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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Manchester United Unvealed New Sponsor

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Reds announce new sponsor

Hublot - the Swiss manufacturer of prestige watches – has become the official timekeeper to Manchester United in a multi-million pound, three-year sponsorship deal.

It's the fourth sponsor to commit to United since the summer, following in the footsteps of Saudi Telecom, Seoul Metropolitan Government and Budweiser’s deal renewal. It's a sign, United chief executive David Gill says, of United's commercial standing.

“We are in difficult economic times, but this deal shows that there are still deals to be done,” he told MUTV. “It’s not to say that football is not going to be impacted by that. But if you can combine the strength of a brand like Manchester United and a company like Hublot then you have got a wonderful combination.”

Hublot, which produced the official watches for Euro 2008, announced the deal at a press conference at Old Trafford on Thursday, attended by David Gill, manager Sir Alex Ferguson, Ryan Giggs, Rio Ferdinand and FIFPro World Player of the Year, Cristiano Ronaldo.

“We’re delighted to welcome such a prestigious partner as Hublot to Manchester United,” added Gill. “Their reputation for excellence and innovation makes them a fitting and exciting sponsor. Sir Alex is well known as a stickler for timekeeping on and off the pitch - now we have a partner that shares his passion!”

Jean-Claude Biver, chief executive of Hublot, described it as an “extraordinary partnership”. “Manchester United is the number one club in the world. We’re very proud to be the official timekeeper of the most prestigious football club in the world.”
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Sir Alex assures Tevez

Carlos Tevez has been reassured he remains an integral cog in the United machine, despite earning his only start in October against West Ham on Wednesday.

Sir Alex admitted that Tevez began to tire in the second half of the 2-1 win over Gianfranco Zola's men, something he put down to the forward's lack of starts in the last month.

In his United Review programme notes before the game, Sir Alex was keen to stress Tevez's importance to the team.

"Our attackers have been drawing all the attention," he said. "Wayne Rooney is having the time of his life and striking up a fine partnership with Dimitar Berbatov, now coming into his own after his late transfer and missing our pre-season preparation.

"Those are the names on everyone’s lips, and I am as thrilled as anyone by their form. But my thoughts have centred more on the forward who has been the odd man out.

"I'm thinking of Carlos Tevez, and the fact that I have not started him in as many games as he would like. But looking at the big picture, Carlos remains just as important to us as the guys who have been hogging the headlines of late."

Sir Alex last week had a meeting with the Argentina international to reaffirm Tevez's standing at Old Trafford.

"I sat down with Carlos only last week to stress to him that our faith in him is absolute, that he remains a top player in the eyes of myself, the players and our supporters.

"It’s just that three players won’t fit into two positions, and while I am tempted to accommodate all three star forwards, my job is to balance the team."

Incorporating Berbatov, Rooney, Tevez and Ronaldo in the same line-up is a difficult - if not altogether inconvenient - challenge for the United boss.

"It could be done against certain opposition," he said. "But it isn’t the real solution and we are doing so well I don’t want to meddle too much.

"I think Carlos understands this – and of course I have explained that when the season really hots up, we’ll need absolutely everyone."
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Ronaldo hammers home title warning

Cristiano Ronaldo received a world player of the year award and Golden Boot before kick-off. Then within half an hour, he showed just why those prestigious trophies will be forcing their way on to his already cluttered mantelpiece. Two first-half goals, a match-winning display and all with the minimum of effort. The world award is from FIFPro decided by 50 players from around the globe — and there is no greater honour than to be recognised by your contemporaries in any trade. Ron was rightly acknowledged with that, while his 31 league goals last season landed the Golden Boot. He received both awards with some humility, aware that many Manchester United fans still see his summer attempts to engineer a move to Real Madrid as treacherous. It was muted cheers at best but the noise level went up when he found the back of the net.
Neil Custis, The Sun Read more...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Manchester United Vs. West Ham United Match Report

United won with the minimum of fuss against West Ham, but this was still a performance very much to get excited about.

Cristiano Ronaldo struck both goals on the night he paraded his World Player of the Year award, while Dimitar Berbatov shone and Carlos Tevez, Nani, Anderson and substitute Wayne Rooney all showed glimpses of why this is one of the finest collections of players Sir Alex has ever had.

There were plenty of tricks, flicks, skills and thrills to provide warmth as Manchester’s winter chill made an early appearance.

Sir Alex handed Carlos Tevez his first start in a month against his old club, as Rooney dropped to the bench, while there was no place for birthday boy Edwin van der Sar – he turned 38 today. He was replaced by Tomasz Kuszczak and Rafael was favoured at right-back ahead of Gary Neville and Wes Brown.

It was important for United to get back to winning ways in the league after Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Everton - the only blot on the copybook in October after wins over Blackburn Rovers (2-0), West Bromwich Albion (4-0) and Celtic (3-0).

United set out with the same attacking intent that has markedly changed the Reds’ goal return in the past month; the first chance came in the third minute when Nani squared the ball to Berbatov, but Hammers skipper Matthew Upson got enough on the ball to deflect the striker’s shot over the bar.

Nani went close himself two minutes later after a neat move from the Reds. Darren Fletcher’s lofted pass was nodded into the Portuguese winger’s path by Anderson, and Nani’s first-time, left-foot shot flew narrowly past the far upright.

Whether it had all come a little too easy to Sir Alex’s men in the opening exchanges, a short spell followed where red passes too frequently went astray, and players were caught in possession. But it didn’t last long.

Before kick-off Old Trafford paid tribute to Ronaldo as he collected his FIFPro World Player of the Year accolade on the pitch. So often last season Ronaldo provided the goals just when United needed them, so it was no surprise that he was the man to step forward. Nani was the provider, his centred ball across the penalty area finding his countryman free, and Ronny struck the ball left-footed past Robert Green.

The lively Nani almost provided a swift second when his turn on the edge of the area created space to shoot, but his side-footed effort again went narrowly wide. Previously Berbatov and Tevez both had mazy runs into the box that were halted just before either player could properly pull the trigger.

