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.”