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Thursday, July 24, 2008

The future is bright

United's conveyor belt of young talent is in good shape, according to Reserves manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The Reds' opulent history of producing players from within is much-fabled, but no homegrown talents have established themselves as senior regulars at Old Trafford since Darren Fletcher and John O'Shea.

Having experienced first-hand the talent within Carrington's current crop of youngsters, however, Solskjaer is adamant that the future is bright.

"There are people with first-team potential that I am working with at the moment," he told the Manchester Evening News. "United do have a history of getting players into the first team from their own ranks.

"In the last few years we've had Gerard Pique and Giuseppe Rossi come through, though they are now at other clubs. There are the likes of Darren Fletcher, John O'Shea and Wes Brown who have all come through the system, so there is a chance. It is up to every individual. It is not impossible.

"The difficulty here is you have the demand of winning almost every game at United so you cannot just put a player in to see how he is doing just because you can afford to take a chance on a particular game. It's not like that here because you have to win so they have to be ready."

Although first team openings remain few and far between given the enduring demands for success at Old Trafford, Ole is adamant that no heads have dropped among the youth ranks.

"It is no problem to keep these lads motivated," he said. "They are so positive and dedicated. They know if they are good enough they will get a chance. If not they know they will get a good career somewhere else. That is what we have said to them.

"We want to get as many as possible into the first team here, of course, that is the aim but for the rest we want to make careers for them at other clubs.

"I have had discussions with the manager about who is going to go out on loan. Maybe after one year they are ready to go somewhere else. You don't want to stay in the Reserves for three years because the boat is starting to sink and perhaps you should then be elsewhere."

Febian aims to emulate Fraizer

Febian Brandy is hopeful his second loan spell at Swansea City will help him emulate the improvement of fellow striker Fraizer Campbell.

While Brandy impressed at the Liberty Stadium in the latter half of last season, it was the form of Campbell at Hull City which represented the Reds' biggest loan success.

Campbell is now heavily involved in the Reds' senior pre-season exertions, and Brandy would love to be in a similar position in a year's time.

"I didn't play as much as I would have liked to last season and Sir Alex Ferguson said he was disappointed when I went back because he'd wanted me to play more," Brandy told the South Wales Evening Post.

"But Roberto Martinez is the manager and he knows much more about management than I do, and the gaffer at United was pleased with everything I did at Swansea last season.

"He said that if I can play a bit more this year and score some goals, I can force my way into the first-team picture at United.

"That's what Frazier Campbell has done and my aim is to try to do something like that this season."

Diminutive striker Brandy has rejoined the Swans until January 17, 2009, and he is hoping to build on the successes of last season, in which he helped Swansea gain promotion and also took part in United's Double celebrations.

"After winning the title with Swansea, I went back to United and was part of the Premier League celebrations,'' he explained. "Then I travelled with the club to the Champions League final in Moscow, which turned into a third celebration.

"I was proud of playing a part for Swansea last season, and now I can't wait for the Championship. It's going to be a bigger challenge, but it's one I'm looking forward to."

Owen: Fans deserve parade

Owen Hargreaves is looking forward to taking part in the Reds’ double trophy parade at Old Trafford on 6 August, a celebration he feels is 10 weeks later than it should have been.

The midfielder was as disappointed as anyone when United were forced to shelve plans for an open-top bus tour around Manchester because of trouble between fans in the city centre after the UEFA Cup final on 14 May.

But he is now urging fans to take a one-off chance to see the silverware and celebrate United’s historic 2007/08 campaign ahead of what promises to be a high-quality pre-season friendly against Italian giants Juventus.

“It’s a belated but great opportunity for the fans to see the trophies,” he told “We didn’t have a celebration after the Champions League final and this is something that should have happened earlier, straight after we came back from Moscow.

“The players, staff and fans who put so much work into the season were disappointed not to go on a parade. It’s a shame that it was cancelled because of other people’s actions at the UEFA Cup final.

“The double was a crowning achievement and it should be celebrated - it doesn’t happen very often.”

An hour before kick-off against Juve, the United players will walk out with the Premier League and Champions League trophies, for photos at all four stands.

Hargreaves, who is recovering from a recurrence of the tendonitis which disrupted the start of his United career, is keen to be involved in the evening’s events.

“I hope I get to carry out a trophy!” the 27-year-old added. “Obviously it’s not the same environment as it would have been, but it’s probably too late to have a bus parade now.

“It’s nevertheless a wonderful chance for everyone to see the trophies again. Hopefully we’ll have a good game against Juve and the fans will enjoy a great evening.”

Ferguson: Ferdinand best defender in Europe

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has lauded Rio Ferdinand as arguably the best defender in Europe.

