Pellegrini respects United
By Chris Stanton
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Manuel Pellegrini will not underestimate the threat posed by Manchester United.
Villarreal coach Manuel Pellegrini will not underestimate the threat posed by Manchester United ahead of the side's UEFA Champions League match on Tuesday.
As Pellegrini prepares his side for the business end of the competition's group stage, he could be forgiven for taking Sir Alex Ferguson's side lightly.
A 3-1 win at Charlton on Saturday could not disguise what has, thus far, been a harrowing campaign for the Old Trafford outfit which culminated in the dramatic exit of former captain Roy Keane last Friday.
But with or without the presence of Keane, Pellegrini believes United are a formidable force.
"Despite the season they have been having, I don't think there is any doubt Manchester United are one of the best sides in Europe," he said.
"You only have to look at the size of the stadium and assess the sheer magnitude of the club to realise they will always be considered as one of Europe's greats.
"We know it is going to be a difficult game for us."
The Chilean insists the emphasis is on United to attack his visitors and believes that will help to prevent a repeat of the drab goalless draw when the sides last met at El Madrigal in September.
"They have to win to retain any chance of qualification, so there is more pressure on them to come forward and attack than when we played them in Spain," he added.
Despite his coach's cautious stance, the Spaniards' striker Jose Mari is not phased by the prospect of facing United and believes the freezing climate in the North West will pose the greater threat to his side.
"I am frightened of a few things, but not other footballers," said Mari.
"The weather is not too good at the moment, but once we have done the warm-up we should be okay - let's hope it is the cold which is our biggest threat, not United."
Mari has been emboldened by Keane's departure and he insists United will miss the cajoling influence of the Irishman, both on and off the field.
"Roy Keane was a very important piece in the United jigsaw," he added.
"They have to miss him, although I am not sure whether the biggest impact will be on or off the field."