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Monday, October 1, 2007

Totti: We can avenge defeat

Roma superstar Francesco Totti has sent a blunt message to Alex Ferguson: “I’m coming to get revenge.” The former Italy idol is desperate to get even for the worst defeat of his career - in last season’s Champions League quarter-finals when Manchester United tore apart Roma 7-1. He said: “We want a great and beautiful revenge. We have all been thinking of the game after what happened last year at Old Trafford. It was a complete disaster.”
Antony Kastrinakis, The Sun

Hargreaves: No Roma repeat

Owen Hargreaves says any thoughts of repeating last season's 7-1 thrashing of AS Roma should be instantly disregarded.

The 26-year-old could finally make his return from a thigh strain as the Serie A side head to Manchester on Tuesday, intent on reeking revenge for the defeat in April. Hargreaves, however, simply wants three points, whatever the scoreline.

"There will be no repeat of the 7-1," he said. "Those results happen perhaps once every four years in the entire competition. It's not going to happen again. As long as we get the three points, I'll be happy."

Hargreaves watched the game on television with his then team-mates at Bayern Munich, as they would have played the winners of the game if they beat AC Milan the following night.

Milan eventually knocked Bayern and United out. A tired, injury-ravaged Reds side were overpowered by a Milan team putting its entire efforts into the Champions League, while Sir Alex's men fought on two other fronts - the league and FA Cup. As a result, there's a clear determination to go a step further this year. But Hargreaves, a past winner with Bayern in 2001, says that's too far in the future.

"We're obviously one of the key teams in the Champions League but we can't think about winning it right now," he said. "We are in the same position as everyone else. It is only September, so the final is a long way off. The aim is to reach our peak later in the season. Hopefully we will get into the latter stages and then get the breaks any team needs to progress beyond that." Read more...

Defensive injury blow for Reds

The Reds have some defensive injury concerns ahead of AS Roma's visit to Old Trafford on Tuesday.

Edwin van der Sar had already been ruled out with a toe injury, he is now expected to miss the next "couple of weeks". Just as worringly, Sir Alex Ferguson is waiting anxiously to learn of the fitness of Nemanja Vidic and Wes Brown, who both picked up knocks during the 1-0 win over Birmingham City on Saturday.

"They are both doubts," he said at his pre-match press conference. "We'll have to wait on them. Neither trained Monday morning, and you don't really want players missing training the day before games. It will be difficult for us [if they don't play]."

With Gary Neville still out, Sir Alex will call on John O'Shea at right-back, while Vidic would be replaced by 20-year-old Spanish defender Gerard Pique.

The Reds could, however, be boosted by the return of midfielder Owen Hargreaves. The 26-year-old trained on Monday and is rated as a “possibility” by Sir Alex. The United boss did admit that he would have preferred Hargreaves, who hasn’t played since the start of September, to have more playing time under his belt.

“Owen trained on Monday with the team. He’s a possibility,” added Sir Alex. “I’d like him to have had some more football ahead of what is an important game. European football is a different game of course, in terms of speed and tactics. But we’ll see.”

But given the absence of van der Sar’s wealthy experience and the potential lack of Vidic and Brown – both outstanding so far this season – the manager may be tempted to throw Hargreaves into action to protect United’s back four. Read more...

Rooney ready for Roma revenge

Wayne Rooney knows precisely how determined AS Roma will be to exact revenge on United after the Reds' 7-1 victory back in April – because he has put himself in their shoes.

After thrashing the Italians in the Champions League quarter final second leg last season, the Giallorossi return to Old Trafford in Tuesday's Group F clash hell-bent on setting the record straight.

Asked what he would do if he had been in a team that had been beaten 7-1 and then had a chance to redeem themselves so soon after the event, Rooney smiled and said: “If it was me, I’d be sitting here rubbing my hands. I’d have been delighted as soon as the draw was made. I wouldn’t be able to wait for the game and I’d see it as an opportunity to put things right.

“I’m sure that Roma will be fired up for this game. We need to be aware of that, but what we have to do is concentrate on our job and play the way we know we can.”

Rooney also says that the Reds must put the 7-1 scoreline out of their minds and concentrate on playing at full tilt against Luciano Spalletti’s men.

"It was a great result for us, but I think we all know it won’t happen again,” he said. “We know it will be a difficult game. We have to do our job and try and win the game.”

The 21-year-old striker is looking for his first goal this season, and Tuesday night would be an ideal time for him to get off the mark.

“It was a disappointing start to the season for me because I got the metatarsal injury,” he added. “But I’ve played three games now and hopefully I can start scoring again and help the team keep winning games.”

Rooney has been deployed as the main striker in United's attack this season, with Carlos Tevez dropping deeper. When asked to do a similar job last season, he went on a scoring run of 11 goals in 14 matches during March and April. He will be hoping to do that again, and says his partnership with Tevez has plenty of potential.

"I enjoy playing alongside Carlos," he said. "He’s a good player and he's starting to play really well.

"Playing with Carlos makes it a slightly different role for me. I have to play on the shoulder of the defender and let Carlos be the link between the midfield and the forwards. Of course, I’m happy to do that role, and I think it could bring more to my game. I did it quite a lot last season. I got a few goals from doing that so I’ve got no problems at all doing that." Read more...