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Friday, May 30, 2008

Law: Ronaldo's at the right club

United goalscoring legend Denis Law has told Cristiano Ronaldo that Old Trafford is the place to be to fulfil all his career aims.

Ronaldo had another record-breaking season in terms of goals for a winger - he scored 42 goals, just four behind Law's record of 46 in a campaign. It's the sort of form that has United's prized asset the envy of Europe's top clubs.

Real Madrid have persistently been linked - and linked themselves with - a move for the 23-year-old winger. But such a transfer doesn't make sense to Law, who says there's more to come after United's Double-winning campaign.

"There has been talk of Ronaldo going to Real Madrid, but you've just got to look at what he's done here at Manchester United and ask yourself, 'What's the point in him going to Real Madrid?'," he said.

"He's just won the Champions League and back-to-back titles, so why go anywhere else? He is at the most famous club in the world and they are not yet done with winning trophies."

Law, who alongside George Best and Sir Bobby Charlton has been immortalised in the 'United Trinity' statue outside Old Trafford, also believes the Portuguese forward should be named European Footballer of the Year, an award all three United greats won in the sixties.

"I would think that Ronaldo is the favourite to win it this year," Law added. "The way he's going, he is one of the favourites and if he doesn't win it this year, he'll certainly win it at some point."
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Manucho eyes Reds chance

Angola striker Manucho expects to be part of United's first team squad next season after completing a three-month loan spell at Panathinaikos.

The 25-year-old was offered a long term contract at Old Trafford last December after impressing during a trial with the club. He has spent the last few months in Greece where he scored once during eight appearances.

Although yet to obtain a work permit, Manucho remains confident things will be sorted in time for him to link with his new team-mates for pre-season.

"The club is dealing with the work-permit process and I have been asked to turn up on July 1 for pre-season," revealed the striker, who is currently on international duty.

"Since the end of the Greek league, I have been in contact with United assistant manager Carlos Queiroz and I know that things are going well.

"I am not thinking about wearing a shirt other than that of United. I am just thinking about playing in the Champions League next season."
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End of the line for Premier League foreigners

The Premier League today paid the price for its success when football’s world governing body voted in favour of the “six-plus-five rule”, which would put a limit on the number of foreign players each team could field. FIFA president Sepp Blatter has said he hopes the controversial rule, which would limit every team to only five foreign players in their starting XI, will be in place by the 2012/13 season. His vision appears to be a step closer following the overwhelming backing at FIFA's annual congress in Sydney, Australia. FIFA's controversial proposal is different from a "home-grown players" rule proposed by UEFA, European football's governing body. UEFA defines "home-grown players" as team members who, regardless of age or nationality, have been trained by their club or by another club in the National Association for at least three years between the ages of 15 and 21.
Mark Lawford, Daily Mail Read more...

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Sir Alex and Carlos cleared

The Football Association has cleared Sir Alex Ferguson and Carlos Queiroz of charges of improper conduct.

The charges relate to media comments made following United's 1-0 FA Cup sixth round defeat against Portsmouth in March.

United were unhappy about a number of decisions from the matchday officials led by referee Martin Atkinson, chiefly what the Reds saw as the failure to award a penalty kick when Cristiano Ronaldo appeared to be bodychecked by Sylvain Distin in the first half.

Sir Alex and Carlos held personal hearings on Wednesday but were cleared of all charges by the FA disciplinary panel.

A statement on the FA website read: "At an independent Regulatory Commission hearing today, charges against Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson and assistant manager Carlos Queiroz were found not proved."
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Rio: Euro glory is the ultimate

Rio Ferdinand describes the feeling of winning the Champions League as the best he's ever experienced, but, according to the defender, it's the kudos that comes with it that represents the most satisfying part of the achievement.

Ferdinand skippered the Reds to a dramatic penalty shoot-out victory over Chelsea in Moscow last week to seal Premier League and European glory.

The 29-year-old has been part of a number of trophy triumphs since joining the club in 2002, but insists only now can members of the current squad be talked about in the same breath as past club greats.

"I said before the game that you’re only really considered a great player at this club when you win the Champions League," he told ManUtd.com.

"There have been a lot of top players at United, but to win this competition and be revered by the fans and everyone associated with the club by becoming a European champion sets you apart from everyone else.

"It's the best feeling I’ve ever had. Not many players get to experience it. We want to be back next year and experience this feeling again because it’s fantastic."

Ferdinand also revealed he was next in line to take a penalty had Nicolas Anelka's not been saved by Edwin van der Sar.

"I was next up after Ryan [Giggs] so I was thinking about what I was going to do if Anelka had scored and I had to take mine," when asked how he felt as the Chelsea striker stepped forward.

"All the lads did brilliantly [in the shoot-out]. Look at Nani and Anderson – two young, inexperienced lads in terms of playing in games on this type of stage, yet they stepped up and showed great nerve and courage.

"That speaks volumes for the courage and ability in this squad."
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Rooney in Tevez plea

Wayne Rooney is desperate for United to secure the services of strike-partner Carlos Tevez.

The diminutive Agentina international has been a hit since signing on a loan deal at Old Trafford in the summer, and has said that he would sign a permanent deal immediately if it was put in front of him.

"It is crucial to get him signed and I am sure that will happen," said Rooney. "Carlos loves playing here, he's enjoying it so I don't see why it will be a problem."

The 23-year-old striker has been a fantastic addition to the United squad, playing a leading role in the Reds' Premier League and Champions League triumphs.

For Rooney, he was a joy to play with, despite initial claims that the two would not complement each other. "We saw him at West Ham what a great player he was and how hard he works for the team," he added.

"I had no doubts that we could play together and from training with him when he first came you could immediately see the qualities he had. I couldn't wait to play with him.

"Towards the end of the season we didn't play together a lot, but when we did, we did really well. He's been brilliant. He's a battler, he works so hard and has scored 19 goals, which is brilliant."
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United's Trinity tribute

A statue of United’s “Holy Trinity” – Sir Bobby Charlton, George Best and Denis Law – will be unveiled at Old Trafford today.

Forty years to the day since the Reds lifted the European Cup for the first time, the statue, which will stand opposite the one of Sir Matt Busby at the front of the stadium, will be revealed in a ceremony beginning at 12pm (shown live on MUTV).

Most of the surviving members of the 1968 squad are expected to attend the event, which will honour their achievements during that memorable season and pay tribute to what was arguably the finest attacking trio to ever play together.

Charlton, Best and Law scored 665 goals between them for United, and, between 1964 and 1968, all won the coveted European Footballer of the Year award.

Now, thanks to award-winning sculptor Philip Jackson, their legacy will forever be remembered by fans who visit the home of Manchester United.
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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Tevez: Success at last!

Carlos Tevez has revealed Moscow was a case of third time lucky for the Reds’ no.32.

Before his arrival in England, Tevez tasted bitter disappointment in major finals with Boca Juniors and Argentina.

“I lost to Once Caldas in the Copa Libertadores in 2004,” he revealed, “and Brazil in the Copa America [last summer]. This time I had to win it.”

No doubt the 2004 loss was running through his mind in Moscow, as that final also ended 1-1 before going to penalties.

“It’s been a long time since I felt like this,” he said. “There’s huge emotion in my heart. When I was a child, I never thought I would be now lifting the European Cup, but dreams usually come true and I am very, very happy.”

Although Tevez started just six of United’s 13 Champions League games this season, he appeared in a further six on the road to European glory. The only match he didn’t take part in was the Matchday 6 “dead rubber” in Rome’s Stadio Olimpico.

Indeed, the 24-year-old was instrumental to the Reds’ success, scoring vital goals against Olympique Lyonnais (a) and AS Roma (h) in the knockout rounds.

“Sir Alex gives me confidence,” the Argentina international said. “I know what he thinks, what he needs and we always discuss the decisions he makes.

“He has always backed me and I am very thankful to him.”
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Sheasy: I'm going nowhere

John O'Shea has dismissed talk that he will seek a transfer during the course of the summer.

The Irish utility player made just 17 starts in all competitions last season and, although O'Shea admits he has been forced to contemplate his future, he is loathe to leave Old Trafford for a smaller club.

When asked about the possibility of leaving, O'Shea told reporters: "That is crossing my mind a lot of the time, but then I think 'where do you go when you leave a team like that?'

"That's an even bigger question. For the time being, I will stay where I am. You just have to get on with it. The club has so many players - in the build-up to the [Champions League] final, every player was fit."

O'Shea empathises with Sir Alex Ferguson's bind in trying to keep every member of the United squad happy, but he expects the Reds' manager to remain at the Old Trafford helm for a good while yet.

"I think our gaffer is up there on his own and he is hungry for more," he said. "Credit to him for that because obviously he feels that this team can go on and write a new part in the club's famous history.

"There are stories coming out that he has three more years in charge - I would say he could be there longer than that."
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Reds Set To Splash £50m

Sir Alex Ferguson has told the Manchester United board he wants to conclude his £50million summer transfer spending within the next fortnight. United completed the signings of Nani, Anderson and Owen Hargreaves within two weeks of the end of last season and Fergie wants this summer's business done before he goes on his annual summer holiday to the exclusive resort of Cap Ferrat in the South of France next week. Top of Fergie's wanted list are Sevilla's Brazilian duo, striker Luis Fabiano and defender Daniel Alves, who are likely to cost United a combined £30million. Alves is seen as Gary Neville's permanent replacement at right-back, but Fergie remains keen on Manchester City and England defender Micah Richards, despite his likely £20m price tag. There is likely to be a maximum of four new faces at United this summer, while three departures are inevitable - defenders Mikael Silvestre and Gerard Pique, as well as injury-plagued striker Louis Saha.
David McDonnell, Daily Mirror Read more...

