Custom Search

Friday, August 29, 2008

Manchester United Vs. Zenit St. Petersburg Highlights Video Clip

Manchester United [1 - 2] Zenit St. Petersburg
44' [0 - 1] P. Pogrebnyak
59' [0 - 2] Danny
73' [1 - 2] N. Vidic


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Reds confirm Dong exit

Dong Fangzhuo's United contract has been cancelled by mutual consent.

The 23-year-old striker became the first ever Chinese player at Old Trafford when he joined from hometown club Dalian Shide in January 2004. He initially spent two years on loan at Royal Antwerp until he was eligible to play in England, and scored 35 goals in 61 games during his time in Belgium.

Dong pulled on the red shirt for the first time in a friendly against Hong Kong XI in July 2005 and scored in the 2-0 win. The following summer he got the winning goal in a 1-0 win over Kaizer Chiefs during the pre-season tour of South Africa.

He finally made his competitive debut for the first team against Chelsea in May 2007, but his struggle to break into Sir Alex Ferguson’s squad continued last season. He only made two senior appearances in 2007/08, in September's Carling Cup defeat to Coventry and as a substitute in the 1-1 Champions League draw in Rome.

Dong had more joy in the reserves, including four goals in a three-game purple patch in November 2007, before a knee injury ended his season early.

In this summer’s Olympics in his homeland, Dong scored a late equaliser for China against New Zealand but could not prevent his country exiting the tournament at the first stage.

Dimi won't be cheap

Spurs sign Pavlyuchenko but won't let Berbatov join United on the cheap
Spurs last night insisted the £12million purchase of Roman Pavlyuchenko does not mean Dimitar Berbatov will be sold on the cheap. Spartak Moscow boss Valery Karpin yesterday confirmed they had accepted a bid for the Russia striker. He said: "If Roman agrees a contract then we are ready to let him go." Spurs insist Pavlyuchenko will be a replacement for Robbie Keane, not Berbatov. They want £32m for Berbatov but Manchester United have so far only offered £25m.
Neil McLeman, The Mirror

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Giggs happy to juggle fixtures

Ryan Giggs feels United's fixture congestion may be a blessing in disguise.

The Reds' involvement in Friday's UEFA Super Cup means that Fulham's visit to Old Trafford - originally pencilled in for this Saturday - needs to be rescheduled.

At a point when the Carrington treatment room is still crowded, however, Giggs feels the trip to Monaco may have come at the right time.

"Hopefully we’ve got all the injuries at the start of the season and we can get everyone back fit, more or less, after the international break," he said.

"In a way it’s fallen nicely for us, having only two league games in the first four or five weeks of the season when we’ve got a few injuries. When we do have to play these games again, maybe we’ll have everyone back fit."

Last season's Champions League success means United will also have to juggle a Premier League fixture against Wigan during December's involvement in the FIFA Club World Cup.

Although the Reds are paying the price of success with this term's extra fixtures, Giggs admits such hurdles are there to be overcome.

"It will be a difficult season because of the game cancelled on Friday, we’re going to Tokyo for a week so we’ll have a game cancelled there, and we do have to cope with that," he said.

"But I always say the best team is always at the top of the table at the end of the season and they deserve it. You make your own luck."

Although he is creeping towards the end of his illustrious career, Giggs admits he is savouring his football more than ever.

"I think I maybe enjoy it more because this season I could be going into games thinking it might be the last time I play in that tournament," he revealed.

"You try and enjoy it. When you’re younger you’ve got another 10-12 years to go and maybe you don’t take it in as much. For example, in Moscow I took in the night a lot more than I did in 1999. It comes with age, so I am enjoying it more than ever – as long as we’re winning!"

Vidic denies critical comments

Nemanja Vidic would like to clarify comments attributed to him in several UK newspapers, which have either been taken out of context or misquoted.

Vidic conducted an interview with Russian football magazine Football Weekly, in which he was quoted criticising Manchester's weather and the English lifestyle.

In the interview the defender did discuss how difficult he found it adapting to life in England - including the rain Manchester occasionally experiences - when he first joined from Spartak Moscow in January 2006. He freely admits that, in his first six months in England, he struggled with a new language and culture which contrasted with that of Russia or his native Serbia.

But he feels compelled to clear up other comments attributed to him in the UK press, in which he supposedly said: "In Manchester the main attraction is a timetable at the railway station where trains leave for less rainy cities!

"In England people don't have time to feel the joy of life. Throughout the week they work so hard. They only talk to people at lunch. Then in the evening they watch TV so they can get up early for work the next day."

Nemanja told "I'd like to clarify that I did not make these particular remarks. I spoke about the difficulty I had settling in to life in Manchester, but that does not reflect how I feel now.

"I enjoy my life very much as a footballer at Manchester United and I'm very happy to be a part of this great club. I think I show that in the way I play every week. I also have far too much respect for the people of Manchester, and England, to criticise them in this way."

Owen aims to move on

Having had his first year as a United player disrupted by injury, Owen Hargreaves is hopeful that his return - perhaps in Friday's UEFA Super Cup final - will be his last injury comeback of the season.

Tendinitis affected the midfielder throughout his debut season at OT but, after some impressive training displays, Hargreaves almost featured in Monday's win at Portsmouth. Now a return in Monaco against Zenit St Petersburg could be on the cards.

"I’ve got a big season ahead - with United and England - and I want to be fit," he said. "Hopefully I’ll be back soon and fit for the remainder of the season. Monaco is a possibility, we’ll just see how training goes. I’m improving every day, so hopefully I’ll be back soon."

Hargreaves admits his knee problems have dogged him since before his arrival in Manchester, but some sterling work from the club's medical staff could end the problem.

"I’ve felt it on and off for 16 months," he revealed. "Sometimes more, sometimes less – it’s something I’ve had to cope with. The staff and I have worked very hard so that I’m fit and when I play I don’t miss out. They’ve done a really good job. I think we’ve got it under control."

Berbatov set to move

Dimitar Berbatov's switch to Manchester United looked to be moving a step closer last night after Roman Pavlyuchenko claimed he had finally agreed a deal to join Tottenham. Spartak Moscow had earlier said the Russia striker, 26, had opted against a move because of family reasons, but last night he confirmed he had not travelled with the Spartak squad for the second leg of their Champions League qualifier with Dynamo Kiev as he was finalising the details of his move to Spurs.
Staff writer, Daily Mail

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Anderson's return impresses Rio

Anderson may have lost some of his hair while he's been chasing a medal in China but unlike Samson he's lost none of his strength.

The midfielder missed the opening weeks of United's season while helping Brazil to achieve a bronze medal at the Olympic Games.

But after arriving back at five o'clock on Sunday, he was ready to play again at eight on Monday, much to the respect of his Reds' team-mates including captain Rio Ferdinand.

"Anderson did well... until he got to 60 minutes and started blowing!" laughed Rio on MUTV.

"No, we have a little joke with him about that kind of thing. But he's a fantastic footballer with great abilities and we've not seen the best of him yet, I'm sure."

However, the ever-fashion conscious Rio was not as impressed by Anderson's hairstyle.

"His barnet's shocking at the minute! His extensions have come out and he's been in China where he's had nobody with the capability to braid him up. Hopefully now he's back in Manchester he can get hold of the person who normally does it for him!"

Anderson wasn't the only midfielder to be mentioned in the skipper's speech after the victory at Portsmouth. He also had words of praise for Darren Fletcher, a man who's making the most of a mini injury-crisis to stake his claim for a regular place.

"I think it's great that players are posing problems for the manager because they're putting in performances that demand at least a place on the bench if not starting.

"Fletcher's been outstanding in pre season and he's carried that on at the start of the season, getting into the team to score.

"This win was vital because by the time we play next in the Premier League, we'll be a game or two behind teams and there could have been a big points difference between us if we'd not won. Mentally it would have been a bit of a downer.

"But we put in a good performance and got a good result. Our general play was very good, very fluid, we passed the ball from the back through to the front with a little bit of ease to be honest. Our midfielders were really good on the ball and we opened up Portsmouth a number of times."

Team-mate John O'Shea echoed Ferdinand's comments on Fletcher and Anderson, insisting both deserved great credit for their Fratton Park displays.

"We gave Anderson a bit of stick when we saw his hair!" joked O'Shea. "But he was amazing for us - a star performer. He gets the crowd going and the team - he's just all action. The sooner we have him flying again the better and I'm sure he'll play a vital part in the games we've got coming up.

"It's great to see Fletch doing so well," he added. "He said himself recently that he needs to try and get into the box a bit more and he's doing that with some great runs which are creating a lot of problems for defences. Great credit to him for getting the rewards his hard work fully deserves."

Vital win delights Sheasy

John O’Shea was in high spirits as Monday night’s win at Portsmouth got United's title defence up and running.

