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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Carrick: Title race still on

Michael Carrick couldn't hide his disappointment with the result and the performance in the 2-1 defeat to Manchester City, but rejects the idea that the loss has seriously dented United's title hopes.

The midfielder struck the Reds' only goal in added time, but it proved nothing more than a consolation.

“Scoring doesn't really mean much because we lost, we’re all desperately disappointed,” he told MUTV. "We never got going and didn’t create the chances we normally do. That’s not like us. It was good to see that the minute’s silence was well observed. But in terms of the game we’re not going home happy.”

City took the lead midway through the first half through Darius Vassell, with Benjani Mwaruwari grabbing a second just before the interval. It left the Reds with a mountain to climb, heights Sir Alex’s men were unable to scale.

“Once City got the two goals it was hard to come back from it,” added Carrick. “They set out their game plan and it worked for them. One goal down, you always believe you’ve got a chance of coming back, but two is difficult. We needed to score right after half time to give us momentum, but when we did score it was too little, too late.”

Arsenal could move five points clear if they beat Blackburn at the Emirates Stadium on Monday, but Carrick firmly believes the Gunners will slip up before the end of the campaign.

“There are still games to play,” he said. “I don’t think Arsenal will go the rest of the season without dropping points. If they did, fair play to them. There are still going to be ups and downs in the title race, and hopefully there will be more ups for us and we can overtake them.” Read more...

Rodrigo Possebon

Full name: Rodrigo Pereira Possebon
Date of birth: February 13, 1989 (1989-02-13) (age 18)
Place of birth: Sapucaia do Sul, Brazil
Playing position: Midfielder
Club information
Current club Manchester United
Senior clubs1
Years Club
2006-2008: Internacional
2008- Manchester United

Reds land awards double

On the eve of the Manchester derby, Sir Alex Ferguson scooped his 20th Barclays Manager of the Month award, while Cristiano Ronaldo was recognised as the league's star man for January.

The Reds made a flying start to 2008, registering four league wins and two cup victories in January. Along the way, Sir Alex's men scored 16 goals and conceded just one.

Key to the United's success was Cristiano Ronaldo, who continued his remarkable scoring run. A goal against Aston Villa in the FA Cup preceded his first hat-trick in English football against Newcastle United. The 23-year-old then scored his 11th goal in seven games when his late strike saw off a plucky Reading effort at the Madejski Stadium, before his double against Pompey had everyone gushing.

“No goalkeeper in the world could have saved it,” beamed Sir Alex after the Portuguese winger's dipping, swerving free-kick. David James didn’t even try. In fact, he could only shrug his shoulders at Ronaldo’s near-baffling brilliance.

Ronaldo’s rich vein of form has taken his Barclays Premier League tally to 19 for the season and sees him leading the race for the Golden Boot award. The Barclays Player of the Month honour is just the latest recognition of his talent, and the third time he's picked up the award (he also landed trophies in November and December 2006).

Sir Alex last won the Manager of the Month accolade in February 2007. Read more...

Giggs gracious in defeat

Ryan Giggs graciously accepted his first defeat in an Old Trafford derby, admitting the opposition were worthy winners on the day.

The United winger has enjoyed the vast majority of Manchester derbies in the 16 years since scoring on his full debut against City - but not this one.

"It was probably the result that City deserved really. They played better than us," he said.

"City scored at important times in the game and we didn't recover. City could just sit back then and try to catch us on the counter attack.

"Defensively we didn't play well. Attacking-wise, we just didn't turn up."

Giggs' club career has benefited since he retired from playing for Wales but many of his team-mates were on international duty just days ago.

"There were a lot of players that didn't look as sharp and that may be the reason," acknowledged Ryan.

"But there was enough motivation for us - a massive game for the club, a derby and an important three points.

"We probably can't afford to drop any more points now. We've got to make sure we don't produce any more performances like that." Read more...

Carlos calls for a rapid response

Carlos Queiroz is urging the United players to prove their worth this week - and demonstrate the derby defeat was a rare abberation.

"It’s important to show in the next game at home to Arsenal that this result was a one-off," said Carlos Queiroz, speaking to MUTV in the absence of Sir Alex Ferguson.

"We need to show we’re ready to fight for the championship until the end of the season. We have a long race in front of us. On Monday we start again with the strong belief that we are still a good team."

Carlos cited Manchester City's tactics, and the wrong approach from United, as decisive factors in the defeat.

"That combination cost us - the counter-attacking attitude of City and the way we approached the game. I don’t believe we played in the right way. We had no tempo, no inspiration. We started the game with some anxiety, we tried to win the game too early against a team that is always well organised.

"It was not our day from an individual or collective point of view. It was very disappointing."

The assistant manager pointed to key players being away on international duty as another reason for a less than impressive performance by the Reds.

"We don’t usually like to emphasise these things but we had seven or eight players playing 90 minutes on Wednesday night.

"We cannot talk about that as an excuse but in my opinion, the players were affected. It always happens when the players play friendlies during the week - every time they come back they’re affected. Our players, especially some of our best players, were not sharp." Read more...

