MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Surprisingly eliminated from last season's group stage, Manchester United won't be underestimating its seemingly easy start to the Champions League this time around.
United opens its campaign at home to Galatarsaray on Wednesday and also has Braga and Cluj in what should be a comfortable group for the three-time champions.
But last year, FC Basel and Benfica finished ahead of United in one of the biggest shocks in the Champions League.
"If we don't go through, we will be criticized and pilloried for it and quite rightly," United manager Alex Ferguson said. "We've had our warning and I don't anticipate going out this time.
"Certainly, we'll do better than last year — no question about that."
United has a memorable history with Galatasaray, with fans of the Turkish club greeting their English counterparts with the banner "Welcome to Hell" when Ferguson's side visited Istanbul for a European match in 1993.
"I remember it vividly. It's one of those memories that will always stick with you," United midfielder Ryan Giggs said. "There were things thrown at us when we were driving away on the coach, fans outside the hotel chanting all night making sure we didn't get any sleep and people phoning the hotel rooms. It had everything."
Galatasaray should be the one having an uncomfortable night on Wednesday.
United has won its last three matches in the Premier League to climb to second place behind Chelsea, while new striker Robin van Persie will be refreshed about being rested for the 4-0 win against Wigan on Saturday.
Wayne Rooney is still out with a gashed leg but with Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez, Van Persie — a scorer of four goals in four league appearances for United — isn't short of strike partners.
With captain and defender Nemanja Vidic back, United has a squad capable of going all the way and improving what Ferguson often says is an unsatisfactory number of titles in the European Cup or Champions League for such a big club.
"We've had opportunities in the competition," Ferguson said. "We've lost two finals to Barcelona and won two in the last decade or so but we want to do better.