In his 2013 autobiography, Sir Alex Ferguson revealed that he had plotted a plan to try and stop Lionel Messi if Manchester United played Barcelona again following the 2011 Champions League final.
Messi starred for Barcelona as he helped his side win the Champions League by beating Manchester United at Wembley Stadium.
After his scintillating performance in London, Sir Alex came up with a method to try and stop the Argentine maestro.
“To beat Barcelona in that cycle you needed centre-backs who could be really positive,” he said about Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona team.
“Rio and Vidic were at an age where their preference was to defend the space. Nothing wrong with that. Quite correct. But, against Barcelona, it’s a limited approach.
“You need centre-backs who are prepared to drop right on top of [Lionel] Messi and not worry about what is happening behind them. Ok, he’ll drift away to the side. That’s fine. He’s less of a threat on the side than he is through the centre.
“After the inquest I told myself: ‘When we play Barcelona next time in a Champions League final, I would have Jones and Smalling, or Smalling and Evans, right on top of Messi.’ I wasn’t going to let him torture us again.”
You taking notes, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer?!
Sir Alex eventually called it a day after the 2012/13 season without putting his plan to stop Messi in place.
United, though, under the management of Solskjaer, face Barcelona for a spot in the Champions League semi-final.
They’ll look to nullify Messi whose already netted eight goals in Europe this term.
He’s enjoying another ultra-prolific campaign for Barcelona who are gunning on all fronts.
The Catalan giants sit at the top of La Liga, play Valencia in the Copa del Rey final and are one of favourites to raise silverware in Madrid on June 1.