O’Shea: Time to shine

United prepared to head out to Germany on Monday installed as
overwhelming favourites to book a blockbuster Wembley confrontation
with either Real Madrid or Barcelona on May 28. At the same time as
the Premier League champions-elect were recording their weekend win
over Everton, Schalke were losing on home soil to Kaiserslautern,
strengthening even further a belief that Sir Alex Ferguson’s men
will make it through with something to spare. Neither O’Shea, nor
any of his team-mates, are likely to get lured into that kind of
thinking. But after failing to overcome Borussia Dortmund at the
same stage in 1997 and Bayer Leverkusen two years later, the
Irishman feels it is time United flexed their muscle. “We have to
make sure we show them our history, why we have got to finals, why
we have won them, why we have been in this situation many times
before,” he said. “We have to impose ourselves whilst understanding
the threats they have, which we will have to cope with.” If United
have been something of an enigma this term, battling to within
seven points of a record 19th title despite rarely hitting the
heights of previous seasons, Schalke’s form is even more puzzling.
Firmly entrenched in mid-table after a disappointing Bundesliga
campaign, Schalke have reserved all their best performances for
Europe. They are unbeaten since losing to Lyon in their opening
group game and after dismissing a Valencia outfit that gave United
two tough matches earlier this season, Schalke then slammed seven
goals past holders Inter Milan at the quarter-final stage, with
veteran Spain striker Raul finding the net in both legs. “I
wouldn’t say we are pleased with the draw,” said O’Shea. “Schalke
have reached a Champions League semi-final. They have got to be a
good team. “We are favourites, which adds a bit of pressure but any
side who can score so many goals against Inter Milan has to have
something about them.” O’Shea also knows Schalke’s fanatical
supporters tend to generate a hostile atmosphere in the Veltins
Arena – where Wayne Rooney was sent-off during England’s World Cup
quarter-final defeat to Portugal in 2006 – although after squeezing
past Marseille in the last 16 after a goalless first encounter, he
is not convinced United’s hopes of overall success hinge on them
grabbing an away goal. “We have to use our experience to quieten
their crowd down,” he said. “An away goal is always nice but it is
not the be all and end all. “We know if we are in sight when we
come back to Old Trafford, we will have a great chance.”