Silence observed at Old Trafford

The minute's silence for the 23 people who died in the Munich air crash of 1958 was movingly observed at Old Trafford before the Manchester derby.

The United and City teams, wearing one-off retro kits, were accompanied by 23 mascots wearing shirts with the names of the air crash victims on the back. All were led out of the tunnel by a piper playing The Red Flag.

The home faithful joined in with an emotional rendition of the song and while the away supporters responded initially with their own terrace anthem Blue Moon, they were respectfully silent at the crucial moment.

Sir Alex Ferguson and Sven-Goran Eriksson placed floral tributes on the centre spot, before joining the whole stadium in a minute's silence. United and City supporters held aloft old-fashioned scarves as a hush fell over Old Trafford.

As stadium announcer Alan Keegan pointed out, both sets of fans had done the city of Manchester proud in paying tribute to a football team cut down ahead of their prime. Read more...

Manchester United Vs. Manchester City Result Report

Michael Carrick's late goal was not enough to make up the first-half advantage Darius Vassell and Benjani Mwaruwari gave to Manchester City, as the Reds face up to a second derby defeat of the season.

The match was preceded by a moving minute’s silence to the 23 people who lost their lives in Munich fifty years ago. But, come the final whistle, City had all the reason they needed to make plenty of noise.

United seriously missed the energy and attacking intent of Patrice Evra and the spirit and skill of Wayne Rooney, both suspended. It could be a case that the occasion got to United, possibly the events of the past week heaped too much expectation on the match itself. Whatever the reason, the Reds didn't reach anything like top form.

The Reds started brightly enough and enjoyed the first share of the chances. Giggs volleyed narrowly over after eight minutes, then a great move involving the Welshman and Cristiano Ronaldo ended with Carlos Tevez being denied a shot by a last-ditch Richard Dunne tackle.

But there was to be no fairytale beginning and a stark reminder that United were in the cut and thrust of a Manchester derby was given resonance 24 minutes in when City took the lead. A posse of blue shirts surged forward, culminating in Martin Petrov cutting an incisive route through United’s defence to pick out Stephen Ireland. His shot was saved by Edwin van der Sar, as was Darius Vassell’s initial follow-up, but the City striker pounced quickest on the loose ball, finding a way through a clutch of red shirts to put the visitors in front.

There was an understandable air of frustration among Reds supporters, not just at being behind to blue rivals. City pressed and pressure United, whose passing was not as crisp as usual.

The Reds pushed on regardless and were close on numerous occasions to levelling before the break. Tevez had a wonderful turn and volley stopped by an outstanding Joe Hart save, Ronaldo sent one of his arrowed free-kicks marginally over the bar and then fired wide from the edge of the area with a low, left-footed shot. Nemanja Vidic also went close as he stabbed a shot wide from Rio Ferdinand’s scuffed shot.

However, City dealt a cruel blow seconds before the half time whistle with a second goal. After only half clearing the danger from a corner, Petrov, who had proved a real thorn in United’s side, sent in another wicked cross which Benjani Mwaruwari glanced into the far corner. On both occasions City’s goals came after spells of United pressure. Nevertheless, it was their ruthlessness in front of goal that reaped dividends.

In the second half United forced City back, but the football still wasn’t free-flowing. Tevez had the ball in the back of the net on 56 minutes, but it was disallowed for offside. But by the hour mark frustration began to permeate down from the stands. United’s decision-making didn’t seem to be going to plan, and the loose ball always seemed to find its way to a blue shirt. But United couldn’t afford to wallow in self-pity.

Ji-sung Park replaced Nani after 65 minutes to bring some fresh impetus to the Reds attack, then Michael Carrick and Owen Hargreaves came on for O’Shea and Anderson respectively with little over 15 minutes remaining.

A United goal did arrive, 90 seconds into three minutes of added time, as Carrick wonderfully stroked the ball into the bottom corner from 20 yards. But it was but a flicker of hope. Too little, too late.

A derby defeat is always hard to take, and this, City’s first win here since 1974 when Denis Law scored for the opposition, was especially tough to swallow because Sir Alex Ferguson’s side simply didn’t give a good account of themselves.

But if there was one thing that United have learned since 6 February 1958, it is that this is a club that keeps on going, even through adversity. This defeat is a setback for the Reds, but United still have an excellent opportunity to go on honouring the traditions instilled by Matt Busby’s Babes – attacking, entertaining and successful football. And that is why, as the fans put it, United will never die. The legacy lives on.

Team Line-ups

Manchester United: Van der Sar; Brown , Ferdinand, Vidic, O’Shea (Carrick 73); Ronaldo, Scholes, Anderson (Hargreaves 73), Nani (Park 65); Giggs, Tevez.
Subs not used: Kuszczak, Simpson.

Manchester City: Hart; Onuoha, Richards, Dunne, Ball; Ireland, Fernandes, Hamann (Sun Jihai 84), Petrov (Garrido 88); Benjani (Caceido 76), Vassell.
Subs not used: Isaksson, Geovanni.

Attendance: 75,970

Manchester United Vs. Manchester City Highlight Video Clip