The injury-hit Reds dropped two points at home to Newcastle in the season opener and, with trips to Liverpool and Chelsea looming, the importance of victory at Fratton Park was not lost on O’Shea and his team-mates.

“We're delighted with the win,” he told MUTV. “It's been a tough place to come over the last few seasons. We were hoping to add more goals, but to get a clean sheet and a win after the draw with Newcastle was vital.

“Half the team-talk was about the importance of getting the first win and it's something all us players discussed as well. We did enough to win even by a couple more goals. I don't think many teams will come here and keep a clean sheet and get three points, so we've got to be pleased.”

Darren Fletcher’s bundled strike ultimately proved the difference between United and Pompey, but O’Shea reserved praise for the Reds’ rearguard, who kept the hosts at arm’s length and posted a vital clean sheet.

“We've got to be confident in our back four and they showed their quality tonight against a very physically strong Portmouth side,” he said.

“It's always going to be edgy when it gets to the latter stages and it's only 1-0 - it would have been nice to have a two or three-goal lead. But we're confident in keeping clean sheets because of the players we have.”

£30m or Dimi rots in reserves

Juande Ramos is prepared to let Dimitar Berbatov rot in Tottenham’s reserves rather than sell him for less than £30million. Ramos has lost both his opening league games but is determined to do it his way — without Berbatov up front. With the transfer deadline looming, Manchester United want to cut a deal at around £24m. Yet Spurs remain insistent they want another £6m on top before they will let their Bulgarian striker leave. The trump card for Tottenham is that TWO Spanish clubs are staying in close contact to see how the situation develops. They will offer cut-price deals of their own to land Berbatov, unless United see off the competition by agreeing to stump up at least that £30m.
Pat Sheehan, The Sun

Monday, August 25, 2008

Sir Alex hails midfield quartet

Sir Alex Ferguson heaped praised on his midfield quartet following the Reds' 1-0 victory over Portsmouth at Fratton Park.

Shorn of the services of six midfield squad members, the United boss opted to play a system which best utilised the skills of those players available to him.

Man of the Match Paul Scholes pulled the strings in the centre of the field, ably assisted by the returning Anderson, who was a bundle of energy throughout despite only having arrived home from China just hours earlier having represented his country at the Olympics.

John O'Shea was solid in his role in front of the back four, while Darren Fletcher found the scoresheet for the second successive game - although the goal may yet be taken off him by the Dubious Goals Panel.

"We wanted to play a system in which the players we had would be comfortable in their positions and I think we used our players the right way," explained Sir Alex to MUTV.

"Anderson wanted to play and I think he showed it was a very good decision - he was fantastic.

"Paul Scholes looked to control the game and I think he did that. We also had the energy and the qualities that both John O'Shea and Darren Fletcher bring to the team.

"I don't think Darren will complain about the goal [if it's taken off him] and neither will I! He's not playing in his favourite position, but he still makes a lot of good runs and has such fantastic energy. I'm really pleased to see him get the credit he deserves.

"I think we've shown the quality of our squad - I've got no fears about that. The squad from last season is good enough to go on and do it again," added the manager.

The victory over Harry Redknapp's men was United's first league win of the season and Sir Alex is hoping for a repeat performance and result in Friday's UEFA Super Cup final against Zenit St. Petersburg in Monaco.

"I think we played some excellent football with really good periods of passing and moving and I hope we can keep that going," he said.

"We want to win on Friday. Last time we played in the final [against Lazio in 1999] we played half a team as we had a league game against Newcastle three days later.

"Lazio celebrated like they'd won the World Cup - I wasn't too pleased and I said to myself that won't happen again. We'll play a strong team. Players who need the game, like Gary Neville for instance, will play on Friday. Hopefully we get the result we want."

Boss still hoping to add to squad

Sir Alex Ferguson says he is still confident of adding to his squad before the transfer window closes on Monday.

The Reds have been heavily linked with a move for Tottenham striker Dimitar Berbatov, who was left out of Spurs' defeat to Sunderland at the weekend.

The Bulgarian was deemed "not focused enough" by Juande Ramos, while Spurs first team coach Gus Poyet admitted the club had no idea if Berbatov would still be at White Hart Lane at the end of the transfer window.

Sir Alex would not be drawn on specific players, but insists the club are still working hard on potential additions.

"There's only a week to go and you start to concern yourself a little bit," he admitted to MUTV. "I think we showed against Portsmouth that we've got good quality players here.

"We'd obviously like to add to the squad and we are looking at some things. But it's not easy. We'll have to wait and see what happens about that. We're doing our best - that's all we can do."

Portsmouth Vs. Manchester United Result Report

United defied the so-called Fratton Park hoodoo to claim a first league win of the season, thanks to the same goalscorer from the opening game – Darren Fletcher.

Whether Fletcher retains the credit may yet be decided by the Dubious Goals Committee but there was nothing dubious about the outcome – the Reds were again superior to Portsmouth, especially in the final third. Even without Ronaldo, the man who scored twice – including United’s goal of the season – on the Reds’ last win on this ground in February 2006.

Ronaldo wasn't the only midfield absentee - Sir Alex was forced into several changes following the injuries sustained by other key men in the opening weekend. Patrice Evra pushed up to deputise for Ryan Giggs on the left flank while Anderson made an instant return in Michael Carrick's central role, less than 48 hours after flying into England from the Beijing Olympics. Also back in the UK and back in the side was Carlos Tevez, who missed the Newcastle match after a family bereavement.

Papa Bouba Diop signalled Portsmouth’s intent with a powerful shot that bounced just wide of Edwin van der Sar’s right-hand post just 13 seconds after the kick-off.

Wayne Rooney returned fire moments later with a drive into David James’ midriff following great play by Paul Scholes who sprayed an exquisite long pass wide to Wes Brown on the right flank.

Scholes’ other trademark came to the fore in the 19th minute when he unleashed a missile after being teed up by Rooney at a direct free-kick. James dived to his left and dealt admirably with the slight swerve to parry the ball away. Less than 60 seconds later and Scholes was back near to his own box to coolly head a loose ball into van der Sar’s clutches.

The contest was not without its casualties - Tevez was on the receiving end of Diop’s bookable challenge shortly before Brown left the field for treatment to his right eye after being caught in a battle between John O’Shea and Peter Crouch.

Crouch was close to pulling the trigger in the 25th minute when Evra slid in with a brave last-ditch challenge to thwart the England striker. The resulting corner, the first for either side, presented Younes Kaboul with a free header but mercifully the Pompey defender nodded comfortably wide.

Evra was twice in action at the other end around the half-hour mark; first to lose control with a heavy touch when the linesman’s flag was raised; secondly to deliver a killer ball into the six-yard box for United’s breakthrough.

Darren Fletcher attacked it at the near post and will try to claim his second goal of the season. However, TV replays suggested Campbell may have diverted it past James and over the line, even before Sylvain Distin hooked the ball into the roof of the net.

The same technology backed Campbell moments later when he blocked a close-range flick with Rooney, but not with a hand as the United fans behind the goal had hoped.

Rooney threatened again at the end of a great build-up when, after turning onto Anderson’s arrowed pass across the edge of the area, he steered a low shot only inches wide of the post with James looking well beaten.

Brown was booked for a wild hack at Armand Traore but escaped further punishment when Rooney headed the resulting free-kick away to safety.

United were the first team on the pitch for the second period and the first to create a decent opening. Tevez slipped a pass to Rooney on the left hand side of the area and when the England striker crossed the ball low to the far post, Anderson was only just beaten to it by Distin’s timely toes.

Van der Sar saw his first real action of the match on the hour mark when Portsmouth substitute Jerome Thomas tried his luck from distance – the Dutchman, alert as ever, beat away the effort with his fists. Moments later he was in the right place to scoop up Crouch’s tame downward header.

Rooney had a strong shout for a penalty turned down when Campbell’s clumsy tackle stopped him from connecting with another Evra raid into the area.

Evra, then Fletcher on the follow-up, both had shots blocked by former Chelsea right-back Glen Johnson in the 70th minute, before Vidic’s header dipped just over the bar from an excellent Anderson corner on the left.

Jermain Defoe was booked for dissent just before Tevez curled a free-kick into James’ grasp. As if to sum up the difference in execution between the two clubs, a similar setpiece for Portsmouth saw Diarra’s kick strike United’s wall before it could even reach van der Sar.

Team Line-ups

Portsmouth: James, Kaboul, Campbell, Distin, Johnson, Diop, Davis (Utaka, 66), Diarra, Armand Traore (Thomas, 55), Crouch, Defoe.
Subs not used: Ashdown, Lauren, Hreidarsson, Mvuemba, Sahar.

Booked: Diop, Defoe.

