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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Carrick: This week is vital

United may have been drawn with Arsenal in the FA Cup fifth round on Monday but Michael Carrick’s focus is on the immediate future.

The Reds welcome Portsmouth to Old Trafford on Wednesday night before travelling to London on Saturday to face Tottenham for the second time in six days. United ended Spurs' FA Cup dream on Sunday with a 3-1 win courtesy of goals from Carlos Tevez and Cristiano Ronaldo (2).

“Weeks like this can define a season,” Carrick told Manchester United Radio.

“If we can get the three wins we’re aiming for then we’ll be in good shape.”

Carrick did afford a quick glance to the future, admitting he’d love to reach the FA Cup final for a second successive year.

“A club like United is in competitions to win them and we’re now starting to look towards Wembley. Of course, you don’t want to get too carried away because there are tough games ahead.

“But we want to be there again come May, especially because we came so close last season and lost right at the death. We’re determined to put things right this season.” Read more...

Reds target maximum points

Top-of-the-league United are aiming for maximum points until the end of the season.

Republic of Ireland international John O’Shea says confidence in the Reds’ camp is sky-high ahead of Portsmouth’s visit to Old Trafford on Wednesday night.

“I’m sure there will be plenty of twists and turns before the end of the season but we’re definitely capable of winning all our matches,” 26-year-old O’Shea told Manchester United Radio.

“I’m not saying we will do that – we have to treat each match as it comes – but everyone’s really positive at the moment. The manager’s happy as well!”

Portsmouth arrive in Manchester with five players away on African Nations Cup duty, although Harry Redknapp boosted his squad on Monday with the loan signing of Lyon’s Milan Baros.

“Harry’s brought in one or two new players and Portsmouth will be intent on finishing strongly this season,” O’Shea said.

“It’s been a small surprise how well they’ve done this season, particularly away from home. You come across one or two teams who struggle away from home but the opposite applies to Portsmouth.

“We’ll have to be on our toes but I think our home form is good and we’re scoring plenty of goals. We’re positive going into the match. It’s all guns blazing right now.” Read more...

Boss hopeful over Manucho

Sir Alex Ferguson is confident that Manucho’s fine form in the African Cup of Nations will facilitate a successful work permit application for the striker.

The 24-year-old’s move to Old Trafford is pending approval, and his haul of three goals in Angola’s opening two tournament matches will no doubt aid his cause.

“It just adds to the fact that we’ll get the work permit easier, I’m sure of that,” said Sir Alex. “He’s got a talent, the boy, there’s no question about that. It’ll be interesting to see how he does in the rest of the tournament.”

With the work permit application still to be approved and Angola seemingly set to progress into the quarter-finals, Sir Alex admits it is unlikely that Manucho will feature for United this season.

“It’ll be too late, really, by the time we get him back and get a permit,” he said. “We’ll probably farm him out somewhere else for the remainder of the season.” Read more...