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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Meet the da Silva twins

The surprise first appearances of Fabio da Silva and Rafael da Silva in United's pre season friendly at Peterborough on Monday 4 August has left fans wanting to know more about the boys from Brazil.

How old are they?
The twin brothers turned 18 last month, a milestone which enabled the club to gain clearance for the pair to play. For the record, they were born on 9 July 1990 in Petropolis, Rio de Janeiro - the spiritual home of Brazilian football.

What positions do they play in?
They are primarily full-backs - Rafael on the right, Fabio on the left. But the attacking ability and desire they demonstrated against Peterborough suggests that, like Patrice Evra, they would be equally adept at wide midfield.

Who did they play for previously?
The da Silva twins joined United from Fluminense, one of the four main football clubs in Rio (the others being Botafogo, Flamengo and Vasco da Gama). Legendary Fluminense players include the late Tele Santana, who went on to manage Brazil's World Cup squads of 1982 and 1986.

How did United find them?
The brothers were spotted by Les Kershaw, then Academy Manager, in the summer of 2005 while playing for Fluminense in a Hong Kong youth tournament.

Have they played for Brazil?
Fabio captained and top-scored in the Under-17 World Cup finals in Korea. Rafael also impressed during the same competition in which Brazil were unfortunate to bow out at the last 16 stage.'s report on their final game against Ghana says "Brazil's calm and intricate build-up play was impressive to behold as the imperious Fabio pulled the strings."

How does Sir Alex rate them?
"I think they're both excellent footballers, I really do. They've got great enthusiasm and desire to play the game. It's a typical Brazilian situation, they just love playing. They're quick and they're determined.

"What we don't know is their game appreciation because they haven't played for a year. Their old club Fluminense didn't play them because they were joining us. Then they joined us in January (2008) but it was too late for the work permit application.

"Their 18th birthday meant we could apply through international clearance which we got only a couple of days ago. We're all delighted for the kids because they've worked so hard in training, they never miss a session and I'm really hopeful they'll do well."


Manchester United Vs. Juventus Result Report

Rafael da Silva played 45 minutes at Old Trafford, but neither United nor Juventus could find the net in the Reds’ final pre-season friendly.

After a storming performance against Peterborough on Monday night, the Brazilian teenager impressed again at right back… and this time against world-class opposition.

Countryman Rodrigo Possebon also got 21 minutes under his belt and did enough to suggest he can play a part in United’s Double defence this season.

In the Reds’ final run-out before Sunday’s trip to Wembley for the Community Shield, Sir Alex fielded a strong side. In fact, of the starting XI, only Lee Martin played less than 24 times last term.

It was an indication of the seriousness with which the United boss approached the fixture, and the Reds certainly began brightly.

Martin had a claim for a penalty turned down by referee Mark Halsey in the third minute before John O’Shea’s goalbound effort was blocked two minutes later. Darren Fletcher blazed over shortly afterwards under pressure from Juventus shot-stopper Gianluigi Buffon, while Carlos Tevez also had an early shot blocked.

On a zippy pitch, the Reds were moving the ball around effortlessly. And yet United almost fell behind on 20 minutes when Mauro Camaronesi played in Alessandro Del Piero at the far post. The Juventus captain cut inside onto his left foot and his shot looked destined to find its mark until O’Shea intervened with a desperate, sliding lunge.

After such a lively beginning, the match was never likely to continue at breakneck pace. Sure enough, the tempo slowed considerably during the middle third of the first half as both sides looked to consolidate possession.

Fletcher had a header on target just before the interval, but United had to settle for 0-0 at half-time, despite dominating proceedings early on.

Rafael Da Silva came on at the start of the second half and made an immediate impression, crossing for Paul Scholes, who headed into the ground and over the bar from close range. It turned out to be the best chance of the match.

Just as Rafael did against Darren Ferguson’s side at London Road, he showed composure on the ball and a strong desire to get forward down the right flank. In fact, he had a hand in many of United's most threatening moves of the second period.

Edwin van der Sar was a spectator for most of the night, although was called on to save from former Liverpool midfielder Mohamed Sissoko on 66 minutes.

That was shortly after Mikael Silvestre had entered the fray and given license to Patrice Evra to push further forward. However, not even Evra could engineer the necessary magic to break down a stubborn Juventus defence and earn the Reds a win.

