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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Neville continues fitness bid

Gary Neville aims to continue his bid to be fully fit for the start of the season with some more minutes on the pitch over the coming week.

Old Trafford will play host to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's testimonial match on Saturday against Espanyol and a friendly with Juventus the following Wednesday.

After completing the full 90 minutes of United's 2-1 over Portsmouth in Nigeria on Sunday evening, the skipper is hoping to be involved in at least one of the Reds' upcoming games.

"It was important for me to play 90 minutes in Nigeria, but I did feel it in the last 15 minutes," he told MUTV.

"But then, when I was 23, I would have felt it in the last 15. I think everyone felt it. It was a tough game in humid conditions.

"Now I'm hoping to play in at least one of the games against Espanyol or Juventus."

Having been forced to watch from the sidelines as his team-mates sealed a glorious double last season, the 33-year-old is determined not to miss out this time round.

"Last season was very frustrating from a personal point of view. It was very disappointing not be involved in what was such a great season for the club," he admits.

"Playing in these matches in pre-season will help my fitness and sharpness and hopefully I can be a part of another successful season."


Silvestre keen to stay, despite PSG interest

Mikael Silvestre, the Manchester United defender, is wanted by Paris Saint-Germain but he is still holding out for a testimonial.
The France international, 30, made just three Barclays Premier League appearances last term but will clock up 10 years at Old Trafford this season. PSG plan to offer £3.5m.
They also fancy United's injury-prone France striker Louis Saha but he would prefer to stay in England.
Daily Mail

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Eagels joins Burnley after Ferguson's advice

Chris Eagles revealed Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson persuaded him to quit the European champions and join Coca-Cola Championship outfit Burnley.

The 22-year-old has signed a three-year deal for an undisclosed fee believed to be in excess of £1million after finally admitting defeat in his fight to become a first-team regular at Old Trafford.

Eagles joined the Red Devils at the age of 14 and despite being prominent in their pre-season campaign - scoring against Kaizer Chiefs and Portsmouth on their tour of Africa - he accepted his future lies elsewhere.

'I spoke to Sir Alex a lot about it because he's looked after me since I was 14,' said Eagles, who spent time on loan at Watford, Sheffield Wednesday and Dutch outfit NEC Nijmegen in recent seasons.

'He told my mum and dad he was going to look after me and he did.

'He said it's going to be a big decision but he believes that with the talent I've got I need to go and play.

'It's no good me sitting in the stands.

'United need to win every game and they're not going to play someone who hasn't been playing regularly.'

Eagles spent United's tour of Africa agonising over the move but he knew he was in a 'comfort zone' as a fringe member of the club's first-team set-up.

'People don't realise that a decision like this bangs at your head and you need to just get it signed and sealed,' said Eagles after becoming Burnley's sixth summer signing.

'But I don't need to move here - I can still live in Manchester - and I think altogether the whole package was very good.

'I was in a comfort zone because I had been there since the age of 14.

'It was a hard move to leave a club where I knew everyone from the cleaner to the manager.

'It's a big step but I believe it's a step in the right direction. I was very impressed with Owen Coyle (Burnley manager) and am just looking forward to playing regularly.'

Eagles insisted his decision to leave United was in no way related to Cristiano Ronaldo's apparent failure to secure his dream move to Real Madrid.

Ronaldo's departure may have paved the way for Eagles to make his mark, but the winger said: 'It may have done but you just don't really know.

'I need to concentrate on myself and I don't need to worry about whether someone is leaving.

'He's a great player and I wish him all the best whatever he does.'

Monday, July 28, 2008

Blatter's slave remark 'unfortunate' - Ferguson

Sir Alex Ferguson has hit out at Sepp Blatter's claim that Manchester United are treating Cristiano Ronaldo like a slave.

The FIFA president caused outrage with his comments, likening Ronaldo - who only signed a five-year contract with United 12 months ago - to a serf in feudal times.

Pictures of the Portugal winger sunning himself in Los Angeles this week certainly did not fit that description, although Ronaldo did agree when quizzed about Blatter's comments.

However, Ferguson takes a different view.

And, as he seems increasingly likely to stave off Real Madrid's continued attempts to sign the 23-year-old, he chose to admonish Blatter ahead of his side's 2-1 pre-season friendly win over Portsmouth in Nigeria last night.

'It was an unfortunate statement from someone in such a position,' Ferguson told a pre-match press conference.

'Slavery was abolished many years ago. These days footballers can earn five or six million pounds a year.

'I do not want to dignify this kind of statement with a response but when you consider the history of slavery, it was a very unfortunate statement.'

Ronaldo is not due back in action until October following a recent ankle operation but could return to United's training HQ at Carrington at the end of next month to step up his recovery programme.

Meanwhile, United took the honours in the first of three meetings in a month with Portsmouth.

Chris Eagles and Carlos Tevez did the damage for the English and European champions in last night's friendly against the FA Cup winners.

Both sides will expect improvement when they meet again in the Community Shield on August 10 and, more importantly still, the Barclays Premier League two weeks after that.

Should the Premier League ever manage to force through their badly-received plan for a 39th game on tour, it is to be hoped they keep ticket prices at a reasonable level.

For, while Nigeria as a whole and Abuja in particular are viewed as teeming with United supporters, the national stadium was sparsely populated last night, lending a further air of unreality to an already surreal occasion.

Ole backed to succeed

Working closely with Sir Alex Ferguson can make Ole Gunnar Solskjaer a success in management, according to Norway coach Age Hareide.

Although only three games into his fledgling managerial career, Ole has made a promising start to his new role at the Reserves helm and Hareide - who coached Solskjaer for Molde and Norway - expects that upward curve to continue.

"I think Ole has what it takes be a good manager," Hareide told "He has a lot of experience and he's certainly been under a manager who has shown how management should be done.

"Alex Ferguson knows the game and how to handle people, and Ole is a very quick learner and he picks up bits and pieces from everyone. If he can pick up some bits and pieces from Alex Ferguson then I think he could be a very good manager."

Hareide will be at Old Trafford this weekend as Ole celebrates his United playing career with a testimonial against Espanyol. Having played a pivotal role in Solskjaer's career by taking him to Molde, selling him to United and coaching him internationally, Hareide beams with pride at the striker's subsequent achievements.

"When you're a coach you always wish your players well and hope they succeed in life," he said. "Ole was very special because we built up a great relationship over the years and we still talk a lot. He's someone I'm very fond of; a special person in many ways."

Rio: I'll be fit for title defence

Rio Ferdinand has brushed off any doubts about his fitness and is certain he will be fully fit for the start of United's Premier League title defence.

Ferdinand has missed much of United's pre-season campaign so far. He has been limited to just one outing - the full 90 minutes against Orlando Pirates in South Africa.

A back strain kept him out of the first match against Kaizer Chiefs, and he did not play in either of this weekends games against Kaizer Chiefs and Portsmouth as he had flown home to be with his partner who is expecting their second child.

But Ferdinand is unperturbed by his lack of playing time so far this summer.

"I don't see it as a problem," he said. "There's enough games to get under my belt before the start of the season.

"Fingers crossed I'll be fit for those. I did ground work before going out to South Africa and I'll do a lot of work in training back at home."

Euro crown tough to retain

United face a tough task retaining the Champions League crown the Reds won so dramatically in Moscow, according to Owen Hargreaves. But he says Sir Alex Ferguson’s squad certainly have the talent to be among the main contenders.

AC Milan were the last team to win back-to-back European Cup titles in 1989 and 1990. But it would seem that long gone are the days when, between 1971-1980, the trophy changed hands just four times. Ajax won it three times between 1971-73, Bayern Munich held the title between 1974-76, Liverpool won it twice in a row in 1977-78, and Nottingham Forrest clinched successive crowns in 1979 and 1980.

“It is not impossible to retain the Champions League but it is going to be difficult,” said Hargreaves. “Barcelona have signed the right players, Real Madrid look good, and Chelsea have improved dramatically.

"It’s going to be tough and it’s a big ask. But we are very capable of doing it again.”

Hargreaves knows precisely how tough it can be. Having won the trophy in his first season with Bayern Munich in 2000/01, the Germans then surrendered the crown the following year, losing to eventual winners Real Madrid in the quarter finals.

“It is getting harder and harder to win the Champions League,” Hargreaves added. “The most important thing is to peak at the right moments. You need to get through the groups and put yourself in a position where you have the home leg second like we did last season.

"Everything fell for us at the right time. Our form was good all season, and in the decisive games it was even better. We did a good job of peaking at the right time and it’s something we will have to do again this year.”

United’s advantage is the age of some of the players in the squad, who will only have benefited from last season’s experience. It doesn’t guarantee success, but it has provided the team with a solid foundation and Hargreaves expects the Reds to push on this term.

“I think we can get better,” he says. “I definitely believe that. Cristiano is injured and Anderson will be away at the Olympics, so we will miss them early on. But apart from that the squad looks good. Even the younger players. Wayne is only 22 so he will improve.

"These players have been together for another year and I am looking forward to seeing how they do together. Gary Neville is also back, so it’s looking good for us.”

Saha heading for PSG

United are ready to sell Louis Saha to big-spending Paris St Germain to raise money for new arrivals. The injury-jinxed French striker, 29, is wanted by PSG who have signed Chelsea veteran Claude Makelele and is interested in going home if a fee and personal terms can be agreed. United have rejected several bids from clubs who want Saha on loan and PSG would have to buy the hitman and then be able to take on his stunning £4million-ayear salary. Sir Alex Ferguson has grown fed up with Saha's inability to be a significant part of his squad and the money from shifting him could help in his bid for a fit goalscorer. Saha should know his PSG fate shortly.
Alan Nixon, Daily Mirror

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sir Alex rubbishes rumours of Ronaldo's partying

Sir Alex Ferguson has dismissed as 'a load of rubbish' reports that star player Cristiano Ronaldo has been partying excessively during his rehabilitation from ankle surgery.