Man Utd: Van der Sar, Brown, Ferdinand, Vidic, O'Shea, Fletcher, Anderson (Possebon, 76), Scholes, Evra, Rooney, Tevez.
Subs not used: Kuszczak, Neville, Fabio Da Silva, Rafael Da Silva, Gibson, Campbell.

Booked: Brown, Fletcher.

English Premiere League Standing August 25, 2008

2008/2009 English Premiership
Overall Home Away
1 Chelsea 2 2 0 0 5 0 1 0 0 4 0 1 0 0 1 0 5 6
2 Liverpool 2 2 0 0 3 1 1 0 0 2 1 1 0 0 1 0 2 6
3 Blackburn 2 1 1 0 4 3 0 1 0 1 1 1 0 0 3 2 1 4
4 Hull 2 1 1 0 3 2 1 0 0 2 1 0 1 0 1 1 1 4
5 Man Utd 2 1 1 0 2 1 0 1 0 1 1 1 0 0 1 0 1 4
6 Newcastle 2 1 1 0 2 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 1 1 1 4
7 Aston Villa 2 1 0 1 6 5 1 0 0 4 2 0 0 1 2 3 1 3
8 Man City 2 1 0 1 5 4 1 0 0 3 0 0 0 1 2 4 1 3
9 Bolton 2 1 0 1 3 2 1 0 0 3 1 0 0 1 0 1 1 3
10 Everton 2 1 0 1 4 4 0 0 1 2 3 1 0 0 2 1 0 3
11 Middlesbrough 2 1 0 1 3 3 1 0 0 2 1 0 0 1 1 2 0 3
12 Fulham 2 1 0 1 2 2 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 1 2 0 3
13 Sunderland 2 1 0 1 2 2 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 0 2 1 0 3
14 Arsenal 2 1 0 1 1 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 3
15 Stoke 2 1 0 1 4 5 1 0 0 3 2 0 0 1 1 3 -1 3
16 West Ham 2 1 0 1 2 4 1 0 0 2 1 0 0 1 0 3 -2 3
17 Tottenham 2 0 0 2 2 4 0 0 1 1 2 0 0 1 1 2 -2 0
18 West Brom 2 0 0 2 1 3 0 0 1 1 2 0 0 1 0 1 -2 0
19 Wigan 2 0 0 2 1 3 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 1 1 2 -2 0
20 Portsmouth 2 0 0 2 0 5 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 1 0 4 -5 0

Portsmouth Vs. Manchester United Highlights Video Clip

Portsmouth [0 - 1] Manchester United (Premiere League)
32' [0 - 1] D. Fletcher


Vidic ready for 'Little and Large'

Nemanja Vidic admits the Reds will be up against a somewhat unique strike force at Fratton Park on Monday night when they come face-to-face with Portsmouth's version of 'Little and Large.'

Jermain Defoe and Peter Crouch will present a difficult challenge to United's backline, particularly at set-pieces, but Vidic remains confident in the Reds' ability to deal with the threat posed by Pompey's front duo.

"We know all about Crouch and Defoe," he told "Crouch is very tall and very good in the air, while Defoe is very quick around the area and can cause you lots of problems.

"We know what quality they possess but we’re confident we can deal with it."

Both sides will be looking to post a first victory of the new campaign after disappointing results on the opening day. Pompey suffered a humiliating 4-0 defeat at Chelsea, while United could only manage a 1-1 draw with Newcastle at Old Trafford.

"We started badly and dropped points at home which isn’t what we wanted," admitted Vidic. "But the season is long and we hope we can get the result we want at Portsmouth.

"It’ll be a hard game particularly as Portsmouth lost 4-0 to Chelsea in their first game and will want to prove something against us to the fans.

"But we also need the points and we’re all looking forward to the game and hopefully we can get the result we need."

Reds close in on Berba

Juande Ramos has told the Tottenham board it is time to give up the fight to keep Dimitar Berbatov from Manchester United's clutches. Spurs have been angered by United's public courting of their Bulgaria striker but the Spaniard wants an end to the feud so that he can bring in a replacement before the end of the transfer window on Monday. Berbatov was left out of Saturday's defeat against Sunderland and fined a week's wages for not being ready for the White Hart Lane game. United are ready to offer £25m for the 27-year-old and Ramos is already lining up Ajax star Klaas-Jan Huntelaar as a replacement. A perturbed Ramos said: "We need to get this matter resolved before the transfer deadline. If Berbatov goes, we will need time to sign a replacement. We want to have the best centre forward we can possibly get. This is the first time I have faced this problem as a coach and the truth is I have found it a conflicting situation to be in."
Staff reporter, Daily Mail

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Reds have to stay in touch

Ryan Giggs says United's players are targeting victory at Portsmouth on Monday in order to avoid being cut adrift from the Premier League title race.

The champions dropped two points at home to Newcastle last Sunday, and are on UEFA Super Cup duty after Monday's trip to Pompey.

By the time the Reds are next in action - at Liverpool on September 13 - the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool could be up to eight points clear - depending how United fare at Fratton Park.

"Last season was the exception," Giggs told a pre-Super Cup press conference. "Before that Chelsea and Arsenal had been getting off to good starts, and then it’s very hard to peg them back.

"We want to start winning and we don’t want a massive gap to open up between ourselves and the other teams that are going to be up there.

"It was obviously disappointing the first game with Newcastle, but that’s gone now so we’re looking towards Portsmouth and then the Super Cup in Monaco. After that it’s a two-week break, so we want to go into that break with two wins under our belt."

Six Reds up for UEFA awards

The Reds' sensational Double success of last season could lead to more honours this week at the UEFA Club Footballer of the Year awards.

United are the best-represented club with no fewer than six players shortlisted as the best performers in their positions for the 2007/08 campaign.

Edwin van der Sar is up for the best goalkeeper award while Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic are in contention for the defender gong.

Paul Scholes’ name is in the hat for the midfielder prize while front men Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo will be vying for the forward of the year honour. All six Reds could also win the overall Club Footballer of the Year award.

The shortlists reflect the Premier League’s dominance of the Champions League last season, with 17 of the 20 candidates for the awards plying their trade in England. Added to United's six are five from Chelsea (Peter Cech, John Terry, Michael Essien, Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba), four from Liverpool (Pepe Reina, Jamie Carragher, Steven Gerrard, Fernando Torres) and two from Arsenal (Manuel Almunia, Cesc Fabregas).

The three nominees from outside the English game are Schalke 04 goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, Barcelona defender Carles Puyol and his team-mate, forward Lionel Messi.

Coaches of the 16 teams that reached the knockout phase of the 2007/08 UEFA Champions League were invited to cast their votes. The award winners will be announced at the draw for this season's group stage on Thursday 28 August – the day before United face UEFA Cup winners Zenit St Petersburg in the UEFA Super Cup final at Monaco's Stade Louis II.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Fergie confirms Rio will be next United captain

Sir Alex Ferguson has assured Rio Ferdinand that he remains in line to lead Manchester United despite missing out on the England captaincy.

England coach Fabio Capello chose John Terry ahead of Ferdinand to become the new national team captain on a long-term basis ahead of England's 2-2 draw with the Czech Republic on Wednesday.

Ferguson said however that he would hand 29-year-old Ferdinand the United captain's armband once Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs were no longer around.

'The way I operate is through seniority,' Ferguson told reporters. 'That's why Gary Neville is captain and when he's not playing Ryan has taken over. If Ryan is not available then Rio stands in.

'In the long-term Rio will be captain, no question about that. I'm very comfortable with that.

'His qualities of leadership have improved tremendously over the last two or three years and ability-wise, it is there for all to see.'

Ferguson said the selection of Terry ahead of Ferdinand for the England job was not a major issue and will not have a bearing on Ferdinand's form or state of mind.

'It was always him or John Terry and it was the flip of a coin,' he said. 'It could have gone either way. I am sure it was a close call.

'It's not a reflection other than a personal choice and John Terry has been captain of Chelsea for quite a while and that has to go into consideration.

'It was the manager's choice to go for John Terry so he (Ferdinand) will just get on with it. It's straightforward. He should not be worried about the effect of that.'

Meanwhile, Ferguson has given Mikael Silvestre's move from Manchester United to Arsenal his official seal of approval saying: 'I could have been selfish and put Mikael in the reserves but we are bigger than that.'

Silvestre knew he had no United future at the end of last season.

At that point he asked Ferguson's permission to leave and the United boss was happy to let the 31-year-old get on with it.

'Mikael said he wanted first-team football,' said Ferguson.

'He had lost his position to Patrice Evra, so, after nine years' service, there was no point holding the boy against his will.

'He is a really nice lad and a great professional, so I more or less let him conduct his own affairs.

'We knew the price we wanted and informed the teams who came in for him.