United’s relentless forward march soon paid dividends with the second goal arriving 15 minutes before the break. It was a goal of sublime creation. Anderson’s channelled pass set Berbatov on his way, but with the ball tight to the byline the Bulgarian had precious little space to operate in. No problem. He stopped the ball with his left foot, pirouetted and flicked the ball over James Collins’ challenge with his right. Having skipped away it was a matter of squaring the ball across the six yard box for Ronaldo to slide in and grab his second of the night.There was a palpable feeling of resignation among the away supporters as they ironically chanted “we’re going to win 3-2”, and it’s something that opposition teams have become accustomed to doing against the Reds: accepting that, at times, United are unplayable.

The second half started with the Reds comfortably in control; without any strong urgency to rack up a big score, but always displaying a desire to entertain, Berbatov in particular working through his full repertoire of languid yet awe-inspiring touches.

And if you think this article displays a lack of incident from Gianfranco Zola’s men, it’s simply that there was so little to report. It was all one-way traffic; exquisite football, at times carnival-like stuff, and West Ham had no response. Tellingly, a glance at the home bench showed Rooney and Ryan Giggs, among the Reds’ best performers in recent weeks, while Michael Carrick, Gary Neville, Ji-Sung Park, Ben Foster and John O’Shea provided further options perhaps only Chelsea can match.

Rooney and Carrick entered the fray with 20 minutes to go and West Ham hearts must have sank further still. Even Anderson was taking long-range shots from 30 yards.

Rooney’s first attempt was a delicate lob from just inside the area, which forced Green to tip the ball over the bar. A peppering of long-range efforts from United’s shaven-headed front man soon followed, which arrived seconds before West Ham’s first real clear-cut chance with 15 minutes to go. Substitute Luis Boa Morte was sent free from a ball over the top, but he fluffed his lines and Kuszczak made a comfortable save.

Of course, the finest football does not guarantee trophies, but if United can perform like this throughout the season, the top honours will certainly be attainable - and there will be plenty of great football to look forward to along the way.

Team Line-ups

Manchester United: Kuszczak; Rafael (Neville 82), Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra; Ronaldo, Fletcher (Carrick 68), Anderson, Nani (Rooney 68); Tevez, Berbatov.
Subs not used: Giggs, Foster, Park, O'Shea.

West Ham: Green; Faubert, Upson, Collins, Ilunga; Bowyer (Sears 68), Mullins, Behrami (Boa Morte 45), Etherington (Collison 46); Bellamy, Di Michele.
Subs not used: Lopez, Lstuvka, Davenport, Reid.

Attendance: 75,397
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Manchester United Vs. West Ham United Highlights Video Clip

Manchester United [2 - 0] West Ham United
14' [1 - 0] C. Ronaldo
30' [2 - 0] C. Ronaldo




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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Rio's best yet to come

Rio Ferdinand has been one of United's most consistent performers over the last recent seasons - but Sir Alex Ferguson feels he will only get better as he enters the peak years of his career.

The 29-year-old was yesterday voted into the FIFPro World XI, recognition from his peers of the quality of his play.

"Rio's best years are in front of him," said Sir Alex. "He is easily going to play for the next five years. He looks after himself and he is very fit so I would expect him to be here for that length of time."

Ferdinand's emergence as one of the finest, most complete, defenders in the game is largely down to gathering experience, according to the Reds boss.

"Rio has leadership qualities and we are really starting to see maturity in his game," he added. "We always knew that he was good at taking the ball out of defence because he has such wonderful balance and great pace.

"Now we are seeing more edge to his game and more of a contribution in terms of being voluble towards his team-mates. He is much better at that."

Ferdinand early ability to adapt to most positions on the field - there was talk during his early days at West Ham of him playing as a deep-lying midfielder - has seemingly made his all-round game stronger.

"We tried playing him in midfield against Blackburn but he got sent off," joked the boss.

"He has always had a natural composure on the ball. His pace always gets him out of spots of trouble and he has lovely balance.

"They are three great assets to have in a defender because normally you talk about forwards and wingers being like that. All in all, you would have to say the lad has a lot going for him."
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Tevez tips Double repeat

Carlos Tevez is convinced United have the quality to repeat last season's Double triumph.

The reigning champions of England and Europe have recovered after a slow start to the season, and Argentine striker Tevez can only see things getting better.

"I am convinced the entire squad is capable of maintaining the challenge throughout the season and staying at the top of the Premier League," he told MUTV.

"After Christmas we have to play teams like Chelsea and Liverpool at home. We are going to be up there all the way throughout the season because we have the quality throughout the squad to be doing that."

The Reds have taken seven points from three Champions League games so far this term, and Tevez sees no reason why Sir Alex Ferguson's squad cannot become the first since AC Milan - back in 1990 - to retain the trophy.

"I think we have the squad capable of retaining the trophy," said the Argentine. "Whether we host teams here in Manchester or away we are capable of giving anyone a game and of beating anyone in the competition.

"The usual suspects - Real Madrid, Inter, Barcelona, Chelsea and Liverpool - are always there, and retaining the trophy is a challenge we are looking forward to."
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Vidic reveals early fears

Nemanja Vidic feared United were on the brink of surrending the Premier League title before the end of September.

Injuries, mixed form and a tough fixture list, which included trips to Portsmouth, Liverpool and Chelsea all conspired to leave the Reds with five points from the first four games of the season.

“We didn’t start well in the first few games and when you don’t have a good start you worry about what might happen," Vidic told the Mirror. "You begin to think, ‘If we lose one more game we could be out of the Premier League’.

“It’s something at the back of your mind and you feel the pressure. When you have that you get worried about what you might do in a game."

Since drawing at Stamford Bridge in September, however, United have won six of the last seven games and conceded just two goals. In such a rich vein of form, Vidic admits confidence is oozing out of the Reds' performances.

