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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Fighting talk from Terry

Bullish Chelsea skipper John Terry says United "don't have another level to go to" and insists the Blues are ready to raise their game this season.

Sir Alex's misconstrued comments about ageing players earlier this summer have ruffled a few feathers at Stamford Bridge. The Reds boss said that, in comparison to United's young and developing players, Chelsea's older squad will find it difficult to see improvement from last season.

Terry hit back regardless. "Sir Alex realises we weren't too far away from them at the very top of their game," he countered. "I don't think they've got another level to go to.

"Take nothing away from United, they've been fantastic. But they have a lot of players in their team who have hit peak form in the last two years. Every year we're going to give them a good go for their money. We're no longer a nearly team."

When you consider the leading lights in United's attack - Ronaldo (23), Rooney (22), Tevez (24) - and emerging talents Anderson (20) and Nani (21), it would seem to contradict Terry's claims that United will not see yet further progress. Even Vidic, Hargreaves, Park, Carrick, Evra, Foster and Fletcher are 27 or younger.

Ultimately, Terry knows the emphasis is on Chelsea to up their game: "We need to raise the bar. At the end of the day last season we wasn't good enough," he says. "It still hurts me to see pictures of United lifting those trophies.

"We need to set ourselves big targets: to win the Premier League, the FA Cup, get to the final of the Champions League and win it. Those are the targets." You can bet United's wiser, now more experienced, young guns will have something to say about that.

United close in on Berbatov

Dimitar Berbatov expects to be a Manchester United player within the next 48 hours. The Bulgarian striker has told his Tottenham team-mates that he is on his way to Old Trafford. The £25million deal ends a year-long pursuit of the player by United boss Alex Ferguson. As we reported on Saturday, United were confident the deal would be done by the end of this week. Now the Champions hope to unveil him as their new signing in time to be eligible for their big kick-off against Newcastle on Sunday. Berbatov, 27, feared the deal might be off when reports surfaced of possible United moves for Thierry Henry at Barcelona and Valencia’s David Villa. But Berbatov was always Ferguson’s No1 one target. He has had three bids rejected — last summer, in the New Year and at the end of this season.
Neil Custis, The Sun