'He went up to Sunderland last Friday, and was very positive about that, then Manchester City came onto the scene.

'He was halfway through his medical when Arsenal came in. We have no complaints with the deal at all.'

Rooney on the attack

Wayne Rooney admits he is digging far too deep for club and country. Boss Fabio Capello told Roon to drop deep against the Czechs leaving Jermain Defoe on his own. But at times the Manchester United ace was effectively playing as a FIFTH midfielder. Alex Ferguson has already been on at Rooney to concentrate on attacking. And the striker said: “Maybe at times I am a bit too honest and at club level the manager is telling me not to defend too much, to try and save some energy for when we are attacking. Sometimes you just want to win the ball back and work hard for the team. That is just how I play.” Rooney had his pre-season build-up hampered by a virus picked up in Nigeria. He added: “I’ve probably only had seven days training since we came back from Africa. Playing on Sunday and for England will have helped my fitness. Hopefully I can get a few more games under my belt and be 100 per cent fit for the qualifiers.”
Steve Brenner, The Sun

Wes: Rio will be fine

Wes Brown expects Rio Ferdinand to shrug off the disappointment of not being named permanent England captain.

Three Lions coach Fabio Capello opted to continue with John Terry in the role of skipper, despite Ferdinand being widely tipped for the armband, but Brown doesn't expect his United colleague to be ruffled by the snub.

"Rio will be fine," he said. "He knew he had a good chance of being captain and then the gaffer picked John Terry so we all just get on with it now.

"Rio has got a great attitude, is a great footballer and I am sure he will take it in his stride and continue to do well for his country and United."

While he concedes that Ferdinand would have been his personal preference as captain, Wes is fully behind Terry as England bid to reach the 2010 World Cup.

"I play alongside him (Rio) every week so he would have been my choice," said Brown. "But then the Chelsea players would have said exactly the same about John Terry.

"He has been a great captain for us and hopefully he can take us all the way to the World Cup finals in two years' time."

Squad swelling for Pompey

Sir Alex Ferguson is hopeful that his squad will be boosted by the return of a handful of key players in time for Monday evening's trip to Portsmouth.

Carlos Tevez, who missed last weekend's draw with Newcastle after a family bereavement, will play after featuring for Argentina on Wednesday, giving United a vital extra body in attack.

There is also a chance that Owen Hargreaves and Ryan Giggs could be in contention after training this week, while Anderson will return this weekend from Brazil's Olympic team.

Ji-sung Park has also taken great strides in recent days, and has played a full part in training all week, but the trip to Fratton Park will come too soon for him.

"Tevez is back," Sir Alex told his pre-match press conference. "He’s available. Hargreaves and Ji-sung Park both trained with the first team this week, I’m delighted with that. Ji won’t be considered, Hargreaves we’ll assess on Sunday to see if he can play a part.

"Anderson will be back on Sunday, so that’s an extra body. Giggs has trained the last couple of days, plus all the players have come back from internationals fit, which is a bonus, so we’re ok in that respect."

The United manager also confirmed that Michael Carrick and Cristiano Ronaldo are on schedule for their own returns from injury - three weeks and three months respectively.

Scholesy's sights set

Paul Scholes will prolong his United career for as long as he can contribute to the cause, and insists he will not be talked out of international retirement.

The veteran midfielder curtailed his England career after Euro 2004 and, at 34, has continued to shine at club level in an epic Reds career. Although a host of young talents are coming through the United ranks, Scholes isn't ready to step aside just yet.

"I will carry on as long as I can. As long as I feel I am still contributing to United I want to carry on," he told the Manchester Evening News. "When I eventually stop then I will think about what I want to do from then on. If I feel I can still be of worth I will carry on. If not I will go.

"I am sure the manager will say something as well! If he turns round to me and says I am not doing enough anymore then fair enough that will be it. It is part of life. I don't worry about it. You get too old and you can't do what you used to. You have to accept it.

"I am 34 in November and hope to still be playing at 35. Anything after that if I am still playing well and doing something for the team then it will be a bonus."

Scholes has often been cited as the creative spark England have laboured without in recent years, and he admits he did contemplate returning to the international fold when Steve McClaren took the Three Lions job in 2006, only to conclude that he had already made the right choice.

"A couple of years ago I did think about coming out of international retirement," he said. "I spoke to Steve McClaren a couple of times about it when he became the new coach. I considered it quite strongly for a while.

"But in the end I came to the conclusion that I had made the right decision in the first place and I didn't want to go back.

"When Steve was appointed he rang and asked me to return. Just the fact the England manager had rung and asked me to come back and play for my country meant a lot to me.

"He didn't have to do that but he went out of his way to ring me and also came down to training and asked if I fancied it.

"I did think about it but I don't really think I was ever that close that I would have said yes. It wasn't about not thinking it was too much or I wasn't capable it was just the fact that when I was playing I wasn't enjoying it one little bit.

"So I thought the time was right to get out and I finally decided it wasn't right to go back into it all again."

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Silvestre move to Gunners stuns Vidic

Nemanja Vidic admitted Mikael Silvestre has stunned all his old Manchester United team-mates by signing for Premier League rivals Arsenal.

After looking close to joining Sunderland and Manchester City, Silvestre eventually jumped at the chance of playing under Arsene Wenger, ending a nine-year association with the Old Trafford outfit yesterday by signing a two-year contract for a £750,000 transfer fee.

It is the first direct transfer between the two clubs since 1987, when Viv Anderson moved north to become one of Sir Alex Ferguson's first recruits as United boss, and Vidic can still scarcely believe it.

'It surprised me. In fact I think it has come as a surprise to everyone,' he said.

'It is not often a player leaves one big club to go to another like Arsenal or Liverpool. It does not tend to happen.

'But Mikael did not play much last year and I think he just wanted to go somewhere where he would, so in that sense I am happy for him.'

Vidic has grown close to the former France international during his own two-and-a-half year stint.

And, while it was obvious Silvestre's first-team chances at United were strictly limited, Vidic believes the 31-year-old is still a class act.

'He has been here a long time and he still deserves to play at the highest level,' said the Serbian.

'Mikael has given so much to this club. I am just surprised he is going to Arsenal. But he has made the choice.'

Vidic can look forward to pitting his wits against Silvestre later in the season.

Silvestre adds savvy to young Gunners

The Arsenal manager, Arsène Wenger, says Mikaël Silvestre will add an extra dimension to his youthful squad and bolster the Gunners' challenge for honours. The French defender completed his move from Manchester United yesterday on a two-year deal for £750,000. Wenger said: "We have a strong squad but a young squad and Mikaël's versatility, experience and calibre will provide the extra depth we need to reinforce our challenge for honours this season. His defensive adaptability will serve us well and it's a big plus that Mikaël has top-level experience and a great understanding of football in the Premier League."
Ryan Borroff, The Guardian

Silvestre seals Gunners move

Mikael Silvestre has completed a transfer to Arsenal for an undisclosed fee, bringing down the curtain on a nine-year Manchester United career.

The French defender, who joined from Internazionale in September 1999, made 361 appearances for the Reds, scoring 10 goals and winning 10 major honours.

Speaking after Silvestre had completed the formalities of his move, Sir Alex Ferguson told “Mikael was a great servant and a wonderful professional. We wish him all the best at his new club and thank him for his service.”

Silvestre performed in the centre or left side of defence for the Reds, but was hit by serious back-to-back injuries in his United career, suffering a dislocated shoulder and cruciate knee ligament damage in 2007.

With Patrice Evra established as United’s first-choice left back, and the central partnership of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand seemingly set in stone, Mikael was unlikely to find regular first team football at Old Trafford this season.

Arsenal have swooped to add Silvestre’s international experience to their backline, and the popular Frenchman joins compatriots William Gallas, Gael Clichy, Bacary Sagna, Abou Diaby, Armand Traore and Samir Nasri at the Emirates Stadium.

Mikael has penned a two-year deal and will wear the number 18 shirt for the Gunners

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Giggs: We need to be hungry

Ryan Giggs admits United must match Chelsea for hunger in order to retain the Barclays Premier League trophy for a third straight season.

The Reds have pipped the Blues to the title in the last two seasons and, having endured barren years himself with United, Giggs is well aware of the galvanising effect such silverware starvation can have.

"They didn't win the Premier League last year," Ryan told Sky Sports News.

"I've been in that position where you've not won it. You're hungry and determined, and you want to win it, simple as that.

"We've got to match their determination, their hunger and their desire. We've got players at the club who've tasted success over the last couple of years and want more."

Chelsea made a flying start to the new campaign by crushing Portsmouth at Stamford Bridge, while an injury-hit United side were held at home by Newcastle.