“But when you start to win, that brings the confidence back and when you are winning and scoring goals, like we are now, the confidence starts to flow.

“We’ve started to look like a team again, compact and with the right shape.

“I feel we’ve definitely got more now than last season. I believe we can be better but we can only show that on the pitch. Then you will see how much we improve. And at the end of the season, we can say we did.”
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United target £3m Greek ace

Sir Alex Ferguson is ready to splash £3million in January on Greek wonderkid Kyriakos Papadopoulos. Manchester United chiefs have already opened talks with the defender’s club, Olympiakos. The 16-year-old — also a target for Espanyol — holds the record as the youngest player in the Greek league.
Staff reporter, The Sun Read more...

Monday, October 27, 2008

Cristiano Ronaldo Wins World Player 2008 Award Video Clip

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Q&A: Rio delight at World XI award

After collecting his award for being named in the FIFPro World XI, Rio Ferdinand spoke of his pleasure at gaining recognition for his work – but he says that he'd be far from satisfied to settle for his current collection of collective and personal awards…

How does it feel to be named in the FIFPro World XI?
Being appreciated and recognised by your fellow professionals is probably the best accolade you can receive. They are the people you play with. They know the game inside out. Without my team-mates I wouldn't have won this award. Obviously, we had a great season last season. I needed the help of my team-mates to get where I am. Without them I would not be where I am now. I'd say the best is still to come. A lot of my former team-mates like Iain Dowie, Slaven Bilic, Ian Wright and managers like Harry Redknapp, David O'Leary and Sir Alex Ferguson have said my best years would be after I was 30 because of the position I play in. I am beginning to feel that way.

Based on what you’ve won so far, could you look back on your career and be pleased with what you’ve achieved?

I won't be looking back yet. But if I get to the end of my career and have only won the trophies I currently have, I would be disappointed. I want to win more. I am greedy. You have to be in this sport to try and achieve anything. I want to win more. I would not be happy to just have this.

You’ve been such a consistent performer in recent seasons, what has been the key to it for you?
As a centre-half it is about being in situations you recognise yourself in. You play in so many big games all over the world over so many years. It builds experience you can lean on at times. In my position, experience counts for so much. As an attacker, your better years are a little earlier, maybe 26 or 27, because the position is so explosive. Knowledge is key for me.

Does it frustrate you that the forwards and attackers tend to get all the awards?
Everyone wants to be a striker. It is the most glorified position in the game. I just love to see people score goals. As defenders we know our worth. We don't need to shout it from the roof tops. It is part of the game. We have no gripes with the people who score goals getting the adulation. It is the hardest part of the game.

Ronaldo was named FIFPro World Player of the Year, what do you think to his achievement?
He has done well. He wants to learn and be the best in whatever he does, even in table tennis against me! You need that. All the top players have a winning mentality. They want to do well all the time, even in training. Last season and the season before he was faultless. He had an end product and was doing things other people cannot do. We have won back-to-back Premier League titles and the European Cup. He played a big part in that.

Last season’s successes were incredible; what are the chances of achieving that again?
It is realistic to think we could do it again. We have fantastic players. We have added Dimitar to the squad, who is a fantastic player. We have a very talented squad if everyone stays fit. The Champions League is something we would really like to retain and make history. The gauntlet is laid down for us to do it because it has never been done. Winning the Premier League three times on the bounce, no-one has done better than that. The incentives are there. We could make history. It will be hard but that is what being at a club like Manchester United is about. We want to win.

Rio was speaking to PA Sport and ManUtd.com.
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Ronaldo lands world gong

Cristiano Ronaldo has been named FIFPro World Player of the Year.

The United winger was presented with the award by Sir Alex Ferguson at Carrington on Monday. The 23-year-old scored an incredible 42 goals on his way to helping United reach a Premier League and Champions League Double.

"To be recognised by my fellow players is amazing," he said. "I would like to thank my team-mates and coaches and everyone involved at United and the national team, as well as my family and friends for their support."

Reds boss Sir Alex handed Ronaldo the award and said that he hoped there were many more like it to come at OId Trafford. It’s the first of what is expected to be a string of global awards for the Portuguese attacker, who has also been nominated for the prestigious Ballon d’Or award.

Ronaldo was also named in the FIFPro World Team of the Year, as was his team-mate Rio Ferdinand, who collected the honours for their achievements from Professional Footballers Association chief Gordon Taylor.

ManUtd.com tagged along to see the trophy presentation, and we'll bring you more from Ronaldo later this afternoon.

FIFPro team: Casillas (Real Madrid); Ramos (Real Madrid), Terry (Chelsea), Ferdinand (United), Puyol (Barcelona); Gerrard (Liverpool), Kaka (AC Milan), Xavi (Barcelona), Messi (Barcelona); Torres (Liverpool), Ronaldo (United).

FIFPro is the world-wide umbrella organisation for the Professional Football Association around the globe, and includes more than 40 associations meaning that thousands of players registered their votes for these awards.
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Ronaldo lifts FifPro award

Cristiano Ronaldo has been named FifPro World Footballer of the Year. It is the first in what is expected to be a host of individual honours for the 23-year-old, who scored 42 goals for Manchester United on their way to Champions League and Premier League title glory last term.

Ronaldo had suggested last week he could do no more than he did to be crowned the best player on the planet and peers from over 40 countries are in agreement.

"To be recognised by my fellow professional players worldwide coming from over 50,000 players is amazing," the Portugal winger said.

"I would like to thank my teammates and coaches and everyone involved at Man United and the national team, as well as my family and friends for their support," Ronaldo said. "Thank you also to FIFPro for this award and for your work in protecting the interests and welfare of players around the world."

It is anticipated Ronaldo will also scoop the Ballon D'Or and the FIFA World Player of the Year award, with the Portugal international - who has also been named in FifPro's world team of the year - keen to remain at Old Trafford for another couple of seasons at least.

