Gill grateful to Ferguson

Winger Jose Antonio Reyes has set his sights on ending former

club Atletico Madrid’s perfect home record on Sunday.

Reyes played a starring role as Sevilla ended a three-match

winless run with a 5-1 thrashing of Real Betis last weekend, the

29-year-old scoring twice in the first half and also setting up

Federico Fazio for his side’s fourth goal before making way just

after the hour.

Reyes revealed Sevilla’s confidence has rocketed in the wake of

that win, and is hoping they can capitalise on that with victory

over an Atletico side who have the only remaining 100 per cent home

record this season with six wins out of six.

The former Spain winger, who spent four years at Atletico before

leaving in 2011, said: “We are highly motivated. Atletico are very

strong at home, but we have our weapons and we’re going to try and

beat them, even though we’re well aware of what they are capable

of.

“The team have a tremendous desire and morale has been boosted

after the derby. We are going to the Calderon with confidence

sky-high.”

If Sevilla are to pick up three points from their trip to the

capital they will need to improve on their poor away form so far

this campaign, which has seen them earn just one win from six

games.

“We don’t have an answer for that (their away form). The team

always want to go out the same, but at times, due to our opponents

or circumstances, we haven’t done it. We’ve always gone into

matches with the attitude of trying to win, but we’ve not always

achieved it.”

It is going to be tough for Sevilla, though, with Atletico

looking back on track after a brief slump at the start of this

month.

Successive defeats to Valencia and Academica brought Atletico

down to earth following their 13-match winning streak, but since

those setbacks Diego Simeone’s men have picked up three consecutive

victories without conceding a goal.

The most recent, Thursday’s 1-0 home triumph over Hapoel Tel

Aviv, earned the defending champions a place in the last 32 of the

Europa League, and they did so without a host of first-choice

players, including star striker Radamel Falcao, Arda Turan, Gabi,

Juanfran, Filipe Luis and Diego Godin.

They are likely to return for Sunday’s visit of Sevilla where

second-placed Atletico will hope to keep the pressure up on league

leaders Barcelona, who are three points ahead.

In light drizzle, a long list of dignitaries attended the

unveiling of a 9ft statue of Ferguson at Old Trafford

yesterday.

With plenty of supporters in attendance as well, it could have

been mistaken for one of those stage-managed occasions used to pay

homage to communist leaders.

Even Ferguson joked he was “outliving death” with the latest

tribute to his remarkable career.

Yet the truth is those present had turned up of their own free

will, to give thanks for the 37 trophies – by United’s own

calculations – the club has won since he came south from Aberdeen

in 1986.

But to those whose day-to-day involvement with the Red Devils

brings them closest to the 70-year-old Scot, he has done so much

more.

“Everyone can talk eloquently about the great football teams he

has built and world class players he has developed and managed,”

said Gill.

“They can talk about the hairdryer and Fergie time.

“But for me, as a fan, a colleague and a friend, the greatest

thing he has brought back to this club is respect.

“Respect for the staff; respect for the heritage and history of

the club and respect for the Manchester United way.”

Eric Cantona, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer were

amongst those present to watch Ferguson’s wife Cathy complete the

unveiling at a ceremony hosted by celebrity United fan Eamonn

Holmes.

In addition, Cristiano Ronaldo, David Beckham and former Prime

Minister Tony Blair paid tribute by video.

The statue, created by renowned sculptor Philip Jackson, depicts

Ferguson by the touchline, arms folded, concentrating on the

game.

Ferguson was suitably impressed by the creation, which has been

positioned outside the stand which bears his name.

However, the strangeness of the situation was not lost on the

Scot.

“Normally people die before they have a statue,” said Ferguson.

“I am outliving death.”

Ferguson joked that Cathy had promised him that “she would come

down here every Saturday morning and bow to the statue”.

He added: “My three sons, daughters-in-law and grandchildren can

all come down here on a Saturday.”