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Thursday, February 14, 2008

Neville: Ronny will shine

Cristiano Ronaldo may not have been able to sprinkle some of his magic on last weekend's disappointing derby defeat, but skipper Gary Neville has backed the winger to continue his incredible form.

Neville has followed Ronaldo's performances closely and says the Portuguese winger's form is incomparable to anything he's ever seen.

Ronaldo has already fired 27 goals this term, surpassing last year's tally of 23, and is within touching distance of George Best's remarkable record of 32 goals in 1967/68.

Neville believes the way in which the 23-year-old has developed into a team player has been key to his emergence as one of the best players in the world.

"In terms of entertainment, performance and production, the player that we’re watching now is every bit as good as anything I’ve ever seen," Neville told United Review. "He’s playing on another planet at the moment.

"His goals’ tally is exceptional, but the most impressive thing is the appreciation he has for playing in a team. His passing, dribbling and crossing are all carefully selected and completed at the right times."

Neville has been a frustrated bystander for the last eleven months with a series of injuries. Nevertheless, his time in the stands has at least allowed him to sit back and appreciate the high standards his team-mates have set this season.

"I said at the start of the campaign that United fans should be as excited as they’ve ever been and that’s been proved," he said. "We’ve had the odd blip, but you experience that every year. We’re getting to the business part of the season now, there’s everything to play for." Read more...

Pique plays waiting game

Gerard Pique is the first to admit he'd like to have clocked up more minutes on the pitch this season, but remains confident he'll get his chance to shine.

The 21-year-old has impressed on each of his nine appearances this term which have yielded two goals.

Obstructing his passage to becoming a regular starter, however, are “two of the best centre-backs in the world”. The dynamic duo to which he refers is the fearsome partnership of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.

“They complement each other very well,” Pique tells the March issue of Inside United.

“They’re two of the best in the world, both strong in the air and good on the ball. And they show their qualities all the time, not only in games, but every day in training. They’re always striving to improve.

"I know I have to work just as hard, if not harder than they do if I want to play and that’s what I’m trying to do.”

And Pique refuses to get disheartened by the seemingly impossible task of breaking into the best defensive pairing in English football.

“You can look at it both ways,” he reasons. “In one way, it’s frustrating because I’d like to be playing every week, but at the same time I’m learning from two of the best. I’m confident my chance will arrive. So I have no problem with it.” Read more...

Possebon set to start

New Brazilian signing Rodrigo Possebon is set to make his first start for United's Reserves as the Reds push on in the Premier Reserve League title race.

The Reds are up against Blackburn, the last team to inflict defeat on the Reds' second string. They edged the sides' meeting by a single goal at Morecambe last October, but since then United have posted 11 matches without defeat.

With revenge and three vital points in mind, Brian McClair and Jim Ryan have named a strong 16-man squad for the 7pm kick off at the Victoria Stadium.

Possebon is in line for his first start for the Reds, having caught the eye in his half-hour debut cameo in last week's Manchester Senior Cup win over Manchester City.

Chris Eagles is also included after his two-goal salvo against the Blues, while Dong Fangzhuo returns to the squad after injury.

United squad: Zieler, Amos; Gray, Eckersley, Chester, Cathcart, Lea; Cleverley, S Evans, Possebon, Hewson, Barnes, Eagles; Fagan, Dong, Welbeck. Read more...

Ryan Giggs warns high-flying Arsenal

Ryan Giggs has hit out at Arsenal and their pretty football, claiming the Premier League is about winning ugly. And Rio Ferdinand joined the attack by warning Arsene Wenger's side to expect a backlash from Manchester United in the FA Cup on Saturday. Giggs was amused by all the plaudits heaped on the Gunners for playing attractive football during their resurgence as a topflight force this season. He claims United's play has been just as appealing and doubts whether Arsenal will be able to dig out results when the pressure is really on. "I did notice all the praise Arsenal were getting for their football, but it didn't really bother me," said Giggs. "Arsenal have been playing good football, but we have as well.”
David Anderson, The Mirror