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.”