United dodge hot Turkish welcome on ‘Hell’ return

Manchester United dodged a Galatasaray welcome committee in Istanbul last night, but Sir Alex Ferguson insists a return to “Hell” poses no problems.

It is 19 years since Ferguson led his newly-crowned English champions into the cauldron of the Ali Sami Yen stadium and ended up crashing out of Europe amid chaotic scenes.

Galatasaray have swapped stadiums since – to the plush Turk Telecom Arena – but their supporters remain some of the most fanatical in Europe.

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They turned out in vast numbers to await United’s arrival, only to discover Ferguson and his players had exited through a separate terminal.

There will be no escape tomorrow as the Red Devils look to defend their 100 per cent record in this season’s competition. And Ferguson cannot wait.

“We didn’t get the greeting by the fans (this time) – we dodged that,” said the United boss.

“In 1993 when we came here it was incredible. It was something new and quite frightening, but we’ve been here a few times since and we’re getting used to the Turkish fanaticism and enthusiasm. It’s no issue for us.”

With almost all his most experienced players – including Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney – remaining behind in Manchester, Darren Fletcher is likely to captain the visitors.

“It’ll be hostile - the fans are really passionate,” he said.

“I’ve not played against Galatasaray but I’ve been to 
Bursaspor and Besiktas and it’s a unique atmosphere.

“It’s a challenge and something we have to experience. For me it’s a new stadium, a new occasion and you want to enjoy the experience. Hopefully that brings out the best in your 
performance.”