''I insist that I am a Manchester United player and now I think that next year I will continue here,'' Ronaldo told Marca.

The player also claims to have learned from his selfish ways and no longer tries to beat opponents just for the sake of it.

''I have always played the way I do. It is natural,'' he said. ''If you want to be good, you have to practice, not just in training but games as well. That is my style of football.

''But I am different now compared to five years ago. Then I was dribbling but not doing anything for the team.

''Now I have more experience and I feel more mature. I do things for the team. So, sometimes I dribble, sometimes I don't.''

It seems every move Ronaldo makes is analysed and dissected to establish whether the 23-year-old is still hankering after a move to Real Madrid, but Ronaldo now feels the Real Madrid saga is not worth discussing. However, he is happy to confirm Sir Alex Ferguson as the major factor behind his decision to stay and a continuing influence on his career.

''Sir Alex has been a big inspiration to me,'' he said. ''He believed in me enough to buy me. I have learned so many things from him and I am continuing to learn because he is a great manager.

''Of course, he was the main factor in keeping me here.

''But what happened in the summer is finished. Now my head is on the club. My focus is solely on playing well for Manchester United and winning the Premier League and Champions League again.''

Ronaldo accepts emulating last term's incredible achievements will be tough, both for him individually but for United collectively.

Even halfway through the campaign, he was not thinking about the possibility he could win the Golden Boot. It was only when he continued to hear his name linked with the famous trophy that the Madeira-born star truly began to recognise what he was on the brink of.

''I only started to believe it when I scored 22 or 23,'' he said. ''Before that it didn't even cross my mind because I am not a forward. My job is not to score, so to end up at 42 was incredible.

''It is important I recognise my team-mates because without them, it would not have been possible for me to get so many.

''But I have always been an ambitious player. I try to improve every season, not because I have to prove myself to anyone, just because I want to be the best I can be.

''I am still young and if I am being honest, I did not think I would reach this level so quickly.

''But I always believed in my talent and I have learned a lot, so it made me think that maybe I would become the best player in the world.''
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Ronny: Sir Alex is my inspiration

Cristiano Ronaldo has described Sir Alex Ferguson as his “inspiration” after winning the FIFPro World Player of the Year award - and says the United boss is the “main factor” why is still at the club.

Ronaldo, speaking after being voted the best player in the world by his peers, paid tribute to the influence Sir Alex has had on his career – from spotting him playing for Sporting Lisbon, to signing him and giving him the freedom to develop his talent to the fullest.

“Sir Alex has been the big inspiration to me,” he said. “I am here because of him. When he saw me playing for Sporting Lisbon against Manchester United, he believed in me enough to buy me. I've been here for five years. I've learned many things from him and I'm continuing to learn. He is a great manager. He has won everything in the game.”

A summer of intense speculation saw Ronaldo heavily linked with a move to Spanish side Real Madrid. But a meeting with Sir Alex resulted, at least on United’s part, in a line being drawn under the matter.

“Of course, [Sir Alex] was the main factor for keeping me here,” he added. “But what happened in the summer is finished. My head is focused on the club. My focus is solely on playing well for Manchester United and winning the Premier League and Champions League again. The summer is finished. My head is always here in the club.”

Some in the media have still sought to analyse every gesture or facial expression in a negative way. “If I smile it is because I smile. If I don't it’s because I don't,” he explains. “People are always writing things about me. It is up to them; for me it is not a problem. I will just try to play well and do my best. I am just focused on playing good football.”

Ronaldo’s attention is also on winning trophies with United as well as the many person awards he is rapidly accumulating. Equalling last year’s tally of 42 goals will be a tall order this term, but the Portuguese winger isn’t targeting figures.

“I am an ambitious player,” he added. “I try to improve every season. I know last year was magnificent. I played really well, I scored so many goals and we won major trophies. It is possible this season. But my priority is not only to score goals. I don't have to do that. I just have to play well for the team. I want to do the same as last season. I don't need to prove anything to anyone. I just want to keep proving to myself that I am a good player.”
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Duo quash rumours over future

Manchester United were given a double boost on Sunday with news that Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez are both fully committed to the club. Ronaldo was at the centre of this summer's longest-running transfer saga as Real Madrid sought to prise the Portugal international away from United, while Tevez's struggle so far this season to gain a first-team place has fuelled speculation he might seek a move. But both players have indicated they see at least their immediate future at Old Trafford. When asked where he was going to play next season, Ronaldo said in an interview with Spanish newspaper Marca: "Only God knows the future. I insist that I am a Manchester United player and now I think that next year I will continue here. I am with Manchester United body and soul." Argentina forward Tevez is on a two-year loan at Old Trafford which expires next summer.Tevez's long-time adviser Kia Joorabchian has insisted that does not mean he wants to leave. "Carlos Tevez is not going to be sold in January," he said. "He plans to stay until the end of the season and talk to Manchester United then. He has a great relationship with Manchester United. There have been absolutely no conversations with other clubs and there won't be."
Charles Carrick, Daily Telegraph Read more...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Everton Vs. Manchester United Match Report

United ground out a hard-fought point at Goodison Park, surviving a second-half onslaught from Everton after utterly dominating the first period.

Darren Fletcher put the Reds ahead midway through the first half, and Everton were dependent on an inspired first 45 minutes from former United goalkeeper Tim Howard to keep them in the game.


A fired up Toffees side turned the game on its head after the break, however, upsetting United's rhythm and drawing level through Marouane Fellaini's towering header.

The second half was a far cry from the first, when United looked sharp from the very first whistle. Ryan Giggs and Fletcher in particular were inspired, dominating the central midfield battle against a Toffees side shorn of the suspended Tim Cahill.

The pair gave a masterclass in movement and one-touch passing. Giggs saw an early shot saved by Howard and Fletcher had a header deflected wide but, after 21 minutes, the pair combined to devastating effect.

