Sir Alex Ferguson is refusing to look beyond Manchester United's Champions League semi-final opponents Schalke even though his side are overwhelming favourites to book a May 28 date with Barcelona or Real Madrid.
Given their overall status within the game, either Spanish giant would be a fitting opponent for the Red Devils in the final at Wembley. However, having suffered shock defeats to German sides at exactly the same stage of the competition twice before, Ferguson has no wish to complete a hat-trick.
"I don't like jumping ahead," said Ferguson. "We have to deal with Schalke first. If we can manage that, I don't care who we play in the final."
Ferguson has good reason to adopt such a stance.
Those two semi-final defeats, to Borussia Dortmund in 1997 and Bayer Leverkusen five years later, are part of an unhappy list of seven losses at the last-four stage.
Only four times have United gone on to make the final and though they emerged victorious on three of those showpiece occasions, Ferguson does not think it is enough.
"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 (nine wins, three times runners-up), AC Milan (7-4), Bayern Munich (4-4), Ajax (4-2) and Liverpool (5-2).
"We really need to progress quickly to get to that level and the present group have enough experience in Europe now."
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