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Monday, February 11, 2008

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...

Skipper vows to return

Gary Neville has hit back at speculative reports suggesting his career may come to a premature end after a long-running injury battle.

The Reds' skipper, who turns 33 next Monday, has not played for United's first-team since rupturing ankle ligaments against Bolton Wanderers last March.

Subsequent niggles have further disrupted his progress. It has been a hugely frustrating period for the right-back, but he insists his career is far from over.

"The fact I’ve been out for so long brings about speculation regarding whether or not I’ll make it back. I understand that," he told United Review.

"Ironically my ankle has been okay for the last couple of months, I’ve just picked up little knocks here and there that have lasted a couple of weeks or so; they can really set you back when you’ve been out for so long.

"I’m training again and I am focused on getting fit. I’m not going to put a timescale on it or name a game when I’ll be back. Once I get fit, and I’m doing the best I can to get to that point, I’ve no doubts I’ll be okay." Read more...

Sir Alex eyes April showdowns

Sir Alex Ferguson believes United's matches against Arsenal and Chelsea in April will almost certainly decide the destination of the league title this season.

Defeat to City on Sunday was a major blow for the Reds' hopes of retaining the Premier League crown. United, of course, could be five points behind league leaders Arsenal if the Gunners beat Blackburn at the Emirates Stadium tonight.

Speaking to Inside United magazine before the defeat to City, Sir Alex's comments now carry even greater resonance.

United face Arsenal (12 April) and Chelsea (26 April) in the space of two weeks in the penultimate month of the campaign, which Sir Alex believes will be crucial.

"There's no doubt about it, the games against Arsenal and Chelsea will be decisive," he said.

"The fact that the league is so close makes a big difference. All the top sides have dropped points. Teams are taking points off the top sides more than ever. But it looks likely that our home game against Arsenal and the match at Chelsea could make a huge difference."

Ryan Giggs thinks that United must win both matches, saying after Sunday's derby defeat that the Reds "cannot afford to drop any more points now".

First, the Welshman and Sir Alex will also be hoping that Blackburn can do United a favour in North London, as they did earlier in the season when they claimed a 1-1 draw at Ewood Park in August. Read more...