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Sunday, October 7, 2007

Boss hopeful on injuries

Sir Alex Ferguson has indicated that United’s injury situation may not be as bad as first feared despite losing Nemanja Vidic, John O’Shea and Louis Saha through injury against Wigan.

Saha aggravated his knee in the warm-up and was forced to withdraw from the squad after initially being down as a substitute.

Vidic lasted 21 minutes before being replaced by Anderson after receiving a bang to the head, while O’Shea, who temporarily took Vidic’s position in the centre of defence, left the fray eight minutes later with a dead leg.

The additions of Saha, Vidic and O’Shea to United’s seemingly ever-growing injury list, means there are now enough players in the stands to field a complete side. But with the international break now upon us, Sir Alex is hopeful things will be looking up when domestic action resumes on 20 October.

“Louis felt his knee in the warm-up and in Louis’ situation we had to withdraw him unfortunately,” the boss revealed on MUTV.

“Nemanja’s been taken to hospital and he has concussion so they’re giving him some tests. John O’Shea has just got a dead leg. He’ll be OK in a couple of weeks I’m sure.”

The United manager also revealed that both Darren Fletcher and Owen Hargreaves are making good progress with their recovery from leg and knee injuries respectively.

“Hopefully Darren will be back soon,” said Sir Alex. “He starts full training on Monday which is good news.

“I hope Owen Hargreaves will be available in two or three weeks time as well.” Read more...

Ronaldo: We'll retain our title

Cristiano Ronaldo is confident United will retain the Premier League title, but the winger expects things to be tougher this time round.

Having seen Arsenal and Chelsea finish top of the pile for three seasons, the Reds finally reclaimed the Championship crown in May after a four-year drought.

After a string of 1-0 victories, Ronaldo helped the Reds to a 4-0 victory over Wigan with two second half strikes which temporarily lifted them to top of the table. The Portuguese international admits there is still room for improvement, but he remains convinced United will end the season as champions once more.

“I believe we will win [the title] this season, but I think it will be tougher,” he said at the launch of his new book ‘Moments.’ “Every season I think United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal will have a chance to win the league. But I think United will win.

"Arsenal and Liverpool look very strong this season. Arsenal are playing fantastic football at the moment. They have a young team, but are doing very well. Liverpool are doing well too, but I believe we are the best team."

Winning the Champions League remains Ronaldo’s ultimate dream, but the 22-year-old insists United are more than capable of success both at home and abroad.

“There is always pressure to win trophies every season at this club,” he says. “This season is no different. We must win something.

"Winning the league last season meant everything. We had a fantastic season and played a lot of great games. Everyone felt good and fit and I hope everyone will feel the same this season.

“The Premier League and Champions League are the most important trophies and I believe we will win one of them or even both.” Read more...

Boss salutes defensive starlets

Sir Alex Ferguson was delighted with United’s convincing 4-0 victory over Wigan Athletic, and had particular words of praise for youngsters Gerard Pique and Danny Simpson who were thrown into the action.

Pique started the match at right-back, but switched to the centre to partner Rio Ferdinand just before the half hour mark after both Nemanja Vidic and John O'Shea had gone off injured.

As a result, Simpson was introduced in the 29th minute and the 20-year-old defender came of age during only his second appearance for the club, adding an assist to his name following his excellent cross for Wayne Rooney for United's fourth goal.

“Danny's a very confident boy,” Sir Alex told MUTV. “He’s so quick and is a tremendous defender. He’s improving his technique all the time and he is one of the players that I would not consider going on loan this year because he’s valuable to us.

"Pique also came in today and was absolutely outstanding. He was one our best players against Coventry [in the Carling Cup] and is improving all the time."

Carlos Tevez opened the scoring for United on 54 minutes after shaking off two Wigan defenders before calmly slotting past Chris Kirkland.

“The challenges were coming in first from Kilbane and then from the goalkeeper but he kept his nerve, which I think is the most important thing in that situation, and composed himself enough for a good finish,” added Sir Alex.

“Wigan set their stall out with one up as most teams are doing. But we got the spark in the second half and earned a good victory.”

Cristiano Ronaldo capped a fine performance with the next two goals on 59 and 76 minutes, before Wayne Rooney completed the rout after another clinical move.

“It was only his second headed goal for us,” acknowledged the United manager. “Wayne should get more [headers] because he’s a good header of the ball. It was a great move and fantastic ball in from Danny Simpson.

“That’s three in three games for Ronaldo and someone said to me ‘do you really think he’ll score more than 20?’ We’ll just have to see, but I certainly hope so.” Read more...

Goal spree delights Giggs

Following United's goal-shy start to the campaign, Ryan Giggs was delighted to see United back to their free-scoring best against Wigan Athletic.

The Reds plundered four second-half goals against Chris Hutchings' Latics, and Giggs admits that it was only a matter of time before United rediscovered their goal touch.

"We know there's goals within this team, goals from everywhere," he told MUTV. "It's always nice to see Carlos, Wayne and Cristiano, lads who want to score goals, on the scoresheet.

"It was a great individual goal from Carlos. It was a great through-ball from Wayne, Carlos didn't panic, went round the keeper and it was a great finish. It's always important to get that first goal."

While Giggs welcomed United's return to goalscoring ways, he also paid tribute to the Reds' backline, who notched a sixth-successive league clean sheet.

"We looked really solid, and we have done throughout the season really," he said. "Today again, we limited them to hardly any chances. The one chance they did have, Tomasz made a great save, so everyone's contributed to keeping a clean sheet." Read more...

Simmo 'buzzing' after Wigan win

After a clean sheet and an assist on his Premier League debut, it's little surprise that Danny Simpson was beaming after United's win over Wigan.

The Salford-born defender replaced dead-leg victim John O'Shea against the Latics, and capped a highly impressive display with a perfect cross for Wayne Rooney to head in United's fourth goal.

"It was magnificent, I'm buzzing," Danny told MUTV after the game. "It's a Premier League game, playing with Ronaldo on the right wing and it's a good feeling. I don't know what else to say. Hopefully there'll be a few more feelings like this to come.

"I had family and friends here, so obviously I've had a few texts from everybody. I'm looking forward to going and seeing them now, to see what they have to say.

"(For Rooney's goal) I saw Scholesy get the ball and thought that if I made the run he'd give it me. I took a touch, looked up and we've been practicing it a lot in training with Rene Meulensteen, and I just clipped it in and luckily Wayne was on the end of it."

The 20-year-old defender is hopeful that his impressive shift at Old Trafford will persuade Sir Alex Ferguson that he can be regularly used at senior level.

"The gaffer has said I'm staying here as cover," Simpson revealed. "Obviously we've got a few injuries and hopefully I've shown him today that, when the lads are injured, I can come in and do a job for him.

United's four-goal romp against Chris Hutchings' side was their most emphatic victory of the season, and the Reds served up plenty of the attacking football that has become their hallmark.

Following so many narrow victories, Simpson conceded that it was inevitable that some unfortunate team would cop a hiding from the hitherto goal-shy champions.

"It was a matter of time before we did that to a team," he said. "We've been getting a lot of chances, it's just that we've not been taking them. Today we deserved that win, and hopefully we can carry on." Read more...