Pique set for Barca return

FC Barcelona and Manchester United have reached agreement for the transfer of Gerard Piqué to the Catalan club. Gerard, 21, will sign a four-year contract with Barcelona.

The young Spaniard returns to Camp Nou after leaving for Old Trafford in 2004. During his four-year Reds career, Piqué made 14 starts and nine substitute appearances.

Both of Gerard's senior goals came in last season's successful Champions League campaign, against Dynamo Kyiv and AS Roma.

Although Piqué enjoyed his most prominent Old Trafford season during 2007/08, the longstanding central defensive partnership of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic meant his route to regular first-team action was blocked. Read more...

Monday, May 26, 2008

Duo to manage young charges

United will have two coaches to guide the Reds' young charges in the Reserves league next season with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Warren Joyce, who joins from Royal Antwerp, teaming up together.

Sir Alex Ferguson confirmed the pair will manage United's second string, as well as monitoring the progress of those youngsters farmed out on loan.

"The two of them will combine to manage the players out on loan and the coaching side of things with the Reserves," revealed Sir Alex.

"It's a difficult job to manage in Reserve football nowadays because you don't have a consistent squad of players - it changes every week.

"It's really a slight advancement of youth football in that very few teams play experienced players, it's all young lads that are involved. That's one of the reasons why we started loaning players out three or four years ago in numbers, rather than just one or two.

"Half a dozen go out on loan every season for us and we have to manage that.

"That can be tricky because the players are in different environments and at different levels when they're on loan which are not the Manchester United environment. But I'm confident Ole and Warren will do a good job."
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Reds to retain Ryan for life?

Ryan Giggs could stay at Old Trafford beyond his playing days, according to Sir Alex Ferguson.

The record-breaking winger claimed his second Champions League winners' medal on Wednesday night, ten days after scooping his tenth Premier League title.

He's now the holder of United's all-time appearance record having surpassed Sir Bobby Charlton's tally in Moscow and Sir Alex believes the 34-year-old still has a few good years left in him yet.

"Ryan could play until his 38 and it would definitely be here. I think he'll be here for a long time," he said.

"He's taking his coaching badges and we like the structure of our former players remaining part of the club like Bryan Robson and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who are both ambassadors for the club.

"The model of that is, without question, Bayern Munich and I've been saying for years to the people at our club that our former players, who have been such a credit to United, should always be included in the future. I'm sure Ryan will be part of that."
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Queiroz backed to replace Alex

Carlos Queiroz is in line to be the next Manchester United boss. Old Trafford chief Alex Ferguson says he will retire within three years. And No 2 Queiroz could be the man to fill Fergie’s shoes. United chief executive David Gill said: "We have an assistant manager who will be very much in the frame in Carlos Queiroz. He’s a key part of our success. Look at what Liverpool achieved in their successful years during the 70s and 80s. That was through internal appointments.”
The Sun Read more...

Evra: I had to believe

Patrice Evra wasn't prepared to contemplate a second Champions League final defeat but admits he was scared it would become reality during the dramatic penalty shoot-out against Chelsea.

With Cristiano Ronaldo missing his spot-kick to allow the blues to take the lead, Evra feared he would experience a repeat of Monaco’s final loss against FC Porto in 2004.

Inspired to succeed by the disappointment of that loss, the Reds left-back remained confident that United would turn it around, although now he finally has a winners’ medal it is taking time to sink in.

“I can’t believe I am a champion,” a delighted Evra told MUTV. “I never stopped believing we would win this competition, but I was scared a little bit when Ronny missed his penalty.

“The experience with Monaco helped me a lot. I said to myself that I couldn’t lose a second final. If we had lost the match I would have asked the boss not to play me in the Champions League next year. To lose two finals would have been hard to take.”

Fortunately Evra won’t be having that conversation with the boss. Instead he said the team were inspired to win by the manager’s dedication to United for over 20 years.

“I am very happy, the atmosphere in the dressing room was great and it was a big present for Sir Alex Ferguson because he deserves it for working so hard for United,” he said.

“It is unbelievable, but I think we deserve it. We have the squad, talent and spirit in this team.”

Having won the Premier League and Champions League in only his second full season at Old Trafford, Evra is now eyeing another double - a new United contract and success with France this summer.

Quotes attributed to Patrice in the Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph read:

"Negotiations over an extension to my contract have dragged on a bit. We will have another meeting on May 29 but the ball is in the club's court. They know what has already been agreed so we will see what happens. A lot of clubs are interested in me."

As for his chances of playing for France at Euro 2008, Evra says:

"I'm not going to expect a place in the starting XI just because I'm a European (club) champion.

"I've come here with more confidence and I'm going to show that. But I don't feel like an international. I don't even have 10 caps, I've only got nine. An international is someone who has had a great tournament."
Read more...

Friday, May 23, 2008

Fergie: Real Madrid lack morals

Sir Alex Ferguson has accused Real Madrid of lacking morals over their dogged pursuit of Cristiano Ronaldo.

Barely had the champagne been uncorked after Manchester United's momentous Champions League final triumph over Chelsea than Ronaldo's Old Trafford future was thrown into question.

The 23-year-old candidate for world footballer of the year has hardly helped with a series of ambigious statements, which seemed to be aimed at increasing his salary despite only agreeing a new five-year contract last summer.

Real have wasted little time in making their interest known in a player coach Bernd Schuster would love to have at the Bernabeu.

Both Schuster and club president Ramon Calderon have expressed their admiration for the Portugal winger, which has only served to increase Ferguson's annoyance.

'They think they can ride roughshod over everyone but they won't do it with us,' declared the Scot.

'Real Madrid have no moral issues at all.

'In terms of great clubs, Barcelona have far better morality than Real Madrid will ever have.

'Do you not think we have had many expressions of interest about our players from big clubs in Europe?

'Real Madrid are not the only club interested in Ronaldo. But the others are not saying so. They don't get into this nonsense.'

Ferguson has found particularly ironic a statement from Calderon effectively alleging Ronaldo is remaining at United against his will.

Given General Franco's 40-year dictatorship was often to the benefit of Real in their battles with Catalan giants Barcelona, it is a comment the Manchester United manager is happy to submerge in sarcasm.

'I read on Teletext last night; Calderon is talking, Schuster is talking,' he said.

'Calderon makes that great statement `Slavery was abolished many years ago'. Did they tell Franco that? Give me a break.

'The simple fact is Cristiano has another four years left on his contract.'

However, it does not appear the Spanish giants will abandon their attempt to lure Ronaldo to La Liga.

After all, David Beckham, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Ronaldo's good friend Gabriel Heinze have all joined Real from United in recent years.

In Heinze's case it was a deal that suited United totally given the player's oft-stated desire to join Liverpool.

Beckham and Van Nistelrooy were apparently in their prime when they left Old Trafford though, a fact not lost on observers who feel Madeira-born Ronaldo will eventually find the lure of Spain too great to resist.

Yet Ferguson is happy to point out both Beckham and Van Nistelrooy had reached the end of their usefulness for the Red Devils, who do not let players go who they want to keep.

'It doesn't matter which player it is, the ones you want to keep you have to work hard for,' he said.

'In the modern day that is a fact. It is not lost on Manchester United but it is not lost on Real Madrid either.

'Yes, we sold them Van Nistelrooy and Beckham but we did that because we wanted to.'

With Ronaldo now due to join up with Portugal ahead of their Euro 2008 campaign and therefore not expected back at United's Carrington training complex until the end of July, his future will be the subject of endless discussion over the coming weeks.

However, neither Ferguson nor chief executive David Gill has been anything other than steadfast in their conviction Ronaldo will start the 2008-09 campaign at Old Trafford.

The same cannot be said of Gerard Pique though, with Ferguson confirming he has decided to let the young defender leave for Barcelona.

Louis Saha may also be allowed to move on, although United are looking to strengthen rather than weaken a squad which has just landed the biggest prizes of all.

'I met with (assistant) Carlos Queiroz this morning and analysed what we need next year,' revealed Ferguson.

'Right away with have three extra games, one in the Super Cup and two in World Club Championship in Japan.

'That trip takes it out of you and it is more or less a week away.

'We have seen what happened to Rangers this year after playing 67 games so we need to decide what our squad is going to be.'
Read more...

Owen Hargreaves believes Manchester United are entering a glorious new era.

The England midfielder was thrilled to mark his debut season at the club by getting his hands on the Champions League trophy - for a second time - and the league championship title.

Hargreaves showed a cool head to score in the dramatic penalty shoot-out victory against Chelsea in Moscow.

Seven years on from winning the cup with Bayern Munich, he was celebrating again.

Hargreaves, who left Germany in the summer, said: 'That's why I came here to United.

'Some people were saying it was about the money - which is was never about.

'I wanted to be part of something special. Most of the pieces were in place to do that but I knew I could be a good addition to the squad.

'I really thought we could achieve great things at this club.

'At the beginning of the season we said we wanted to win the league and we wanted to win the Champions League.

'You hear big teams say that quite a lot, but to actually do it is quite an achievement.