The Portuguese winger has been spending time in the USA as he continues to recover from an operation, but while his recreational activities have been the subject of media speculation, Ferguson insists his visit is business orientated.

The Scot has also rejected suggestions that the 23-year-old, who remains the focus of intense interest from Spanish giants Real Madrid, has been drinking after revealing United have a representative in Ronaldo's party.

'He was always scheduled to have this time off in Los Angeles. There was no harm in going there,' said Ferguson. 'He was doing some commercial things. We have someone out there with him.

'All the stuff we have been seeing of him, well, it's a load of rubbish. He's not a drinker for a start. There was a report he had been drinking vodka but I spoke to the person we have with him and he said it's rubbish.

'He is not drinking. It's absolute nonsense.'

Ferguson conceded that Ronaldo faced a challenge in coping with the added celebrity that his stellar season last term brought, but refused to be drawn on comparisons with former Red Devils star David Beckham, whose lifestyle was believed to be one of the reasons Ferguson sold him to Madrid.

'As far as comparisons with him and David Beckham are concerned, I am not going to discuss that,' said Ferguson. 'Any young player is going to get attention. The important thing is how they handle that.

'We know success changes people but the change you like to see is an elevation in esteem and personality, which makes them better players a lot of the time.

'Cristiano is now reaching that stage with his maturity, personality and the presence he has had on the world stage. We should help him.'

Manchester United Vs. Portsmouth Result Report

A solid test in the Nigerian capital of Abuja saw United’s unbeaten pre-season campaign continue, with the Reds running out 2-1 winners against Portsmouth.

Second-half goals from Chris Eagles and Carlos Tevez gave United a deserved win in what was a decent work-out against Premier League opposition, a side that will become familiar foes in the coming weeks. This is the first of three matches in the space of a month against Harry Redknapp’s men; there’s also the Community Shield at Wembley on 10 August, then the league encounter two weeks later at Fratton Park.

United were without Wayne Rooney for this match, he suffered a dead leg against Kaizer Chiefs on Saturday, while Ben Foster was also out with a knock. Sir Alex continued to give young players a chance, with Jonny Evans, Darron Gibson, Eagles and Fraizer Campbell included from the start.

The Reds began brightly and were controversially denied a fifth-minute opener. Glen Johnson fouled Campbell inside the area, giving Tevez the chance to score from the spot. He expertly sent David James the wrong way, but the referee ordered a retake for an encroachment into the box. Having previously plumped for placement, Tevez chose power but could only look on as his second attempt rattled the bar.

Despite a dramatic start, the game was played at a relatively conservative pace, perhaps due to the heat – humid 28oC temperatures at kick-off – or the fact that both teams had played matches the day before. However, any openings were coming from United; Chris Eagles missed a one-on-one with James midway through the half, then Campbell spurned a chance from a similar position on 35 minutes.

In the second half Jermain Defoe was first to go close, forcing an excellent low save from the rarely-tested Tomasz Kuszczak. But five minutes after the restart United, and Eagles specifically, made amends for missed first-half chances. Pompey failed to clear the ball from a Reds attack and Eagles smashed the loose ball into the top corner from 12 yards. It was nothing more than Sir Alex’s men deserved.

United soon moved 2-0 in front with another emphatic finish. Tevez raced down the right channel and surprised James, who was expecting a shot across goal, with powerful low drive into the near corner. It was his last touch of the match – he was replaced by Ryan Giggs - but a good note to end on for the impressive Argentinian.

Defoe pulled back a goal for Portsmouth in the last minute of normal time, but United held out to record a third win in four matches in Africa, bringing the curtain down on a highly successful visit.

Other plus points on the night were Jonny Evans’ display in defence, and outings for youngster Ben Amos, Tom Cleverley and Rodrigo Possebon. United now return to England with matches against Espanyol (2 Aug), Peterborough (4 Aug), Juventus (6 Aug) and Portsmouth (10 Aug) before the start of the season.

United: Kuszczak (Amos, 76); Neville, Vidic, Evans (Cathcart, 65), Silvestre; Gibson (Possebon, 73), Carrick (O'Shea, 65), Scholes, Eagles (Cleverley, 79); Tevez (Giggs, 65), Campbell.
Subs not used: Fletcher, Simpson, Martin.

High hopes for starlets

Sir Alex Ferguson has earmarked a host of his promising youngsters as future Old Trafford stars and hopes to see them make significant progress over the coming season.

A number of the young players have impressed during United's pre-season trip to South Africa with Chris Eagles, Lee Martin, Tom Cleverley and Fraizer Campbell all finding the net.

Assured displays from Brazilian midfielder Rodrigo Possebon and Belfast-born defender Craig Cathcart during Saturday's Vodacom Challenge final victory have given Sir Alex further cause for optimism.

"They are all at a good age in terms of us judging them," he said. "Most of them have been out on loan and done well.

"Jonny Evans had a good spell at Sunderland and was instrumental in them staying up. Campbell was instrumental in bringing Hull up.

"Lee Martin has been unfortunate with injuries, but he showed what he can do by setting up the first goal [against the Kaizer Chiefs]. He has potential.

"Cathcart is looking much stronger and the intention is to put him out on loan this season. Possebon will stay as he has potential for first team football, while Cleverley is just a young lad and has time on his side. All the young players have good potential."


Dream debut for Tom

A beaming Tom Cleverley couldn't contain his delight after scoring on his senior debut during United's 4-0 victory over the Kaizer Chiefs in the Vodacom Challenge final.

The 18-year-old was a late inclusion in the Reds' South Africa squad after flying out with fellow youngsters Rodrigo Possebon and Craig Cathcart on Thursday.

Cleverley entered the fray at the start of the second period and wasted little time in making an impression, expertly converting Wayne Rooney's knock-down just after the hour for United's third goal.

"It's been an unbelievable day and I'm pretty speechless," he told MUTV.

"I got the call on Tuesday to say I'd be coming out to South Africa so it's all happened very quickly.

"I came on and did quite well and got a goal - I feel very proud."

Having experienced a successful taste of first team action, the midfielder is determined to build on his bright start.

"I've done well in my first match, but I want to stay there and carry it on into the season," he insisted.

"I'm just a down to earth lad from Bradford and to see Scholesy coming on to play next to me was unbelievable; you have to pinch yourself.

"It's great to play with the likes of Tevez and Rooney and it really helps you to raise your game. Hopefully I can continue to do that."

Hargo: Rooney can 'explode'

Owen Hargreaves has heaped praise on Wayne Rooney and predicted the striker will have a ‘massive’ 2008/09 season.

Hargreaves already believes his team-mate is England’s most talented player and warned the rest of the Premier League that the 22-year-old will only get better.

The Reds midfielder said: “This will be a massive season for Wayne. He could be one of the most influential players in the Premier League and I am looking forward to seeing him really explode.

“Ability-wise he is the best English player. It is very rare you get someone as good as that – he is exceptionally gifted. He is only 22 and it feels like he has been around for ever.

“Wayne has had a fabulous career already but he has so much more to offer. This season I am looking forward to him doing even better, scoring more goals and being even more effective.”

Rooney was frequently deployed in an unfamiliar wide role last term and his goal tally suffered as a result, although Hargreaves recognises the value of the frontman’s tireless contribution to United’s cause.

"It is a blessing and not a coincidence that we were so successful last season with Wayne and Carlos [Tevez] doing so much work up front,” Hargreaves continued.

“Wayne is so unselfish – he will do a job anywhere you ask him. He does a lot of work for the rest of the team, which other offensive players would not do.

"But he has so much ability to decide a game as well. The Aston Villa game in the FA Cup was probably the best example of that. He decided the game on his own in the space of 20 minutes. Not a lot of English players can do that.”

Boss hails Vodacom triumph

Sir Alex Ferguson was delighted to see his side pick up their first piece of silverware of the season after a convincing 4-0 win in the Vodacom Challenge final in Pretoria.

A fine first half finish from captain Ryan Giggs set the Reds on their way to victory over the Kaizer Chiefs, before further impressive finishes from Wayne Rooney and substitutes Tom Cleverley and Fraizer Campbell ensured United rounded off their visit to South Africa in style.

It was a young side that started the match with Rodrigo Possebon and Craig Cathcart both handed their first senior starts. Cleverley and Campbell were both second half substitues and each ended the day with a goal.

Sir Alex was pleased with his side's overall display and reserved special praise for his young charges.

"The young ones played their part," the boss told MUTV. "Tom Cleverley did very well. He's a nice footballer, a Manchester United-type player who wants to be on the ball all the time.

"Fraizer is always a threat with the pace he has and getting a goal was nice for him.

"I thought Rodrigo and Craig both did well. Craig had one or two little misunderstandings in the first half when the ball was played through. The altitude here means it flies a bit quicker than normal so he had to deal with that a couple of times. But other than that he did very well.

"He, like Rodrigo, used the ball well and I think the lads have got a chance.

"It's always great to win a trophy," added the United manager. "It's a beautiful trophy, although I'm not quite sure how we're going to get it home it's so big!"

The Reds now head to Nigeria for a friendly with Harry Redknapp's Portsmouth side on Sunday night after a productive nine-day stay in South Africa.

"The organisation of everything has been first class," concluded Sir Alex on his way to the airport. "The atmosphere in the stadiums has been terrific - the fans really seemed to have enjoyed themselves. And the games have been played at a high tempo which has brought our fitness up to the right level.

"So there are a lot of plus points and I think there are a lot of positive aspects for South African football."

Kaiser Chiefs Vs. Manchester United Result Report

United were too classy for Kaizer Chiefs in the Vodacom Challenge final, as the Reds cruised to a 4-0 victory.

