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And so to one of those cup draws where police take a keener interest than the football pundits. Rangers' return to Manchester, whatever occurs on the field, will be scrutinised more than any occasion the Ibrox club will face this season.

The Rangers support will swiftly discover how long the memories of the people of Manchester are. It is little over two years since the Uefa Cup final between Walter Smith's side and Zenit St Petersburg; an event which, although perfectly routine within the City of Manchester Stadium, was marred by the madness which occurred around Piccadilly Gardens.

Few people need reminding of that night, when Manchester's city centre resembled a war zone. Pavements were covered with glass and chairs. Anybody who walked through the carnage, even as late as midnight, is unlikely to have forgotten the shocking scene.

The blame and counter-blame game for that episode has never died down. Martin Bain, the Rangers' chief executive, may look back with a red face at his comments, made on live television the morning after the final, which essentially absolved his club's fans of causing serious disorder.

Some of those supporters blamed the failure of a giant television screen for the trouble, as ridiculous an argument in 2008 as it is now. What is a more legitimate point is that Manchester could not cope with the vast ranks of Rangers supporters who descended on the city, up to 150,000, many of whom were drunk. Whether Manchester should have been in a position to cope is another argument entirely.

There will be no repeat on 14 September when Manchester United host Rangers in the Champions League. Rangers have played at Old Trafford before in the same competition without a hint of disorder, with the numbers likely to travel in comparison with the Uefa Cup final key.

Those who do head for Lancashire are unlikely to find the locals – or constabulary – in the most friendly of moods. And those travelling fans must be aware of Uefa's interest in their behaviour, stemming from misdemeanours since 2006, if they need any extra motivation to behave.

Glasgow itself will be on guard; when United last played at Ibrox, again in the Champions League, trouble between rival sets of hooligans flared not far from the stadium. United, as successful a global brand as they are, still retain a wild element among their travelling support.

England v Scotland matches, even at club level, retain a frisson. The unfortunate aspect of recent times, emphasised by the Europa League results last night, is that Scottish clubs' standards have dropped to such a level that games against the Auld Enemy can lack a competitive edge.

Celtic's last visit to Old Trafford, in October 2008, was such a stroll for the hosts it verged on the embarrassing, even if United found it tougher when drawing 1-1 in Glasgow.

Sir Alex Ferguson will relish a final battle with his close friend, Walter Smith. Ferguson, despite playing for Rangers and growing up a stone's throw from their home ground, never tired of inflicting trouble when in charge of Aberdeen three decades ago. United are virtually certain to progress from a group which also includes Valencia and Bursaspor, but the games with Rangers at least offer first-phase intrigue which would not otherwise exist.

Rangers' hopes rest on Valencia's financial woes affecting them more strongly than many suspect. Yet the turmoil of last season's Champions League campaign, in which Unirea Urziceni, Stuttgart and Sevilla confined Rangers to the bottom of their group, renders any form of confidence within Ibrox dangerous. They can only hope that the one thing they can bank on is a peaceful return to Manchester.


Some valid points in there and if you click on the link theres good comments been added :sherlock:

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