Giggs isn't too perturbed to be trailing Luiz Felipe Scolari's side so early on, however, and feels that the signing of a new striker would further enhance United's chances of completing a Premier League hat-trick.

"We're all disappointed we didn't win as every team wants to get off to a winning start, but we did okay," he said. "Obviously, Carlos was not there on Sunday, which was disappointing, and Wayne missed a bit of pre-season.

"He would have liked a few more games under his belt, while Fraizer is a young lad. Ideally you want four or five strikers, but we haven't got that.

"I think we're always getting linked with players, especially when you don't win the first game, and you've got a couple of strikers injured or missing."

Wes has faith in strike pair

Wes Brown is backing Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez to fire the goals United have been missing in recent weeks when the pair are reunited against Portsmouth on Monday.

Rooney returned against Newcastle after virus disrupted his pre-season, but Tevez missed the match to fly home following a family bereavement. However, United could have both players fit and firing to face Portsmouth at Fratton Park.

"We've not scored too many goals recently,” admits Wes Brown.

“But we've had quite a few injuries so I'm not too concerned. Wayne has not played much and any side would miss him. But I'm sure we'll fine [with him back in the team]."

Rooney looked slightly short of match fitness against the Magpies, but 90 minutes of action can only aid his sharpness. Meanwhile, Tevez looked like a man possessed during pre-season, and will look to pick up where he left off when he returns to Manchester.

"Carlos [Tevez] was incredible on his own up front in pre-season," adds Wes. "He's looked really sharp and hungry - I don't know where he gets his energy from."

The 1-1 draw against Newcastle on the opening day was not the ideal start to United’s title defence. But with three Premier League away games in a row against Portsmouth, Liverpool (Sat 13 Sept) and Chelsea (Sun 21 Sept), the Reds must quickly move on.

Brown knows not to underestimate the challenge ahead of retaining the English and European crowns. “There’s a buzz around the place after last season’s success,” he says. “But it’s going to be tough to retain the two trophies, or even win more.”

Arsenal are taking the Mik

Arsene Wenger has hijacked Manchester City’s bid to sign Mikael Silvestre. The Manchester United defender, 31, was undergoing a medical at neighbours City when he got a call telling him Arsenal were interested. Silvestre immediately abandoned the medical and hurtled down the M1 to meet Gunners boss Wenger and discuss terms. An Arsenal insider confirmed: “Arsene has been looking for experienced cover for Gael Clichy and he knows all about Mikael. Arsene has followed his career and the fact he is French is a bonus.” The France left-back, who joined United from Inter for £4m in 1999, made six appearances last season and was granted a free transfer this summer.
Antony Kastrinakas, The Sun

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Fraizer Campbell Highlights Video Clip


O'Shea wants clean sweep

A 1-1 draw with Newcastle was not exactly the start to the 2008/09 campaign United wanted, but no-one is panicking at Old Trafford.

John O'Shea insists the Reds remain fully focused on retaining their double crown and, with four other major trophies up for grabs, are intent on adding to their collection.

"We have to aim for the same again. That’s the very minimum that’s required at a club like this," he told

"There’s the Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup and the Champions League… but this season we’ve also got the chance to win the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup.

"We’ll go for all of them, of course, but we’ll need a little bit of luck along the way! First and foremost, it would be great to try and retain the two trophies we’ve just won, but we’ll have to wait and see."

A valuable first team squad member, O'Shea made 38 appearances last season and is hoping to play an important role in United's trophy quest this time round.

"I just want to play as much as I can and take my chances when I get them," he declared. "You’ll always be handed opportunities at United, so it’s important you grasp them."

Owen's best yet to come

Owen Hargreaves has a point to prove this season - a self-imposed target of showing his true abilities for the Reds.

The 27-year-old midfielder, who missed United's entire pre-season, is working on his fitness after a flare-up of the tendinitis problem that disrupted his debut season at Old Trafford.

The part he played in 2007/08's success should not be underplayed, but Hargreaves believes he never operated above half capacity.

"There is a lot more to come from me," he says confidently. "I don't think I played a game healthy last season. I was at about 50 or 60% at best. When I had a scan on the knee this summer it hadn't improved, so I came back early to try to fix it at the start of pre-season. Hopefully I'll be fit soon."

In the current climate of injuries, suspensions and absentees, Hargreaves's midfield bite is sorely missed but, despite his determination to return, no comeback date is set in stone.

"I'm not setting a timetable but I am close," he said. "I've not joined the lads yet, hopefully it will happen this week. Whether I'm fit for Portsmouth or the match after that, the most important thing is I'm healthy for the rest of the season."

Owen's Key Games

He may not feel like he was operating above "50 or 60 per cent" but Hargreaves more than played his part last term. Here are three key performances from 2007/08...

Liverpool 0 United 1
Anfield, 16.12.07
The smash and grab job at Anfield was a gleaming example of a controlled and accomplished defensive performance, and Hargreaves was vital in the Reds' midfield engine room. Anderson, Tevez and Rio may have grabbed the attention, but Hargreaves' part was crucial.

United 2 Arsenal 1
Old Trafford, 13.04.08
Managing to take the free-kick responsibilities off Ronaldo was a feat in itself. But his winning strike against the Gunners was a critical moment in the title race. The match proved that Hargreaves is a player for the big occasion.

United 1 Chelsea 1 (6-5 pens)
Luzhniki Stadium, 21.5.08
With Ronaldo switched to the left, Hargreaves started on the right. He pushed Ashley Cole deeper into defence and delivered some excellent crosses. When he moved into central midfield later in the game he was vital. Scored a cracking penalty in the shoot-out.

Berbatov wants end to impasse

It is understood Berbatov handed his request on Friday to sporting director Damien Comolli and chairman Daniel Levy, the day before he was named as a substitute at Middlesbrough where Spurs lost 2-1. Earlier in the summer, Levy feared Berbatov would have a negative influence on the dressing room after making it clear he wanted to join Manchester United. A United bid of £20.5million was rejected last month and they have not made another formal offer, although Tottenham have insisted they do not want to let him go. However, the saga has entered a crucial stage following Berbatov's request and comments on his arrival for international duty. "I'm now at Tottenham but no one can disagree with me wanting to follow my dream," said Berbatov.
Richard Bright, Daily Telegraph

Monday, August 18, 2008

Let me join United

Dimitar Berbatov has pleaded with Tottenham to let him join Manchester United. Spurs are demanding £30million for Berba, who slapped in a transfer request on Friday. But United will go no higher than £25m. Berbatov said: "I'm now in Tottenham but no one can disagree with me wanting to follow my dream." Berba’s agent Emil Dantchev added: “We have two weeks until the end of the transfer window. I think this will be the most important week."
Steve Brenner, The Sun

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Campbell 'sticking around'

After making his first league start for the Reds against Newcastle, Fraizer Campbell says he is “sticking around” for more first-team opportunities, despite interest from other clubs.

For Campbell, the experience of playing alongside Wayne Rooney in front of 75,000 fans at Old Trafford is everything he has worked for in his fledgling career, and reported interested from former loan club Hull City won't lure him away.

“It’s difficult to put into words what it felt like,” he said. “It’s great. It’s what I’ve been working for ever since I joined this club so it was great to get out there. I hope to get more chances in the team, I’ll be sticking around for a bit.”

Playing against Newcastle was a bittersweet moment for the 20-year-old striker. Named in the starting line-up for the first time in the Premier League, Campbell turned in a real livewire display up front. Despite being held to a draw by Kevin Keegan’s side, the Huddersfield-born forward relished the experience.

“Obviously on your debut you wanted everything to go well, but I really enjoyed myself and I think we were unlucky not to get the result that we deserved,” he told MUTV.

Campbell was denied a goal to cap his impressive display by Newcastle goalkeeper Shay Given, whose unorthodox save stopped a stunning first-half header.

“He (Given) was trying his best to upset me,” Campbell said. “It happened so quickly, I didn’t see how he saved it but a few people told me afterwards that it hit him in the face. That’s the way it goes sometimes.

“We responded brilliantly to their goal, coming back to score ourselves. We took over the game there and I think we should have come away with the three points after that.

“A draw isn't the end of the world. Not losing your first game of the season stands you in good stead for the rest of the campaign.

"Hopefully we can go on to repeat some of the things United achieved last season.”

Carrick out for two weeks

Michael Carrick will miss the next two weeks of the season after picking up an ankle injury in the 1-1 draw against Newcastle.

The midfielder, who will also sit out England's friendly with the Czech Republic on Wednesday, sustained the injury in the first half and was replaced by John O'Shea.

Ryan Giggs, one of United's most penetrative players on a frustrating opening day against the Magpies, was also forced off in the second half.

Boss Sir Alex Ferguson told Sky Sports: "Carrick has an ankle injury. It’s swollen up quite badly and he will be out for about two weeks.