Goals from Ryan Giggs, Wayne Rooney, Tom Cleverley and Fraizer Campbell settled a game in which the Reds only fully took control in the second half.

The Chiefs set much of the early pace, as the English champions took time to find their groove. The heat and altitude in Pretoria may have played its part, likewise United’s unfamiliar team selection.

That was understandable, however. With the Reds due to face Portsmouth in Nigeria little more than 24 hours after this clash, Sir Alex called on the club’s youth. Youngsters Craig Cathcart and Rodrigo Possebon (both yet to make competitive first-team appearances) both started, as did Danny Simpson and Lee Martin.

Possebon’s first two touches oozed confidence and class, as the young Brazilian slotted easily into his central midfield role. Later, when he sprayed a pass 40 yards out to Martin on the left wing, it was just like watching Paul Scholes.

But it was the familiar face of Wayne Rooney who engineered the game’s first spark. Collecting the ball on the right side of the Chiefs’ box, Rooney shaped to blast the ball goalwards. Instead, he orchestrated a cheeky chip that had goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune scrambling back towards goal before breathing a sigh of relief as the ball dropped onto the roof of the net.

As was the case in Cape Town last Saturday, Kaizer Chiefs weren’t intimidated by United. Tricky winger Siphiwe Tshabalala was particularly direct, running at Simpson at every opportunity. Tshabalala, in his bright red boots and dreadlocked hair, makes Chief tick. Speedy and skilful, he also possesses an assured first touch and exquisite vision.

After a period of United dominance, in which Rooney saw two shots saved by Khune, the South Africans almost took the lead. They were first denied a penalty when Tomasz Kuszczak raced out to reach Cathcart’s header and Mthembu went to ground. Then Tshabalala flashed a free-kick inches wide of the post.

When the next chance of the match fell to Ryan Giggs on 40 minutes, the Welshman made no mistake, lashing Lee Martin’s cross back past Khune and into the roof of the net. Giggs’ right-foot rocket not only put United in the driving seat, it also raised R100,000 for the tournament’s Goals For Miracles campaign. By the time the final whistle went, the charity was R400,000 better off.

Giggs was denied a second shortly after the interval by a fine save from Khune, and Wayne Rooney blasted the follow-up into the side-netting. United’s record appearance maker was again involved on 53 minutes, his curling cross finding Cathcart at the back post. Despite the time and space he was afforded, the young Northern Irishman could only plant his header wide.

The Reds did add a second on 57 minutes as Wayne Rooney beat the offside trap to sprint clear and finish under the onrushing Khune. It was the sort of composure in front of goal strikers sometimes lack during pre-season, and yet Rooney has now found the net in two of his last three starts.

He turned provider five minutes later, nodding down Danny Simpson’s cross at the back post for substitute Tom Cleverley to fire home from six yards. Cleverley, a constant fixture in the Reds’ second string last season, was engulfed by team-mates as they celebrated his strike.

The Chiefs’ early energy had faded and United’s final goal arrived courtesy of another substitute, Fraizer Campbell.

Again, the Chiefs’ offside trap failed. Chris Eagles laid the ball into Campbell’s path and the 21-year-old showed the kind of form that netted him 15 goals during his loan spell at Hull City last season.

In truth, the result was never important; United’s time in South Africa was all about improving fitness levels. Still, it’s always nice to see the Reds win some silverware.

Team Line-ups

United: Kuszczak; Simpson, Vidic (Evans 63), Cathcart, O’Shea; Fletcher (Gibson 63), Possebon (Cleverley 46), Carrick (Scholes 63), Martin (Eagles 46); Rooney (Tevez 66), Giggs (Campbell 66)

Subs not used: Amos, Neville, Silvestre

Kaizer Chiefs: Khune; Tau, Bhasera, Nahayo (Tsotetsi 66), Quartey; Nengomashe, Zwane, Letsholonyane (Schalkwyk 46), Tshabalala (Nkambule 46); Mthembu (Motaung 38, Lebese 71), Torrealba (Bulu 66)

Subs not used: Baron, Mathebula, Sibeko

Reds close in on Tevez deal

Carlos Tevez will sign a permanent deal with the club before the end of the year, according to United chief executive David Gill.

Gill confirmed the Reds have reached a deal with Tevez's owners MSI that will turn his current loan deal into a permanent move.

Tevez netted 19 goals in his first season at Old Trafford as United sealed a glorious double and Gill insists it was always the club's intention to offer the Argentine a long-term deal.

"We have spoken to Carlos and see him as part of our long-term squad," revealed Gill. "We have been pleased with his first season. He is a good age - a great player and well liked within the team.

"We know what we have to do and what we have to pay. The only issue is that we would have to sort out a long-term contract for him.

"But it's not a problem - we can do it in September, October, November or December. Sir Alex has explained it to him and he is very comfortable with it."

Portsmouth Vs. Manchester United Highlights Video Clip

Portsmouth [1 - 2] Manchester United
51' [0 - 1] C. Eagles
64' [0 - 2] C.A. Tevez
90' [1 - 2] J. Defoe


Manchester United Vs. Kaizer Chiefs Highlights Video Clip (Final - Vodacom Challenge)

Manchester United 4 - 0 Kaizer Chiefs (Final - Vodacom Challenge)
1-0 Giggs 40'
2-0 Rooney 57'
3-0 Cleverley 62'
4-0 Campbell 86'


Thursday, July 24, 2008

The future is bright

United's conveyor belt of young talent is in good shape, according to Reserves manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The Reds' opulent history of producing players from within is much-fabled, but no homegrown talents have established themselves as senior regulars at Old Trafford since Darren Fletcher and John O'Shea.

Having experienced first-hand the talent within Carrington's current crop of youngsters, however, Solskjaer is adamant that the future is bright.

"There are people with first-team potential that I am working with at the moment," he told the Manchester Evening News. "United do have a history of getting players into the first team from their own ranks.

"In the last few years we've had Gerard Pique and Giuseppe Rossi come through, though they are now at other clubs. There are the likes of Darren Fletcher, John O'Shea and Wes Brown who have all come through the system, so there is a chance. It is up to every individual. It is not impossible.

"The difficulty here is you have the demand of winning almost every game at United so you cannot just put a player in to see how he is doing just because you can afford to take a chance on a particular game. It's not like that here because you have to win so they have to be ready."

Although first team openings remain few and far between given the enduring demands for success at Old Trafford, Ole is adamant that no heads have dropped among the youth ranks.

"It is no problem to keep these lads motivated," he said. "They are so positive and dedicated. They know if they are good enough they will get a chance. If not they know they will get a good career somewhere else. That is what we have said to them.

"We want to get as many as possible into the first team here, of course, that is the aim but for the rest we want to make careers for them at other clubs.

"I have had discussions with the manager about who is going to go out on loan. Maybe after one year they are ready to go somewhere else. You don't want to stay in the Reserves for three years because the boat is starting to sink and perhaps you should then be elsewhere."

Febian aims to emulate Fraizer

Febian Brandy is hopeful his second loan spell at Swansea City will help him emulate the improvement of fellow striker Fraizer Campbell.

While Brandy impressed at the Liberty Stadium in the latter half of last season, it was the form of Campbell at Hull City which represented the Reds' biggest loan success.

Campbell is now heavily involved in the Reds' senior pre-season exertions, and Brandy would love to be in a similar position in a year's time.

"I didn't play as much as I would have liked to last season and Sir Alex Ferguson said he was disappointed when I went back because he'd wanted me to play more," Brandy told the South Wales Evening Post.

"But Roberto Martinez is the manager and he knows much more about management than I do, and the gaffer at United was pleased with everything I did at Swansea last season.

"He said that if I can play a bit more this year and score some goals, I can force my way into the first-team picture at United.

"That's what Frazier Campbell has done and my aim is to try to do something like that this season."

Diminutive striker Brandy has rejoined the Swans until January 17, 2009, and he is hoping to build on the successes of last season, in which he helped Swansea gain promotion and also took part in United's Double celebrations.

"After winning the title with Swansea, I went back to United and was part of the Premier League celebrations,'' he explained. "Then I travelled with the club to the Champions League final in Moscow, which turned into a third celebration.

"I was proud of playing a part for Swansea last season, and now I can't wait for the Championship. It's going to be a bigger challenge, but it's one I'm looking forward to."

Owen: Fans deserve parade

Owen Hargreaves is looking forward to taking part in the Reds’ double trophy parade at Old Trafford on 6 August, a celebration he feels is 10 weeks later than it should have been.

The midfielder was as disappointed as anyone when United were forced to shelve plans for an open-top bus tour around Manchester because of trouble between fans in the city centre after the UEFA Cup final on 14 May.

But he is now urging fans to take a one-off chance to see the silverware and celebrate United’s historic 2007/08 campaign ahead of what promises to be a high-quality pre-season friendly against Italian giants Juventus.

“It’s a belated but great opportunity for the fans to see the trophies,” he told “We didn’t have a celebration after the Champions League final and this is something that should have happened earlier, straight after we came back from Moscow.

“The players, staff and fans who put so much work into the season were disappointed not to go on a parade. It’s a shame that it was cancelled because of other people’s actions at the UEFA Cup final.

“The double was a crowning achievement and it should be celebrated - it doesn’t happen very often.”

An hour before kick-off against Juve, the United players will walk out with the Premier League and Champions League trophies, for photos at all four stands.

Hargreaves, who is recovering from a recurrence of the tendonitis which disrupted the start of his United career, is keen to be involved in the evening’s events.

“I hope I get to carry out a trophy!” the 27-year-old added. “Obviously it’s not the same environment as it would have been, but it’s probably too late to have a bus parade now.

“It’s nevertheless a wonderful chance for everyone to see the trophies again. Hopefully we’ll have a good game against Juve and the fans will enjoy a great evening.”

