Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson says he is envious of the Champions League successes of Real Madrid and Liverpool and believes his side firmly belong in the top tier of European football.

United face Schalke in the semi-final first leg on Tuesday night, a stage they've reach four times in the last five years.

But Ferguson says he can't help but be jealous of the success of other sides in the competitions history.

"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."

Despite having beaten Valencia and Inter Milan in the knock-out stages of the competition already, their German opponents come into the tie as major underdogs, but Ferguson isn't underestimating Ralph Rangnick's side.

"There is no way Manchester United will be led into believing this is going to be easy.



"Schalke have beaten every team at home in the Champions League this season, including Valencia and Inter Milan. If you just take that in isolation, it is good form.

"This is going to be a difficult game and we will treat it that way."

At the quarterfinal stage last season, the last time the club traveled to Germany, United's season turned on its head as they were beaten by Bayern Munich and saw Wayne Rooney limp out of the contest, an injury the forward never fully recovered from before the end of the season.

But with four goals in his last five games, the England international is coming back into form, after a much criticised spell of form, at just the right time and Ferguson believes Rooney is finally proving himself after those early season critics.

"Wayne’s form has been fantastic the last two months," Ferguson added.

"You have to put bad moments behind you. That is normal for any footballer.

"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."

Topics:
#Premier League
#Manchester United
#Wayne Rooney
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