"Ryan has a hamstring injury. It was disappointing to get those injuries on top of the injuries we had anyway."

United went into the game without Carlos Tevez, who is back in Argentina after a family bereavement, while Fraizer Campbell did not complete 90 minutes and Wayne Rooney looked less than 100% fit after his recent virus.

Ferguson added: "Tevez will be back next week and available for the Portsmouth match, and Rooney will be much sharper having played this game.

"I thought in the second half it started to go for him. Unfortunately Fraizer Campbell picked up a knock and he had to come off as well."

Manchester United Vs. Portsmouth Match Report

The champions were left frustrated at Old Trafford as Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle held the Reds to a 1-1 draw on the opening weekend of the season.

Having gone 0-1 down to Obafemi Martins’ 22nd-minute opener, the Reds responded instantly through Darren Fletcher. However, United were unable to make the most of large periods of dominance over the 90 minutes.

This is a fixture that has traditionally produced a glut of goals - 11 in two games for the Reds last season - but it wasn't to be the case on Sunday.

Several key players were missing so this is far from a disastrous start to the Reds’ title defence. And, but for some loose marking for Martins’ goal, United could easily have walked away with all three points. On the positive side, there was a highly promising first start for Fraizer Campbell up front alongside Wayne Rooney.

Sir Alex approached the game with his attacking options significantly curtailed. Cristiano Ronaldo and Louis Saha are both out injured, while Nani is suspended for the first two games of the campaign. Rooney’s return from a virus eased the problem, but there was a further blow before kick-off when it was confirmed Carlos Tevez would miss the match after returning to Argentina following a family bereavement.

It presented 20-year-old Huddersfield-born striker Campbell with his first competitive start for the Reds.

Despite the enforced changes, it didn’t alter United's attacking approach. Campbell, for one, was intent on grasping his opportunity with both hands. He almost grabbed a seventh minute opener after a brilliant Rooney cross. The young striker’s powerful header was stopped, somewhat unsuspectingly, by goalkeeper Shay Given’s head.

The champions kept on knocking, but Given was repellent to everything thrown at him. In one attacking move, following nice work from Campbell and Darren Fletcher - playing wide right – Given denied Rooney and Paul Scholes (twice) with close-range saves.

United looked slick going forward and typically sturdy at the back. But on 22 minutes, after successive Newcastle corners, Kevin Keegan’s men took their surprise lead. Martins was unchallenged as he rose highest to head the ball past Edwin van der Sar from six yards.

Sir Alex will have been disappointed with the marking, but delighted with United's instant retaliation. The Reds immediately went hunting for the goal the team’s earlier play had deserved. Giggs sent in an inviting low cross from the left side of the box and it got the glancing touch it needed from Fletcher to take the ball past Given.

Carrick was forced off with an ankle injury shortly afterwards, and where in the first half United had put Newcastle under consistent pressure, the second half lacked any real rhythm. Campbell remained lively and forced a good save from Given on 56 minutes with a low, left-footed drive.

The pressing for a second goal with Scholes and Rooney both having long-range efforts, while a Vidic header rebounded off the bar. But the breakthrough didn't arrive and the longer the match went on, the more the Reds seemed to miss the pace and penetration from wide areas that Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani provide.

That point was exacerbated when Giggs went off injured and Sir Alex was forced to reshuffle his pack again. The fact that three players made league debuts or first starts is indication enough that the team is not yet at full strength.

Deep into injury time United were given one last shot at claiming all three points. Substitute Rafael, another league debutant, drew a foul from Butt on the edge of the area. Rooney curled his free-kick round the Newcastle wall, but it went the wrong side of the post. A 1-1 draw isn’t the ideal starting point for the champions' title defence, but United didn’t get off to a flier last season and it didn’t prove prohibitive come the end of the season. This time it's different, though. Next up in the league are away matches against Portsmouth, Liverpool and Chelsea; it won't get any easier.

Team Line-ups

Manchester United: Van der Sar; Brown, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra; Fletcher, Carrick (O’Shea 25), Scholes, Giggs (c) (Possebon, 63); Rooney, Campbell (Rafael, 80).
Subs not used: Kusczak, Neville, J.Evans, Gibson.
Booked: Campbell, Brown, Rooney

Newcastle United: Given; Beye, Coloccini, Taylor, N’Zogbia; Milner, Guthrie, Butt (c), Gutierrez, Duff; Martin.
Subs not used: Harper, Enrique, Geremi, Smith, Edgar, Bassong, Donaldson.

Attendance: 75,512


Manchester United Vs. Newcastle United Highlights Video Clip

Manchester United [1 - 1] Newcastle United (Premiere League)
22' [0 - 1] O. Martins
24' [1 - 1] D. Fletcher


Saturday, August 16, 2008

Manchester United Vs. New Castle United Match Preview

Wayne Rooney will spearhead Manchester United's attack when the Barclays Premier League champions open their title defence against Newcastle at Old Trafford.
Rooney missed the last two weeks of pre-season with a virus but Sir Alex Ferguson has confirmed the England man is fit and will partner Carlos Tevez in attack.

Nani is suspended, so Ferguson must make changes from the Community Shield win over Portsmouth last weekend, with Michael Carrick tipped for a start.

Ferguson played a game of tease ahead of the Newcastle game by warning of a surprise within the next 48 hours.

In the build-up to another title defence, Ferguson played mounting speculation of Dimitar Berbatov's signing with a totally straight bat.

That was until he tired of the questioning and opted for a different tactic.

"You might be surprised at what is going to happen over the next two days,'' he said.

Given Ferguson announced seven days ago he would have a new face in his squad for the arrival of Kevin Keegan's men, nothing should be taken at face value.

But it would be no major shock if the United boss was parading a big-money signing around Old Trafford on Sunday, even if club officials are continuing to dampen down speculation that hit fever pitch at lunchtime.

There was talk of a medical in the north-west taking place and even a spot being earmarked in the squad to face Kevin Keegan's men. The truth was that Berbatov was in London, with Tottenham, preparing to travel north for a game at Middlesbrough.

"I cannot give you an answer because there isn't one,'' said Ferguson, when asked whether he still expected to bring in a new player.

"We have been trying to add to the squad but nothing has changed, I have nothing else to say.''

Newcastle have included Argentina defender Fabricio Coloccini in the squad after he was signed from Deportivo La Coruna.

The Magpies will be without four strikers - skipper Michael Owen, Mark Viduka and Andy Carroll because of injury and Shola Ameobi who is talking to Ipswich ahead of a possible move.

But there was some good news for on the striking front when Obafemi Martins returned from Nigeria feeling fine following a knee injury.

Joey Barton is not considered and Nicky Butt will captain the side on his former home ground in the absence of Owen.


Friday, August 15, 2008

Park hungry for more medals

Ji-sung Park is convinced United are capable of improving on last season’s memorable Double triumph.

Not content with the Premier League and Champions League, the Korean has set his sights on winning every trophy available to the Reds this term.

“We missed out on the FA Cup final last season so this time we will try to win every trophy,” the winger told MUTV.

“We have the ability so we will try to develop and achieve even better results than we did last season.

“I believe we can do it because even though we have no new signings, we haven’t lost any players either, which is the most important thing.”

No new faces yet, but United have been boosted by the emergence of several youngsters in pre-season, with the likes of Fraizer Campbell, Rodrigo Possebon and the da Silva brothers catching the eye.

"We have younger players who have shown what they can do in pre-season, so that is also good for us,” added Park, who hopes to return to full training next week following a minor recurrence of his knee injury.

“Last year they sometimes joined us in first-team training. It’s exciting for them and they now just need more experience. I think they may have a chance this season and if younger players are getting better it helps the squad."

Wes will fight for his place

Wes Brown is - like most Reds fans - glad to see Gary Neville back in action for United. But he’s promised to push the club skipper all the way for the right-back slot he occupied so consistently last season.

The 28-year-old defender played more games (52) than anyone in the United squad last term, and he’s looking for more of the same this time around - starting with a place in the team to face Newcastle on Sunday.

“My personal aim this season is to play as many games as I can for United and hopefully to help the side win more trophies,” he told Red View.

“Gary [Neville] is fit again so he will obviously be competing with me for the right-back slot this season, but I’ll keep working hard and look to take advantage of the opportunities I get.”

United need the experience of players like Wes and Gary as the Reds attempt to retain the English and European crowns, a task both players have plenty of experience in at Old Trafford. Having let the Champions League go after the United's last triumph in 1998/99, there is a steely determination to be the first team to hang on to the trophy in the tournament's current guise.

"We’re all feeling positive about our chances after the success we had last season,” Wes added.

“We’re certainly not over-confident because the Premier League and Champions League are such tough competitions to win. But there’s an excitement around the place and we’re looking forward to getting the new campaign underway."