Ferguson: Ferdinand best defender in Europe

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has lauded Rio Ferdinand as arguably the best defender in Europe.

Ferdinand's partnership at the back with Nemanja Vidic was, by popular opinion, one of the main reasons the club won a notable double last season.

The former Leeds and West Ham United star is widely tipped to become a future United and England captain.

Ferdinand returned to the side on Tuesday in the victory against Orlando Pirates in the Vodacom Challenge following a back problem.

It was his first pre-season match after he sat out the draw against Kaizer Chiefs at the weekend and the friendly at Aberdeen.

Ferguson said: 'Rio has been the best defender in the country if not Europe for a couple of years.

'His maturity and leadership have been key factors in the team's success.

'He is someone that young players learn from and that more experienced players respect.

'I have not seen a better defensive pairing than him and Nemanja for a long time.'

And former Manchester United centre-back, and Old Trafford favourite, Gary Pallister agrees with Ferguson.

'When Rio is at his best, there is no finer defender in Europe,' Pallister said.

'He has pace, is composed and uses the ball intelligently.'

Ferdinand has not always been a popular figure among Manchester United supporters, who were especially aggrieved at the defender's contract stand-off three years ago which came after his eight-month ban for a missed drugs test.

However, in signing that deal, and another one last season which will keep the Londoner at Old Trafford until 2013, he has silenced the critics who claimed he wanted to return to the capital.

He has secured Premier League title medals in his last two seasons, as well captaining United to Champions League glory in Moscow, and Ferdinand has now cemented his place in Red Devils folklore.

'We all know he had a difficult time with his contract negotiations and before that the missed drugs test. But these are the kind of events that make you stronger and Rio is now fulfilling all the potential people knew he had.'

With Fabio Capello due to announce his England captain ahead of next month's friendly with the Czech Republic, Ferdinand could start the season with some good news too.

Certainly Pallister would not be surprised in the least if the 29-year-old won his personal battle with John Terry for the coveted role.

'Rio Ferdinand has excelled as a captain and a leader,' he said.

'Those qualities first came to the fore at Leeds and now they are doing so at Old Trafford.

'He has grown into the job and United really benefited from that last season when Gary Neville was out.

'Rio has all the credentials required to captain United all the time. That job is currently taken by Gary but it would not shock me at all if he got the job for England.'

United are preparing for the final game of the tournament on Saturday in Pretoria against either the Pirates or the Kaizer Chiefs, who meet on Thursday night.

Then on Sunday they move on to Nigeria for a friendly against Portsmouth before flying home.

After winning the Champions League and retaining their Premier League title, Ferguson feels this is a vital time in their build-up to the new campaign.

He said: 'In many ways, having won two trophies last year makes pre-season even more important.

'But I am confident the players have the hunger and the desire to mount a strong challenge to defend their titles.'

erguson is expected to give another run-out to some of his promising youngsters with Fraizer Campbell, Jonny Evans, Danny Simpson, Chris Eagles, Lee Martin and Darron Gibson all featuring against Pirates.

And according to the Scot, the difference between being on the fringes and being promoted to the team can be down purely to keeping your focus.

He said: 'Concentration is one of the vital components of players making that step across the line to be first-team players. We often under-rate the value of concentration.

'They can practice all day long, they can have fantastic ability but if they do not have concentration to make everything happen, then they are never going to be there. That is a fact.'

Give Ronaldo what he wants, says Tevez

Manchester United striker Carlos Tevez has broken ranks by claiming Cristiano Ronaldo should be allowed to join Real Madrid if he wishes.

Ronaldo has been the transfer story of the summer, with the Portugal winger expressing his desire to play for Real, who in turn have made him their number one target.

'I understand Cristiano,' Tevez told AS. 'Every footballer wants to play at Real Madrid. On the other hand, I also think that everyone wants to play for Manchester United, but if what he seeks is something else, I think that should be respected.'

United have been furious with Real's public pursuit of the player, once again reiterating this week that they have no intention of selling their prize asset.

But Old Trafford team-mate Tevez has risked incurring the wrath of Sir Alex Ferguson by claiming the European champions should not stand in Ronaldo's way if he wants to leave.

'The (United) team has great players, including Cristiano Ronaldo, of course,' Tevez added.

'It's clear that he is a very important player for us, but this is a personal decision, which is up to only him.

'I have not talked to him, but when these things happen, neither side feels good.'

Meanwhile, United legend Paul Scholes has warned Cristiano Ronaldo about leaving Manchester United and believes players should be thankful that they are playing for such an illustrious club.

'If players fancy a move and a bit of money, then good luck to them, but when they're at a place like this, I don't think they realise how lucky they are to be playing here,' Scholes said.

'It's always a step down [after United]. There are obviously big clubs in the world, but while certain people think it might be a progression if they move somewhere else, when you leave here I don't think it is.'

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Scholes excited by the future

Staging a repeat of last season's double triumph is not out of the question for United during the upcoming campaign, according to midfielder Paul Scholes.

As one of the Reds' elder statesmen, Scholes is well placed to assess the future potential of United's young guns.

And he's convinced that having scooped the double last season, the team's starlets will continue to go from strength to strength.

"It's an exciting time and a good time to be involved," insisted the 33-year-old.

"The young players coming through are only going to be better next year for the experience they’ve had. Everyone who came in to the team last year played a massive part in our achievements.

"It is a big ask [to retain the Champions League], but I feel we can only go from strength to strength."

Scholes saw enough from United's young players last season to convince him that they are more than capable of coping when the going gets tough.

"It is one thing having the talent and doing it in training every day but you have got to do it where it matters," he insisted.

“Thankfully we have the players who can do that - young lads who do not seemed to be fazed by anything. They are very confident and look forward to the big games.

“Hopefully we can get off to a good start and a good finish by winning more trophies.”

I've been hard on Rooney

Sir Alex Ferguson admitted last night: I have made life hard for Wayne Rooney. The Manchester United boss consistently played his England hitman out of position last season as the club won the Premier League and Champions League. Fergie accepts the star’s goal tally suffered as a result. But now the Scot is ready to turn Rooney into a major threat once more by using him as a central striker. Ferguson conceded: “I think I have to take a bit of responsibility. He has sacrificed himself and never complained about it, which says a lot for the lad. We have to define his role a bit better for us. I think his best position is through the middle, either in a front role or tucking in just behind. He can play either role very well. He is aggressive, uses two feet, has good pace and the courage to go in the box. There’s no reason why he can’t get a good supply of goals."
Janine Self, The Sun

Brave Brown plays full game

Wes Brown was determined to play against Orlando Pirates in Durban on Tuesday, despite the death of his half sister at the weekend.

The Reds’ no.6 played the full 90 minutes and will now return to Manchester on Wednesday evening to be with his family.

“[To play Wes tonight] was a decision we both took,” Sir Alex told reporters after Tuesday’s match.

“I’ve been speaking with him over the last few days and the boy wanted to play. He felt he should play and therefore he’ll take up the family duties when he gets back. He’ll fly home on Wednesday night.”

Sir Alex is known throughout the game as a master of man management, but he admits sometimes players are better off making their own decisions.

“It’s a difficult one to advise on,” he said. “Only the individual can know what’s right, and Wes wanted to stay. Because there’s a post-mortem happening at the moment, there was no emergency for the boy to rush home.”

Boss delivers report cards

After United's 1-0 win over Orlando Pirates on Tuesday, journalist Nick Coppack asked Sir Alex to assess the contributions of the team's younger players. Here's what he had to say:

"Chris Eagles and Lee Martin haven’t played enough football over the last two or three years and they’ve come to an important time in their careers.

"Lee, in particular, has been very unfortunate in the loan spells he’s had. He’s picked up a couple of long-term injuries. Of course, at that age these kids want to play football all the time.

"Meanwhile, Chris Eagles had the opportunity to go on loan last season and didn’t want to. Because of that, and the form of the team, he was dependent on Reserves football, which, at his age and the progress he’s got to make, isn’t enough for him.

"I have to find out more about those players and that’s why I bring them on tour and it’s why I played them [against Orlando Pirates].

"As for Jonny Evans, he went to Sunderland in January and did very well. In fact, I think he was very instrumental in them staying up. Jonny's a very good footballer, who reads the game well and has good composure. He’s got a career in football – there’s no question about that.

"Darron Gibson went to Wolves last season and injuries, as well as a family bereavement, derailed his time there. He needs to get football – he’s a big, powerful lad with good feet and he has a chance.

"Then there's Fraizer Campbell, who spent time at Hull City last season and had an incredible season. He has to improve in certain aspects of his game, but he has a chance as well.

"Concentration is one of the vital components of making the step across the line to be a regular first-team player. You saw the composure that Rooney and Scholes brought to the team [on Tuesday] and that tells you the vast difference between a young player and an experienced player like Scholes. His pass in the final minutes of the game to Rooney… I would have paid money to see that pass if that was the only thing I saw in the game.

"We often under-rate the value of concentration with footballers. They can practise all day long, they can have fantastic ability but if they don’t have the concentration to produce final passes in important moments then they’re never going to make it."

Carrick hungry for more

Michael Carrick says the squad are determined to keep up the winning habit after last season's glorious double.

The midfielder insists confidence could not be higher within the camp after claiming back-to-back titles and the club's third European Cup.

"The success we’ve had over the last couple of years fills you with a lot of confidence," says Carrick.

"Wining the Champions League is a tremendous achievement and one we set out to do. We managed to win the double so as players, we’re going into the new season full of confidence and looking forward.

"The feeling you get from winning drives you on to win even more. I looked at Giggsy, Gaz [Neville] and Scholesy and wondered how they’d done that for so long, but now I know. You can’t get enough of it.

