Custom Search

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sir Alex: Nev was phenomenal

Gary Neville's contribution against Kaizer Chiefs on Saturday has been labelled "phenomenal" by Sir Alex Ferguson.

The Reds boss was delighted with club captain Neville, who, after completing 45 minutes against Aberdeen on 12 July, went one step further at Newlands Stadium.

Neville, 33, worked tirelessly at right back and sprinted past Darren Fletcher on numerous occasions to provide an extra man going forward. It's a sight Sir Alex and United fans have sorely missed over the last 16 months, as Neville fell victim to a string of injuries during his quest to recover from an initial ankle knock sustained in March 2007.

The only blot on Neville’s Cape Town performance came in the 37th minute when he brought down tricky winger Siphiwe Tshabalala to concede a penalty.

“Obviously his tackling’s not improved!” Ferguson joked at his post-match press conference.

“Seriously though, I’m very pleased. He played his first 45 minutes in 16 months against Aberdeen and a week later he’s managed another 60 minutes.

“Gary’s a remarkable man and, as everyone who’s played football will tell you, when you’re in your 30s and you’re forced out of the game for 16 months, the comeback is very difficult.

“But he showed tremendous enthusiasm [against Kaizer Chiefs] and the speed of his play was quite phenomenal.”


Tomasz keen to progress

Polish stopper Tomasz Kuszczak is determined to make a claim for the Reds’ no.1 jersey this season.

Since arriving at Old Trafford in 2006, Kuszczak, who was beaten only from the penalty spot in United’s pre-season friendly against Kaizer Chiefs on Saturday, has acted as Edwin van der Sar’s chief understudy.

But the time has come, he believes, to push for top spot and turn out regularly for the first team.

“I hope to get more chances to play in the future,” Kuszczak told MUTV at Cape Town's Newlands Stadium.

“I say this openly because I came to Manchester two years ago and I’ve trained very hard. I always try to be ready for the team and I hope my chance will come soon and I’ll get more games to prove myself.

“I’m very happy to play 90 minutes [against Kaizer Chiefs]. The first game back after a break is always a little difficult because you don’t know where you are with your form, but I’m happy with mine and I’ll keep going.”

If Kuszczak is to displace van der Sar as United’s no.1, he’ll have to beat off stiff competition from Ben Foster.

Although Foster has made just one senior appearance for the Reds, he’s impressed during two loan spells at Watford and is widely tipped to eventually take over the England duties.

“We have good competition [in the goalkeeping department],” Kuszczak acknowledged. “It’s important for goalkeepers to have someone behind you, someone pushing you to work hard.

"Both Bens [Foster and 18-year-old Amos] have done really well. It’s good for young goalkeepers [like Amos] to train with us, to have fun and work hard.”