Rooney fit for season opener

Wayne Rooney has shaken off the effects of a virus and could start against Newcastle on Sunday at Old Trafford.

The striker fell ill during the club's pre-season visit to Nigeria at the end of last month and it was feared that Sunday's big kick-off would come too soon for the 22-year-old. But after a solid week's training, Rooney is fit and ready to take on the Magpies.

“Wayne Rooney is fit and he will play on Sunday, which is good news for us," Sir Alex said at his pre-match press conference on Friday.

"He’s trained all week and has done very well. He even trained last Sunday on the morning of the Community Shield. From then on he has been progressing really well."

Rooney's return is a major boost for United, who are already without Cristiano Ronaldo and Louis Saha in attacking positions, and midfielders Owen Hargreaves, Anderson, Nani and Ji-sung Park.

“Nani is suspended so he is out," added the boss. "And Hargreaves, Ronaldo, Park and Saha are all still injured and Anderson is at the Olympics. So in terms of attacking options, we're down to the bare bones."

However, Sir Alex feels his squad still has the strength to overcome Kevin Keegan's men at Old Trafford on Sunday. “The backbone will be the midfielders and defenders we have available," he said. "We have a good variety there.

"Hopefully that’s enough to get us over this first hurdle against Newcastle, which is always a good, exciting game. Newcastle always come and have a go, so it should be an open type of match."

Rooney's back

Wayne Rooney has won his fight to play in Manchester United’s league opener on Sunday. But crocked Michael Owen is OUT of Newcastle’s line-up at Old Trafford. Rooney, 22, was hit by a virus during United’s pre-season trip to Nigeria. The England forward began training again on Monday, though, and is fit for the big kick-off after putting himself through tough double training sessions every day this week. He has trained normally with his team-mates in the morning, then gone through another punishing afternoon schedule.
Neil Custis, The Sun

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Vidic canvassing support

As the United players ready themselves to defend the Reds' English and European crowns, Nemanja Vidic says the supporters have a big part to play in the long season ahead.

When the Reds really needed backing during the Double trophy-winning campaign last term - Blackburn and Barcelona in April immediately spring to mind - United's army of supporters never went missing.

"The support we had was terrific," says Vidic. "In some games, it was as if the fans were deciding how the match would end."

After Carlos Tevez's late equaliser against Blackburn, Vidic commented that United's away supporters had willed the ball into the back of the net.

But it wasn't just on the road that United fans found their voice. The celebrations that met Paul Scholes' strike against Barcelona and, more importantly, the final whistle, are a spine-tingling recollection for any fan there on the night.

The message from Vidic is for fans not underestimate the part they can play, especially at Old Trafford.

"We always have fantastic support away from home," he added. "And at Old Trafford the fans have started to put real pressure on the opposition - they made it very intimidating for other teams.

"The fans are great. I hope they're as vocal this season."

Keano gives up on Evans

Sunderland manager Roy Keane appears to have conceded defeat in his bid to take United defender Jonny Evans to Wearside in a permanent deal.

The 20-year-old Northern Ireland international impressed during two loan spells with the Black Cats, helping them attain Premier League status in 2006/07 and preserve it last term.

Sir Alex Ferguson has always resisted any temptation to permanently part with the promising young centre back, however, even in the face of rumoured multi-million pound bids from Keane.

For the Sunderland boss, United's sale of Gerard Pique to Barcelona represented the end of his chase for Evans.

"My mindset was always that Jonny was going to go back to United," said Keane. "When United sold Pique we were pretty sure they would hold on to Jonny."

Evans featured during United's pre-season campaign, and is expected to remain part of Sir Alex's first team plans as the Reds start the defence of the Double this weekend.

Spurs set record fee for Berbatov

White Hart Lane chief Daniel Levy was left incandescent by claims from United that they were on the verge of competing a deal for the Bulgarian hitman, before Tottenham had even received a formal offer. Now Spurs will demand a British record fee in excess of the £32million United agreed to complete the full transfer of Carlos Tevez. While Tottenham had put a £30m price tag on Berbatov's head, they had been privately willing to settle for £28m.
Martin Lipton, The Mirror

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Fighting talk from Terry

Bullish Chelsea skipper John Terry says United "don't have another level to go to" and insists the Blues are ready to raise their game this season.

Sir Alex's misconstrued comments about ageing players earlier this summer have ruffled a few feathers at Stamford Bridge. The Reds boss said that, in comparison to United's young and developing players, Chelsea's older squad will find it difficult to see improvement from last season.

Terry hit back regardless. "Sir Alex realises we weren't too far away from them at the very top of their game," he countered. "I don't think they've got another level to go to.

"Take nothing away from United, they've been fantastic. But they have a lot of players in their team who have hit peak form in the last two years. Every year we're going to give them a good go for their money. We're no longer a nearly team."

When you consider the leading lights in United's attack - Ronaldo (23), Rooney (22), Tevez (24) - and emerging talents Anderson (20) and Nani (21), it would seem to contradict Terry's claims that United will not see yet further progress. Even Vidic, Hargreaves, Park, Carrick, Evra, Foster and Fletcher are 27 or younger.

Ultimately, Terry knows the emphasis is on Chelsea to up their game: "We need to raise the bar. At the end of the day last season we wasn't good enough," he says. "It still hurts me to see pictures of United lifting those trophies.

"We need to set ourselves big targets: to win the Premier League, the FA Cup, get to the final of the Champions League and win it. Those are the targets." You can bet United's wiser, now more experienced, young guns will have something to say about that.

United close in on Berbatov

Dimitar Berbatov expects to be a Manchester United player within the next 48 hours. The Bulgarian striker has told his Tottenham team-mates that he is on his way to Old Trafford. The £25million deal ends a year-long pursuit of the player by United boss Alex Ferguson. As we reported on Saturday, United were confident the deal would be done by the end of this week. Now the Champions hope to unveil him as their new signing in time to be eligible for their big kick-off against Newcastle on Sunday. Berbatov, 27, feared the deal might be off when reports surfaced of possible United moves for Thierry Henry at Barcelona and Valencia’s David Villa. But Berbatov was always Ferguson’s No1 one target. He has had three bids rejected — last summer, in the New Year and at the end of this season.
Neil Custis, The Sun

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Berbatov row leaves United light

Manchester United are determined to complete the signing of Dimitar Berbatov from Tottenham Hotspur before the start of the new Barclays Premier League campaign this weekend. Tottenham are understood to be resigned to losing Berbatov, but, having rejected an official bid of £20.5million from United last month, they maintain that they will not sell for less than £30million. Berbatov is determined to move to Old Trafford, having made clear his ambition to play Champions League football. United have been linked with a bid to sign Thierry Henry, the former Arsenal forward, from Barcelona, but the most likely alternative to Berbatov this summer is Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.
Oliver Kay, The Times

Big things expected of Nani

Sir Alex Ferguson believes United fans will witness increasingly mature performances from Nani this season once he has completed the remainder of his three-game domestic ban.

The Portuguese winger was dismissed for head-butting Lucas Neill in retaliation for a nasty challenge by the Australian in the penultimate league game of last season against West Ham.

Nani was forced to sit out the last-day trip to Wigan back in May and will miss United's next two league matches against Newcastle and Portsmouth.

However, when he does return to action, Sir Alex is expecting big things from the 21-year-old.

"Nani has gone through the same process as all the young players and you are looking for that jump up in performance level," explained the United boss.

“His maturity should be better as well, which is important. He is a very young 21. That immaturity showed itself against West Ham at the end of the season. That has cost us because he is missing for the first two games.

“But when he develops that he will be an outstanding talent. He has courage and speed, can play with both feet and does not melt in big atmospheres.”

Neville hails stylish Reds

Gary Nevile reckons the current United team is the most creative assembled by Sir Alex Ferguson, insisting its unique style gives the Reds a great chance of making European history this season.

United are bidding to become the first side to retain the Champions League trophy in its current format having snatched victory from the jaws of defeat in Moscow last May.

Neville was part of the 1999 Treble-winning side, but says the attacking make-up of the 2008 squad is a frightening prospect for opposition teams and could make the difference this term.

"This is the most inventive United team [I've been involved in] in terms of its style," he declared. "The way players interchange has been different to the way United teams have in the past, even though there has been interchanging.

"The front three or four seem to be able to play in all positions. It's difficult for defenders, who don't know who they'll be playing against from minute to minute, never mind from match to match.

"At times we can be an intimidating team to play against because of the way we attack. We have players who can beat opponents one on one. That's the most intimidating thing for defenders. Our players can deal the harshest blows and are intimidating to play against - I'm up against them in training so I know.

"Retaining the Champions League as it is now has never been done and what a challenge that is for us," he added. "We must step up to the plate if we want to achieve that."

