Custom Search

Friday, May 16, 2008

Giggs: Man United squad has spirit of 1999

Ryan Giggs can see major similarities between Manchester United's 1999 Euro kings and the 2008 hopefuls.

After securing his 10th league title at the weekend, Giggs will be an integral part of Sir Alex Ferguson's squad for the showdown with Chelsea at the Luzhniki Stadium on May 21.

And, while the faces, with the exception of his own, may be different, Giggs is getting a similar vibe.

'There are similarities to 1999,' he said.

'The team spirit is the same and there is a good balance within the squad.

'The enthusiasm the young players have shown this season is great for the older ones like me and Paul Scholes, while we give experience to the younger ones.

'We had a great squad in 1999, which the manager used throughout the season.

'It is the same again this year. It is about the squad, not 11 players, just as it was then, so there are similarities.'

One of the other major similarities is their durability. In 1999, United famously came through a campaign that included double-headers with Barcelona, Inter Milan and Juventus, plus two group clashes and the never-to-be-forgotten final with Bayern Munich.

This time, United have played Roma four times, as well as Lyon and Barcelona before getting to Chelsea, so Giggs is reluctant to concede it is harder or easier than it once was.

'It was tough to win it then but it is equally so now,' he said.

'You have to be physically and mentally strong all the way through and retain your consistency. If you get to the final you deserve it.'

Giggs does not believe Chelsea have gained a vital edge through their victory over United three weeks ago.

Instead, the Welshman prefers to think about the way his side responded to being behind at the interval rather than reflect on a dismal first-half display.

'We did really well in the second half,' he said.

'I would like to think we came out of that quite positively.'

As he did at Stamford Bridge, Giggs is likely to be used as an impact player from the bench in Moscow.

Not so fellow veteran Scholes, who has already been assured of his starting spot by Ferguson - a move Giggs is in full agreement with.

'I am not picking the manager's team but Paul deserves to play because he is a great player,' he said.

'He can do things other players cannot do and his recent form has been brilliant.

'Obviously his disappointment in 1999, after being such a big part of that season as well, was massive. He has another chance now.'

French defender Silvestre hints at Bordeaux switch

Manchester United defender Mikael Silvestre admits he could be tempted by a move to Bordeaux, provided the French club can meet his salary demands.

Les Girondins coach Laurent Blanc has declared his interest in the France international, whose season has been disrupted by knee injuries.

Silvestre's contract at United runs until the summer of 2009, but the former Rennes player is not discounting a return to his native country if the offer is good enough.

'It isn't impossible,' the 30-year-old told a press conference.

'Bordeaux is a club which is close to my heart. When I was little, I followed their exploits in Europe. Moreover, I have family in the Gironde region.

'But each player has to be satisfied in a sporting sense as well as financially.

'There are no gifts handed out here. I am not a good Samaritan.'

Silvestre, who has also played for Internazionale, missed most of United's latest title-winning campaign with a knee injury he suffered in September.

He returned towards the end of the season but he is unlikely to make France's squad for next month's European Championships in Austria and Switzerland.

Scholes 'deserves final chance'

Paul Scholes will finally get to play on European club football’s biggest stage, and Ryan Giggs feels no player is more deserving.

Scholes, of course, was suspended for 1999’s Champions League final against Bayern Munich. But Sir Alex, who never normally succumbs to sentimentality, has said that he would make an exception. Scholes, however, should be in United’s starting line-up against Chelsea in the Luzhniki Stadium based purely on merit.

“I’m not telling the manager who to pick," says Giggs, "but Scholesy deserves to play because he’s a great player. His form has been brilliant and his goal against Barcelona got us to the final.

“To play with a player like him is a privilege. He does things other players can’t do. The disappointment of 1999 was massive for him and Roy, having played such an important part getting us to the final. I'm glad he’s got another chance now.”

It will be a special occasion for Giggs, too, who will overtake Sir Bobby Charlton’s appearances record. Typically, the Welshman deflects the attention away from his individual feats. “It was special for me coming on and scoring against Wigan, equalling Sir Bobby’s record and lifting the league trophy,” he added. “It couldn’t have gone any better. I enjoyed it, but it’s not about individuals it’s about the team.

"Now we’re looking forward to what we hope will be another great night. We’re concentrating on the Champions League and what is a massive game for everyone. I’m looking forward to it and I know we’ll be ready for it.”

Only win will satisfy Rio

In the form of his life, a Premier League title bagged and a five-year contract to boot – you’d think things couldn’t get any better for Rio Ferdinand. But the Reds defender says his season will end on a sour note unless United beat Chelsea in Moscow.

That the 29-year-old has followed a number of players to commit their future to the club shows a strong bond in the Reds camp and a belief that further success lies ahead for this United side.

“I’ll tell you next week after the game how good a time this has been for me,” he says. “If we win the Champions League then I’ll say it’s a fantastic last couple of weeks for me personally. If not then the season will have ended on a disappointing note.”

In modern terms, the contract negotiations have been completed relatively smoothly. “It’s something that I’ve wanted desperately, to be able to stay here for the next five years is something I’m very happy about,” Rio added. “You see the surroundings I’m in every day training at Carrington, playing in front of 76,000 fans every other week; what more could you ask for?”

Rio will ask for one final push in the Champions League final on Wednesday to complete what has already been a sensational season.

It's Ronalgo

Cristiano Ronaldo has dropped a Champions League bombshell by revealing he will consider his United future after the final. The Red Devils, who face Chelsea in Moscow next Wednesday, believed Ronaldo was secure at Old Trafford for the long term. But, yesterday, the Portugal winger, 23, hinted at a summer move to Spain. Ronaldo said: “I am happy here but let’s see what happens after the Champions League final. I am feeling calm here. I’m happy here but in the future I don’t know. I’ve said millions of times that I’d love to play in Spain but it’s one thing to dream and another thing for it to be a reality.” Ronaldo signed a new five-year contract last April and United boss Alex Ferguson will be determined to hang on to him. But Real Madrid president Ramon Calderon would break the bank to land the 41-goal ace.
Neil Custis, The Sun