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Monday, September 24, 2007

Edwin wants to keep it clean

United stopper Edwin van der Sar says keeping clean sheets is even more important when the goals aren't flowing as freely at the other end.

Although he was untroubled on Sunday, the Dutch keeper pulled off two breathtaking saves in last week's Champions League tie against Sporting Lisbon and has already successfully kept opposition attacks at bay on half-a-dozen occasions this term.

Speaking to Manchester United Radio, van der Sar said: “It's important to keep clean sheets when we're not scoring many goals. The last few games have gone well and everyone's defending well and working hard. It shows you're a strong team and don't rely on individuals.

“We have maximum results from the last five games, even though we played better and created loads more chances in the first three. That's a bit strange but that's football.”

Stranger still is that after a stern test in Lisbon, the Reds' keeper barely had a shot to save at the weekend when United faced FA Cup winners Chelsea.

But despite a quiet Sunday, van der Sar’s performances this season make it hard for understudies Tomasz Kuszczak and Tom Heaton to get a look-in.

“My form's been steady this season and hopefully I can maintain it and prolong it as soon as possible. Normally I don't have too many downs in a season so hopefully I can keep it like this.” Read more...

Boss lauds "lion" Tevez

Sir Alex Ferguson feels Carlos Tevez – "brave as a lion and tough as nails" – is starting to show some of his best form after the Argentina striker struck the crucial first goal in United’s 2-0 victory over Chelsea on Sunday.

The 23-year-old started up front with Wayne Rooney for the first time and the pair looked dangerous, linking up well.

And during injury time at the end of the first half, Tevez had the intuition to gamble at the front post to reach Giggs’ cross and nod United in front, scoring his first goal for the club.

“I think this will only help him,” said Sir Alex. “I was pleased that he got off the mark because he had a good goalscoring record with West Ham.

“He’s got a lot of good qualities, he’s a very good player," added the boss. "He’s still only a young lad, 23 years of age, and he will get better.

"Carlos has got a cocky confidence in his own ability. He has great awareness, he’s as brave as a lion and tough as nails.”


Reds' injury boost

Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed Mikael Silvestre could play again this season, despite damaging cruciate knee ligaments at Goodison Park on 15 September.

Initial reports claimed the Frenchman would miss the rest of United's 2007/08 campaign but the United boss told Manchester United Radio he expects the 30-year-old to be fit for the title run-in.

"I'm sure Mikael will be back in March," Sir Alex said. "We had him operated on in France last week and it all went well. It was pleasing to see there was no further damage other than the cruciate ligament. That's a big bonus because sometimes there can be cartilage problems that also come along."

Meanwhile, the manager also confirmed Gary Neville will begin full training today.

"Gary will be training with us this week for the first time. He's been working hard on his fitness but he's now fully into the football side of things as well. It's pleasing news because it's been a long time for the lad. We're very, very pleased.

"He's been unlucky and just had one injury on top of another. It's just an accumulation of small injuries that has set him back. Hopefully he's now on the mend and we're looking forward to having him back." Read more...

Carrick pleased to land Blues blow

Michael Carrick believes United landed a crucial blow to Chelsea's title hopes following the Reds' 2-0 victory on Sunday.

Carlos Tevez's first United goal on the stroke of half-time, plus a penalty conversion from substitute Louis Saha in the final seconds secured the points for Sir Alex's men and pushed them back into second in the table.

Although it's still early days in the title race, Carrick was delighted to see United come out on top in a match which was about more than just the three points.

"Chelsea have been our main rivals over the last few years so it's always nice to get one over them," he told MUTV. "In some ways it was a bit of a six pointer with us getting the three points and taking those points away from them.

"We played as well as we have done all the season. They're a very good side and it was a good test for us. Even before they went down to ten men [following John Obi Mikel's dismissal] I thought we were the better team.

"The second half was a different game in many ways - they sat back, while we just tried to keep the ball and take any opportunities when we got them. Thankfully we managed to get the penalty which just killed it off at the end.

"We're on a good little run now and it's important for us to keep it going."

Carrick hailed the contribution of Carlos Tevez, who opened his account for the Reds with a perfectly timed goal just before the break.

"It's great to see him off the mark," added the midfielder. "His performances have been getting better and better.

"As a striker you want to get that first goal sooner rather than later and there was no better day to get it than today." Read more...

Don't mess with Fergie bawl game

The drunk who administered a blow to Sir Alex Ferguson's nether regions outside Euston Station got off lightly, if the Manchester United manager's reaction on the touchline is anything to go by.
Rarely has Fergie reacted with such fury as he did when Joe Cole felled Cristiano Ronaldo with a cynical tackle in front of the Old Trafford dug-out, prompting the United boss to unleash an invective of pure Glaswegian ire in the direction of ref Mike Dean.
The United boss yelled at the hapless Dean, who only punished Cole with a caution when Fergie deemed dismissal the only suitable response.
With his advancing years – and the installation of comfy, heated seats in the Old Trafford dug-out – rarely in recent seasons has Fergie, 65, left his customary perch to remonstrate with officials on the touchline. But his reaction to the perceived injustice over Cole's failure to be awarded a red card was conclusive proof of Fergie's enduring drive and passion, which was surely enhanced this week at seeing one of his managerial nemeses taken out of the equation.
The Mirror, David Mcdonnell