Carrick: Goals no problem

Michael Carrick is ready to take penalties in Cristiano Ronaldo’s injury-enforced absence, but he’s sure the Reds will start banging in the goals when the 2008/09 season kicks off this weekend.

Carrick has shown his credentials as an able understudy to United’s regular spot-kick taker, scoring in the Community Shield shoot-out against Portsmouth on Sunday. He also converted from 12 yards in the pre-season friendly against Aberdeen and, of course, the Champions League final in Moscow.

The 27-year-old has been laid low recently with the same virus that has kept Wayne Rooney out of action. But his return as a second-half substitute at Wembley comes as a welcome boost to Sir Alex’s injury-hit squad.

“I’m just about back to normal now,” he told MUTV. “I’ll have a good week training and look forward to playing Newcastle. Sunday’s game was too soon for me to start, but it was good to get out there. We’re all looking forward to the first game of the season.”

Should United earn a spot-kick against Kevin Keegan’s men in Sunday 16:00 BST kick-off at Old Trafford, Carrick won’t shirk the responsibility if he’s on the pitch. “I quite enjoy taking penalties actually,” adds the Wallsend-born midfielder.

“I’ve never really taken penalties throughout my career, but I took one at Aberdeen and I’ve scored in penalty shoot-outs. If a penalty comes up, I’d step up no problem.”

The Reds have scored just once in the last three games – Fraizer Campbell struck against Espanyol – but that hasn’t got Carrick worried. “It’s not really a concern,” said the Englishman. “It’s still early days, the performances are there and we’re creating the chances. We’ve got the lads to stick them away. In an ideal world you’d be winning every match comfortably. Last season we didn’t start all that well, but hopefully we’ll start next week by banging the goals in and getting ourselves off the mark.

“Since the first game back against Aberdeen, we’ve all progressed and got better with every game. Sunday’s was a good performance. But we want to improve and get better. This is one step further in our preparations so I’m sure we’ll be ready.

“It’s nice to start the season well. We’ve won the Community Shield this year, and we started last year in a similar fashion. We just want to keep improving and progressing and we’re hoping to have an even better season this time around.”

Monday, August 11, 2008

Giggsy looks to Magpies test

Ryan Giggs was quick to move on after picking up his record seventh Community Shield winner's medal, fixing his sights on next Sunday's Premier League title defence opener against Newcastle.

While the Wembley showpiece has a trophy well worth winning, Giggs concedes that it's far more useful as a springboard for the commencement of another new season.

"It means a lot [to win it]," he told Setanta Sports. "You want to get off to a good start and you don't want to lose it.

"At the end of the day it's really for fitness and it's the last game before the start of the season, but it's really nice to win it as well.

"We want to start from where we left off last season. It'll be difficult, it always is in the Premier League, the Champions League and the cups. Every competition is difficult and you have to prepare right and have that hunger, and I'm sure the lads have got that."

Having watched close friend and long-term colleague Gary Neville start his first competitive fixture in almost 18 months, Giggs is hopeful that the Reds' club captain will be among those gearing up to face Newcastle next Sunday.

"It was a great game for Gary to play in," said the winger. "He's played a couple of games in pre-season and it's a really good test of his fitness. He'll be ready for next week. Hopefully nobody will pick up any knocks and we'll all be ready for next week."

Manc to blank

They Started as they mean to go on, collecting yet more silverware without even breaking stride. But with a penalty shoot-out victory as far removed from the drama of Moscowas you could possibly get allowing Gary Neville to lift the Community Shield, Sir Alex Ferguson will know the big questions are still to come. Yes, United could have won by five or six, rather than having to watch Portsmouth capitulate from 12 yards - and probably would have done so without David James. But someone has to come up with the goals Ronaldo brought to the table last term - and 42 is a tally he cannot beexpected to repeat even when he does return.
Martin Lipton, The Mirror

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Fabio Da Silva and Rafael Da Silva Highlights Video Clip


Wembley player ratings's Steve Bartram assesses how United's players fared in the Community Shield victory over Portsmouth at Wembley...

Edwin van der Sar
A virtual spectator throughout the entire match, United's penalty talisman could even have spent the shootout on a deckchair as Pompey squandered their chances.

Gary Neville
The skipper looked sharp in his first competitive start since March 2007. Neville was booked for a hefty challenge on John Utaka before being subbed after 66 minutes.

Rio Ferdinand
Barely broke a sweat in keeping Peter Crouch on a tight leash, dominating the Pompey new boy in the air and on the deck. As imperious as ever.

Nemanja Vidic
The one time Vida allowed perpetual pain Jermain Defoe some room, he did superbly to chase back and reel him in. Booked for hoofing the ball away, but otherwise impeccable.

Patrice Evra
Probably the star performer of the first half, with his staggering fitness levels clear for all to see as he rampaged up and down the left flank.

Darren Fletcher
Got forward with great intent and had United's best pair of chances. Although Fletch mis-timed his sliding effort in the first half, only a stunning save from James denied him later.

John O'Shea
A quietly effective display from the Irishman, who regularly prevented Pompey from building any attacking momentum and lent attacking support when circumstances allowed.

Paul Scholes
The Reds' timeless lockpicker coped well with Lassana Diarra's energy and exuded his usual string-pulling cool.

The Portuguese winger terrorised the Pompey defence throughout, particularly in the first half, and his attacking threat will be missed against Newcastle next Sunday.

Carlos Tevez
Having starred all pre-season, the bustling Argentine should have had a penalty, could have had a couple of goals and generally ran the show in United's attack.

Ryan Giggs
A record seventh Community Shield for Giggs, who outsmarted the Pompey defence time and again, and was one of the Reds' most potent attacking threats.

Wes Brown (sub, 66 mins)
A seamless replacement for Neville, Wes had little to do defensively in his 24 minute cameo.

Michael Carrick (sub, 66 mins)
Lent more attacking creativity. Another shootout, another goal for the classy midfielder.

Fraizer Campbell (sub, 79 mins)
Unfortunate not to score after cleverly making space, and showed plenty of graft.

Reds' dominance delights Boss

Sir Alex Ferguson was mystified that it took penalty kicks to overcome Portsmouth in the Community Shield, but still declared himself happy with an excellent performance.

The Reds dominated Harry Redknapp's side for long stretches at Wembley and, while satisfied by yet more silverware, it was the display which most delighted the manager.

"It's always nice, winning - I think that's the name of the game at our club," Sir Alex said. "The players showed that today, the determination and enjoyment of the game was good and I was very pleased with the performance today, it was excellent.

"How it got to penalty kicks, that's one of the mysteries of football. We created a lot of chances, we were the better team, but it's only pre-season."

Sir Alex is under no illusions that, while the first trophy of the season has been procured, the barometer of United's strength comes in the shape of next Sunday's Premier League curtain-raiser against Newcastle.

"It doesn't really do a lot other than it gives us the winning of the shield. It's very good for the young players involved today like Campbell, Possebon and da Silva," he said.

"It keeps the momentum going from last year I suppose, but the real test is when it kicks off next Sunday - Newcastle at home.

"We have some issues at the moment with fitness and injuries, and Nani is suspended, so we have to find a way around that and pick a system that will get us victory."

Captain praises Carlos

Gary Neville spoke about two sides of Carlos Tevez's game after the striker inspired United to glory in the 2008 Community Shield.

The Argentinian was a constant threat to Portsmouth and scored the Reds' first kick in the victorious penalty shoot-out. But Tevez's angry reaction after being outrageously rugby-tackled in the box by Hermann Hreidarsson could have resulted in a red card.

"I didn't see Carlos' reaction," admitted Neville, "but I imagine it would have been one of frustration.

"It looked (like it should have been) a penalty (to United) from where I was. If a player doesn't get the decision that he wants, then the emotion of the game and the importance of it means they are going to react.

"We can't take that human element out of football. It's just a case of keeping the reaction under control."

Tevez had no such trouble controlling the ball as he buzzed around the pitch in his first Wembley appearance for the Reds. Neville was delighted to witness it, especially at first-hand.

"He's probably been our most exciting player in pre-season," said Gary.

"He's been fantastic throughout all the games. He caused Portsmouth a lot of problems and could have had one or two goals. He was deservedly the (match sponsor's) man of the match.

"As for me, it was fantastic, just to get a competitive game under my belt. After being out for so long, I was just happy being out there with the lads and being part of it again. Hopefully this season I can contribute and earn my corn."

Neville now aims to lead out the team against Newcastle next Sunday, after reporting no adverse reaction to his first competitive start since March 2007.

"Touch wood, I didn't feel anything. Apart from picking up something in Nigeria, I've had a decent pre-season.

"I trained all last week. I just need more games really for my sharpness."