"Hopefully that will drive us on to have more success in years to come."

Foster 'can be the best'

Sir Alex Ferguson reiterated his belief that Ben Foster will soon be England’s number one after the United stopper kept a clean sheet against Orlando Pirates in Durban.

It was Foster’s first full 90 minutes in the first team since he made his United debut against Derby County in March and he was twice called upon to make sharp saves.

The Reds’ boss was delighted with the 24-year-old’s performance and expects big things from the goalkeeper this season.

“With the ability he has, Ben is certainly going to be challenging for a first-team place,” Sir Alex said.

“That’s also good news for England. They’ve brought David James back in and if they’ve gone back to an experienced goalkeeper it tells you there’s an opportunity there for Ben.

“Edwin will start the season as number one. Remember, Ben’s in competition with one of the best goalkeepers of all time. There’s no way I’d discount Edwin van der Sar after his performances for us.

“The potential of Ben Foster is there for all to see and if he’s patient he’ll get his chance. Goalkeepers can have longer careers than outfield players – Edwin can easily play until he’s 40. Ben’s only 24 so he has 14 or 15 years left. There’s no need for the boy to panic. His time will come.”

Foster knows how difficult it will be to break into the starting XI, but he told MUTV he’s determined to keep working hard.

“I have to be confident,” he said. “Like Edwin and Tomasz, I want to play. All I can do is go out on the training pitch and work hard, and when I get a chance in games I need to do as
“I’m looking to push Edwin and Tomasz all the way – it’s going to be a good fight for the goalkeeper’s jersey.

“[The match on Tuesday in Durban] was my first game in four or five months, so it was nice to blow the cobwebs out.

"I was a bit rusty at times but it was good to keep a clean sheet. The key to being a good United goalkeeper is to be on your toes for 90 minutes and expect the unexpected. They had a shot at the end but that was about all I had to do."

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Boss praises young guns

Sir Alex Ferguson was pleased with his young charges' display in the win over Orlando Pirates, although he accepted that the Reds ran out of steam somewhat in the second half.

The likes of Jonny Evans, Darron Gibson and Lee Martin all started the Vodacom Challenge game in Durban, with the latter's first-half goal settling another fast-paced and competitive pre-season friendly.

Sir Alex told MUTV: "I’m satisfied with the result. Some of the football we played in the first half hour was very satisfying: there was a lot of vision, movement and quick passing in our game, and we didn’t dwell on the ball.

"The Pirates were very aggressive in terms of pressing the ball and we had to be quick on it, which can only help us.

"After 30 minutes we lost our momentum a little bit, which happens with young players. They start to lose concentration. Defensively we were caught one or two times on the counter-attack but they had a lot of pace, although they weren't great finishers."

Ferguson had words of encouragement for Martin and Chris Eagles and is confident the young midfield duo can fulfil their potential by playing more regularly.

"Some of the players have not had enough football at this level, of course," the Reds boss continued.

"Eagles and Martin have been out on loan, Martin got injured at Sheffield United and needs a lot of football, but there’s a lot of talent there, as is the case with Eagles.

"Hopefully they can start to get regular football at a good level because to fulfil their talent and promise they really have to be playing football."

Orlando Pirates Vs. Manchester United Highlights Video Clip

United enjoyed another energetic pre-season workout as Lee Martin’s first-half goal gave the Reds a comfortable victory over Orlando Pirates in the Vodacom Challenge in Durban.

In a second competitive game in South Africa, an athletic Pirates side made some feisty challenges but lacked the penetrative edge of their rivals Kaizer Chiefs, with Reds goalkeeper Ben Foster largely a spectator.

Midfielder Martin scored the winner in the 23rd minute, poking the ball home inside the box after running onto a Fraizer Campbell flick-on.

Sir Alex Ferguson made plenty of changes to his side, with youngsters Jonny Evans, Darron Gibson, Campbell and Martin all handed starts in front of 50,000 noisy fans in Durban’s ABSA Stadium.

Carlos Tevez had the game’s first chance in the seventh minute, his low shot from the edge of the box drawing a smart save from Senzo Meyiwa.

Meyiwa was called into action again three minutes later to deny Martin, while Carrick saw a sweetly-struck volley deflected wide as United dominated early on.

Fraizer Campbell’s pace was causing problems for the Pirates defence and the young striker was involved in the opener, heading the ball on to Martin, who shrugged off Happy Jele and finished smartly past Meyiwa.

Tevez almost doubled United’s lead 10 minutes before the break but his snap-shot from the edge of the box flew just wide.

Centre-backs Rio Ferdinand, fully recovered from a back spasm, and Evans had little trouble dealing with the Bucs’ enthusiastic but largely toothless attack.

Martin had a strong penalty appeal waved away shortly before half-time and both he and Ferdinand were surprisingly booked for their protests.

United found the Pirates in more determined mood at the start of the second half and the Reds did not create as many clear-cut chances.

Foster was called into rare action to deny Lebogang Mothibantwa and Joseph Makhanya, before Wayne Rooney and Paul Scholes came off a strong United bench for a 20-minute run-out.

The two substitutes almost combined immediately to score United’s second, Rooney laying the ball off for Scholes to hit a first-time shot that was parried by Meyiwa.

The Reds failed to add to Martin’s opener but claimed a second pre-season victory and, more importantly, 16 of the squad benefited from some more useful match action ahead of the 2008/09 campaign.

Kaizer Chiefs and Orlando Pirates do battle on Thursday for the right to face United in the Vodacom Challenge final on Saturday, July 26.

Fans can watch both games live on MUTV and MUTV Online.

United: Foster, Brown, Ferdinand, Evans (Simpson 88), Silvestre (O'Shea 62), Eagles, Carrick (Scholes 69), Gibson (Fletcher 82), Martin, Tevez (Rooney 69), Campbell.

Orlando Pirates Vs. Manchester United Highlights Video Clip

Orlando Pirates [0 - 1] Manchester United Friendly
23' [0 - 1] L. Martin


Arsene Wenger backs Fergie in hammering Real on Ronaldo

Arsene Wenger has for once thrown his weight behind Sir Alex Ferguson by accusing Real Madrid of "destabilising" Cristiano Ronaldo. Wenger's spats with Fergie have become legendary in the Frenchman's 12 years as Gunners boss - their rows adding spice to Arsenal's battles with Manchester United for the title. But Wenger reckons his old adversary has every right to moan about the way Real have gone about trying to poach Portuguese wing wizard Ronaldo. "If you don't show respect to other clubs, I think that football is moving in the wrong way," said Wenger. "You cannot come out like president Ramon Calderon has done at Real Madrid with Manchester United, and tell them they cannot stop a player from leaving. You can destabilise any player in the world - that is irresponsible. The big clubs should have values and vision, and be setting an example to others. If we do not do that in football, then we do not understand our responsibilities."
Tom Collomosse, The Mirror

Monday, July 21, 2008

Giggs eyes Pirates scalp

United winger Ryan Giggs admits winning isn’t everything during pre-season, although he’d love to put one over Orlando Pirates in Durban on Tuesday.

The Reds’ first match in the Vodacom Challenge, against Kaizer Chiefs in Cape Town, ended 1-1 after Chris Eagles cancelled out Jonathan Quartey’s opener.

And although Sir Alex’s side are guaranteed a spot in the competition’s final even if they lose to Orlando Pirates, Giggs would much prefer to get there on merit.

“The results here in South Africa aren’t the be all and end all,” he told MUTV. “Generally, the idea is to get fit and come through the games with no injuries.

“But winning is still important. We didn’t win the tournament last time we were here in 2006 [so we’d like to make up for that]. Besides, you want to get into the habit of winning games as soon as possible.”

The 34-year-old is enjoying his time in South Africa, largely due to the supporters’ hospitality.

“South Africa’s great. The fans are brilliant, just like anywhere else in the world where United go. I’ve experienced it before so I know what to expect, but it’s still special to arrive at the airport at 8am and see fans waiting for you.

“They were dancing and singing and put on a real South African welcome [when we touched down in Cape Town on Friday].

“It’s definitely good to be here and we’ll have some more tough games to play – it will be a real test.”

Real 'would be bad for Ronny'

Sir Alex Ferguson was at his most candid yet on Monday afternoon when asked about the future of Cristiano Ronaldo. The Reds boss firmly set out the facts that he is contracted to United for four more years, adding that a move to Real Madrid would be “the worst thing he could do”.

The 23-year-old winger, who is currently recovering after an ankle operation that will keep him for around three months, has been the subject of much speculation linking him with a move to Real Madrid.

United have sternly stated throughout that Ronaldo will not be leaving, while Sir Alex described a meeting with the player in Portugal as “amicable” and also seemingly positive.

At a press conference in Durban on the club’s visit to South Africa, Sir Alex took time out to further reveals his views.

“The future is that he signed a five year contract with the team last year and he has four years left. That’s definite, I’ve seen his signature,” he said.

“After the Champions League final Ronaldo was the happiest boy in the world. I think he knows where the best club is to be, and that is Manchester United.

“I honestly believe that going to Real Madrid would be the worst thing he could do. He’s 23 years old and is at a fantastic club.”

Michael Carrick was far from pleading with his team-mate, but there is no doubt as to the strength of the dressing room spirit.

“I can only speak for myself,” he said. “But for me this is the best place in the world to be. Joining the club was the best decision I ever made.”

Pele's Rooney advice

Wayne Rooney must go on the defensive to rediscover his world-class form, says Brazil legend Pele. Rooney was substituted by boss Alex Ferguson after a couple of clashes with Chiefs full-back Jimmy Tau when he appeared to lash out. And superstar Pele said: “I like Wayne Rooney but he hasn’t reached the peak of Euro 2004 again. He had two or three very good years and then lost a little bit in his performances. When he is tangling with opponents, Rooney has to learn how to defend himself, not attack the opponent. If you can protect yourself against challenges, it will be easier to keep your temper. It should be possible because referees help strikers now."
Janine Self, The Sun

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sir Alex: Nev was phenomenal

Gary Neville's contribution against Kaizer Chiefs on Saturday has been labelled "phenomenal" by Sir Alex Ferguson.

