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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Patrice Evra

Birthdate: 15 May 1981
Birthplace: Dakar, Senegal
Position: Defender
Joined United: 10 Jan 2006
United Debut: 14 Jan 2006 v Manchester City (A)
International France

* 2003 - Coupe de la Ligue with Monaco
* 2003 - Ligue 1 with Monaco - Runner Up
* 2004 - UEFA Champions League with Monaco - Runner Up
* 2006 - Carling Cup with Manchester United
* 2007 - FA Premier League with Manchester United
* 2007 - FA Community Shield with Manchester United


Fletcher wants to stay

Darren Fletcher says he is happy at United and has no intention of leaving, despite interest from other Premier League clubs.

Media reports suggest the 23-year-old midfielder's former international boss Alex McLeish is keen on taking him to Birmingham City. But Fletcher insists he is not looking for pastures new.

"I am still happy playing for Manchester United and I am not thinking of going elsewhere," he said. "I never heard anything about Birmingham being interested, I just know I want to be here for a long time.

"My only focus is on being ready when the manager needs me and being able to perform for the club when asked."

The Scot has played 15 times for the Reds this season, nine times as a substitute with Anderson, Owen Hargreaves and Michael Carrick so far higher up the pecking order. And with Paul Scholes due back later this month, competition is fierce for central midfield opportunities. But as the season enters its crucial stages, Fletcher hopes this will be the time where he can make his contribution felt.

"It is frustrating because any player wants to play," he said. "But it has been down to the form of the midfield. Fair play to Anderson, when Paul Scholes got injured, he came in and has great. The manager has stuck by him, which is what he does when you perform well.

"We will see how things pan out at the end of the season in terms of games played and what you have contributed to the squad. But I am not thinking about that just now. I'm looking short term, and I'd like to win a few trophies and hopefully go a few steps further than last year." Read more...

United risk losing Brown

Manchester United will resist the temptation to sell Wes Brown before the January 31 transfer deadline, despite the growing danger of losing him on a free transfer at the end of the season. Brown has reached an impasse with the club, who have refused his demands for a contract extension worth £55,000 a week, but, despite firm interest from Everton, Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham United, Sir Alex Ferguson, the manager, will not sell. “We did turn down an offer from Newcastle a couple of weeks ago,” David Gill, the United chief executive, said. “But it’s unlikely that a team would come in and offer something substantial for him when he is out of contract in the summer.”
Oliver Kay, The Times

Interview: Peter Schmeichel

United's former goal keeper Peter Schmeichel enjoyed eight glory-laden years with the Reds. We caught up with the Great Dane at a coaching event in Manchester to discuss if the current crop has what it takes...

What have you made of United’s performances so far this season?
It’s starting to smell of big times again. I know we lost against Bolton but defeats give you a reality check and United know they need to keep working hard. Traditionally United are a stronger team come the latter part of the season and I think things look good. My main concern is when the big players are absent. I don’t believe we can play without Wayne Rooney or Nemanja Vidic. They are too important for us. Carlos Tevez is a great signing and one year down the line he and Wayne will be perfect together. But I still believe we need another striker. For me, Vidic has been the key to the defence. And he’s made Rio [Ferdinand] into a top class player. I thought Rio was a very good player before, but since Vidic has arrived they’ve got a settled partnership and Rio has developed brilliantly, just like Vidic.

Sir Alex recently commented that this is the strongest squad he’s ever had. You’ve been part of great United squads – how does this one compare?
The history of the club is something that is constantly breathing down your neck when you’re a United player. That history and the expectation level makes you go that one step further than any other player at any other club in the world. When I first joined, the history we had to deal with was the Busby Babes, 1968 and the fact that we hadn’t won the title for over 20 years. The desperation to win it was incredible and we all felt that. The current squad did brilliantly to win it last season and they have a great chance to go on to big things, but they have history on their shoulders as well because they have ’99 to contend with which is a hell of a year to compete with. So, of course, the manager has got to go out there and say they’re the best squad he’s had. He has to make the players believe that and that’s a good way of doing it. He said it in the past when I was there and after I left. What he’s saying is I’m extremely happy with what I’ve got and I love to work with these players. If Sir Alex is happy United will win matches which is the most important thing.

Is winning a second European Cup something that niggles away at Sir Alex?
Yes definitely. There's no reason why he couldn’t have won a second one, but once you get down to the last four like United did last season it becomes a lottery. And things just haven’t gone their way at the important times in the important games. They have a great chance to win the Champions League every season and I'd love to see them do it this time round.

Ferdinand and Vidic have been compared to Bruce and Pallister…
I definitely see similarities. I loved playing behind those two and for me Rio and Vidic are on a par with them. Brucey had a great heart and Pallister was superb on the ball and you see similar aspects in Rio and Vidic. The game has changed so much since I played – it’s a lot quicker nowadays and there are even more skilful players around these days. That’s why Rio and Vidic are so impressive.

What have you made of the progress Ronaldo has made since he joined United?
He’s been outstanding. He is up there as one of the five best players in the world. He’s learnt that the game is not all about doing fancy tricks, you need to do them at the right time. He’s found the perfect balance now of proving hugely effective by scoring and making goals, whilst still being able to throw in the odd trick and entertain the crowd. I believe Sir Alex is probably one of the few managers in the world who could manage a player like Ronaldo. Had Ronaldo been anywhere else I think he would be a different player – I’ve no doubt about that. Sir Alex is hard enough to put him in his place, but he’s also soft enough to encourage him as well.

There’s an interesting battle developing between United and City at the top of the table…
It’s fantastic for Manchester to see the two teams so close to each other. Obviously with my son Kasper being at City I want them to do well, but United are my team and I always want them to win. City have done brilliantly to stay up there for so long, but I can’t see them being there for the duration. The problem they have is despite doing so well this season, they still went to Chelsea and lost 6-0. It’s something that Sven [Goran-Eriksson] still needs to work on and it can take years to do that. In terms of the title race itself, it looks like it’ll be strongly contested by United and Arsenal, but I wouldn’t discount Chelsea either – they may still have a shot at it. Liverpool have an outside chance, but I don’t believe they’re as strong as United and Arsenal. Read more...