had in the first half in Madrid hopefully helps him because he will be given the same task again.”
Ronaldo’s Brazilian namesake scored a hat-trick for Real at Old Trafford in April 2003 to send United out at the quarter-final stage – and Ferguson hopes there will be no repeat.
He said: “The older one, the fatter one, was at his peak that time as a centre forward. This Ronaldo is a superb athlete. He never misses a game, has a fantastic physique, pace, two good feet and is great in the air.
“Our main worry is not what happened 10 years ago but what happens on Tuesday night.”
Real coach Jose Mourinho described the first leg as “the match the world wants to see” – and Ferguson believes the second episode can be just as enthralling.
The Scot said: “Both teams are in form. Real have had two fantastic results against Barcelona. I saw the first one and they were absolutely superb. They have found form at the right time and our form has been consistent for quite a while.
“As a European game they don’t get any bigger than this one. This is two great clubs with great history. It is set up to be potentially a marvellous game and I don’t think it will be a disappointment either.”