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Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Boss eyes improvement

United's clutch of burgeoning young talents has Sir Alex Ferguson in confident mood ahead of the new campaign.

Although the likes of Nani and Anderson shone last term alongside the ever-improving Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo, the United manager fully expects further improvement from them in the coming months and years.

"I think we’ve got a good team and there’s some development still to come.," he said. "There are some young players who for a period last season did very well, and for a period showed their youthfulness by being inconsistent. Those young players will come on a bundle now.

"That triumph of winning the league and the European Cup can only help us. Players like Anderson, Nani, Rooney and Ronaldo will emerge from that without doubt, and be really top players for us. We’re pleased at their progress."

The betterment of those youngsters will allow Sir Alex to sustain his side's success, although he insists old guards such as Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes still bring plenty to the table, despite being 34 and 33 respectively.

"Giggs still gives us a bit of real quality," said the manager. "He won’t play every game, but if he can give me 25 games of real quality - which he can do because he’s looked after himself and doesn’t carry any weight - then that can still keep us at the forefront in terms of players who can decide matches.

"Anderson and Nani will improve and that’s the reason we bought them; to replace Giggs and Scholes in the long term. Scholes without question will give us another couple of years at the top level. Age-wise we’re good, those are my only two concerns."

Sir Alex knows his side will face stern challenges at home and abroad to retain the Double this season, and he expects the usual suspects of Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool to pose the domestic questions.

"I don’t see anyone outside emerging so strongly that they’re going to interrupt that four," he said. "You expect Liverpool to buy players, and Arsenal have shown their hand and bought Nasri and the young boy Ramsey. They (Chelsea) will obviously be up there too, and I expect the same ones."

Swans keen for more Brandy

Swansea City manager Roberto Martinez is keen to take United striker Febian Brandy back to the Liberty Stadium for a second loan spell.

Although the diminutive forward was used primarily as a substitute during his five-month spell in south Wales last season, his application and ability clearly made an impression on the Swans' boss.

Should Sir Alex Ferguson opt to farm the teen striker out for another taster of competitive action away from Old Trafford, Martinez is ready to swoop.

"Febian settled in straight away when he came to us," he told Swansea's official website. "He loved every second of his time here and you could see him improving every day.

"He was slowly fulfilling the Premier League potential he has and now we are waiting for the go-ahead to sign him on a season-long loan. I have spoken to Febian about it and I know he is very keen to come back."

We can dominate Europe

Gary Neville insists United have the wherewithal to become perennial challengers for the Champions League title, as well remaining the dominant force in English football.

Having rescaled the European heights for the third time in the club's history and nine years after the glory of Barcelona, club captain Neville feels United's vibrant mixture of youth and experience can prompt sustained European success.

No team has retained the Champions League in its current format, but Neville is itching to be part of a side bidding to do just that.

"We have to make sure we go for it again and I'm desperate to be part of it," he said in an exclusive interview with MUTV. "I think we are better equipped than in 1999.

"The strength of the squad is enormous. I do feel we are in a better position but we have to show that mentality and show we can do it again. No Manchester United team has been able to to that. We've had to wait nine years [since we last won it]."

Colombian Star A United Target

Manchester United are tracking £15million-rated Colombian goal-scoring sensation Falcao as an alternative to Tottenham striker Dimitar Berbatov. United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has received glowing reports on the prolific River Plate forward - full name Radamel Falcao Garcia Zarate. Falcao, 22, is similar in style to United striker Carlos Tevez, and has scored 38 goals in 58 games for his Argentine club. His strike rate has also attracted interest from Real Madrid and Juventus. Berbatov remains United's top summer transfer target but Spurs are reluctant to sell to another English club, which is why they have quoted a fee of £30m for their prized asset. Falcao, nicknamed El Tigre, is renowned for his lethal finishing and has stated his ambition to move to a big European club.
David McDonnell, Daily Mirror