fast little loans
London – Manchester City are helping Real Madrid prepare for their Champions League clash against Manchester United by giving them the Etihad Stadium for training.
Jose Mourinho does not want to use the Old Trafford pitch because it is in bad shape and he does not want to make it worse for Tuesday night’s game with Sir Alex Ferguson’s side.
Problems with flights from Spain mean the Real coach and his team cannot do a session at home on Monday and then travel, as they had hoped.
Forced by a baggage handlers’ strike to fly into England on Sunday, Real took the extraordinary step of asking City if they could use the Etihad Stadium on Monday afternoon and were delighted when United’s big rivals agreed.
City’s decision is, however, sure to infuriate the United fans. Cristiano Ronaldo, Xabi Alonso and Co will have a work-out at City’s ground at 3pm on Monday and then return to their hotel in Cheshire ahead of Tuesday night’s last 16 second leg, with the tie standing at 1-1.
Only Mourinho himself will visit Old Trafford before the actual game when he goes there with one player to fulfil Uefa’s media obligations on Monday night.
United are understood to be unconcerned by City’s decision, confirming only on Friday night that Real had not requested to use the Old Trafford pitch.
In fact, they may even be a little relieved as they try to get the troublesome playing surface in decent condition after Saturday’s Barclays Premier League game with Norwich.
Nevertheless, it is unusual for a Champions League team to train at a stadium other than the one they will play at and this case is even more interesting because City manager Roberto Mancini actually wants United to go through so that they will be distracted from their domestic duties.
On that theme, United manager Sir Alex Ferguson on Friday hit back at Mancini’s recent suggestion that his rivals are lucky to be 12 points clear in the Premier League.
Mancini was referring to United’s habit of scoring late goals but Ferguson said: “He is lucky they are only 12 points behind.
“Scoring late is not lucky. We have only been doing it for 25 years.
“It is a terrible habit, isn’t it? It is not an accident, that, believe me.”
With all eyes on Tuesday’s Madrid game, Ferguson admitted he was impressed when he travelled to Spain to see Mourinho’s team beat Barcelona on Wednesday.
“I was shocked,” he said. “I thought Real Madrid were magnificent, I really did. They were absolutely brilliant and won well with Ronaldo, Di Maria and Ozil on the counter.
“But we knew that Madrid are one of the best counter-attacking teams in Europe, there is no question about that.
“That is what we will be up against on Tuesday and that is what our preparations are centring around, making sure their counter-attack doesn’t kill us.”
United’s defence will be important on Tuesday and experienced centre half Rio Ferdinand will be rested today.
He, too, can expect to sign a new contract before the end of the season.
Ferguson said: “That is a strong possibility. It would have to happen before the end of the season.
“‘I think he has had a great season.
“He has managed himself the right way and we have contributed to that in the preparation we give him.
“He doesn’t play every game in the same way that Ryan doesn’t play every game.
“Two weeks ago, against Real Madrid, he was excellent. We need to get him ready for the big one on Tuesday.” – Daily Mail