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Moyes: meeting with Guardiola will be first of many

DAVID MOYES certainly seems confident in his future as Manchester United manager.

The Scot boldly predicted that tonight's game against Bayern Munich will be his first of many meetings with Pep Guardiola.

Guardiola and Moyes will lock horns at Old Trafford tonight in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final between United and Bayern, but both managers could not have experienced more contrasting maiden seasons at their respective clubs.

Moyes has found the task of replacing Sir Alex Ferguson even more challenging than he could ever have imagined, but Guardiola has enjoyed a record-breaking debut campaign with Bayern.

Some United fans aired their disapproval of Moyes by flying a 'Moyes Out' banner over Old Trafford on Saturday, but there is no suggestion from the Scot that he fears his first season in the Champions League will be his last. "I am really looking forward to coming up against [Pep Guardiola]," the United manager said. "It is the first time I have done but I have no doubt I will be doing it many times in the future."

Guardiola had the luxury of resting several first-team players on Saturday as his team had already won the Bundesliga before they took to the pitch. The fact that the feat was achieved with seven matches to spare is a testament to the Spaniard's abilities.

But Moyes, whose team are seventh in the Barclays Premier League with six matches to go, believes his counterpart has had an advantage over him as he took a 12-month sabbatical before taking over the reigning European champions.

"He has had a year to get ready for the Bayern job," Moyes said. "He has done incredibly well with them, he has taken over the European champions but his record with them has been very good."

Before this season, Moyes' only experience in the Champions League came in 2005, when his Everton team failed to qualify for the group stages following a qualifying defeat to Villarreal. But - a 2-0 defeat at Olympiakos aside - the competition has proven to be something of a safe haven for the Scot this campaign.

United swept through their group unbeaten, with the most impressive result coming when Moyes' men beat Bayer Leverkusen 5-0 in Germany.

The 3-0 win over Olympiakos which resulted in United qualifying for the last eight was a memorable morale-boosting night for the three-time champions and Moyes is hoping for another repeat performance in the first leg. "These are the sort of nights in history United have risen to and we want to do that," he admitted. "This is one of the reasons I took this job."

United may have to field either Chris Smalling or Phil Jones at right-back because of an injury to Rafael. The Brazilian went off at half-time during United's 4-1 win over Aston Villa on Saturday with a thigh injury and he did not train yesterday, though Smalling, Rio Ferdinand and long-term absentee Jonny Evans, are all ready to return to action.

Meanwhile, Guardiola dodged the question of whether he was offered the United job by Ferguson before the Scot eventually recommended David Moyes as his successor. Speculation was rife that Ferguson offered Guardiola the chance to succeed him at Old Trafford when the pair met for lunch five months before he announced his retirement.

"He invited me to a super restaurant [in New York]," the Spaniard revealed. "It was a friendly dinner, like always. He was so gentle and we spent a very good time together."

When pressed, Guardiola joked that Ferguson's thick Scottish accent got in the way of negotiations. "My English is not so good," he said. "When Sir Alex spoke quickly I didn't understand him so maybe I didn't understand if I received an offer."

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