Fletcher's initial blocked shot ricocheted to Giggs, 30 yards out. The Welshman threaded a perfect ball through to Fletcher, who had continued his run, and watched on as one touch bypassed Joleon Lescott, and a second slipped the ball between Howard's legs.

An already one-sided encounter looked like it become embarrassingly so as United, buoyed by the goal, surged forward in search of more. But for the efforts of Howard, who at one point made three fine saves in a minute, Everton would have been buried by the break.

First, the American tipped Ronaldo's 30-yarder round the post, then reacted brilliantly to keep out Nemanja Vidic's flicked header from the resultant corner. In the same passage of play, Giggs beat two players and curled an effort goalwards, only for Howard to tip it wide.

In a rare Everton foray forward, Vidic was booked for a lunging challenge on former team-mate Louis Saha. Giggs almost followed the Serbian into the book minutes later for exactly the same act, but referee Alan Wiley spotted that the Welshman had slipped.

Wayne Rooney, chasing his 100th career club goal just a day after his 23rd birthday, was almost able to celebrate his landmark at the Gladwys Street End, but was denied a clear sight of goal by a superb last-ditch challenge from Phil Jagielka.

At half-time, the main worry for United was that such dominance had yielded just the one goal. Everton's trademark pluck - on the field and in the stands - had been nowhere before the interval. After it, it was a different story.

David Moyes' side flew out of the traps, hurtling into challenges and whipping the home crowd into a frenzy. One such challenge - an after-the-whistle lunge from Phil Neville on Ronaldo, had United's players incensed, but referee Wiley opted to brandish just a yellow card to the former Reds defender.

That decision proved telling after 64 minutes, when Neville whipped in a superb right-wing cross, and giant midfielder Fellaini was on hand to power in a header.

The goal been coming, and matters could have been worsened a minute later when Rio Ferdinand underhit a backpass. Yakubu strode through on goal, but Edwin van der Sar did brilliantly to tip the Nigerian's shot onto the post.

United drew the sting out of Everton's approach in the latter stages, and twice could have snatched the points through Ronaldo. Firstly though, Yobo managed to deflect away his close-range effort, before the winger dragged a clear shot wide with just two minutes remaining.

Despite some five minutes of added time being played, that was the final meaningful act of the match. Although the Reds did well to weather a post-interval storm, Sir Alex Ferguson will undoubtedly see this result as two points dropped.

Team Line-ups

Everton: Howard; P Neville, Jagielka, Yobo, Lescott; Arteta, Fellaini, Osman, Pienaar; Saha (Anichebe 90), Yakubu (Vaughan 88).
Subs not used: Nash, Baines, Valente, Castillo, Rodwell.
Booked: Jagielka, P Neville, Fellaini.

Manchester United: Van der Sar; Brown, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra; Ronaldo, Fletcher (Tevez 77), Giggs, Park (Anderson 66); Berbatov, Rooney (Nani 69).
Subs not used: Kuszczak, G Neville, J Evans, O'Shea.
Booked: Vidic, Rooney, Brown.

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Boss laments dropped points

Sir Alex Ferguson was left to rue United's missed chances after being held to a 1-1 draw at Goodison Park, but conceded that Everton's tigerish second half display was worthy of a point.

Darren Fletcher's first half strike was United's only reward for a dominant, swaggering first-half display in which Tim Howard performed heroics for Everton. After the interval, however, the hosts upped their physical approach and snatched a draw through Marouane Fellaini's header.

"We've thrown it away in a way because we've had so much control of the match," Sir Alex told MUTV. "It's disappointing to lose two points for that.

"We had good chances, we played some fantastic football. It was a golden spell for us and these are the times you should be capitalising. We didn't, and we've suffered.

"But you have to give credit to Everton, they've fought like tigers the second half, they changed the pattern of their game and got stuck right into us. We've only ourselves to blame and we can't deny Everton their point."

Despite the disappointment of dropping points at Goodison Park, Sir Alex is in confident mood going into the Reds' next two games - the visits of West Ham and Hull City.

"The form of the team is good," he said. "I think we're playing some great football. We were maybe a bit careless in the second half and we lived to regret that. The important thing is the form of the team. They're all fit, all looking well and we've got a good squad here."

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Substitution saved Rooney

Sir Alex Ferguson has confirmed that Wayne Rooney was substituted to avoid being sent off against Everton.

The former Goodison favourite, who has shared a fiery relationship with Everton fans since leaving the club in 2004, was booked by referee Alan Wiley for an innocuous looking challenge midway through the second half of Saturday's draw.

Rooney reacted to the home fans' baitings by kissing his United badge, further fanning the flames, and was substituted shortly after amid fears that Wiley's unpredictable behaviour could have seen Rooney red-carded.

"I don't know why he was booked," said Sir Alex. "The crowd obviously got him booked but the way the referee was behaving, I feared he may be sent off. For no reason, of course, but just the way the crowd was reacting, getting him booked in the first place, I just felt I had to take him off."

While Sir Alex paid tribute to Everton's feisty approach, he admitted that he expected to see his players given more protection by referee Wiley.

"There were tackles everywhere and I don't think the referee protected our players enough," said the manager. "I felt for a while as if I was watching Australian rules!

"The way the modern game is, with the speed of challenges, you have to be careful. Some tackles were going on there that weren't right. It's the referee's job to make sure the players are protected, and I don't think they were."

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We should have coped better

Ryan Giggs says the Reds should not have allowed Everton's gutsy second half display to upset their rhythm after totally outplaying the home side before the break.

The Reds utterly dominated the first period with Giggs pulling the strings in the centre of midfield and it was the skipper's pinpoint pass into the path of Darren Fletcher which led to United's opener on 21 minutes.

But a rejuvenated Everton side, no doubt given the hairdryer treatment by David Moyes at half-time, came out fighting after the restart eventually drawing level through Marouane Fellaini.

"We knew we needed that second goal because we expected Everton to put us under a lot of pressure after the break and that's how it proved," Giggs told MUTV.