'I'm sure the boss (Sir Alex Ferguson) will look at things again in the summer and see what we need to do to improve, because we can always improve.

'We're going to have a month off now and then start all over again.'

Hargreaves has enjoyed an impressive end to the campaign after fitness problems when he arrived in England.

He said: 'I didn't want to complain - that is something my dad taught me.

'But I think people can now see the difference physically and what I'm able to do.

'Don't get me wrong, I'm a professional and I want to play, but I just wasn't physically capable of doing so.

'The boss was just waiting for the right time. They put me in the right games and now I feel good. My knees have improved a lot.'

Dad Colin, who played for Bolton's youth team before emigrating to Canada, was in attendance at the Luzhniki Stadium to watch his son convert the penalty.

'He's the most nervous man ever in the stadium, so I'm sure he's pleased it went the right way,' said the United star, who was brought up in Calgary.

'He was in a right state but I didn't think for one minute I'd miss. If you have doubts in your mind you can miss, so you have to be positive.'

United had taken the lead thanks to Cristiano Ronaldo's 42nd goal of the season, only for Frank Lampard to pull Chelsea level.

Lampard and Didier Drogba - who was sent off late on - both saw their efforts come back off the woodwork.

It was not to be for Chelsea and Hargreaves added: 'It is just fantastic, a great final.

'In the first half we should have led 3-0 but then Chelsea played well.

'The penalty shoot-out was crazy and I am very sorry for Michael Ballack (whom he played with at Bayern).'
Read more...

Wayne: History drove us on

Wayne Rooney says the club's history played a big part in inspiring United to double glory on Wednesday night.

In the year that marks the 50th anniversary of the Munich air disaster and 40 years since the the club's first European Cup triumph, it was fitting that the class of 2008 ran out victorious in Moscow.

"We weren’t really thinking about it [the history] during the game because you’re so focused on doing well in the match. But we thought about it before kick-off and, of course, afterwards," Rooney told ManUtd.com.

"We all know about the great history of this club and to win it 50 years after Munich and 40 years after ’68 is brilliant for everyone connected to the club, especially for the players and their families who were involved in both.

"It’s an unbelievable feeling to have won it. I feel very proud personally, but it’s about the team.

"We’ve all worked very hard over the last two or three seasons and I think we deserve it."
Read more...

Vida eyes repeat triumph

Fresh from picking up his second winners' medal in 10 days, Nemanja Vidic is already thinking about adding to his collection next season.

The Serbian was a tower of strength in the Reds' backline alongside Rio Ferdinand as United kept Chelsea at bay in the Champions League final in Moscow.

And having experienced the elation of helping the club to their third European Cup triumph, Vidic says the squad are determined to defend their title.

"When you pick up the trophy and you celebrate with your team-mates and the fans it makes you want to do it all over again because the feeling is so good," he told ManUtd.com.

"It's something I'll always remember and I hope I get the chance to experience it again.

"We will try our best to do that and we already have a big motivation to win it again next season."
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Sir Alex: Ronaldo is staying

Sir Alex Ferguson firmly believes Cristiano Ronaldo’s immediate future at United is secure, but he says future Reds success in Europe is vital to keeping the prodigious Portuguese winger at Old Trafford.

Ronaldo has four years left on his current contract, but Sir Alex admits a time will come when the player has a “big decision” to make over his future.

United clinched a dramatic third European Cup in Moscow on Wednesday and Sir Alex says improving that record even further will be a crucial point in persuading Ronaldo to extend his stay in Manchester even further.

Real Madrid continue to make the world aware of their interest in Ronaldo’s services. But Sir Alex remains unflustered, as he should having just won a league and European Cup double.

“You get used to it with Madrid,” said the United boss on Friday. “The simple fact of the matter is that he has four years left on his contract and he is happy here.

“Of course, the players you want to keep, you have to work hard to keep. That is a fact in the modern era. He is 23, when he gets to 25 or 26 he will have a big decision to make. That will be our biggest task when he gets to that age.

“It’s about how big we become and how big we are then in terms of European trophies. That European success will resonate with him. That’s why I make the point about us striving to be better at winning European Cups."
Read more...

It was fate

Sir Alex Ferguson claimed the best is still to come after Manchester United clinched the Double in dramatic fashion. Ryan Giggs and Edwin van der Sar sealed United's sudden-death shootout joy in Moscow after a 1-1 draw with Chelsea in the Champions League final. And Ferguson insisted victory was down to fate - 50 years after the Munich air disaster decimated the club's Busby Babes. The United chief said: "I think this has the makings of being my best ever team. It’s fantastic. I think there is a sense of fate about this. I think we deserved to win."
Neil Custis, The Sun Read more...

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Manchester United Vs. Chelsea Highlights Video Clip Second Version

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Interview: Edwin's Euro joy

Thirteen years after his first Champions League triumph, Edwin van der Sar was United's hero as the Reds claimed European glory against Chelsea...

Edwin, how does it feel to have picked up your second Champions League winners' medal?
Of course, nights like Wednesday's are what you dream of. It’s been 13 years – a long time – since I won it and it feels fantastic, especially in the way we won it. It was the last penalty – saving it - I don't have any words for it. What can I say? It's great.

What was that feeling like when you dived one way and saw John Terry's penalty go wide in the other direction?
I felt very relieved! When he stepped up I knew I had to save it or it would be all over. I went to the right and I was very lucky to see him slip and send the ball wide. Little moments in a game can change things dramatically as you saw tonight – we had the luck.

What went through your mind after you'd saved Anelka's penalty?
You see it coming, you save it and then you get up and you know the game's over. You have two, three or four seconds on your own, arms in the air and everything goes through your mind. You see your team-mates coming and it's just happiness; one of the greatest feelings you can ever have.

How do you stay calm in the pressure cooker that is a penalty shoot-out?
You just do what you can to try and save as many as you can. Of course, there is a lot of tension and pressure on you. The lads expect you to save one or two and you want to do that, both for them and yourself. I lost a shoot-out in 1996 [for Ajax to Juventus] and it’s very hard to take and I was desperate not to experience that again.

A lot was made of the pitch before the game - what did you think of it and did it cause you to slip for Chelsea's goal?
The pitch wasn’t the best to be fair. You could see for their that I slipped and that happened quite a lot during the match. I know Moscow worked very hard for the final and organised everything very well, but next time I think UEFA must choose a stadium where there is a normal pitch.

Does this win make up for losing to Chelsea in last season's FA Cup final?
This is a much bigger occasion. As well as winning it, it means you’ll play in the European Super Cup and the Intercontinental Cup in Tokyo. It opens so many doors for United once again. It’s nine years since the club last won it and 13 since I did, so it’s a great feeling.
Read more...

Reds overjoyed at double glory

The Reds were overjoyed after claiming a Champions League final victory over Chelsea in dramatic fashion in Moscow on Wednesday night.

Edwin van der Sar's penalty shoot-out save from Nicolas Anelka handed United only their third ever European Cup and ensured the Reds finished the season as double winners.

Here's what the lads had to say to ManUtd.com afterwards...

Christiano Ronaldo
We showed this season that we are the best team in Europe and in England and it’s a great feeling. Next season we will try to do the same. I feel very proud. It means everything to me - it is the happiest day of my life.

Nemanja Vidic
The game against Manchester City [which marked the 50th anniversary of the Munich air crash] was very disappointing and we still remember that. But I think we made up for it in Moscow and by winning the league and gave the fans what they wanted.

Edwin van der Sar
Of course, nights like this are what you dream of. It’s been 13 years – a long time – since I last won the competition and it feels fantastic, especially in the way we won it. It was the last penalty – saving it - I don't have any words for it. What can I say? It's great.

Rio Ferdinand
I said before the game that you’re only really considered a great player at this club when you win the Champions League. There have been a lot of top players to play for the club, but to be revered by the fans and everyone associated with United by becoming a European champion sets you apart from others.

Wayne Rooney
I hope we can win it again. Doing it this year has given us a taste for it and we want to do well again next season. We’ve got some great young players in the squad mixed with experience, so hopefully we can do well again.

Michael Carrick
When you take a penalty you’ve got to have the belief in yourself that you’re going to score and obviously hope for the best! You know there is always someone who’s going to have to miss and you pray it’s not you.

Carlos Tevez
It has been a long time since I felt like this - it's a huge emotion in my heart. When I was a child, I never thought I would be now lifting the cup, but dreams usually come true and I am very, very happy."
Read more...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Manchester United Champion League Trophy Presentation

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Manchester United Champion League Trophy Presentation

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Christiano Ronaldo Interview after Champion League Final

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Ronaldo: I'm staying

On a night of European glory, Cristiano Ronaldo gave Reds fans even more reason to celebrate when he quashed rumours that he could join Real Madrid this summer by pledging his future to United.

When asked by a TV reporter whether he would be leaving the club with which he has already achieved so much in his short career, Ronaldo gave the emphatic reply all Reds fans wanted to hear.

“No, no, no. I’m going to stay,” he said.

It was a fitting end to an emotional night for the Portuguese winger who opened the scoring in the 26th minute, but then missed his spot-kick in the dramatic penalty shoot-out.

“When I missed the penalty, I thought we were going to lose,” he said.

“I played well in the game and I scored a goal, but I missed the penalty. I thought it was going to be the worst day of my life.

