Rio Ferdinand has acknowledged Man U needs to win the Champions League to be considered 'great'.
Rio Ferdinand has acknowledged that the current crop of Manchester United stars will not be recognised as a great team if they do not go on to win the Champions League at least once in the next few years.
With their biggest stars, Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney, still only in their early 20s, United look like enjoying several years of success.
But Ferdinand, a beaten semi-finalist with Leeds in 2000 and United last season, is painfully aware of how small the margins between failure and glory are in club football's biggest tournament.
"I think teams that are considered great teams have normally won the European Cup or Champions League in recent times," Ferdinand said ahead of United's second round, second leg against French champions Lyon on Tuesday evening.
"I don't think it's the be all and end all and some teams that have won the Champions League aren't considered great teams. But if you do well domestically and then go on to win the Champions League then obviously it adds to the fact you are a good side.
"Before I came to United I watched many a time when I expected United to win the Champions League and it's happened a couple of times when I've been here. Probably last season we had a great chance to be a part of the final at least and for whatever reason that didn't happen."
The sense that this might be the year that United claim the trophy for the third time has partly been fuelled by the emotions generated by last month's 50th anniversary of the Munich disaster, which devastated Matt Busby's young squad just as it appeared to be on the verge of mounting a challenge to Real Madrid's dominance of European competition.
But Ferdinand believes the squad is also significantly stronger this year than it was when United were well beaten by AC Milan in last season's semi-final, with Carlos Tevez, Anderson, Owen Hargreaves and Nani all having fitted in quickly following their arrival at Old Trafford.
"We have a great history domestically and in Europe but obviously we would like to be a bit more fruitful in this competition," the England centreback said.
"The disappointment of last year is still there but the club has brought in some very good players since then. There is no doubt we have the talent, and we have the numbers at the moment."
"There is a desire within the club to be doing well and achieving well this year."
"It's the stuff of dreams of any young boy or any professional to play in the final, let alone win it. We dream like anyone else about being there in Moscow in May lifting that trophy."
"From the beginning of the season we set out to win every competition we enter."
"That's within the club. If you don't have that mindset you don't deserve to be here, but that does not mean we are disrespectful to our opponents. We know there is a lot of football to be played and a lot of matches to be won before we get there."
United went into Tuesday's second round second leg as favourites to progress thanks to the late equaliser scored by Tevez to secure a 1-1 draw in the first leg in France.
But Lyon boss Alain Perrin said the fact that a goalless draw would be enough for United to go through on away goals made life simple for him.
"We don't have any questions to ask ourselves," the former Portsmouth manager said.
"As things stand if we don't score we are out, so we have no option but to have a go at them. We don't have to go crazy about it but we have to score."
"The goal we conceded late on tilted the balance of the tie slightly in favour of United but we have players like (Karim) Benzema, Fred and Juninho who can make the difference in a match like this and allow us to qualify."