"They got in about us, got the ball forward to Louis [Saha] and Yakubu who are both a handful, and in general made it difficult for us.

"We should have been able to overcome that though because it's something we're used to. But unfortunately we couldn't really get back into our rhythm and we just didn't pass and move as well as we did before the break.

"When you go 1-0 ahead at a place like this you do feel it's two points dropped," added the 34-year-old. "But in the end we could have lost it. So we're disappointed, but know it could have been worse."

While Everton's blood and thunder approach ultimately earned them a valuable point, it also somewhat irked Sir Alex's men particularly when former Red Phil Neville clattered into Cristiano Ronaldo midway through the second period.

"Tackles were flying in and you accept that in these kind of games," said Giggs. "But I felt Cristiano was on the floor and couldn't really defend himself."

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Everton Vs. Manchester United Highlights Video Clip

Everton [1 - 1] Manchester United
22' [0 - 1] D. Fletcher
63' [1 - 1] M. Fellaini




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Thursday, October 23, 2008

A star is born

Against Everton Wayne Rooney could grab his 100th club goal - 17 of which came from his time at Goodison. Here, we track his path to Old Trafford...

Amid the pandemonium at Goodison Park, Clive Tyldsley bellowed: "Remember the name, Wayne Rooney." Moments earlier, the 16-year-old had announced himself to the football world by hammering a 30-yard injury-time winner against champions Arsenal.

Thirty-five miles down the East Lancs Road, knowing looks were exchanged. Master Rooney had surfaced on United's radar long before making a mug of David Seaman. He'd done the same to United's Schmeichel - Kasper Schmeichel, that is - at Littleton Road, against a United Under-9s side playing their first ever match.

“We hadn’t played any games before, the boys had just been training together,” recalls Paul McGuinness, now manager of United’s U18s. “We didn’t even have a goalkeeper, so Peter Schmeichel’s son Kasper played for us. He was the only kid we knew who played in goal! The Everton boys had been playing together for at least a year in a league beforehand, so they were used to playing games. You could tell, because they absolutely hammered us."

It wasn't just the scoreline (12-2) which stuck in the memory. All the talk was of a stunning goal from Rooney. “He scored a few (six to be exact), but there was one goal that stood out. It was basically the classic overhead kick, the perfect bicycle kick, which for a kid of eight or nine years old was really something special.”

“We were all wondering who this kid was,” recalls McGuinness. “It transpired that he was from a tough, boxing background, a sporting family and he was a diehard Everton fan. At that time you didn’t really get any kids crossing over to Manchester from Liverpool. We looked at it behind the scenes, but he was too fixated on Everton to contemplate leaving them.”

Keen to put a positive spin on the news that the new U9s had taken a double-digit hammering, McGuinness informed Sir Alex Ferguson about the 9-year-old talent that had done all the damage. “I remember coming back saying that we’d been beaten by 10 goals," he recalls. "You don’t generally want to advertise that fact to the manager - but I did mention that we’d seen a kid who had done very well."

Rooney continued his fast-track ascension through Everton’s ranks. The double hat-tricks and overhead kicks were harder to come by, but the competitive streak was even sharper.

“When we were playing for the U13s against Everton, me, Adam Eckersley and Mark Howard, who’s now left the club, played against him,” recalls United goalkeeper Tom Heaton.

“I think it was a 1-1 draw, and Mark and Wayne actually had an altercation which ended up with them both being sent off. That was pretty unheard of that level, usually it’s just a word to the managers asking if the offenders can be subbed off, but these were straight reds!”

Heaton would get several close-up glimpses of Rooney in action down the years, with one particular encounter at Altrincham’s Moss Lane in 2000 persuading United’s coaches that the Everton striker was realising his massive potential.

Tommy Martin, manager of United’s U15s, can vividly remember Everton’s number nine terrorising the Reds’ backline. “Overall we were too strong for them but he stood out on their side,” he smiles. “Wayne gave our defence a really tough time. After 10 or 15 minutes, you knew he was on the pitch because he was really upsetting our defenders. His pace always made him a handful.

“He was a winner back then – you could tell. He has changed in some respects, obviously, but even back then he was going back and tackling. He's always been in love with the game of football. For all the attention, fame and wealth it brings, I still see him as a kid in love with playing football.”

“I remember sitting with Jim Ryan watching him at Altrincham,” concurs Paul McGuinness. “We won the game 5-1, but I remember Jim saying ‘look at their number nine, he’s keeping at it and going all the time.’ He was running around after the ball and trying shots, and he really stood out in that game. We started following him closely from that point.”

One of United’s subsequent scouting missions, at Everton’s U19s clash with Bolton, yielded a breathtaking encapsulation of Rooney’s capacity for the incredible. Now the ripe old age of 15, he brought down a hoofed clearance from Bolton’s goalkeeper with his first touch and, still inside his own half, with his second lashed the ball back from whence it came. The helpless Trotters keeper could only watch as the ball sailed over his head, against the crossbar and back into his arms.

According to United’s chief recruitment officer Geoff Watson, however, the Reds’ keen interest wasn’t always fuelled by what they saw of Rooney in action – more Everton’s total assurance that they had a nailed-on player on their hands.

“He invariably scored a couple of goals, but sometimes you'd go and watch Wayne and he wouldn’t do an awful lot,” says Watson. “The important thing that struck me was that when you spoke to the Everton people they were always so confident that they had a star in the making. They were so convinced about Wayne's ability.

“It was obvious he was a special talent. So many people went to watch Wayne Rooney that it was easy to get an opinion about him, there was a big buzz about him. Everton knew what they'd got from an early age.

“Obviously we weren't always privilege to that – one thing you learn in this business is that the club always know better about their own player than anyone else. They see him every day, while scouts from other clubs only have 90 minutes during a match to judge him on.

“Scouts will tell you there were games they went to and he hardly did anything. Scouts can only report what they see – they can't dream. To be honest, I think Wayne was always waiting for the bigger stage.”

