Custom Search

Friday, February 22, 2008

Brown heading for United exit

Wes Brown's Manchester United future is on a knife-edge after Alex Ferguson hit out at his contract demands. Brown, 28, wants £65,000 a week to sign a new deal but has been offered £10,000 less. He could leave on a free in the summer. Boss Fergie said: “We’ve given him his offer. It’s in his hands, not in ours. Players today live in their agents’ pockets. It’s a situation which depresses me at times. Wes has been with us since he was 12 but I don’t think that matters these days. Their agents live their lives for them — and if you are happy to go along with that then you get the situation you have just now.”
Neil Custis, The Sun

Milner: We must have belief

Newcastle midfielder James Milner insists his side must believe in themselves if they are to have any chance of picking up a positive result against United on Saturday.

The Toon Army go into the tea-time clash at St James' Park still without a win under new boss Kevin Keegan and having conceded 11 goals in their last four games.

Unlike United, who have had FA Cup and Champions League commitments in the last week, Keegan's men have had a fortnight to prepare for the match and Milner is hoping their preparation will pay off.

"Manchester United is a big game for us and we have to rise to the occasion," he told Newcastle's official website. "It is all about how we are mentally as well. That is a big part of it.

"For instance at Villa, instead of us being 2-1 down, we were 4-1 down. Some of the time we have not really deserved it.

"It is about how we bounce back from conceding a goal. We need to be strong mentally. We know we need to get better, and that comes from hard work on the training field.

"Having a game every few days, you don't really get a chance to work on it. During this break, we have had a chance to assess things and to see where we are going wrong."

Newcastle were on the end of a 6-0 thrashing from United last month at Old Trafford. Milner admits the wounds are still raw from the defeat, but says a result against the Reds on Saturday would go a long way to getting the Geordies back on track.

"When results are not going your way, you lose a bit of confidence," admits the 22-year-old. "We sometimes do not have the confidence to put our feet on the ball and pass it as well as we can.

"That will come with a few positive results and performances - hopefully we get that against United. At the moment, things are not going for us, but we have been working hard to put things right."

Newcastle will be boosted by the return of Africa Nations Cup quartet Habib Beye, Abdoulaye Faye, Geremi and Obafemi Martins. Steve Harper will continue to deputise in goal if Shay Given fails to recover from a groin injury. It will Harper's 100th Newcastle appearance if he plays. Read more...

Boss joy at Ando and Nani

A week that has gleaned two excellent results in the cup competitions for United has also highlighted just how important Sir Alex Ferguson’s summer signings have become to the team.

Carlos Tevez got the winner against Lyon in midweek, with Owen Hargreaves operating a pivotal midfield holding role. But it is the form of Nani and Anderson, both new to England, that have pleased the United boss.

The pair have both perhaps played more regularly than that they would have hoped at the start of the season. But their excellent recent displays make it increasingly difficult leave them out of the side.

“We’re very pleased with their progress,” Sir Alex says. “The evidence of their development is there to see on the pitch.

“With Anderson, he has exploded onto the scene, whereas Nani is taking his time. But he is gradually getting better and better.

"They’re different players of course, so that makes a difference. But they’re both doing really well.” Read more...

Sir Alex: No Keegan rift

Sir Alex Ferguson has described his supposed fierce rivalry with Kevin Keegan as “a myth”, and says he is looking forward to seeing the Newcastle manager at St James’ Park on Saturday.

The infamous “love it” rant and the two manager's contest for the title during Keegan's last spell in charge on Tyneside have given rise to the notion of a rift. But Sir Alex insists their relationship isn’t thorny in the slightest.

“I’ve not spoken to him for ages,” said the Reds boss. “But it’s a myth [that we don’t get on]. I’ve always got on with Kevin and I’ll look forward to seeing him on Saturday.”

Sir Alex even took time to sympathise with his opposite number's predicament, and the difficulty of bringing in players in the January transfer window.

“Kevin didn’t really have a lot of time to understand the market," he said. "Everyone thinks it’s easy to get players in January, but it’s not. I’ve said it many times. He maybe didn’t have the time to get in the players he wanted, so he has to rely on the players he’s got at the moment.”

But that apparent cordiality will not prevent Sir Alex wanting to further dampen the mood after Keegan’s so far unsuccessful return to St James’ and earn three more valuable points towards United's title defence.

The United boss enjoys trips to Newcastle, not least because he is unbeaten there in almost seven years, but also because of the desire for football in the North East. “Newcastle is one of my favourite venues,” he says. “I’ve always enjoyed going there. You see the passion of their fans, and I enjoy that. I think it’s one of the main games of the season in the sense of it being a football occasion.

“We have got a decent record at St James’ Park, but that doesn’t guarantee us anything. We know we have to perform on the day. Last season we were coasting at 2-1 and they got a late goal from a deflection. You can lose a goal in any game, at any time. We have to be alert to that.”

With United five points behind league leaders Arsenal, the Reds cannot afford to slip. By the time the 17:15 GMT kick-off comes around, Sir Alex’s men could be eight points adrift, which is all part of being chasers rather than the chased.

“It’s not easy to close these gaps,” Sir Alex says, the voice of experience. “We’ve achieved it in the past, and we’ve failed to do it in the past. Hopefully experience counts. You know that points will be dropped. Arsenal and Chelsea are well aware of that. The name of the game is not to drop as many points as your opponents.

"At the moment, Arsenal have an advantage. But we also know that they have some tough games to come, so they will drop points. It’s unavoidable.” United have to be sure to be in the position to pounce if, or when, the Gunners do stumble. Read more...

Reds set for changes

Sir Alex Ferguson has a full squad to select from ahead of the Reds' Premier League trip to Newcastle on Saturday, but the United boss is certain to make changes to keep a freshness to his side's play.

Ryan Giggs, who suffered a knee injury in a tackle with Juninho in the first half of Wednesday's Champions League clash, is available.

The Welshman was replaced by Nani in the 65th minute as United went in search of an equaliser, but he was able to train on Friday.

The United boss confirmed the stand-in skipper would be available for the visit to St James' Park, but revealed he may even leave some players behind.

“I may freshen up and make a few changes,” Sir Alex told reporters on Friday.

“We’re looking for enough freshness to get over Wednesday’s travelling into Europe.

“It can be difficult coming back off a mid-week tie in Europe, so hopefully I can pick the right team for the occasion. Read more...