Ferguson relief at Europa progress

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed he will pick a much stronger side for the next round of the Europa League after squeezing past Ajax 3-2 on aggregate (Man Utd 10/3 Europa League outright).

The Red Devils went into the second leg at Old Trafford on Thursday with a comfortable 2-0 advantage, extended further by Javier Hernandez after just six minutes.

However, goals from Aras Ozbiliz and Toby Alderweireld ensured it was a nervy finish for the Premier League holders, who are playing in Europe’s second-tier competition for the first time since 1995 after dropping out at the Champions League group stage.

They now go on to play Spanish side Athletic Bilbao in the last 16 (Bilbao 20-1 outright).

Ferguson had made four changes to the side that won in Holland, with starts for youngsters Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Tom Cleverley.

The Scot conceded that his inexperienced team selection nearly cost them the game, and revealed he intends to pick a stronger line-up for the next round.

“It was very nervy at the end of the game,” he told the club’s official website.

“We didn’t play well in the second half and they were by far the better team. I accept responsibility myself because I picked a team with too many youngsters in the back four positions. They all have great potential but on European nights you need experience in the back positions and it just made it a nervy night for us.

“In fairness, we have been changing the team around a bit. When we play Athletic, I think you’ll find it will be a far more experienced team.”

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