Progress couldn’t come quickly enough for the young Rooney. Having raced up through Everton’s youth ranks, he went on to star for the Toffees’ Reserves, while also playing an integral part in the U18s’ run to the 2002 FA Youth Cup final, scoring eight goals in as many games.

Just over five months after the young Blues had slipped to a two-legged defeat against Aston Villa, and still five days shy of his 17th birthday, Rooney acquired hero status at Goodison Park with his unbelievable maiden strike against Arsenal.

As the ball cannoned in off the crossbar at the Park End, some 200 miles away Sir Alex Ferguson was making his way to the Loftus Park dressing rooms, having watched United endure a frustrating 1-1 draw with Fulham.

As news filtered through of Arsenal’s defeat at Goodison, however, Sir Alex could reflect on the day with renewed positivity. Especially after discovering the identity of the scorer, a name with which he had long since been very familiar.
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Roo plans Ever-TON

Hot-shot Wayne Rooney has a glittering goal in his sights – to score his 100th at former club Everton on Saturday. The Manchester United and England striker notched up club goal 99 against Celtic on Tuesday. Now he is on the brink of a double birthday celebration that would stick in the throats of the Goodison faithful. "It is always nice for any player to score 100 goals,” said Rooney, “But if I could do it at Everton, where I started, that would be really pleasing."
Bill Thornton, Daily Star Read more...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

UEFA Champion League 2008/2009 Standing on October 22, 2008

2008 First Phase - Group A
Overall Home Away
GPWDLGSGAWDLGSGAWDLGSGAGDP
1 Chelsea 3 2 1 0 5 0 2 0 0 5 0 0 1 0 0 0 5 7
2 CFR Cluj-Napoca 3 1 1 1 2 2 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 1 2 2 0 4
3 Roma 3 1 0 2 4 4 0 0 1 1 2 1 0 1 3 2 0 3
4 Bordeaux 3 1 0 2 2 7 1 0 1 2 3 0 0 1 0 4 -5 3

October 22, 20082008 First Phase - Group B
Overall Home Away
GPWDLGSGAWDLGSGAWDLGSGAGDP
1 Inter Milan 3 2 1 0 4 1 1 1 0 2 1 1 0 0 2 0 3 7
2 Anorthosis Famagusta 3 1 1 1 3 2 1 0 0 3 1 0 1 1 0 1 1 4
3 Werder Bremen 3 0 3 0 3 3 0 1 0 0 0 0 2 0 3 3 0 3
4 Panathinaikos 3 0 1 2 3 7 0 1 1 2 4 0 0 1 1 3 -4 1

October 22, 20082008 First Phase - Group C
Overall Home Away
GPWDLGSGAWDLGSGAWDLGSGAGDP
1 Barcelona 3 3 0 0 10 2 1 0 0 3 1 2 0 0 7 1 8 9
2 Sporting Lisbon 3 2 0 1 4 3 1 0 0 2 0 1 0 1 2 3 1 6
3 Shakhtar Donetsk 3 1 0 2 3 4 0 0 2 1 3 1 0 0 2 1 -1 3
4 FC Basel 3 0 0 3 1 9 0 0 2 1 7 0 0 1 0 2 -8 0

October 22, 20082008 First Phase - Group D
Overall Home Away
GPWDLGSGAWDLGSGAWDLGSGAGDP
1 Atl├ętico Madrid 3 2 1 0 6 2 1 1 0 3 2 1 0 0 3 0 4 7
2 Liverpool 3 2 1 0 6 3 1 0 0 3 1 1 1 0 3 2 3 7
3 PSV Eindhoven 3 1 0 2 3 6 1 0 1 2 3 0 0 1 1 3 -3 3
4 Marseille 3 0 0 3 2 6 0 0 1 1 2 0 0 2 1 4 -4 0

October 22, 20082008 First Phase - Group E
Overall Home Away
GPWDLGSGAWDLGSGAWDLGSGAGDP
1 Man Utd 3 2 1 0 6 0 1 1 0 3 0 1 0 0 3 0 6 7
2 Villarreal 3 2 1 0 7 3 2 0 0 7 3 0 1 0 0 0 4 7
3 Celtic 3 0 1 2 0 4 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 4 -4 1
4 AaB 3 0 1 2 3 9 0 0 1 0 3 0 1 1 3 6 -6 1

October 22, 20082008 First Phase - Group F
Overall Home Away
GPWDLGSGAWDLGSGAWDLGSGAGDP
1 Bayern Munich 3 2 1 0 5 1 1 1 0 4 1 1 0 0 1 0 4 7
2 Lyon 3 1 2 0 8 6 0 1 0 2 2 1 1 0 6 4 2 5
3 Fiorentina 3 0 2 1 2 5 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 1 2 5 -3 2
4 Steaua Bucuresti 3 0 1 2 3 6 0 0 2 3 6 0 1 0 0 0 -3 1

October 22, 20082008 First Phase - Group G
Overall Home Away
GPWDLGSGAWDLGSGAWDLGSGAGDP
1 Arsenal 3 2 1 0 10 3 1 0 0 4 0 1 1 0 6 3 7 7
2 Dynamo Kiev 3 1 2 0 2 1 0 1 0 1 1 1 1 0 1 0 1 5
3 FC Porto 3 1 0 2 3 6 1 0 1 3 2 0 0 1 0 4 -3 3
4 Fenerbahce 3 0 1 2 3 8 0 1 1 2 5 0 0 1 1 3 -5 1

October 22, 20082008 First Phase - Group H
Overall Home Away
GPWDLGSGAWDLGSGAWDLGSGAGDP
1 Juventus 3 2 1 0 5 3 2 0 0 3 1 0 1 0 2 2 2 7
2 Real Madrid 3 2 0 1 5 3 1 0 0 2 0 1 0 1 3 3 2 6
3 BATE Borisov 3 0 2 1 3 5 0 1 0 2 2 0 1 1 1 3 -2 2
4 Zenit St Petersburg 3 0 1 2 2 4 0 1 1 2 3 0 0 1 0 1 -2 1
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Christiano Ronaldo Interview Video Clip

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Evans negates Rio's absence

Amid the 'Battle of Britain' hype and a simmering atmosphere in Celtic's visit to Old Trafford on Tuesday evening, it speaks volumes that Rio Ferdinand's absence was barely noticed.