The Reds boss was delighted with club captain Neville, who, after completing 45 minutes against Aberdeen on 12 July, went one step further at Newlands Stadium.

Neville, 33, worked tirelessly at right back and sprinted past Darren Fletcher on numerous occasions to provide an extra man going forward. It's a sight Sir Alex and United fans have sorely missed over the last 16 months, as Neville fell victim to a string of injuries during his quest to recover from an initial ankle knock sustained in March 2007.

The only blot on Neville’s Cape Town performance came in the 37th minute when he brought down tricky winger Siphiwe Tshabalala to concede a penalty.

“Obviously his tackling’s not improved!” Ferguson joked at his post-match press conference.

“Seriously though, I’m very pleased. He played his first 45 minutes in 16 months against Aberdeen and a week later he’s managed another 60 minutes.

“Gary’s a remarkable man and, as everyone who’s played football will tell you, when you’re in your 30s and you’re forced out of the game for 16 months, the comeback is very difficult.

“But he showed tremendous enthusiasm [against Kaizer Chiefs] and the speed of his play was quite phenomenal.”


Tomasz keen to progress

Polish stopper Tomasz Kuszczak is determined to make a claim for the Reds’ no.1 jersey this season.

Since arriving at Old Trafford in 2006, Kuszczak, who was beaten only from the penalty spot in United’s pre-season friendly against Kaizer Chiefs on Saturday, has acted as Edwin van der Sar’s chief understudy.

But the time has come, he believes, to push for top spot and turn out regularly for the first team.

“I hope to get more chances to play in the future,” Kuszczak told MUTV at Cape Town's Newlands Stadium.

“I say this openly because I came to Manchester two years ago and I’ve trained very hard. I always try to be ready for the team and I hope my chance will come soon and I’ll get more games to prove myself.

“I’m very happy to play 90 minutes [against Kaizer Chiefs]. The first game back after a break is always a little difficult because you don’t know where you are with your form, but I’m happy with mine and I’ll keep going.”

If Kuszczak is to displace van der Sar as United’s no.1, he’ll have to beat off stiff competition from Ben Foster.

Although Foster has made just one senior appearance for the Reds, he’s impressed during two loan spells at Watford and is widely tipped to eventually take over the England duties.

“We have good competition [in the goalkeeping department],” Kuszczak acknowledged. “It’s important for goalkeepers to have someone behind you, someone pushing you to work hard.

"Both Bens [Foster and 18-year-old Amos] have done really well. It’s good for young goalkeepers [like Amos] to train with us, to have fun and work hard.”


Saturday, July 19, 2008

Christiano Ronaldo in Hollywood


Eagles prefers not to fly

Chris Eagles insists he wants to remain a Manchester United player, despite confirming he’s had talks with other clubs about a possible Old Trafford exit.

Eagles, now 22, joined the Reds eight years ago and has recently been linked with a move to Championship side Burnley.

The attacking midfielder has played 17 times for the first team since making his debut in 2003 and is currently in South Africa as part of the Reds’ pre-season tour.

But he knows opportunities at United are limited and admits he could be lured away by an offer of regular first-team football.

“I’d love to stay at Old Trafford and make my career as a United player,” Eagles told MUTV in Cape Town, “but I need to think about playing regularly.

“There have been talks with Premier League and Championship clubs, but nothing’s been decided.”

Eagles said he’ll seek advice from United manager Sir Alex Ferguson at some point on the tour in an effort to evaluate his future.

“It’s difficult because I want to play every week, whether I leave United or stay at United. If I think I’m going to get a chance here then I’d love to stay. If not, maybe I have to look somewhere else.

“I’ll speak to the gaffer over the next week or so and see what happens. There are all sorts of options available.”


Kaiser Chiefs Vs. Manchester United Match Report

United’s pre-season preparations continued with an entertaining draw against Kaizer Chiefs in the Vodacom Challenge opener in Cape Town.

Boss Sir Alex Ferguson will have been satisfied by the work-out against an energetic side who are in the middle of their domestic season in South Africa.

Centre-back Jonathan Quartey gave the Chiefs the lead from the penalty spot in the 37th minute, before Chris Eagles converted Carlos Tevez’s cross for the second-half equaliser.

Rio Ferdinand and Mikael Silvestre were late withdrawals for United, but it was nevertheless a strong starting XI, with Ryan Giggs in the centre of midfield, Darren Fletcher on the right and Tevez and Wayne Rooney up front.

The Reds showed some neat touches but created little in the first half, with Paul Scholes’ rasping free-kick – tipped over by Chiefs goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune – about as good as it got.

The game began in glorious sunshine in Newlands Stadium, despite it being mid-winter in South Africa, and a colourful crowd did their best to create a carnival atmosphere with air-horns and costumes.

The Chiefs’ main attacking threat was an Anderson lookalike, Siphiwe Tshabalala, who almost gave his side the lead in the sixth minute, only to see his shot well blocked by Gary Neville.

And it was the Chiefs’ pacy left-winger who won the penalty, playing a neat one-two before charging into the box where he was upended by Neville.

Quartey sent Tomasz Kuszczak the wrong way from the spot to opening the scoring, although the subdued reaction of the crowd suggested the majority of them were United fans.

Neville had some joy down the right with his trademark overlapping runs, but United failed to create many clear-cut chances in the opening 45 minutes.

Tevez, who did not feature against Aberdeen last weekend, headed Neville’s cross just over, while Nemanja Vidic glanced a corner just wide.

United improved in the second half and Tevez was inches away from the equaliser when his header from Eagles’ cross drifted just wide of the far post.

Eagles equalised on the hour mark when he headed home Tevez’s superb right-wing cross and United immediately pressed for a second goal.

Ferguson kept his promise to give all his players a run-out on the South African trip by making a raft of substitutions late on.

And two of the changes nearly combined to produce the winner, with Fraizer Campbell heading Danny Simpson’s cross just wide.

The Chiefs flagged late in the game but United could not find a winner; however, the Reds’ main priority of improving fitness and sharpness was achieved.

Next up for United in the Vodacom Challenge are Orlando Pirates in Durban on Tuesday night. Fans can watch the match live on MUTV and MUTV Online.

United: Kuszczak; Neville (Simpson 62), Vidic, Brown (Evans 69), O'Shea; Fletcher, Scholes, Giggs, Eagles (Campbell 62); Tevez, Rooney (Gibson 69).


kKaizer Chiefs Vs. Manchester United Highlights Video Clip

Kaizer Chiefs [1 - 1] Manchester United
37' [1 - 0] J. Quartey (pen.)
59' [1 - 1] C. Eagles


Friday, July 18, 2008

Nev ready to make his mark

Gary Neville looks to have put his injury nightmares behind him after Sir Alex Ferguson confirmed his skipper is back in contention for regular first team football.

The 33-year-old, who was part of the travelling squad to South Africa, made just one substitute appearance last season after being plagued by knocks after his long term recovery from ankle ligament damage.

Wes Brown's imperious form in Neville's absence helped the Reds to domestic and European glory, but the United captain is now ready to step up his bid to regain his place in the side.

"It’s going to be a significant trip for Gary," insisted Sir Alex, ahead of the Reds' pre-season visit to South Africa and Nigeria.

"He had his 45 minutes last weekend against Aberdeen and came through that fine. The important thing about Gary is that he’s not missed a training session since he came back in April and played [as a sub] against Roma.

"We could have played him at the end of last season but Wes Brown’s form was just too good. We stuck with Wes, but it’s a new season now and Gary will have his chance to impress in South Africa."

Another player who will be given his chance to shine is goalkeeper Ben Foster.

The 25-year-old England international has made just one competitive appearance for the Reds since his arrival in the summer of 2005, having spent the rest of his time gaining experience out on loan.

Sir Alex has high hopes for the young stopper, who spent much of last season recovering from a cruciate ligament injury, and will ensure he gets some minutes on the clock in South Africa.

"Ben is fit," declared the boss. "He had his sister’s wedding last Saturday so he couldn’t play against Aberdeen, but he’s ready to go.

"He and Tomasz will share the responsibilites in South Africa. I think Ben’s a fantastic talent."

Owen stays behind

Owen Hargreaves did not travel to South Africa with the rest of the squad as he is again suffering from the tendinitis problem that plagued the start of his Reds career.

Hargreaves was sporadically involved at the start of the 2007/08 campaign, and the knee complaint flared up again when the 27-year-old reported back for pre-season training.

"Owen has a tendonitis problem in his knee again – the same as he had at beginning of last season,” said Sir Alex. "He’s had a series of injections on it with the specialist and he's training at the moment, it’s just the matches he's not involved in just yet.

“Some people are more susceptible [to this kind of injury]. Norman Whiteside used to have trouble with his knees in pre-season. Owen has started training again after a few weeks off, the ground is firm at the moment and that maybe brought it on.”

It’s frustrating for Owen and United, but Sir Alex doesn’t expect the problem to last into the start of the season. “We’re trying to correct it with injections," he added. "We did it last November and it worked, so hopefully it will again. By the time we return from South Africa he should be okay. I’m sure he’ll be fit for the start of the season.”

Boss: Ronaldo's staying put

Sir Alex Ferguson has confirmed he met with Cristiano Ronaldo in Portugal last week to discuss the player's future and insists the winger will not be sold to Real Madrid.

The 23-year-old has been openly coveted by Real Madrid over the last few months with the player himself reported to be keen on a switch to the Bernabeu.