“But the lads did their jobs. They believed they were going to score, and they scored. Penalties is a lottery, you never know who is going to win, but I think we deserve to win because we played better in the game.

“It means everything to me because we won both trophies, the Champions League and the League, so I feel very happy. It is one of the most happy days of my life. I feel very, very proud.”
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Manchester United Champion Celebration Video Clip

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Manchester United Vs. Chelsea Result Report

United are Champions of Europe for the third time after beating Chelsea in dramatic fashion... 6-5 on penalties.

Edwin van der Sar was ultimately the man who made the Reds' dream come true when he saved the Blues' seventh spot-kick taken by Nicolas Anelka. John Terry also missed in the shoot-out, when a goal with his kick would have won the final for Chelsea.

Earlier, Cristiano Ronaldo had put the Reds in front with a first-half header before Frank Lampard equalised in first-half injury time.

The debate over who would feature in United’s attack was an intriguing one. Would Sir Alex Ferguson opt to pitch Wayne Rooney up front on his own via a 4-5-1 formation? Or would he go 4-3-3 in a bid to combat Chelsea’s three-man midfield? The answer was neither. Instead the United manager chose to start with Owen Hargreaves down the right – who had so impressed in that position in the victory over Roma in the quarter-final home leg - Michael Carrick and Paul Scholes anchored the midfield, with Cristiano Ronaldo taking up the left flank position. Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez were up front. It was in fact the first time the attacking six had ever played together.

Sir Alex had said in the build-up to the game that choosing his substitutes would prove to be a tougher exercise that selecting his starting eleven. Predictably there were a couple of notable absentees including skipper Gary Neville and Louis Saha, although both have spent much of the campaign troubled by injury. The biggest shock was Ji-sung Park, who had worked so tirelessly to help the Reds book their place in Moscow against Barcelona. Of the travelling squad, goalkeeper Tom Heaton, defender Gerard Pique and young striker Danny Wellbeck were the others who missed out.

The Luzhniki Stadium was a sea of colour and noise before kick-off with the travelling Reds in typically good voice. There wasn’t too much for both sets of supporters to shout about early on; as expected the opening exchanges were very tight with neither side giving an inch.

United looked the more livelier outfit with Owen Hargreaves in particular seeing a lot of the ball. He sent in a couple of decent crosses in from the right in the opening 10 minutes and in the 16th minute he went very close to getting on the end of Ronaldo’s excellent left-wing centre. Unfortunately, for the England international it was a tad too high.

Ronaldo was involved again a minute later, lofting a great ball over the top to the onrushing Patrice Evra on the left. But his cross was well headed clear by John Terry.

United were temporarily down to ten men whilst Paul Scholes received treatment for a bloodied nose after an accidental collision with Claude Makelele – for which both were booked.

That left United short in midfield and when Carlos Tevez lost possession in 23rd minute, Chelsea looked to make the one-man advantage count. Frank Lampard floated a cross towards Didier Drobga at the back post, but thankfully Nemanja Vidic was on hand to head clear.

Three minutes later United took the lead through that boy Ronaldo. Neat play between Scholes and Wes Brown after a throw-in on the right flank allowed the defender the time to pick out a cross for Ronaldo at the back post who expertly directed his header past a statue-like Petr Cech for his 42nd goal of the season. Can’t do it on the big stage, eh?!

United were in the ascendancy and four minutes later Ronaldo took flight for another header from another Brown centre, but no-one was there to get on the end of his knock-down.

Chelsea, who had so far offered little in attack, went close to drawing level on 34 minutes. Drogba headed Lampard’s deep cross to the far post, back across goal. Rio Ferdinand dithered for a just second with Michael Ballack breathing down his neck. His presence forced the United skipper into heading towards his own goal, but Edwin van der Sar was alert, beating the effort away at point blank range.

United broke forward immediately from the resulting corner, Wayne Rooney finding Ronaldo with an exquisite 40 yard cross-field pass. The winger controlled it brilliantly and delivered a perfect cross onto Carlos Tevez’s head. Cech blocked the diving effort from the Argentine and was also on hand to parry Michael Carrick’s follow-up shot from the edge of the box.

Ronaldo headed the subsequent corner over, but United were clearly growing in confidence and Ronaldo in particular was giving stand-in right-back Michael Essien a torrid time.

Two minutes before the break Hargreaves won possession, broke forward and fed Rooney on the right. He fizzed in an early daisy-cutter which evaded Makelele at the front post. Tevez was waiting just behind him but just wasn’t able to poke the ball goalwards

There was no letup in the action but this time it was at Chelsea’s end. Ferdinand was booked for a foul on Lampard right on the edge of the box, but Ballack curled the subsequent free-kick over Van der Sar’s crossbar much to the delight of the jubilant United fans behind the goal.

That jubilation turned to deflation right on the stroke of half-time when Chelsea drew level. Ferdinand’s clearance fell to Michael Essien, marauding forward from right-back. His shot cannoned off both Vidic and Ferdinand before dropping to Frank Lampard in the area. Van der Sar raced to meet him but slipped at the vital moment, allowing the Chelsea midfielder to side-foot home. It was a real blow for United and not what they had deserved.

You wondered how that sucker punch would affect United, if at all It didn’t look to have done too much damage when Patrice Evra powered in the area on 54 minutes and lofted a cross towards Rooney, Tevez and Hargreaves. But it was too high for the trio.

Chelsea began to take a grip of proceedings soon after. Essien broke forward down the right and, after holding off the attentions of Ronaldo, cut inside and hit a powerful left foot drive. Van der Sar slipped, as he had done for the goal (dodgy pitch, anyone?) but thankfully for United the shot flew over the bar.

United’s back line were on red alert thereafter - Vidic brilliantly headed Ashley Cole’s cross away from danger as Drogba lay in wait, before Ferdinand twice the same as the Blues’ attacking barrage continued. Michael Carrick then hooked Florent Malouda’s inviting free-kick away from danger.

Having weathered the Chelsea storm, United looked to get things going again in attack. In the 72nd minutes, Rooney, who had been somewhat quiet up to this point, picked up possession and found Hargreaves on the right. He laid the ball into Carrick’s path, but a Chelsea body dived to block.

The Reds breathed a sigh of relief 12 minutes from time when Drogba arced a left-foot shot against van der Sar’s left-hand post with the Dutchman well beaten.

The Ivorian Coast international was making a nuisance of himself and nearly got on the end of Ashley Cole’s cross after Ferdinand had slipped – a common occurrence for both sets if players after the break – but the United defence were on hand to clear.

Eight minutes from time Tevez curled an effort wide of Cech’s right-hand post, but the Chelsea stopper looked to have it covered.

The half chances were all falling to Chelsea, who had dominated the second period. Drogba went very close to steering Joe Cole’s low centre home three minutes from time, but blasted wide.

Ryan Giggs entered the fray to break Sir Bobby Charlton’s all-time appearance record soon after. But that was to be the last notable action of the 90 minutes as the match entered extra-time.

Two minutes in some intricate passing between Carrick, Giggs and Rooney almost put Tevez in, but a Chelsea defender managed to deflect the ball through to Cech.

Having drawn Chelsea level earlier, Frank Lampard went close to giving them the lead two minutes later, spinning and clipping a shot from inside the area which rebounded back off the bar and away.

United went just as close in the 11th minute of added time. Rooney fired a cross-field pass f towards Ronaldo. Essien intercepted but his clearance dropped to Evra who burst into the area, before pulling the ball back to Giggs. It was all set for the record-breaker to score the winner, but John Terry cleared his shot off the line.

Six minutes into the second period, Vidic upended Anelka to hand Chelsea a free-kick a dangerous area some 20 yards out on the right edge of the box. Thankfully, Drogba blasted wide.

The Chelsea striker was at the centre of the match’s most controversial moment five minutes from time. Chelsea put the ball out of play in their own half with one of their players down suffering with cramp, but the Blues were irked when Tevez only returned the ball by knocking it out again in a similar area. A melee ensued with virtually every player getting involved. Most notably Drogba and Vidic swapped exchanges with the Ivorian slapping the Serb. Referee Michel Lubos wasted no time in producing the red card for Drogba. Tevez and Ballack also went into the book, but just with yellows.

A further yellow card, for a foul by Essien, was to be the last noteworthy event before the game headed for penalties. There United were to have their glory but not before Ronaldo had his penalty saved by Petr Cech, to give Chelsea a brief advantage. When Terry squandered this, Anderson scored to level - then Kalou and Giggs both netted before Anelka stepped up for the final decisive spot-kick, saved superbly by Edwin van der Sar.
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United: Kings of Europe!

Edwin van der Sar was the hero as United were crowned champions of Europe for the third time after a dramatic penalty shoot-out victory over Chelsea at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.

Forty years after winning their first European Cup final at Wembley in 1968, and 50 years since the Munich tragedy, fate played a big part as a dramatic Champions League final went to penalties.

After Cristiano Ronaldo had missed his kick, John Terry had the chance to win the cup, but slipped on the run up and his kick hit the post. Nicolas Anelka's sudden death penalty was then saved by van der Sar, sparking jubilant scenes among United’s rain-soaked travelling contingent.

Cristiano Ronaldo had given United a 26th minute lead with a header from Wes Brown’s cross in a first half which the Reds dominated. Carlos Tevez had two clear chances to put United 2-0 ahead, but his efforts were well saved by Chelsea keeper Petr Cech, who also denied Michael Carrick.

