Monday, October 15, 2007
Wayne Rooney is confident that England can seal Euro 2008 qualification with victory in Russia on Wednesday.
The United striker was part of the side that secured a goalless draw in similar circumstances against Turkey just over five years ago, and he is certain that England can overcome the hurdle of Russia's plastic pitch to book a place at next summer's finals.
"We know if we get three points then we’ve qualified," he said. "I’m sure it will be difficult and with a plastic pitch, we will not be used to it. But we won’t make excuses if we win or lose – we just need to do our job.
"It’s a similar situation to when we played Turkey a few years ago to qualify for the last European Championships. We went out there and did a job and I am confident we can do the same again."
Rooney scored his first competitive England goal since 2004 in Saturday's 3-0 victory over Estonia at Wembley, and the mercurial striker was predictably elated to be back on target.
"I’m delighted to score at any time, but it has been a long time," he said. "As a striker, if you don’t score, it does play on your mind a bit, but as long as we kept on winning I didn’t mind too much. I’m delighted to score, but I’m happier with the three points.”
The 26-year-old Frenchman has become Sir Alex Ferguson's first-choice left-back since joining from Monaco nearly two years ago. Evra says an important part of settling into his surroundings was learning about United's past.
"I joined a club that has such a strong identity so I had to learn it," he told France Football. "I watched many cassettes, DVDs of Eric Cantona and have translated a lot of books. Now when an ex-player shakes hands with me, I know who he is."
Ferbruary's 50th anniversary of the Munich air crash is on the horizon, and learning about the tragedy has given Evra a better understanding of the fabric of the club.
"[Learning about] the plane crash in 1958 moved me," he said. "When I take the plane with Bobby Charlton, I ask myself, ’how can he do it after what he has been through?’.
"I have more and more respect for this shirt. I advise everybody to be interested in his club, to identify yourself to it, it helped me." Read more...
Tevez has gradually settled into United's team and the 23-year-old is now proving a big hit with fans for being skilful and tenacious in equal measure. Goals against Chelsea and Wigan are merely confirmation of his arrival on the big stage.
"The help I've had from Sir Alex is very important," he told The Sun. "I know he has total belief in me and I'm very grateful to him. Sir Alex knows a lot about football and I'm learning from him. He makes me feel relaxed and valued."
The Reds boss described the Argentina striker as being "brave as a lion", but it isn't just his courageousness that has drawn such comparisons. "He called me a lion, and he's started doing it at training as well," revealed Tevez. "I turn up just after getting out of bed with my hair all messed up. And when my hair is like that, I look like a lion apparently!”
His team-mates have also provided inspiration on the pitch and support off it. "When I look around the dressing room and see my team-mates, I realise I'm at one of the most important clubs in the world,” he added. “That's a dream come true.
"The most surprising thing about the squad is even though all the players are stars, they're all really humble and good people. I've now got various friends in the squad like Rio Ferdinand, Ryan Giggs, Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney. I'm doing quite well with my English now. I understand the boss and my team-mates perfectly." Read more...