However, at a press conference in South Africa to mark the start of United's pre-season trip, the Reds' boss reiterated the club's stance that Ronaldo is going nowhere.

"The meeting went well - I think we both put across our points of view - where we stand and where the player stands," explained Sir Alex.

"I can say he'll be a Manchester United player next season. That's our stance - he won't be sold."

Many of the tabloids had speculated that comments attributed to Ronaldo over his desire to move to Madrid may have put a strain on his relationship with his manager. But Sir Alex says that has never been the case.

"It’s not a difficult position. I was on my holiday and I was not going to interrupt my holiday, believe me," he insisted after being asked why he had not commented on the matter up to this point.

"I wasn’t panicked because the player is under contract so the strength and the rights are with Manchester United.

"What we have done well is to say nothing. We’ve kept quiet on this matter and kept it private and what I said to Cristiano remains private. I did go and see him last week in Portugal and it was very amicable – there were no problems. That’s where we are and we carry on."

The winger is currently recovering from ankle surgery and Sir Alex confirmed Ronaldo is unlikely to be back in action until October.

"He’s had an operation and he’ll be out for three months," said the manager. "He’s on crutches for the first four weeks, he’ll be in rehabilitation for the next four and then the following four he’ll be back into football training. The time mapped out is three months and we won’t bring him back a day earlier than that.

"I think when players have operations we have a responsibility that the player comes back 100 per cent and we’ll carry that out as we normally do. There’ll be no risk-taking – we never take risks. Our goal is to always make sure that the player gets back 100 per cent and that will be the same in the case of Cristiano Ronaldo."

Berba's mine!

Alex Ferguson says he is convinced Manchester United will land Dimitar Berbatov before the start of the season. The Old Trafford chief has spoken about his hunt for the Tottenham striker for the first time. He started tracking the 27-year-old Bulgarian ace seven years ago and confirmed United have made a bid. Fergie said: “We have made Tottenham an offer on Berbatov and we have good expectations that this deal will go through. “Berbatov has been impressive during a long time and would be a great addition to our attack.”
United slapped in a £22million bid but Spurs are holding out for more. Fergie ideally wanted the deal done before he left with his squad for the tour of South Africa. But he is still confident the transfer will go through despite interest from Spanish giants Barcelona. Fergie said: “I think time will work for us more than against us. “We will not stress this situation. We are hoping to have a constructive conversation with Tottenham in the near future.”
Neil Custis, The Sun

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Young Manchester United Vs. Old Manchester United Highlights Video Clip

This is the old match which was played as a testimonial match for the TREBLE. However, it is a good match that every Manchester United fan should see. The legend like Cantona, Mark Hughs, Bryan Robson were back in the team.


John O'Shea Highlights Video Clip


Ferguson confirms bid for new player

Sir Alex Ferguson has confirmed that Manchester United have lodged a bid for at least one new player during this summer's transfer window but refused to reveal the identity of his number one target.

Tottenham Hotspur striker Dimitar Berbatov is believed to be the man at the top of the European Champions' shopping list and it has been widely reported in the English press that Spurs rejected a £20million bid earlier this week.

On Thursday Ferguson confirmed a bid had been lodged for an unnamed target which he hoped would lead to a successful conclusion.

'We have made a bid for one player who would enhance us a great deal,' said Ferguson.

Tottenham are holding out for more cash but whether United are prepared to go beyond the £20million that has been mentioned is doubtful.

In any case, it would be handy for Spurs to get the money in quickly as manager Juande Ramos looks to rejig his own squad, with a big-money move for David Bentley in the offing.

And on the same day that Ferguson admitted to a foray into the transfer market Ramos refused to rule out selling either Berbatov, or Robbie Keane, who is being tracked by Liverpool, and revealed that some top clubs have shown interest in the pair.

Ramos told AS: 'We will see what happens there, but we are talking about two very important players. For the moment they are with us, but whatever happens the idea is to have a great squad, with the potential to allow us to aim to improve on what we managed last season.

'We have to be realistic and see what we are starting with and who we are competing against. There are some big clubs who have spent a lot of money over many years and have a certain advantage; in fact they claim they want to sign some of our players.'

Any deal for Berbatov could move much closer over the next fortnight, although with Ferguson and chief executive David Gill both on the plane for United's tour of South Africa and Nigeria, it will be left to club solicitor Maurice Watkins, who found himself at the centre of the Carlos Tevez affair last summer, to deal with any on-the-spot issues.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Local honour for Ryan

Ryan Giggs has added yet another accolade to his already bulging collection after being awarded an honorary degree by the University of Salford.

United's record appearance-maker, who grew up in Swinton, was made a Master of Arts for his contribution to sport and his unstinting charity work. As an ambassador for UNICEF, he regularly campaigns for children who have been made vulnerable by HIV and AIDS. He was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2007 for his services to football.

Giggs was officially presented with his latest award at a ceremony at the Lowry Theatre in Salford Quays on Tuesday.

"When I started my career as a professional footballer I didn’t envisage that one day I’d be made Master of Arts. So I’m really pleased to accept this degree," said the 33-year-old. "I grew up in Salford and it’s been a big part of my life for 30 years, so it’s great to be a part of Salford University now.”

Vice-Chancellor of the University of Salford, Professor Michael Harloe added: “We're delighted to present this degree to Ryan. It's not only his great achievements on the pitch which deserve recognition, but his valuable charity work with developing countries.”

Dong gets Olympic nod

Dong Fangzhuo has been named in China's under-23 squad for this summer's Olympic Games in Beijing.

The United striker missed the last three months of the 2007/08 season with a knee injury sustained in a Reserves match against Blackburn in February.

But the 23-year-old proved he was back to full fitness by scoring in China's 4-0 warm-up victory over Malaysia last weekend.

He has now taken his place alongside Charlton's Zheng Zhi – one of three permitted over-age players – in the 22-man party for the tournament, which takes place from August 6-23.

Dong is likely to come up against Reds team-mate Anderson in Beijing as China have been drawn against Brazil, New Zealand and Belgium in Group C.

Should China progress to the latter stages of the tournament, Dong will miss the start of the first-team season but will return in time for the Reserves' new campaign, which gets underway on September 18.

O'Shea: We're in good shape

John O'Shea says the Reds are in good shape as preparations for the new campaign continue.

The 27-year-old Irishman had an enjoyable summer on the back of United's double triumph last season. Now back in training, he admits the pre-season regime can be pretty strenuous, but says the players are in safe hands at Carrington.

"All the coaching staff, particularly Tony [Strudwick] our fitness coach are looking after us very well and things are going good so far," he told MUTV.

"You've always got one eye on keeping yourself reasonably fit over the summer and because of internationals at the end of the season you're pretty much kept ticking over.

"I think everyone finds pre-season a little bit tough, but you get through it. It's great to be back, to see all the lads and we're all looking forward to the new season."

The players will step up their work during a ten-day trip to Africa. The squad fly out to Cape Town on Thursday for Saturday's first game in the Vodacom Challenge.

United then visit Durban and Tshwane for two further matches in South Africa, before stopping off in Nigeria's capital city Abuja for a friendly against Portsmouth.

Berbatov confident of making dream move

Dimitar Berbatov is determined Tottenham’s hard-line stance over a proposed move to Manchester United will not wreck his dream of Champions League football next season. United have not agreed a fee with Spurs and have not raised last week’s initial £20m bid. But despite insistence form Tottenham that a new approach is not welcome, Berbatov has told those close to him that he expects to be a United player come the close of the transfer window. Sir Alex Ferguson is prepared to play a waiting game for Berbatov, given the Bulgaria striker is his only major transfer target of the summer. Sources at United confirmed there is no prospect of Berbatov joining them on their tour of South Africa and Nigeria, but negotiations will gather pace upon their return in a fortnight’s time.
Simon Cass, Daily Mail

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Berbatov agent speaks out

Dimitar Berbatov's agent has told the Bulgarian media that he is convinced United are interested in signing the Tottenham striker.

Reports in the British tabloids on Saturday suggested that United had made an official bid for the 27-year-old forward, after months of stories linking the Bulgarian with a move to Old Trafford.

When asked about the speculation in an interview with Bulgarian radio station Darik, agent Emil Danchev did little to dampen the speculation.

"I know for certain Manchester United have shown interest in signing Dimitar Berbatov," said Danchev. "But I'm not entitled to make any more comments."

Sir Alex Ferguson revealed earlier in July that he is aiming to delve into the transfer market for at least new one face this summer, and is 'looking at one or two things.'

Fletch focused on United

Despite reports linking him with a summer transfer, Darren Fletcher is fully focused on upping his first team involvement at Old Trafford next season.

The Scottish midfielder spent a sizeable portion of last season on the sidelines, largely through injury, and has allegedly attracted interest from Everton.

Sir Alex Ferguson has insisted that Fletcher remains very much part of the first-team picture at United, and the 25-year-old wants to force his way into regular action.

"To play in more matches than last season, that's obviously the target each season," he said. "You do your bit, you're patient and you've got to wait for your chance. I'll be ready to take my chance when it comes and I'll hopefully play a few more matches."

Just as Fletcher is nonplussed by talk of a move away from Old Trafford, he is totally unfazed by the potential of new arrivals, saying: "I don't think much needs to change but fresh faces are always good.

"Competition for places is always going to be at Manchester United. It's something you've got to rise to."

Aberdeen Vs. Manchester United Highlights Video Clip

Aberdeen [0 - 2] Manchester United
45' [0 - 1] M. Carrick (pen.)
69' [0 - 2] W. Rooney


No rush for new assistant

Sir Alex Ferguson will take his time before deciding who to appoint as his new assistant manager.

Carlos Queiroz's departure to take over the Portuguese national team has left a hole in the Reds' backroom staff ahead of the new season, but the United manager will not panic in his hunt for a new assistant.

