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Fergie: English football not in decline

ESPN staff
March 16, 2013 « Follow-on is a lifeline - Watling | Chartbeat test »

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Sir Alex Ferguson has denied English teams are no longer a dominant force in the Champions League, insisting Manchester United's performance against Real Madrid proves they are still in touch with Europe's best.

No Premier League teams were present in the quarter-final draw of the competition for the first time since the 1995-96 season, prompting Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger to suggest English football is in a period of decline.

But Ferguson believes the dominance of English sides in the latter stages of the Champions League from 2005-2012 - highlighted by Liverpool, United and Chelsea lifting the cup in that period - means there is no cause for concern.

"You can't put us all in the one basket in terms of deterioration," he said. "Our performance against Real Madrid was outstanding and we should have been in the last eight. Unfortunately it wasn't to be. It is a little bit cyclical.

"Going back a few years, English teams were in the semi-finals and finals quite regularly. At the moment German teams are progressing and Spain has been like that for a few years now."

United's round of 16 opponents Real Madrid face Turkish side Galatasaray in the last eight, with Borussia Dortmund taking on Malaga, Bayern Munich drawing Juventus, and Barcelona pitted against Paris Saint-Germain.

Ferguson sent another jibe towards referee Cuneyt Cakir, who sent United winger Nani off at Old Trafford last week, suggesting Real's fortunes have been aided by avoiding Turkish officials in the quarter-finals.

"I hope Real Madrid do well but they cannot get a Turkish ref, that's for sure," he said. "They have a chance but there are four good teams in there.

"Dortmund could be a dark horse, Bayern are strong, Barcelona's performance (against AC Milan) was outstanding and Real. They should get through to the semi-finals - and they would be good ones."

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