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Monday, 13 August, 2001, 12:10 GMT 13:10 UK
Ferguson's Hampden dream
Sir Alex Ferguson with the Champions League trophy
Ferguson wants the Champions League trophy back
Sir Alex Ferguson's priority this season will be winning the Champions League at his spiritual home of Hampden Park, believes BBC Sport Online.

Hampden Park on 15 May, 2002, would provide a fitting venue for the climax of Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United reign.

There could be no more apt send-off for Ferguson than lifting the Champions League trophy in his native Glasgow.

Hampden is the ground where it all began for Ferguson when he signed for amateur side Queens Park 43 years ago.

Bayern win the Champions League
Bayern's Champions League win hurt Ferguson

The 16-year-old aspiring professional used to combine playing with his job as an apprentice toolmaker, catching a bus near his Govan home for the journey across the south side of Glasgow to Hampden.

Never in his wildest dreams could he have predicted the potential of a glorious return in the Champions League final.

The tantalising prospect is not lost on Ferguson as the 59-year-old begins his 16th and final season in charge of United.

But the United boss is trying not to be carried away by the notion.

"I'm not going to let it be an albatross around my neck," he said.

"I do hope the players give it that bit extra - and one or two of them have said they will - because it would be a great end to my career and it's something I am looking forward to."


We have to progress, otherwise we will end up going backwards
  Sir Alex Ferguson

If the venue was not enough of a temptation, then the lingering memory of last season's quarter final defeat to Bayern Munich should provide an extra incentive.

Ferguson felt the lack of competition in the Premiership did not help his side in the Champions League and he intends to make sure his players do not dip at such a key moment this time.

Liverpool celebrate
Liverpool can push United this season

"This is something we are wary of," he said. "We are looking at one or two things and we are maybe going to change those around next year.

"We normally come good in the second half of the season, but it didn't happen this time.

"Part of it could be that we didn't have anyone pushing us towards the line and that's one of the things we've been looking at."

"Other teams have come on over the past year.

"Liverpool, Leeds and Arsenal will be challenging again. Everybody expects them to do that, but we'll see whether they can live up to the expectation that there will be on them.

"It could be a fantastic league next season and I think that it will help us to have that challenge."

If United retain the championship it will be their record-breaking fourth successive success.

Not even the great Liverpool sides of the 1970s and 1980s achieved that and Ferguson is excited by making yet another piece of football history.

"That's a good challenge for the players - they need that," he said in the official Manchester United magazine.

The modest manager added: "It would be nice for me being my last season, but it would be more of an achievement for the players."

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