Sir Alex Ferguson last night declared that he would not allow the Barcelona legend to send "a sense of terror" through his team, after a Manchester United side selected with Sunday's potential title decider with Chelsea in mind marched to their third Champions League final in four years.
Ferguson, only the third manager to take a team to four European finals, now stands on the threshold of matching Bob Paisley's three European Cups, and is ready to take the advice of Real Madrid manager, Jose Mourinho, to help overcome Wembley opponents who are "definitely the team of the moment," as he put it. But Ferguson insisted his club would ultimately depend on their "own knowledge" to avoid a repeat of the 2009 final defeat in Rome – even though frequent conversations with Mourinho, the most recent of which was last week – delivered "helpful" intelligence on Pep Guardiola's side.
"I don't think we should be going [into the final] lacking in confidence. Their form has been very good this season and we are playing a fantastic team. But there shouldn't be a sense of terror for us. We can't be frightened out of our skin," said Ferguson, whose side last night secured a 6-1 aggregate win against a pitiful Schalke, a record deficit for a Champions League semi-final. "We've got to find a solution to playing against them."
Mourinho said after his side's 2-0 home defeat to Guardiola's men that Barcelona involved referees in a conspiracy against their opponents but Ferguson had no time for that theory. "It is not an issue for us," he said. "It is a different set of traditions with Real and Barcelona because of their tribalism and history. Some of those things you hope won't happen at Wembley. Hopefully it will be a good final."
United – who may be without Patrice Evra against Chelsea on Sunday because of the thigh strain he suffered six minutes after arriving from the bench – will take the force of history with them into the 28 May final, 43 years on from Sir Matt Busby's side winning the 1968 final at Wembley. Edwin van der Sar was among those who recognised that last night. "We have to learn the lesson from  and deal with [Barcelona] in a different way," the Dutch goalkeeper said.
His manager clearly covets Paisley's record now. "I've said many times we should have done better in Europe over the years," Ferguson said. "I wish [the opposition] was Brechin City or someone like that!
"At the start of the season if you look at the final you think 'steer clear of Barcelona' because their performance is there for everyone to see. But we have desire and determination. These are the qualities we will need to have. Barcelona are a fantastic team and it's a pleasure to see them play but [my] club has created destiny – its own fates – many times."
Schalke's Norwegian physio Egil Eliassen said the visitors had been "provoked" by the team sheet. But a United side shorn of nine of the side whose 2-0 win in Germany set up the victory were effectively home by the half hour, when two goals inside five minutes by Antonio Valencia and Darron Gibson created an unassailable lead. Anderson's third and fourth career goals for United, in his 128th appearance, sealed things.
The victory gives United momentum they lacked when Chelsea visited for the title-defining victory last April, since when Ferguson's side have not lost at home.
"There's a massive difference now from last year after going into that game after losing [the first leg] to Bayern," the manager said. "In the first half of [last year's Chelsea game] we were really tired. We have a fresh team on Sunday and we'll go for it."
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