Alex Ferguson is relishing the prospect of his first European meeting with Dutch giants Ajax after Manchester United were handed a tricky opening Europa League draw on Friday.

Alex Ferguson

Ferguson, whose United side were relegated to the Europa League after failing to progress past the Champions League first round, has never faced Ajax in more than 30 years of taking teams into Europe.

"Ajax are a good team and I've never faced them in competitive European football," Ferguson told "I'm looking forward to it."

United defender Chris Smalling was also keen to talk up United's last 32 opponents, who like the English club failed to qualify from the Champions League first phase.

"(Exiting the Champions League) was a massive disappointment, but then you look at the calibre of teams that are in there (Europa League)," Smalling said.