Chelsea gained a foothold in the game in the final few minutes of the first half, and equalised with almost the last kick of the half, when a deflected Michael Essien shot fell kindly for Frank Lampard, who beat Rio Ferdinand and Van der Sar.

The Londoners dominated the second half and Didier Drogba struck the post, before Frank Lampard did likewise in extra time. Ryan Giggs, making a record breaking appearance for the Reds, spurned United’s best chance.

In the second period of extra time, Drogba was red carded for a slap on Nemanja Vidic, but despite the one man advantage, the Reds couldn’t make the breakthrough on a heavy pitch, and so the final went to penalties.

After Tevez and Carrick had scored for United and Ballack and Belletti for Chelsea , Ronaldo hesistated in his run up and shot straight at Cech. Terry could have won it for Chelsea, but in the end it fell to United’s Dutch keeper to complete a memorable and emotional night for Sir Alex's side.
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Manchester United Vs. Chelsea Highlights Video Clip

Manchester U. * [1 - 1] Chelsea
26' [1 - 0] C. Ronaldo
45' [1 - 1] F. Lampard
penalty shoot-out : [6 - 5]






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Sunday, May 18, 2008

Rooney determined to emulate Liverpool

Wayne Rooney is anxious for Manchester United to claim bragging rights over Liverpool and win the Champions League.

The England striker has been hurting for the past three years after Rafael Benitez delivered the trophy to Anfield following a remarkable victory against AC Milan.

Now Rooney will get his chance on Wednesday in Moscow when United face Chelsea in the first all-English showdown in the final of Europe's top club competition.

It has been a long wait for the 22-year-old, born in Liverpool and raised as an Everton supporter.

He said: 'It is difficult when you see one of your rivals winning things. When Liverpool took the trophy, it was hard to take.

'Because they haven't really been challenging for the league in the last few years, they've had chances to rest players before big Champions League games and that helped them.

'By Liverpool winning the Champions League, it's made us want to win it even more.'

Rooney gets great pleasure teasing his pals from the Kop.

One such scenario unfolded nine years ago when United won the European Cup with a famous last-gasp victory against Bayern Munich in Barcelona.

He explained: 'A few of us watched the match and most of my mates were Liverpool fans.

'It was just me and another pal who were Everton supporters. We wanted United to win and obviously they (my mates) didn't.

'When they won, I was really happy and we were winding the Liverpool fans up.

'I remember listening to the radio after the game and they were speaking to a lot of fans around Manchester.

'The atmosphere there sounded brilliant, so hopefully I can be involved in something like that this year.'

That was the last time United won the trophy - they also lifted it in 1968.

Forty years on from Sir Matt Busby's triumph and 50 years after the Munich air disaster, the weight of history hangs heavily in the air.

Rooney, however, is inspired by the past, not fazed by it.

He said: 'I don't think it will be a burden, we just need to go out there and try and enjoy ourselves.

'If we enjoy playing, I'm sure we will do well. If we go out there thinking a bit negative then it becomes harder.

'The players are well educated in the history of the club. When you walk around the training ground, you see the players from 1958, 1968 all the way through to today.'

Rooney weighed in with 18 goals in a season that saw United retain their Premier League title.

While he was widely applauded for his work ethic and team play, he insists there is room for improvement.

He said: 'I can score a few more goals, possibly with my left foot and a some more headers. I keep working on all different things, my passing, my fitness and scoring.

'I've changed my game a little bit. Instead of playing in the hole or off one forward, I've mainly been the striker looking to get in behind. I've enjoyed doing it this year - to be honest a lot more than I thought I would. It has brought me a few goals in different games.'

Led by manager Sir Alex Ferguson, United will fly out to Russia tomorrow and Rooney is desperate for the match to get under way.

He said: 'It's a horrible feeling waiting for the final. I'd like to go to bed tonight and wake up on Wednesday. It's a bit like Christmas when you're a kid, so I just can't wait.

'I've been playing FIFA on X-Box with my mates. My girlfriend's not too happy with me, but it keeps me occupied. I've played in three cup finals, winning one and losing two, so hopefully I can even that out.'

Rooney has urged Cristiano Ronaldo to stay and continue their prolific partnership.

'I hope the partnership will continue for years. Ronaldo is a great player and it will be brilliant if we can keep him at the club for as long as possible. He's an unbelievable player,' Rooney told reporters.

'What he's done for United in the last few years is brilliant and it makes you work hard.

'For Ronaldo to score those goals is helping the team. I've got no problem if he scores 60 goals in a season and I don't get anywhere near that,' added the England striker who has struck 18 times this term.
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'Exhausted' Tevez looking forward to break

Carlos Tevez admits he is 'physically exhausted' after a tremendous season with Manchester United.

The Argentina striker has played 47 games for United since joining from West Ham in August, netting 19 goals as he helped fire the team to the brink of a league and Champions League double.

However, Tevez admits his tiredness could see him sit out his side's World Cup qualifier against old enemies Brazil, on June 18.

'After the Champions League final, I will need some weeks to rest,' Tevez told Argentinian newspaper Clarin. 'After the Copa America in Venezuela (last year), I came to Manchester United and haven't stopped playing. I'm physically exhausted.

'I will talk to Coco (Argentina coach Alfio Basile) to see if it is for the best that I join the national team.'

First Tevez has the Champions League final to think about as United take on Chelsea on Wednesday, looking to add that trophy to the Barclays Premier League title they lifted a week ago.

The former Boca Juniors and Corinthians star was delighted to get his hands on a trophy once again and has vowed to do everything possible to ensure it is United who return from Moscow victorious.

'I celebrated so much last week because it's been a while since I celebrated a title,' added Tevez. 'I was already losing the habit which I loved.

'I hadn't been a champion since 2005, when I lifted the Brazilian title with Corinthians. Moreover, it's my first title in Europe and that doesn't happen every day.

'I called my uncle, who suffers from cancer, from the stadium. He was very emotional, as was I obviously. I know that these are little moments of happiness that are very good for him and that gives me the strength to continue.

'I promised him that we will do everything to win the Champions League. Chelsea have a great team, they attack a lot and have a lot of players who head very well, but we have our skills too.'

Tevez also has his sights firmly set on winning an international title with Argentina, especially after losing the last two Copa America finals to Brazil, in 2004 and 2007.

'It would be wonderful,' he said. 'Among all the dreams I have, winning a title with the national team is the biggest in my mind.

'I give my all for every shirt but the blue and white (of Argentina) is the most dear to me.

'I have been fortunate, I have celebrated titles with Boca, Corinthians and now Manchester. What is still missing is one with the national team.'
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Friday, May 16, 2008

Giggs: Man United squad has spirit of 1999

Ryan Giggs can see major similarities between Manchester United's 1999 Euro kings and the 2008 hopefuls.

After securing his 10th league title at the weekend, Giggs will be an integral part of Sir Alex Ferguson's squad for the showdown with Chelsea at the Luzhniki Stadium on May 21.

And, while the faces, with the exception of his own, may be different, Giggs is getting a similar vibe.

'There are similarities to 1999,' he said.

'The team spirit is the same and there is a good balance within the squad.

'The enthusiasm the young players have shown this season is great for the older ones like me and Paul Scholes, while we give experience to the younger ones.

'We had a great squad in 1999, which the manager used throughout the season.

'It is the same again this year. It is about the squad, not 11 players, just as it was then, so there are similarities.'

One of the other major similarities is their durability. In 1999, United famously came through a campaign that included double-headers with Barcelona, Inter Milan and Juventus, plus two group clashes and the never-to-be-forgotten final with Bayern Munich.

This time, United have played Roma four times, as well as Lyon and Barcelona before getting to Chelsea, so Giggs is reluctant to concede it is harder or easier than it once was.

'It was tough to win it then but it is equally so now,' he said.

'You have to be physically and mentally strong all the way through and retain your consistency. If you get to the final you deserve it.'

Giggs does not believe Chelsea have gained a vital edge through their victory over United three weeks ago.

Instead, the Welshman prefers to think about the way his side responded to being behind at the interval rather than reflect on a dismal first-half display.

'We did really well in the second half,' he said.

'I would like to think we came out of that quite positively.'

As he did at Stamford Bridge, Giggs is likely to be used as an impact player from the bench in Moscow.

Not so fellow veteran Scholes, who has already been assured of his starting spot by Ferguson - a move Giggs is in full agreement with.

'I am not picking the manager's team but Paul deserves to play because he is a great player,' he said.

'He can do things other players cannot do and his recent form has been brilliant.

'Obviously his disappointment in 1999, after being such a big part of that season as well, was massive. He has another chance now.'
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French defender Silvestre hints at Bordeaux switch

Manchester United defender Mikael Silvestre admits he could be tempted by a move to Bordeaux, provided the French club can meet his salary demands.

Les Girondins coach Laurent Blanc has declared his interest in the France international, whose season has been disrupted by knee injuries.

Silvestre's contract at United runs until the summer of 2009, but the former Rennes player is not discounting a return to his native country if the offer is good enough.

'It isn't impossible,' the 30-year-old told a press conference.

'Bordeaux is a club which is close to my heart. When I was little, I followed their exploits in Europe. Moreover, I have family in the Gironde region.

'But each player has to be satisfied in a sporting sense as well as financially.

'There are no gifts handed out here. I am not a good Samaritan.'

