Fergie confesses Euro envy
Sir Alex Ferguson is envious that Man Utd do not boast the European heritage of some of their rivals.
Last Updated: 26/04/11 10:37pm
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has confessed his disappointment that his club do not boast the European heritage of some of their continental rivals.
Ahead of Tuesday's UEFA Champions League semi-final first leg against Schalke, the Premier League leaders are aware that they have reached a modest amount of European finals.
Compared with the likes of Real Madrid, who have reached the final hurdle in Europe on 12 occasions, AC Milan (11), Bayern Munich (eight), Liverpool (seven) and Ajax (six), United have only reached four finals.
United have lifted the European Cup three times, but Ferguson is envious that 12 semi-final outings have not been converted into a greater number of trophies on the continent.
"This is where we should be," he said. "The expectation has always been high with regard to the European scene and you do get envious of other clubs' great record in Europe.
"We are trying to gain parity with that. You look at Real Madrid, AC Milan, Bayern Munich, Ajax and Liverpool.
"We really need to progress quickly to get to that level and the present group have enough experience in Europe now."
It leaves Ferguson with an unusual nervousness ahead of facing Schalke in Germany, which in itself emphasises how important this competition is to him.
"You always get apprehensive at this stage of the competition," he said. "Semi-finals are never easy.
"We had the same situation in 1999 when we played our semi-final against Juventus.
"There was an apprehension in our first game at home that we released in the second leg.
"When we played Barcelona in the first leg (three years ago) we got the result we wanted. But the last 20 minutes of the second leg were absolute agony."
The match will see Wayne Rooney return to the same venue made infamous by the Cristiano Ronaldo wink that accompanied the former's red card for stamping on Ricardo Carvalho as England bowed out of the World Cup to Portugal in 2006.
"You have to put bad moments behind you. That is normal for any footballer," said Ferguson.
"But good players create their own platforms in the sense of the importance of their performance.
"Wayne, more than anyone, realises that performances are the thing that he will always be judged on.
"There is an expectation on the boy. He has stepped up to the mark for that - and proved himself entirely. No-one else."