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Friday, July 11, 2008

The Gaffer's greatest

For all Sir Alex Ferguson's stunning achievements at the Old Trafford helm, his greatest feat remains guiding Aberdeen to European glory.

That's according to Neil Simpson, one of the Dons side which stunned Real Madrid in the European Cup Winners' Cup final 25 years ago.

Sir Alex's triumphant side were dubbed the Gothenburg Greats after their victory in Sweden, and former midfielder Simpson still sees the success as a sporting miracle.

"There's no doubt that Sir Alex is the best Scottish manager ever," he said. "He's also the best Britain has produced, given the trophies he has won and the players he has brought to the peak of their powers.

"But I would have to say that Aberdeen winning a European trophy was a better achievement than Manchester United winning the Champions League.

"They are a world-famous club and massive, whereas we are a provincial side with a maximum attendance of 20,000. I think Sir Alex, himself, said that beating Real Madrid was a miracle."

Sir Alex takes his United side to Pittodrie on Saturday for a friendly to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Gothenburg, a gesture that Simpson sees as typical of the Reds' manager.

"It's great that he is coming back for our celebrations with the current champions of Europe but it's no surprise, given the quality of the man," he said.

"Sir Alex is a class act who inspires players at his club by demanding high standards in everything they do.

"He has run United the same way he ran Aberdeen in that, if those standards slip, someone will take your place. You need that ruthless approach to be a winner at the very top."

Ronaldo could miss 12 weeks

Cristiano Ronaldo expects to miss three months of action after undergoing ankle surgery.

The Portuguese winger insists the early stages of his rehabilitation are going well, but claims it will still be early October before he is back playing.

"It's confirmed I'll be out of action for up to 12 weeks but recovery is going well," Ronaldo told reporters in Portugal. "I must focus on my recovery. I'll be training with a ball in two months."

Ronaldo's timescale has not been verified by club medical staff. As per last week's statement, his progress will be reviewed by a specialist after one month, and a return date will be estimated then.

Whatever that date is, it seems almost certain that the winger will miss United's early-season games - including tricky trips to Liverpool and Chelsea.

Becks backs former colleagues

David Beckham admits he never expected former United team-mates Mark Hughes and Paul Ince to progress into management.

Having watched the duo take on new roles at Manchester City and Blackburn respectively this summer, however, Beckham feels they have benefited from working under Sir Alex Ferguson.

"I never, ever thought Sparky would go into management," Beckham told The Sun. "Sparky was always quite quiet in the dressing room. He has been coached and watched by one of the best managers - if not the best - in the history of football.

"When you have had that experience playing for United, when you have seen how Sir Alex Ferguson watches players, coaches players and protects players, that can only help you as a manager.

"Incey is the same as Sparky. I never thought he would be a manager, either. He has enjoyed a surge to the top. He will bring that experience from being at United and managing two football clubs.

"He will also have the respect of the players due to what he has done in the game. He will also bring the fun side. I have no doubts the Blackburn players will love playing with him."