Silvestre, who has also played for Internazionale, missed most of United's latest title-winning campaign with a knee injury he suffered in September.

He returned towards the end of the season but he is unlikely to make France's squad for next month's European Championships in Austria and Switzerland.
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Scholes 'deserves final chance'

Paul Scholes will finally get to play on European club football’s biggest stage, and Ryan Giggs feels no player is more deserving.

Scholes, of course, was suspended for 1999’s Champions League final against Bayern Munich. But Sir Alex, who never normally succumbs to sentimentality, has said that he would make an exception. Scholes, however, should be in United’s starting line-up against Chelsea in the Luzhniki Stadium based purely on merit.

“I’m not telling the manager who to pick," says Giggs, "but Scholesy deserves to play because he’s a great player. His form has been brilliant and his goal against Barcelona got us to the final.

“To play with a player like him is a privilege. He does things other players can’t do. The disappointment of 1999 was massive for him and Roy, having played such an important part getting us to the final. I'm glad he’s got another chance now.”

It will be a special occasion for Giggs, too, who will overtake Sir Bobby Charlton’s appearances record. Typically, the Welshman deflects the attention away from his individual feats. “It was special for me coming on and scoring against Wigan, equalling Sir Bobby’s record and lifting the league trophy,” he added. “It couldn’t have gone any better. I enjoyed it, but it’s not about individuals it’s about the team.

"Now we’re looking forward to what we hope will be another great night. We’re concentrating on the Champions League and what is a massive game for everyone. I’m looking forward to it and I know we’ll be ready for it.”
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Only win will satisfy Rio

In the form of his life, a Premier League title bagged and a five-year contract to boot – you’d think things couldn’t get any better for Rio Ferdinand. But the Reds defender says his season will end on a sour note unless United beat Chelsea in Moscow.

That the 29-year-old has followed a number of players to commit their future to the club shows a strong bond in the Reds camp and a belief that further success lies ahead for this United side.

“I’ll tell you next week after the game how good a time this has been for me,” he says. “If we win the Champions League then I’ll say it’s a fantastic last couple of weeks for me personally. If not then the season will have ended on a disappointing note.”

In modern terms, the contract negotiations have been completed relatively smoothly. “It’s something that I’ve wanted desperately, to be able to stay here for the next five years is something I’m very happy about,” Rio added. “You see the surroundings I’m in every day training at Carrington, playing in front of 76,000 fans every other week; what more could you ask for?”

Rio will ask for one final push in the Champions League final on Wednesday to complete what has already been a sensational season.
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It's Ronalgo

Cristiano Ronaldo has dropped a Champions League bombshell by revealing he will consider his United future after the final. The Red Devils, who face Chelsea in Moscow next Wednesday, believed Ronaldo was secure at Old Trafford for the long term. But, yesterday, the Portugal winger, 23, hinted at a summer move to Spain. Ronaldo said: “I am happy here but let’s see what happens after the Champions League final. I am feeling calm here. I’m happy here but in the future I don’t know. I’ve said millions of times that I’d love to play in Spain but it’s one thing to dream and another thing for it to be a reality.” Ronaldo signed a new five-year contract last April and United boss Alex Ferguson will be determined to hang on to him. But Real Madrid president Ramon Calderon would break the bank to land the 41-goal ace.
Neil Custis, The Sun Read more...

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Sir Alex: We'll be fresh for final

United's FA Cup final defeat against Chelsea last season remains hurtful at Old Trafford, but Sir Alex Ferguson has promised a very different game when the teams meet in Moscow next Wednesday.

The Reds boss insists the tiredness that dogged United's performance on a dry, uncompromising Wembley pitch last May will not be a factor at the Luzhniki Stadium.

"I think it will be a British affair, but it will be different from the FA Cup final," he said. "I’m absolutely certain of that. We will be fresher, and with that being the case I expect a better performance from us."

Chelsea's approach that day was to stifle and contain United. Then boss Jose Mourinho even asked his players beforehand, 'Do you want to enjoy it during the game or after the game?' and his men chose the latter.

Their style differs very little now Avram Grant is in charge, who still applies the tight, well-organised and physical approach.

"They are the things that you have to come up against," says Ryan Giggs. "Chelsea are a big strong team. They are a hard team to play against because they are so strong defensively.

"Equally so, we're good going forward but I think we're strong in defence, we've proved that this year.

"I don't know if we're going to get an open game, but we'll go out and try to create chances and score goals like we always do."

Sir Alex feels that Grant has already started the mind games with comments in the press about refereeing decisions going United's way in the title race.

"I've been expecting it," said the United boss. "I don't think it's about last Sunday, I think it's about next Wednesday and maybe even next season. I could go on and on about decisions because they're all debatable at the end of the day, we feel we didn't get a lot of decisions this season.

“Maybe when we went to Chelsea we should have been champions before it, but with the season over we can put it on the backburner and now it's about next Wednesday and I think that's why Avram's talking that way.”
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United title was a reffin’ fix

Avram Grant faces a disrepute charge after claiming ref Steve Bennett helped Manchester United win the Premier League. Bennett oversaw United’s 2-0 title clincher at Wigan on Sunday but Chelsea boss Grant said: “In England there are very good referees but some you can influence.” Ref Bennett failed to award Wigan a penalty for a Rio Ferdinand handball but later gave United a spot-kick from which they scored. He also did not send off United midfielder Paul Scholes for a second foul on Wilson Palacios. Grant raged: “I believe in the tradition of the fair English game. I will not say anything against it. But what happened is what I expected. “Paul Scholes should have been shown a red card and Wigan awarded a penalty.” Asked if he is glad an English ref will not oversee the Champions League final, Grant said: “I can say it like this – yes.”
Shaun Custis, The Sun Read more...

Ole: Dawn of a new era

The Reds are on the cusp of European dominance, according to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who is calling on United’s players to believe in their potential.

The Norwegian, who fired the Reds to Champions League and Treble glory in the Nou Camp in 1999, reckons victory in Moscow next week could spark one of United’s most successful ever eras.

Solskjaer is enjoying his role coaching the current crop of United players since retiring last August, but he wants this team to win at the Luzhniki Stadium and do what the ’99 team couldn’t: repeatedly rule.

"This will hopefully be the start of something more than we achieved," he says. "The 1999 team achieved it once. It was a fantastic feeling. The memories of that night stick with you forever. I wanted to experience more of them and believed we could. Now nine years have passed before the club could get back to a final.

"This side can win it and hopefully start something bigger,” he told the Manchester Evening News. “You want the players to get the feeling that this is where we want to be every year. Hopefully it will inspire them and motivate them to believe what they really can achieve because I believe this team and these players can achieve a lot more.”

Solskjaer wants the team’s younger set of players, led by Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney, to experience European glory, which will then inspire them to remain at the top level for years to come. “If you give Cristiano and Wayne, for instance, the taste of what it's like to win the Champions League, they will have the impetus to win it again and again.

"I think this team could go on to win more Champions Leagues than us in 1999 because of the talent and the age of the players.”
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Ferdinand signs new deal

Rio Ferdinand has signed a new five-year deal that will keep him at Old Trafford until he is almost 35, in which time he foresees plenty of success ahead.

The centre-half has reached the zenith of his career, with performances that have been consistently outstanding throughout the season.

Ferdinand, who joined the Reds in summer 2002 from Leeds United, is excited about the future ahead.

“This is a fantastic club and I'm delighted to sign a new contract," he said on Thursday.

"It's a great honour to be part of this trophy-winning team and to share in the success, which I am sure, will continue for many seasons to come. I'd like to thank the manager, the coaching staff, the players and the fans for the tremendous support they have given me since I joined the club."

Sir Alex Ferguson was clearly delighted to safeguard the future of one of his most important players.

"Rio’s contribution this season has been a major factor in our outstanding defensive performance," said the Reds boss, who intimated that the 29-year-old is a future regular captain in the making.

"He has matured into his role at the club and has shown, when needed, what a great captain and leader he can be. I am delighted Rio has signed a new contract."
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Ronaldo clinches awards treble

The individual awards keep rolling in for Cristiano Ronaldo, who has picked up the Barclays Player of the Season and Barclays Golden Boot awards to complete a sensational season.

The 23-year-old Portuguese wing wiazard also collected a merit award for reaching 30 league goals this season.

Ronaldo was pivotal in United's Barclays Premier League title success and it was no surprise that he earned the Barclays Player of the Season accolade for the second year in succession.

Whichever way you look at it, Ronaldo has been exceptional this season, and the stats back it up. His 31 goals from 34 league appearances helped see off stiff opposition for the awards from Arsenal’s Emmanuel Adebayor and Fernando Torres of Liverpool.

It's the first time a player has scored more than 30 league goals in a season since Alan Shearer’s 31-goal haul for Blackburn Rovers twelve years ago.

The merit award for reaching 30 goals will also benefit one lucky charity as Ronaldo will receive £1,000 for every goal scored to be donated to a charity of his choice.

