07/11/2012 08:00, Report by Steve Bartram

Boss looks beyond Braga

Victory over Braga in Portugal could help United reach 'a key moment' in the Champions League, according to Sir Alex Ferguson.

Knowing that three points in Braga will secure a knockout berth, the United manager hopes to be able to rotate his squad in the final Group H games against Cluj and Galatasaray.

"I hope we can get to that stage because if you look at the squad I have at the moment, it’s quite a strong squad and having to keep everybody happy is difficult," said the manager.

"We are making changes in some games but by that time we’ve hopefully got the two young defenders (Chris Smalling and Phil Jones) coming back and it’ll be a good opportunity to give them the experience of playing in European football, so it could be a key moment for us if we can get to that stage."

The boss again faced questions about last season's disappointing group stage exit, but - as backed up by this term's results - insisted that lessons have been learned and taken into the current campaign.

"I think we misread it last year," he said. "The previous group stages we were going through quite easily, but last year we certainly didn’t, so therefore this year we're making sure we play our stronger teams.

"Hopefully that gets us into the next stage because that’s what matters. We may win on Wednesday, we may lose, we may draw, but the important thing is that having nine points gives us a big chance of going through."

More: Smalling 'will play a part' | Today in Braga blog


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