When asked if the search for a replacement had already begun, Sir Alex told MUTV: "Not really, we’ll just take our time as we normally do. We’ll wait and see how things unfold."

Queiroz admitted he left Old Trafford 'with heavy heart' after a trophy-laden spell at Old Trafford, and Sir Alex was quick to pay tribute to the tactician's impact behind the scenes.

"It’s disappointing but nationalities come into it in terms of him being an emotionally fervent Portuguese man, and the attraction being too big," said Sir Alex.

"It’s disappointing but he did a great job for us and that’s why he’ll be remembered. He’s gone with our best wishes. He did a terrific job for us and a lot of the innovations we’ve had over the last few years are down to Carlos."

Ole makes a winning start

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made a winning start to life as a manager as the Reds' Reserves posted a 3-1 victory at Burscough on Saturday.

Goals from Tom Cleverley, Febian Brandy and Rodrigo Possebon gave United victory despite some good pressure from the hosts, who pulled a late goal back through David Brookes.

It took just seven minutes for Cleverley to notch the first goal of the Solskjaer regime, turning smartly and firing home from 15 yards.

Although the hosts rallied well, Brandy doubled the Reds' advantage just before the interval when he fired past Burscough keeper Ian Lowe.

Fifteen minutes after the interval, Possebon put the game to bed with a stunning goal. Picking the ball up 25 yards from goal, the Brazilian midfielder smashed a superb dipping effort into the corner of the goal.

Although the Reds dominated the remainder of the game, Brookes had the final say when he slipped the ball under Ron-Robert Zieler to salvage some rewards for the hosts' spirited performance.

The Reserves' next outing is on Saturday, 19 July, when the Reds travel to near-neighbours Altrincham.

Boss satisfied by run-out

At a point in the pre-season preparations when fitness is the be-all and end-all, Saturday's friendly victory at Aberdeen was a satisfying outing for Sir Alex Ferguson.

Goals from Michael Carrick and Wayne Rooney gave the Reds victory just 52 days after lifting the Champions League trophy in Moscow, and the Gaffer was pleased to see his charges start on the road back to match fitness at Pittodrie.

"At times it was a bit slow but I think you expect that in your first game," he told MUTV. "I think the important thing is that we put a lot of energy in to get our fitness, which is what you're looking for. Plus we've won a game, which is always a good thing.

"I think they all did alright. There was no great performance but you don't expect great performances, that's the reason for pre-season games. The important thing is they get their fitness, and also to get through without any injuries, which we have done."

United's presence at Pittodrie helped the Dons celebrate the 25th anniversary of the club's finest hour - victory over Real Madrid in the 1983 European Cup Winners' Cup. Sir Alex was at the helm that evening, and he was delighted to be back in Aberdeen for the commemoration.

"It was emotional, it was like the old days there today," he admitted. "You don't think about it until you start approaching the stadium and of course the Gothenburg team were here, and it was a special day for them. These are the lads that actually won it, I was fortunate enough to manage them and they were a great bunch."

Aberdeen Vs. Manchester United Match Report

United made a winning start to the new pre-season campaign, as goals from Michael Carrick and Wayne Rooney sealed a hard-fought victory over Aberdeen at Pittodrie.

The hosts, celebrating the 25th anniversary of winning the European Cup Winners' Cup under Sir Alex Ferguson, piled plenty of pressure on the Champions League holders, and were unfortunate to see a first-half goal from Darren Mackie ruled out for offside.

United's class told in the latter stages of the first half and much of the first, however, and Carrick moved the visitors ahead by converting a penalty before Rooney powerfully headed home after the interval.

Rooney could have buried the hosts single-handedly inside 10 minutes, as he twice shot straight at goalkeeper Jamie Langfield and also had a powerful far-post volley blocked by a defender.

Although Aberdeen struggled to contain Rooney and the vibrant Ryan Giggs, they still probed menacingly during the opening exchanges, and Jeffrey De Visscher came close to opening the scoring before Mackie slid a finish past Ben Amos, only to see his effort chalked off by a linesman's flag.

The sell-out crowd had to wait until just before half-time to see the first goal, when Rooney was brought down inside the area by Langfield after a superb through-ball from Carrick. Rooney opted to let his England cohort take the spot-kick and, just as he did in Moscow, Carrick sent the goalkeeper the wrong way to put United ahead.

Immediately after the interval United's lead could have been doubled, but substitute Chris Eagles sidefooted Darren Fletcher's teasing cross over the bar from close range. The hosts, for their part, could have drawn level shortly afterwards, but Amos made a superb fingertip save from Jamie Smith's inswinging effort.

Rooney and Giggs continued to terrorise the Dons' defence, however, and the latter almost headed home the former's cross, only for substitute stopper Bertrand Bossu to brilliantly tip the ball onto the crossbar.

Twenty minutes from time, Rooney went one better by powerfully heading United's second goal. Darren Fletcher took Carrick's pass in his stride and curled in a teasing right-wing cross, which Rooney glanced emphatically into the far corner.

Danny Simpson had a long-range shot well held by Bossu and Eagles saw his chip deflected just past the post as United finished in the ascendancy, and held firm to post an impressive start to the new season preparations.

United: Amos (Woods, 73); Neville (Simpson, 46), Brown (J Evans, 61), Vidic (O'Shea, 46), Silvestre; Fletcher, Carrick, Scholes (Gibson, 61), Martin (Eagles, 46); Rooney (Hewson, 73), Giggs (Campbell, 61).

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Gaffer's greatest

For all Sir Alex Ferguson's stunning achievements at the Old Trafford helm, his greatest feat remains guiding Aberdeen to European glory.

That's according to Neil Simpson, one of the Dons side which stunned Real Madrid in the European Cup Winners' Cup final 25 years ago.

Sir Alex's triumphant side were dubbed the Gothenburg Greats after their victory in Sweden, and former midfielder Simpson still sees the success as a sporting miracle.

"There's no doubt that Sir Alex is the best Scottish manager ever," he said. "He's also the best Britain has produced, given the trophies he has won and the players he has brought to the peak of their powers.

"But I would have to say that Aberdeen winning a European trophy was a better achievement than Manchester United winning the Champions League.

"They are a world-famous club and massive, whereas we are a provincial side with a maximum attendance of 20,000. I think Sir Alex, himself, said that beating Real Madrid was a miracle."

Sir Alex takes his United side to Pittodrie on Saturday for a friendly to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Gothenburg, a gesture that Simpson sees as typical of the Reds' manager.

"It's great that he is coming back for our celebrations with the current champions of Europe but it's no surprise, given the quality of the man," he said.

"Sir Alex is a class act who inspires players at his club by demanding high standards in everything they do.

"He has run United the same way he ran Aberdeen in that, if those standards slip, someone will take your place. You need that ruthless approach to be a winner at the very top."

Ronaldo could miss 12 weeks

Cristiano Ronaldo expects to miss three months of action after undergoing ankle surgery.

The Portuguese winger insists the early stages of his rehabilitation are going well, but claims it will still be early October before he is back playing.

"It's confirmed I'll be out of action for up to 12 weeks but recovery is going well," Ronaldo told reporters in Portugal. "I must focus on my recovery. I'll be training with a ball in two months."

Ronaldo's timescale has not been verified by club medical staff. As per last week's statement, his progress will be reviewed by a specialist after one month, and a return date will be estimated then.

Whatever that date is, it seems almost certain that the winger will miss United's early-season games - including tricky trips to Liverpool and Chelsea.

Becks backs former colleagues

David Beckham admits he never expected former United team-mates Mark Hughes and Paul Ince to progress into management.

Having watched the duo take on new roles at Manchester City and Blackburn respectively this summer, however, Beckham feels they have benefited from working under Sir Alex Ferguson.

"I never, ever thought Sparky would go into management," Beckham told The Sun. "Sparky was always quite quiet in the dressing room. He has been coached and watched by one of the best managers - if not the best - in the history of football.

"When you have had that experience playing for United, when you have seen how Sir Alex Ferguson watches players, coaches players and protects players, that can only help you as a manager.

"Incey is the same as Sparky. I never thought he would be a manager, either. He has enjoyed a surge to the top. He will bring that experience from being at United and managing two football clubs.

"He will also have the respect of the players due to what he has done in the game. He will also bring the fun side. I have no doubts the Blackburn players will love playing with him."

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Blatter: Let Ronaldo go to Real

FIFA President Sepp Blatter has said Cristiano Ronaldo should be allowed to leave Manchester United for Real Madrid if he wants. "If the player wants to play somewhere else, then a solution should be found because if he stays in a club where he does not feel comfortable to play then it's not good for the player and for the club," he said. "There's too much modern slavery, in transferring players or buying players. We are trying now to intervene in such cases. The reaction to the Bosman law is to make long-lasting contracts to keep the players, and then if he wants to leave there is only one solution, he has to pay his contract." When asked about the protracted wrangle over the 23-year-old Portugal winger's future, Blatter insisted players should be allowed to leave with impunity when they want to move clubs. "The important thing is, we should also protect the player," he said. "I'm always in favour of protecting the player, and if the player he wants to leave, let him leave."
Daniel Taylor, The Guard

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Striker Huntelaar says United are chasing him

Ajax striker Klaas Jan Huntelaar claims Manchester United are 'very interested' in signing him.

The 24-year-old's failure to agree a new contract at the Amsterdam ArenA has led to speculation he could be in line for a move, and the Holland frontman reckons the English champions are keen to acquire his services.

'I know certain English clubs are following me, like Manchester United, who are very interested in me,' he told Dutch reporters.

'I love clubs with great history like Ajax, I also love Manchester United.

'It's a club that makes me dream, especially as Ruud van Nistelrooy played there and did great things with them.