However, for all the personal awards showered on the Madeiran magician, his sights will be firmly set on the Champions League trophy in Moscow next Wednesday.
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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Christiano Ronaldo Interview at Manchester United Gala Evening Video Clip

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Keane backs Fergie to beat L'pool records

Roy Keane is convinced Sir Alex will clinch the double in Moscow, and won't rest until he's toppled Liverpool’s record haul of European Cups. The United legend reckons his former boss has achieved his big aim, to "knock Liverpool off their perch" at the top of the domestic game. But United's Premier League triumph took their title tally to 17, one behind Liverpool. And victory against Chelsea in Moscow next week will be their third time as champions of Europe, compared to the Scousers' five wins. Keane is backing Ferguson, 66, to drive his side on to even greater heights over the next few years. "I think the manager said it himself… his target was to knock Liverpool off their perch. He's done that in terms of winning Leagues but I think he'll be wanting to win European Cups as well. So the thing is to catch up with Liverpool next. They've won it five times."
Simon Bird, Daily Mirror Read more...

Evra has a score to settle

Patrice Evra is determined to avenge losing a Champions League final with Monaco when United head to Moscow next week.

The French full-back is one of five United players with Champions League final experience (Edwin van der Sar, Gary Neville, Owen Hargreaves and Ryan Giggs are the others).

But whereas those four all tasted victory, Evra was a losing finalist as Jose Mourinho's Porto side swept to a 3-0 success in Gelsenkirchen in 2004. Monaco were the 2003/04 surprise package, but this time Evra is far more confident about his chances.

"This will be my second final and for me the game is now the most important of my life," he says. "I don't want to lose for a second time.

"I went to the Champions League Final in a Fiat with Monaco, now I'm going to Moscow in a Ferrari with Manchester United," is the Frenchman's analogy. "But even if you're in a Ferrari, you still have to make sure you drive it well. So we will have to play well against Chelsea if we want to win."

Evra has become an integral part of United's back four in his two-and-a-half seasons at Old Trafford. He's solid in defensive situations and a real outlet going forward. And he'll be doing everything he can to finally get his hands on the elusive European Cup.

"When I first came to Manchester I said I didn't want to just get to a Champions League final again, I wanted to go there and win it," he is quoted as saying in Wednesday's Daily Mirror. "The Champions League holds bad memories for me because of losing that final with Monaco, so now I'm determined to put that right."
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Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Cristiano Ronaldo Wins Man Utd Players Award 2008 Video Clip

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Christiano Ronaldo's Sir Matt Busby Award Presenation Video Clip

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Nani, Anderson, Ronaldo, and Hargreave Having Fun at Gala Evening

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Manchester United Champion Gala Evening Video Clip

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Ferguson preparing for UCL selection dilemma

Sir Alex Ferguson is facing up to the biggest selection headache of his managerial career as he attempts to pick a squad for Manchester United's Champions League final against Chelsea.

The United boss has no injury or suspension worries ahead of the Moscow clash a week on Wednesday and is delighted to have 26 players to choose from.

But with Ferguson able to name only seven substitutes for the match, he must tell eight of his stars they will play no part in the club's biggest game for nine years.

'I think picking the team will be easier than picking the substitutes,' he said on Sky Sports News.

'I'm going to have to leave some fantastic players out of the squad completely next week, which I won't enjoy doing.

'It's got to be done and I don't know when I'm going to pick that moment. I'm going to have to speak to them. It's not something I'm looking forward to.

'But, on the other hand, it's a fantastic position for us to be in, having 26 fit players.'

Ferguson would love to reward all those who travelled to Wigan on Sunday for the game that saw United retain the Barclays Premier League title.

'You need a really powerful squad to achieve on all fronts,' he said. 'I took 26 players to Wigan and every player was fit.

'They all came through the game, which means I'm travelling to Moscow with 26 fit players.

'That's unheard of in my time and that gives us an incredible chance.'

Ferguson's dilemma is in stark contrast to that which he faced at the climax of United's treble season of 1999.

Suspension robbed him of captain Roy Keane and central midfield partner Paul Scholes for the Champions League final against Bayern Munich.

As long as United avoid any training-ground mishaps or freak injuries, they will arrive in Moscow at full strength.

Ferguson is desperate to claim a trophy he has won only once in 13 attempts since arriving at Old Trafford.

He insists a club of United's standing should have been European champions on far more than two occasions, citing the records of Real Madrid (nine wins), AC Milan (seven) and Liverpool (five) as something to which his players should aspire.

'That's the kind of record we should really have. That's one thing that should drive us all on now,' he said.

'We have an opportunity next Wednesday to help us along that way.'

Ferguson believes United have a squad young enough to win multiple Champions League crowns - and he claimed they were helping keep him young as well.

'There's a freshness about the place with young players coming in. They refresh you and enthuse you,' he said.

'It's wonderful to have that youth around.'

And he began the pre-match mind games with United's Moscow opponents by saying: 'I think Chelsea know they'd rather be in our position than their own position.

'Having won the league, there was a lot of joy about the place, whereas Chelsea have to pick themselves up after drawing against Bolton.'

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Carrick: Europe's our aim

One down trophy down, one to go. The Reds players returned to training on Tuesday as the new Premier League Champions with steely-eyed ambition to defeat Chelsea in next Wednesday’s Champions League final in Moscow.

There is little time to bask in the glory of Sunday’s triumphant final day victory as United are set to resume rivalries with Chelsea in European football’s showpiece final, and midfielder Michael Carrick won’t be happy until the double is complete.

“I want to be sat on a beach in the summer knowing that we have won the double,” he told ManUtd.com. “It would be an incredible achievement for the club to win the Champions League again, and hopefully we can do it. We believe we can.”

There may have been a few sore heads on Monday morning after the celebrations at Sunday’s Player of the Year Awards at Old Trafford on Sunday night. But there is only clarity in Carrick’s aim to add another winners’ medal to his collection.

“We’re really focused on what we want to do next week,” he added on MUTV. “We had a good night celebrating winning the league, but a win in Moscow would really cap the season off.

“As a professional, you set out in your career to fulfil your potential and achieve all you can. At this club you challenge for all the best honours available. Getting to the Champions League final is phenomenal. Hopefully we can bring the trophy home, it would be an incredible feeling.”

Chelsea will be keen to exact revenge after losing the title by two points on the final day, but United have plenty of motivation to go out and deliver.

“Losing the FA Cup final to Chelsea at Wembley last season was hard to take for us, even after winning the league,” said Carrick. “Hopefully we’ll learn from that and put things right this year.”

So, what sort of game to expect? “I don’t know,” says Carrick. “Two English teams are going to go at it and sometimes it can be cagey, on other occasions it can be really open with attacking football and plenty of entertainment.

"If I’m being honest, I don’t care. I’m not bothered how we play, as long as we win that’s all that matters.”
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Vidic: We're not done yet

Nemanja Vidic was delighted to clinch a second successive Premier League title at Wigan's JJB Stadium, but he won't be fully satisfied unless United overcome Chelsea in the Champions League final.

The champions travel to Moscow for a date with their nearest domestic challengers on May 21, and Vidic is expecting a stern test from Avram Grant's side.

"It is a great feeling to have won the Premier League title," he said. "It's definitely the best league in the world but our job is only half done at this stage. We can now go on to Moscow but we know that Chelsea will be tough. They are a very good team."

The Serbian defender returned from concussion in time to face Steve Bruce's Latics in Sunday's title clincher, and turned in a sterling display as the Reds posted a 21st clean sheet of the Premier League season.

Vidic was delighted to help set a club record for the least goals conceded in a league season and, after a gruelling season, he is prepared for one final effort in Moscow.

"It was good to have beaten Wigan and won the title but this too was extremely tough, we knew it would be," he said. "They compete well but as a defender it is good to have kept a clean sheet and to see us score twice and win the game and win the title.

"We can now prepare for the European final in Moscow, this is a very important game but we want to win again, that is certainly the plan."
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We'll sign Cristiano Ronaldo for £100m, boast Real Madrid

Cristiano Ronaldo’s Manchester United future was cast into doubt again last night as Real Madrid insisted the Portuguese superstar could be ready to leave Old Trafford this summer. In a move guaranteed to infuriate Sir Alex Ferguson, sources at the Bernabeu were claiming Ronaldo's representatives are holding the door open for a move. "We are hearing there is still a possibility that Ronaldo will leave United," a spokesman at Real said. A Bernabeu source added: "The suggestion coming from Ronaldo's people is that he is not sure United will make good on the promises he has been made, and is starting to wonder of there is anything more he can do in England. "We are talking about the best player in the world, who has won consecutive Premier League titles and could have won the Champions League as well by next week. "If he is looking for the next challenge, then it can only come by leaving England and there could be no club better to go to after leaving Old Trafford than Real Madrid."
Martin Lipton, Daily Mirror Read more...

Monday, May 12, 2008

Another award for title winner Ferguson

Sir Alex Ferguson has won the LMA Manager of the Year award after leading Manchester United to a 10th Premier League title in the last 16 years and next week's Champions League final.

The Scot's award was announced at the LMA annual awards dinner in Nottingham this evening.

The award is voted for by the entire LMA membership and takes into consideration the performance of all managers during the season, based upon all the resources available to them.

It completes a double for Ferguson, who also won the Premier League award.

All the awards were presented by England head coach and LMA president Fabio Capello.

Ferguson has won the main award once before, in 1999, when he took United to a Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup treble.

He succeeds Reading boss Steve Coppell, who won the award in both of the previous two seasons.

Ferguson said: 'It is a tremendous honour that my fellow managers and LMA members should deem me worthy of this award. I am very proud to receive it.'

The winner of the Championship manager of the year award was West Brom boss Tony Mowbray after steering Albion to the title and promotion.