Jonny Evans' seamless integration into a rarely shuffled backline was one of the outstanding aspects of United's swaggering win. The 20-year-old went about his business with a stylish aplomb befitting of Ferdinand himself, and was delighted to play a part as United stormed to a 3-0 victory.

"The gaffer insists on good defending and the whole team plays a part in that," Evans told MUTV. "But sometimes there's a lot of attacking and not much defending to do!

"I thought we played some really good stuff and any team would have found it difficult with the attacking options we have. Some of our play was great and we probably should have scored more goals."

The Reds' victory cemented top spot in Group E, with qualification for the knockout phases now within touching distance. Should early progress be secured, Evans is hopeful that he will be afforded more run-outs as he endeavours to further his football education.

"We have seven points now, so hopefully if we get two or three more we'll be safe in the group," he said. "People say when you get to 10 points you're more or less through.

"We have so many good players that there's competition for places all over the park. For me it's harder to get in because we don't chop and change defenders. Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic and Wes Brown are great players, but hopefully I'll get more chances."
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Strachan: United will win it

Gordon Strachan backed magical Manchester United to win the Champions League again. Strachan hailed United the best side he had ever faced after Celtic were blitzed. And the Bhoys boss called Wayne Rooney ‘unplayable’ as the Reds ran riot - with Dimitar Berbatov striking twice before Roo finished the job. Strachan said: “We’ve played a lot of good teams in the Champions League like AC Milan and Barcelona. But nobody as good as Manchester United were tonight. It will take some team to stop them from winning this again. They could defend this for the next couple of years.”
Neil Custis, The Sun Read more...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Manchester United Vs. Celtic Match Report

Dimitar Berbatov and Wayne Rooney were on target again as United outclassed Celtic to stay in control of Champions League Group E.

In a game predictably billed as the ‘Battle of Britain’, the Scottish champions were overran by a dominant Red Army at Old Trafford.

Berbatov produced poacher’s finishes in each half to put United in command before Rooney continued his prolific October scoring streak with an excellent strike from the edge of the box.

The hoardes of travelling Celtic fans had little to cheer about as United cruised to victory, recording another clean sheet to make it eight games without defeat in all competitions.

The Reds’ starting line-up had produced two major talking points. Cristiano Ronaldo was named in the side, despite suggestions that he would be rested, while Rio Ferdinand was replaced by Jonny Evans after apparently picking up an 11th-hour injury.

Ronaldo had the game's first chance but blasted over from 20 yards after neat interplay involving Berbatov, Gary Neville and Anderson. Soon after Rooney’s spectacular bicycle kick from Nani's cross hit Mark Wilson on the six-yard line.

Celtic had early moments of their own, with Edwin van der Sar twice called into action to save a low Aiden McGeady shot and Gary Caldwell's vicious dipping volley.

But United always looked the more likely to open the scoring and, like the last time these sides met at Old Trafford, the home side’s opener came on the half-hour. Nani swung in a corner from the left and, at the second attempt, John O’Shea stabbed the ball forward for Berbatov to flick home on the turn from three yards.

United’s forward line were full of running, movement and one-touch passing, harrying Celtic’s defence into rushed clearances and desperate blocks.

Darren Fletcher had a glorious opportunity to double United’s advantage on the stroke of half-time but fired over from eight yards after controlling Rooney’s cross.

But it didn’t take long after the break for Berbatov to score his – and United’s – second goal with another predatory finish.

Anderson was fouled by Scott Brown 25 yards out, Artur Boruc could only parry Ronaldo’s resulting free-kick and Berbatov was left with the simple task of slotting home the rebound.

It was the Bulgarian’s third goal in two games and fourth in two Champions League outings. And to think that people were doubting him a month ago.

Rooney thought he’d got on the scoresheet soon after but was flagged offside as he ran onto Fletcher’s neat slide-rule pass.

Berbatov looked disappointed when he was called off on the hour mark but the two-goal forward left the field to a standing ovation, with Neville also replaced by Wes Brown.

Berbatov’s replacement Carlos Tevez flashed narrowly wide minutes later but United soon had a third as Gordon Strachan's men were opened up again. The move started with Van der Sar’s throw to Fletcher, who sprayed the ball out wide to Tevez. The Argentinian’s simple ball across goal allowed Rooney to control, make room for himself and sidefoot his fourth goal in four games from 18 yards.

Not even the most staunch of Celtic fans could deny the goal was deserved. It confirmed United’s superiority in an enjoyable game and, with Villarreal hammering Aalborg, kept the holders top of Group E on goal difference.

Team line-ups

MANCHESTER UNITED: Van der Sar; Neville (Brown 60), Vidic, Evans, O'Shea; Ronaldo (Park 82), Anderson, Fletcher, Nani; Berbatov (Tevez 60), Rooney.
Subs not used: Kuszczak, Giggs, Rafael, Gibson.

CELTIC: Boruc; Wilson, Loovens, Caldwell, McManus, Naylor; Nakamura (Hartley 62), S Brown, Robson (Maloney 62), McGeady; McDonald (Sheridan 76).
Subs not used: Brown, Hinkel, Donati, O'Dea.
Bookings: Loovens.

Attendance: 74,655
Read more...

Manchester United Vs. Celtic Highlights Video Clip

Manchester United [3 - 0] Celtic
30' [1 - 0] D. Berbatov
51' [2 - 0] D. Berbatov
77' [3 - 0] W. Rooney






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Sunday, October 19, 2008

English Premiere League Standing October 19, 2008

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