Attendance: 69,872

United: Van der Sar; Evra, Ferdinand, Vidic (Evans 78), Brown (R da Silva 46); Darren Fletcher (Gibson 46), Paul Scholes, John O’Shea (Possebon 69), Lee Martin (Silvestre 65); Ryan Giggs, Carlos Tevez

Subs not used: Kuszczak, F da Silva

Juventus: Buffon; Grygera, Mellberg, Legrottaglie, Cheillini; Camoranesi (Marchionni 61), Poulsen (Tiago 89), Sissoko (Ekdal 82), Salihamidzic (Rossi 74); Iaquinta (De Oliveira 46), Del Piero (Trezeguet 71)

Subs not used: Nocchi, Chimenti, Ariaudo, Pasquato, Esposito

Boss: Rafael has a great chance

Sir Alex described Rafael da Silva’s Old Trafford debut as “very promising” after the Brazilian teenager played 45 minutes in the Reds’ 0-0 draw against Juventus on Wednesday night.

The right back made his first Reds appearance on Monday night in the friendly against Peterborough, where he dazzled onlookers with his pace down the flank.

On Wednesday, he entered the game at half-time to loud cheers from the Old Trafford crowd and went on to catch the manager’s eye once again.

“Rafael started quietly but then he exploded into the game,” Sir Alex told MUTV.

“We’re very pleased with his progress and the boy has a great chance. When you bear in mind the fact that he’s not played for a year, it was a very promising debut at Old Trafford.”

The Reds boss was also delighted with the crowd, who remained vocal despite the game’s lack of goals.

“It’s great when we have all these kids inside Old Trafford to watch us,” he said. “We offer cheaper tickets for children on nights like this and they were fantastic. I think they will have enjoyed the match.

“We saw two good teams and a lot of good football from both sides. It was an open game and there were some good openings.

“There were maybe 40,000 kids here tonight and they don’t all get many opportunities to see United. That pleases me more than anything.”

Wes: Plenty of positives

United and Juventus played out a 0-0 draw on Wednesday night, but Wes Brown says the Reds were pleased with the performance.

“It was a good run-out,” Brown told MUTV. “Juventus are a good team and we knew it would be a tough game.

“We managed to get a few of the young lads on and it was good experience for them.

“At this stage of the season it’s all about fitness and getting sharp, and we’ve got another game on Sunday as well. Hopefully everyone will be ready for Newcastle on the opening day of the season.”

One player not expected to make the Newcastle clash is Wayne Rooney. The striker has been struggling with a virus since returning from Africa and Sir Alex said earlier this week he doubted the England international would recover in time.

But Wes is hopeful Wayne can still play a part when United kick off their defence of the Barclays Premier League on 17 August.

“It’s just a little bug going around at the moment,” he said. “I think the guys [Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick] will be back at Carrington on Thursday and they’ll be flying by next week.

“I’m sure they’ll be ready for Newcastle.”

Ronaldo remains a Red

Cristiano Ronaldo is going nowhere.

After a summer rife with rumours of an Old Trafford exit, the Reds’ no.7 revealed on Wednesday night that he will be a Manchester United player in 2008/09.

“I can confirm that next season I will play for Manchester United,” Ronaldo told Portugal newspaper Publico.

“I will play for United with all my heart and soul, I will fight and honour that shirt with the same commitment and dedication as [I’ve] always [shown].”

His comments were welcomed by Reds boss Sir Alex Ferguson, who was relieved the matter can finally be “put to bed”.

“We always knew this was the case,” Sir Alex told MUTV. “He’s very happy here – he’s always been happy here.

“He’s never had a complaint about Manchester United. He’s always been treated properly and I have a great relationship with the boy, as do all the players.

“I think we can put this to bed now. It’s finished. The boy’s a United player and that’s what’s important.”

Ronaldo’s refusal to commit himself to United earlier in the summer disappointed some Reds fans, but Ferguson insists supporters shouldn’t be too hard on the 23-year-old.

“The fans have got to understand it’s very hard when a young boy’s tempted by all this money,” he said.

“He’s a young lad from Madeira and his father died a young man. Cristiano now looks after his mother, sister and his brother, so I can understand that [money may have been tempting].”

In a sign of real maturity, Ronaldo accepted blame for his part in world football’s biggest transfer saga of the summer.

“I was responsible for all this controversy,” he said. “I was the one who publicly expressed my desire to go to Madrid and I ended up even being involuntary responsible for the poor relationship between the two clubs.”

Manchester United Vs. Juventus Highlights Video Clip

Manchester United 0 - 0 Juventus