Swansea manager Roberto Martinez won the League One award, and Graham Turner lifted the League Two award after taking Hereford to automatic promotion in their first season back in the Football League.

LMA chairman Howard Wilkinson said: 'The awards recognise the achievements of the managers across the four top leagues in England.

'Recognition by your peers is an incredible privilege and this year's winners should be proud of their achievements.

'The LMA would like to congratulate all the managers for playing such an integral role in another fantastic season.'
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Manchester United Champions Celebration Video Clip

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Champions Manchester United

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Edwin savours JJB drama

Sunday's title triumph at the JJB Stadium eclipses last season's Premier League success, according to goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar.

United clinched the 2006/07 title when Chelsea failed to beat Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium, while the Reds' players watched events unfold on television rather than out on the pitch.

"It is so much better to actually win it on the day," said the Dutchman. "This feels so much better than last year.

"I was grateful to win it last year and I was very happy but this has felt so much better. It might mean having to go through a few anxieties but it was all worth it."

A clean sheet at the JJB Stadium laid the foundations for United's 2-0 win, setting a club record for the lowest number of goals conceded in a league season. While delighted to concede just 22 times, van der Sar was adamant that it would have meant nothing at all if United hadn't seen out the season with victory over Wigan.

"Defensive records are not a major thing unless you win something at the end of it all," he said. "When I was at Juventus we had the best defensive record in Serie A in the two years I was in Turin, but we didn't win the league either campaign so it didn't mean a thing.

"If we had lost the title on the last day to Chelsea then our great record wouldn't have added up to much either. It would have gone down in the record books but I couldn't have celebrated it.

"It's all very nice when they bring you silverware, so it is special now. This defence have worked very well together this season. We have a lot of quality in the department.

"As a defence we have done well but that is because we have had others in the team working hard to help us. Likewise, the forwards score because the defence gives them a sound base. It is a team thing and it is a great team."
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Carrick: This title was tougher

Michael Carrick says that his second Premier League title was more difficult to win than the first – but he has already set his sights on a hat-trick of league championships.

Two titles in two years with the Reds, it’s been a success-filled start to the midfielder’s Old Trafford career. And now he’s got the trophy bug.

“Being champions last year, we wanted to prove that it wasn’t a one-off,” he told MUTV.

“This season wasn’t as straightforward as last season. We didn’t start too well and being behind Arsenal like we were, people were saying it was over. But to come out on top like we have done is very satisfying, we have really earned it.

“It was great winning it on the day. Last year, even though it was a fantastic feeling that we were champions, I was sat in the front room in my house when we won it.

"It’s not quite the same as winning your game to win the title. It was a terrific feeling, and once you get it you want more of it. We’re driving on for the third in row already.”

Such was Carrick’s focus on the job in hand at the JJB Stadium that he completely forgot about Chelsea’s game against Bolton Wanderers.

“I didn’t know until well after the final whistle what had happened at Stamford Bridge,” he admitted. “It was a good ten minutes after the final whistle when Mick Phelan [first-team coach] told me it was 1-1. Up until then I had forgotten all about it, I was so focused on the job we had to do.

“We knew that if we won the Chelsea result didn’t matter. That’s all I was interested in, but I think it’s better that we won it on points rather than goal difference. It shows we’re true champions.”

This title may have been more difficult to win, but Carrick says it wouldn’t have been possible had the squad not been strengthened in the summer. There is no doubt that the additions of Carlos Tevez, Owen Hargreaves, Anderson and Nani significantly boosted United’s stock.

“Determination and discipline within the squad was important,” he adds. “I think the lads that have come in have really strengthened the squad as whole.

"Everyone has played their part. If it wasn’t for the numbers and quality that we have, we might not be league champions right now.”
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Champions Set Their Sights On Moscow

Sir Alex Ferguson won his 10th Premier League title yesterday and challenged his players to prove themselves his best Manchester Unitedside ever by winning the Champions League as well. Cristiano Ronaldo scored a first half penalty but, fittingly, it was Ryan Giggs, equalling Sir Bobby Charlton's appearance record of 758 games, who sealed the 2-0 win at Wigan that secured the title by two points as Chelsea drew 1-1 at home to Bolton. United and Chelsea will meet again in Moscow in the Champions League Final on Wednesday week and Ferguson said:

"If we win the Champions League you will have to say this is the best team. I think it would have to be judged that way because they are so young. This squad is definitely the best. We are bouncing into the Champions League Final now. If we had lost the title today it would have been difficult to go into that game. When we lost the title at West Ham in 1995 we went into the FA Cup Final and we were dead. We were flat and we lost to Everton. But we are not dead this time - we are alive."
Ian Ladyman, Daily Mail
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Sunday, May 11, 2008

Hat-trick for Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo won the treble at United's end of season awards, just hours after the Reds wrapped up the Barclays Premier League title with a thrilling win at Wigan.

Victory at the JJB Stadium made for an electric atmosphere at the Old Trafford party, where individual players at senior, reserve and academy level were rewarded for their efforts.

Ronaldo retained the Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year and Players' Player of the Year gongs - and added the Goal of the Season award to his collection.

The Portuguese winger actually occupied the top two spots in the Goal of the Season award, taking first place with his stunning free kick against Portsmouth and second for his impudent backheel against Aston Villa.

The treble completes a remarkable campaign for Ronaldo, who earlier this month retained the PFA and Football Writers' Player of the Season awards for his exertions.

The club's other awards were won by Richard Eckersley - the Denzil Haroun Reserve Team Player of the Year - and striker Danny Welbeck, who was named the Jimmy Murphy Young Player of the Year.

Ronaldo retained the Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year and Players' Player of the Year gongs - and added the Goal of the Season award to his collection.

The Portuguese winger actually occupied the top two spots in the Goal of the Season award, taking first place with his stunning free kick against Portsmouth and second for his impudent backheel against Aston Villa.

The treble completes a remarkable campaign for Ronaldo, who earlier this month retained the PFA and Football Writers' Player of the Season awards for his exertions.

The club's other awards were won by Richard Eckersley - the Denzil Haroun Reserve Team Player of the Year - and striker Danny Welbeck, who was named the Jimmy Murphy Young Player of the Year.
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Wayne: What a privilege

Wayne Rooney raised a toast to Sir Alex Ferguson after helping the Reds to retain the Barclays Premier League trophy.

The United striker, now savouring his second championship, has nothing but admiration for the man who has won ten titles during his Old Trafford tenure.

"He’s brilliant. It’s a privilege to play for him every week," said Wayne.

"He’s been in the game for so long but his determination to win is stronger than ever. All credit to him for staying with the club for so long."

Reflecting on a long, hard league campaign, Rooney admitted the final furlong had been difficult. In the past month, United dropped points at Chelsea and Blackburn and Wayne was injured in the process, to the point that he was only expected to be on the bench at best against Wigan.

"We were under a little bit of pressure towards the end of the season," said Wayne, "but we hung in there.

"We knew that coming into the last two games, if we got six points we’d be champions. We could see the finish line. It was in our hands and we weren’t going to let it slip. We were so determined to retain the title."
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Sir Bobby full of pride

Reds legend Sir Bobby Charlton hails Sir Alex Ferguson a genius and says he couldn’t be happier that Ryan Giggs has equalled his record of 758 appearances…

All in all, it’s been an excellent day for the club...
It’s just brilliant. Alex Ferguson’s record is simply sensational. The man is a genius. It was excellent, Ryan Giggs came on today and did something that just seemed so natural, putting the game beyond Wigan’s reach. We could relax then. That was a really important goal, he took it with such aplomb. You have to look at the record – ten Premier League titles! It’s fantastic.

Ryan has won all ten and today equalled you appearances record. What did you make of that?
I don’t mind. If there is anyone I would have liked it to happen to, it’s Ryan Giggs. He’s a credit to his family, the club, the game and himself. I am pleased for him.

Sir Alex has masterminded another title success and shows no signs of his ambition diminishing…
Nothing is beyond him. If he gets a team and he’s in any position he knows what to do. He gets the best out of his players and it was tricky against Wigan with the rain. But we came through it and won. It’s brilliant, absolutely sensational. I am soproud.

Can you sum up what it feels like to be a part of this club on a day like this?
It’s an unbelievable club. You have to be here for a period of time to understand it. The people here love the club and want to make it work. Manchester United will progress forever. It’s a marvellous club.

And now onto Moscow, are you confident about the Champions League final?
I put nothing past these players, I put nothing past them. It’s not far away now, it’ll soon be upon us. But we will be ready for it. We will give it our best shot, which we always do.

Sir Bobby was speaking to MUTV.
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ManUtd4 Fan's Pool Best Player

The pool about the best Manchester United player has already closed. According to the sample of 232, 60% of the responses voted Christiano Ronaldo. It is not surprising at all to most of United Fan. Wayne Rooney ranked the second with 15% of the vote. Rio Ferdinand, Carlos Tevez, and Anderson shared the third with 3% of the vote. Detailed of pool responses are as below.
Rooney
36 (15%)
Ronaldo
140 (60%)
Tevez
7 (3%)
Ferdinand
7 (3%)
Carrick
4 (1%)
Anderson
9 (3%)
Vidic
4 (1%)
Evra
3 (1%)
Van Der Sar
4 (1%)
Nani
5 (2%)
Hargreave
3 (1%)
Giggs
4 (1%)
Scholes
6 (2%)
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