Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson would not be surprised if English clubs dominated the Champions League again this season.
After supplying three semi-finalists for three successive seasons, the Premier League endured a miserable time last term, when all four representatives bowed out before the last four stage, but ahead of their clash with Marseille in the Stade Velodrome, the Red Devils chief is optimistic about the chances of English glory on May 28.
"I am not sure you could call it domination at the moment because we are only just into the last 16," said Ferguson. "But in the last four years English teams have been very powerful. The success rate for getting through to the latter stages is very good and it could happen again."
With this year's final taking place at Wembley, the pressure is on to deliver. And so far the omens look good.
Tottenham and Arsenal both recorded outstanding first leg wins against AC Milan and Barcelona in the last 16 last week, while Chelsea followed suit last night with a comfortable 2-0 success over Copenhagen.
Ferguson added: "The Premier League is very tough, with a lot of talented players. That has created a level over the last seven or eight years that is very difficult to match."
United's chances of success are not helped by the absence of seven senior players though. Rio Ferdinand and Ryan Giggs are among that number, which will mean a central defensive berth for Chris Smalling and a wide role for Wayne Rooney as Ferguson sticks to a preference for a lone striker in European games.
Giggs' absence means Paul Scholes will assume the mantel of old stager, with Ferguson insisting the 36-year-old is worthy of a new contract, even if the player himself is not entirely convinced.
"I am more than hopeful about Paul signing another contract," said Ferguson. "I think he should. His fitness isn't in question. I think Paul feels he has to play all the games.
"It is not a bad thing to be that way but at his age, that is impossible. But he can still play a big part for Manchester United, this season and next."
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