Ferdinand's partnership at the back with Nemanja Vidic was, by popular opinion, one of the main reasons the club won a notable double last season.

The former Leeds and West Ham United star is widely tipped to become a future United and England captain.

Ferdinand returned to the side on Tuesday in the victory against Orlando Pirates in the Vodacom Challenge following a back problem.

It was his first pre-season match after he sat out the draw against Kaizer Chiefs at the weekend and the friendly at Aberdeen.

Ferguson said: 'Rio has been the best defender in the country if not Europe for a couple of years.

'His maturity and leadership have been key factors in the team's success.

'He is someone that young players learn from and that more experienced players respect.

'I have not seen a better defensive pairing than him and Nemanja for a long time.'

And former Manchester United centre-back, and Old Trafford favourite, Gary Pallister agrees with Ferguson.

'When Rio is at his best, there is no finer defender in Europe,' Pallister said.

'He has pace, is composed and uses the ball intelligently.'

Ferdinand has not always been a popular figure among Manchester United supporters, who were especially aggrieved at the defender's contract stand-off three years ago which came after his eight-month ban for a missed drugs test.

However, in signing that deal, and another one last season which will keep the Londoner at Old Trafford until 2013, he has silenced the critics who claimed he wanted to return to the capital.

He has secured Premier League title medals in his last two seasons, as well captaining United to Champions League glory in Moscow, and Ferdinand has now cemented his place in Red Devils folklore.

'We all know he had a difficult time with his contract negotiations and before that the missed drugs test. But these are the kind of events that make you stronger and Rio is now fulfilling all the potential people knew he had.'

With Fabio Capello due to announce his England captain ahead of next month's friendly with the Czech Republic, Ferdinand could start the season with some good news too.

Certainly Pallister would not be surprised in the least if the 29-year-old won his personal battle with John Terry for the coveted role.

'Rio Ferdinand has excelled as a captain and a leader,' he said.

'Those qualities first came to the fore at Leeds and now they are doing so at Old Trafford.

'He has grown into the job and United really benefited from that last season when Gary Neville was out.

'Rio has all the credentials required to captain United all the time. That job is currently taken by Gary but it would not shock me at all if he got the job for England.'

United are preparing for the final game of the tournament on Saturday in Pretoria against either the Pirates or the Kaizer Chiefs, who meet on Thursday night.

Then on Sunday they move on to Nigeria for a friendly against Portsmouth before flying home.

After winning the Champions League and retaining their Premier League title, Ferguson feels this is a vital time in their build-up to the new campaign.

He said: 'In many ways, having won two trophies last year makes pre-season even more important.

'But I am confident the players have the hunger and the desire to mount a strong challenge to defend their titles.'

erguson is expected to give another run-out to some of his promising youngsters with Fraizer Campbell, Jonny Evans, Danny Simpson, Chris Eagles, Lee Martin and Darron Gibson all featuring against Pirates.

And according to the Scot, the difference between being on the fringes and being promoted to the team can be down purely to keeping your focus.

He said: 'Concentration is one of the vital components of players making that step across the line to be first-team players. We often under-rate the value of concentration.

'They can practice all day long, they can have fantastic ability but if they do not have concentration to make everything happen, then they are never going to be there. That is a fact.'

Give Ronaldo what he wants, says Tevez

Manchester United striker Carlos Tevez has broken ranks by claiming Cristiano Ronaldo should be allowed to join Real Madrid if he wishes.

Ronaldo has been the transfer story of the summer, with the Portugal winger expressing his desire to play for Real, who in turn have made him their number one target.

'I understand Cristiano,' Tevez told AS. 'Every footballer wants to play at Real Madrid. On the other hand, I also think that everyone wants to play for Manchester United, but if what he seeks is something else, I think that should be respected.'

United have been furious with Real's public pursuit of the player, once again reiterating this week that they have no intention of selling their prize asset.

But Old Trafford team-mate Tevez has risked incurring the wrath of Sir Alex Ferguson by claiming the European champions should not stand in Ronaldo's way if he wants to leave.

'The (United) team has great players, including Cristiano Ronaldo, of course,' Tevez added.

'It's clear that he is a very important player for us, but this is a personal decision, which is up to only him.

'I have not talked to him, but when these things happen, neither side feels good.'

Meanwhile, United legend Paul Scholes has warned Cristiano Ronaldo about leaving Manchester United and believes players should be thankful that they are playing for such an illustrious club.

'If players fancy a move and a bit of money, then good luck to them, but when they're at a place like this, I don't think they realise how lucky they are to be playing here,' Scholes said.

'It's always a step down [after United]. There are obviously big clubs in the world, but while certain people think it might be a progression if they move somewhere else, when you leave here I don't think it is.'