Sir Alex pens his thoughts ahead of every home match for United Review, the first page to turn to for fans, press and opponents alike. Even after the event, it makes good reading. So here, in full, is the manager's column from the Inter programme...
I’m sure this is going to be one of those nights that will live long in the mind, one of those special occasions that reflects the high drama and intensity of the UEFA Champions League.
I always feel highly privileged and fortunate to be involved in this kind of European night as we welcome Jose Mourinho and his Inter Milan team to Old Trafford. We feel good about the game, not only for the atmosphere I know it will generate, but also for our chances of getting through to the next round. Yes, I was disappointed we failed to score over there but we put up a good performance, especially in the first half, and we will play with every confidence of winning the second leg.
We have come a long way since we played in the San Siro against AC Milan a couple of years ago and were swamped. There is a maturity in the side now that I thought made us look the better team a fortnight ago. People said when we faced Barcelona in the semi-final last season that we might struggle after a goalless draw in the away leg, but on another of those fabulous European nights Paul Scholes scored a marvellous goal to take us through.
We will need to pull out something special again tonight if we are to go through because we are up against a very experienced Italian outfit and a clever manager who will try harder than ever to thwart us. We have a good record in Europe at home, though, and our form is excellent. Things are going well with a very useful win at Newcastle last week to keep the League championship very much a realistic possibility. Their early goal galvanised Newcastle, and despite our great record at St James’ Park, any points you get there you have to earn. I thought we did just that. We didn’t panic and the maturity I