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Saturday, July 12, 2008

Berbatov agent speaks out

Dimitar Berbatov's agent has told the Bulgarian media that he is convinced United are interested in signing the Tottenham striker.

Reports in the British tabloids on Saturday suggested that United had made an official bid for the 27-year-old forward, after months of stories linking the Bulgarian with a move to Old Trafford.

When asked about the speculation in an interview with Bulgarian radio station Darik, agent Emil Danchev did little to dampen the speculation.

"I know for certain Manchester United have shown interest in signing Dimitar Berbatov," said Danchev. "But I'm not entitled to make any more comments."

Sir Alex Ferguson revealed earlier in July that he is aiming to delve into the transfer market for at least new one face this summer, and is 'looking at one or two things.'

Fletch focused on United

Despite reports linking him with a summer transfer, Darren Fletcher is fully focused on upping his first team involvement at Old Trafford next season.

The Scottish midfielder spent a sizeable portion of last season on the sidelines, largely through injury, and has allegedly attracted interest from Everton.

Sir Alex Ferguson has insisted that Fletcher remains very much part of the first-team picture at United, and the 25-year-old wants to force his way into regular action.

"To play in more matches than last season, that's obviously the target each season," he said. "You do your bit, you're patient and you've got to wait for your chance. I'll be ready to take my chance when it comes and I'll hopefully play a few more matches."

Just as Fletcher is nonplussed by talk of a move away from Old Trafford, he is totally unfazed by the potential of new arrivals, saying: "I don't think much needs to change but fresh faces are always good.

"Competition for places is always going to be at Manchester United. It's something you've got to rise to."

Aberdeen Vs. Manchester United Highlights Video Clip

Aberdeen [0 - 2] Manchester United
45' [0 - 1] M. Carrick (pen.)
69' [0 - 2] W. Rooney


No rush for new assistant

Sir Alex Ferguson will take his time before deciding who to appoint as his new assistant manager.

Carlos Queiroz's departure to take over the Portuguese national team has left a hole in the Reds' backroom staff ahead of the new season, but the United manager will not panic in his hunt for a new assistant.

When asked if the search for a replacement had already begun, Sir Alex told MUTV: "Not really, we’ll just take our time as we normally do. We’ll wait and see how things unfold."

Queiroz admitted he left Old Trafford 'with heavy heart' after a trophy-laden spell at Old Trafford, and Sir Alex was quick to pay tribute to the tactician's impact behind the scenes.

"It’s disappointing but nationalities come into it in terms of him being an emotionally fervent Portuguese man, and the attraction being too big," said Sir Alex.

"It’s disappointing but he did a great job for us and that’s why he’ll be remembered. He’s gone with our best wishes. He did a terrific job for us and a lot of the innovations we’ve had over the last few years are down to Carlos."

Ole makes a winning start

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made a winning start to life as a manager as the Reds' Reserves posted a 3-1 victory at Burscough on Saturday.

Goals from Tom Cleverley, Febian Brandy and Rodrigo Possebon gave United victory despite some good pressure from the hosts, who pulled a late goal back through David Brookes.

It took just seven minutes for Cleverley to notch the first goal of the Solskjaer regime, turning smartly and firing home from 15 yards.

Although the hosts rallied well, Brandy doubled the Reds' advantage just before the interval when he fired past Burscough keeper Ian Lowe.

Fifteen minutes after the interval, Possebon put the game to bed with a stunning goal. Picking the ball up 25 yards from goal, the Brazilian midfielder smashed a superb dipping effort into the corner of the goal.

Although the Reds dominated the remainder of the game, Brookes had the final say when he slipped the ball under Ron-Robert Zieler to salvage some rewards for the hosts' spirited performance.

The Reserves' next outing is on Saturday, 19 July, when the Reds travel to near-neighbours Altrincham.

Boss satisfied by run-out

At a point in the pre-season preparations when fitness is the be-all and end-all, Saturday's friendly victory at Aberdeen was a satisfying outing for Sir Alex Ferguson.

Goals from Michael Carrick and Wayne Rooney gave the Reds victory just 52 days after lifting the Champions League trophy in Moscow, and the Gaffer was pleased to see his charges start on the road back to match fitness at Pittodrie.

"At times it was a bit slow but I think you expect that in your first game," he told MUTV. "I think the important thing is that we put a lot of energy in to get our fitness, which is what you're looking for. Plus we've won a game, which is always a good thing.

"I think they all did alright. There was no great performance but you don't expect great performances, that's the reason for pre-season games. The important thing is they get their fitness, and also to get through without any injuries, which we have done."

United's presence at Pittodrie helped the Dons celebrate the 25th anniversary of the club's finest hour - victory over Real Madrid in the 1983 European Cup Winners' Cup. Sir Alex was at the helm that evening, and he was delighted to be back in Aberdeen for the commemoration.

"It was emotional, it was like the old days there today," he admitted. "You don't think about it until you start approaching the stadium and of course the Gothenburg team were here, and it was a special day for them. These are the lads that actually won it, I was fortunate enough to manage them and they were a great bunch."

Aberdeen Vs. Manchester United Match Report

United made a winning start to the new pre-season campaign, as goals from Michael Carrick and Wayne Rooney sealed a hard-fought victory over Aberdeen at Pittodrie.

The hosts, celebrating the 25th anniversary of winning the European Cup Winners' Cup under Sir Alex Ferguson, piled plenty of pressure on the Champions League holders, and were unfortunate to see a first-half goal from Darren Mackie ruled out for offside.

United's class told in the latter stages of the first half and much of the first, however, and Carrick moved the visitors ahead by converting a penalty before Rooney powerfully headed home after the interval.

Rooney could have buried the hosts single-handedly inside 10 minutes, as he twice shot straight at goalkeeper Jamie Langfield and also had a powerful far-post volley blocked by a defender.

Although Aberdeen struggled to contain Rooney and the vibrant Ryan Giggs, they still probed menacingly during the opening exchanges, and Jeffrey De Visscher came close to opening the scoring before Mackie slid a finish past Ben Amos, only to see his effort chalked off by a linesman's flag.

The sell-out crowd had to wait until just before half-time to see the first goal, when Rooney was brought down inside the area by Langfield after a superb through-ball from Carrick. Rooney opted to let his England cohort take the spot-kick and, just as he did in Moscow, Carrick sent the goalkeeper the wrong way to put United ahead.

Immediately after the interval United's lead could have been doubled, but substitute Chris Eagles sidefooted Darren Fletcher's teasing cross over the bar from close range. The hosts, for their part, could have drawn level shortly afterwards, but Amos made a superb fingertip save from Jamie Smith's inswinging effort.

Rooney and Giggs continued to terrorise the Dons' defence, however, and the latter almost headed home the former's cross, only for substitute stopper Bertrand Bossu to brilliantly tip the ball onto the crossbar.

Twenty minutes from time, Rooney went one better by powerfully heading United's second goal. Darren Fletcher took Carrick's pass in his stride and curled in a teasing right-wing cross, which Rooney glanced emphatically into the far corner.

Danny Simpson had a long-range shot well held by Bossu and Eagles saw his chip deflected just past the post as United finished in the ascendancy, and held firm to post an impressive start to the new season preparations.

United: Amos (Woods, 73); Neville (Simpson, 46), Brown (J Evans, 61), Vidic (O'Shea, 46), Silvestre; Fletcher, Carrick, Scholes (Gibson, 61), Martin (Eagles, 46); Rooney (Hewson, 73), Giggs (Campbell, 61).