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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Edwin eyes more Euro glory

Edwin van der Sar may be a Champions League veteran but his appetite for European success has not diminished.

It is 13 years since the goalkeeper won the competition with Ajax and he is determined to claim another winner’s medal with United before hanging up his boots.

The 37-year-old is one of five members of the current squad to have experienced Champions League glory – Gary Neville, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Wes Brown were all part of the Reds’ Treble-winning squad in 1999.

“Everybody wants to win it and we’ll be doing our very best to claim another medal,” Van der Sar told MUTV.

“It’s a long time since I won it and it’s the same for the boys who played in 1999, so everyone’s determined to repeat it.”

While some of his team-mates have claimed they do not mind who United are pitted against in Friday's quarter-final draw, Van der Sar revealed he would be happier not to face one of the three other English teams.

“I would prefer to play a European team," he said. "It’s part of the Champions League experience: you go to the airport, you fly somewhere, you rest in the hotel, you train the night before the game and you play in different surroundings in front of a hostile crowd.

“I would prefer that but if we’re drawn against an English side, we’ll deal with it.” Read more...

Carlos: It's time to deliver

Carlos Queiroz insists it's vital the players get over their FA Cup exit as quickly as possible and focus their efforts on Premier League and European glory.

United's assistant boss admits the quarter-final defeat to Portsmouth last weekend was a bitter pill to swallow, but he remains confident in the team's ability to bounce back from adversity.

"We were very down after the Portsmouth game. It was a bad feeling because we felt the trophy escaped from our grasp," Queiroz told MUTV.

"There was a lot of frustration and sadness amongst the team and the staff. But the most important thing now is to show the right attitude, the Manchester United attitude and bounce back from what happened. We need to keep moving forward."

Three league games in a week now await the Reds with a trip to bottom-placed Derby on Saturday, before two home games against Bolton (Wednesday) and Liverpool (Easter Sunday).

Arsenal's third consecutive league draw at Wigan last weekend means United are now just two points behind the league leaders and they have a chance to leapfrog Arsene Wenger's men with victory in their next two matches.

"We cannot rely and expect other teams to make mistakes in our favour. It is up to us to do our job," insists Queiroz. "This is a crucial part of the season and there is no room for error on our part. Now is the time to deliver.

"We expect the best from our players - the best concentration, the best football and the best motivation. Everything needs to be perfect." Read more...

Evra: Bring on the Gunners

Patrice Evra would relish being paired with Arsenal in Friday's draw for the Champions League quarter-finals.

With all four Premier League representatives still in the competition, United have a three in seven chance of being drawn against English opposition - and Evra has no fear of going up against Arsene Wenger's league leaders.

"Why not get Arsenal? I don't give a damn," he is quoted as saying in the Daily Express. "I have played every year against Arsenal. We drew 2-2 on their ground and we can't wait to play them again next month. We beat them 4-0 in the FA Cup, too."

The Gunners raised eyebrows around Europe by eliminating holders AC Milan in the first knockout round, but Evra cares not a jot. He insists that the most important thing is to stay focused, regardless of who lies in wait in next month's two-legged tie.

"You have to say they struck a big blow in knocking out the holders, but, basically, Arsenal don't scare me," he said. "The only team I am looking at for the next round of the Champions League are Manchester United.

"It would be a mistake to say we'd rather have Fenerbahce than Barcelona, say. That's when you get hit. Look at Real Madrid when they played us at Monaco in the quarter-finals in 2004.

"They were so confident they booked their hotel for the semi-final - but they hadn't reckoned on us. You have to stay concentrated." Read more...

Neville sets first team target

Gary Neville says he’s itching to return to the first-team squad after almost 12 months out of action.

United’s club captain played 70 minutes for the Reserves on Wednesday night and now has his sights firmly set on rejoining the race for the Barclays Premier League title.

“It’s great to be playing football again,” Neville told MUTV. “That’s my second game in a couple of weeks and I seem to have come through it okay. In that sense it’s a real positive, although I want to get back into travelling with the first team.

“By next week I’d like to be involved with the first team, even if’s just travelling with the side and being part of it again.”

Neville was injured last March against Bolton Wanderers and has since suffered a number of setbacks on the road to recovery.

“Hopefully I’ve seen the back of it now,” Neville said. “I just need to concentrate on training hard and playing well. It’s been a frustrating period and a very long time – too long. No footballer likes not playing but I’m not the first footballer to be out for 12 months. You just have to get on with it.

“Playing with the Reserves is really exciting for me. Just being out on the pitch and on the training ground… I love doing that.” Read more...

Reds trail Cardiff kid?

Sir Alex Ferguson has reportedly shown an interest in Cardiff City's Wales U21 international Aaron Ramsey.

The left-sided player's fine performance in Cardiff's FA Cup quarter final victory over Middlesbrough has thrust him into the spotlight.

Despite being just 17, Ramsey has already been linked with a move to the Premier League, with reports suggesting he could be valued at as much as £5million.

There has been no formal contact from United, but Cardiff chairman Peter Ridsdale says Sir Alex has been in touch.

"Sir Alex Ferguson did make a telephone call to our manager, Dave Jones, but that is the only contact of any sort," he told the South Wales Echo.

"It was no more than a call to ask what the youngster is like.

"We know there is strong interest in Aaron among a number of Premiership clubs.

"But nobody has made any sort of offer and we certainly have not agreed anything." Read more...

England can rule for Ron

Cristiano Ronaldo has called on the Premier League’s Champions League heroes to make sure it is an all-English final. Liverpool’s triumph over Inter Milan on Tuesday means that all four English sides are through to the last eight. Now the Manchester United star wants one of them to reach the final. Ronaldo said: “I don’t want to play one of the English clubs at the quarter-final stage. I would much prefer it in the semis or better still the final. To have two English sides in the final would be fantastic.”
Neil Custis, The Sun