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Friday, August 22, 2008

Fergie confirms Rio will be next United captain

Sir Alex Ferguson has assured Rio Ferdinand that he remains in line to lead Manchester United despite missing out on the England captaincy.

England coach Fabio Capello chose John Terry ahead of Ferdinand to become the new national team captain on a long-term basis ahead of England's 2-2 draw with the Czech Republic on Wednesday.

Ferguson said however that he would hand 29-year-old Ferdinand the United captain's armband once Gary Neville and Ryan Giggs were no longer around.

'The way I operate is through seniority,' Ferguson told reporters. 'That's why Gary Neville is captain and when he's not playing Ryan has taken over. If Ryan is not available then Rio stands in.

'In the long-term Rio will be captain, no question about that. I'm very comfortable with that.

'His qualities of leadership have improved tremendously over the last two or three years and ability-wise, it is there for all to see.'

Ferguson said the selection of Terry ahead of Ferdinand for the England job was not a major issue and will not have a bearing on Ferdinand's form or state of mind.

'It was always him or John Terry and it was the flip of a coin,' he said. 'It could have gone either way. I am sure it was a close call.

'It's not a reflection other than a personal choice and John Terry has been captain of Chelsea for quite a while and that has to go into consideration.

'It was the manager's choice to go for John Terry so he (Ferdinand) will just get on with it. It's straightforward. He should not be worried about the effect of that.'

Meanwhile, Ferguson has given Mikael Silvestre's move from Manchester United to Arsenal his official seal of approval saying: 'I could have been selfish and put Mikael in the reserves but we are bigger than that.'

Silvestre knew he had no United future at the end of last season.

At that point he asked Ferguson's permission to leave and the United boss was happy to let the 31-year-old get on with it.

'Mikael said he wanted first-team football,' said Ferguson.

'He had lost his position to Patrice Evra, so, after nine years' service, there was no point holding the boy against his will.

'He is a really nice lad and a great professional, so I more or less let him conduct his own affairs.

'We knew the price we wanted and informed the teams who came in for him.

'He went up to Sunderland last Friday, and was very positive about that, then Manchester City came onto the scene.

'He was halfway through his medical when Arsenal came in. We have no complaints with the deal at all.'

Rooney on the attack

Wayne Rooney admits he is digging far too deep for club and country. Boss Fabio Capello told Roon to drop deep against the Czechs leaving Jermain Defoe on his own. But at times the Manchester United ace was effectively playing as a FIFTH midfielder. Alex Ferguson has already been on at Rooney to concentrate on attacking. And the striker said: “Maybe at times I am a bit too honest and at club level the manager is telling me not to defend too much, to try and save some energy for when we are attacking. Sometimes you just want to win the ball back and work hard for the team. That is just how I play.” Rooney had his pre-season build-up hampered by a virus picked up in Nigeria. He added: “I’ve probably only had seven days training since we came back from Africa. Playing on Sunday and for England will have helped my fitness. Hopefully I can get a few more games under my belt and be 100 per cent fit for the qualifiers.”
Steve Brenner, The Sun

Wes: Rio will be fine

Wes Brown expects Rio Ferdinand to shrug off the disappointment of not being named permanent England captain.

Three Lions coach Fabio Capello opted to continue with John Terry in the role of skipper, despite Ferdinand being widely tipped for the armband, but Brown doesn't expect his United colleague to be ruffled by the snub.

"Rio will be fine," he said. "He knew he had a good chance of being captain and then the gaffer picked John Terry so we all just get on with it now.

"Rio has got a great attitude, is a great footballer and I am sure he will take it in his stride and continue to do well for his country and United."

While he concedes that Ferdinand would have been his personal preference as captain, Wes is fully behind Terry as England bid to reach the 2010 World Cup.

"I play alongside him (Rio) every week so he would have been my choice," said Brown. "But then the Chelsea players would have said exactly the same about John Terry.

"He has been a great captain for us and hopefully he can take us all the way to the World Cup finals in two years' time."

Squad swelling for Pompey

Sir Alex Ferguson is hopeful that his squad will be boosted by the return of a handful of key players in time for Monday evening's trip to Portsmouth.

Carlos Tevez, who missed last weekend's draw with Newcastle after a family bereavement, will play after featuring for Argentina on Wednesday, giving United a vital extra body in attack.

There is also a chance that Owen Hargreaves and Ryan Giggs could be in contention after training this week, while Anderson will return this weekend from Brazil's Olympic team.

Ji-sung Park has also taken great strides in recent days, and has played a full part in training all week, but the trip to Fratton Park will come too soon for him.

"Tevez is back," Sir Alex told his pre-match press conference. "He’s available. Hargreaves and Ji-sung Park both trained with the first team this week, I’m delighted with that. Ji won’t be considered, Hargreaves we’ll assess on Sunday to see if he can play a part.

"Anderson will be back on Sunday, so that’s an extra body. Giggs has trained the last couple of days, plus all the players have come back from internationals fit, which is a bonus, so we’re ok in that respect."

The United manager also confirmed that Michael Carrick and Cristiano Ronaldo are on schedule for their own returns from injury - three weeks and three months respectively.

Scholesy's sights set

Paul Scholes will prolong his United career for as long as he can contribute to the cause, and insists he will not be talked out of international retirement.

The veteran midfielder curtailed his England career after Euro 2004 and, at 34, has continued to shine at club level in an epic Reds career. Although a host of young talents are coming through the United ranks, Scholes isn't ready to step aside just yet.

"I will carry on as long as I can. As long as I feel I am still contributing to United I want to carry on," he told the Manchester Evening News. "When I eventually stop then I will think about what I want to do from then on. If I feel I can still be of worth I will carry on. If not I will go.

"I am sure the manager will say something as well! If he turns round to me and says I am not doing enough anymore then fair enough that will be it. It is part of life. I don't worry about it. You get too old and you can't do what you used to. You have to accept it.

"I am 34 in November and hope to still be playing at 35. Anything after that if I am still playing well and doing something for the team then it will be a bonus."

Scholes has often been cited as the creative spark England have laboured without in recent years, and he admits he did contemplate returning to the international fold when Steve McClaren took the Three Lions job in 2006, only to conclude that he had already made the right choice.

"A couple of years ago I did think about coming out of international retirement," he said. "I spoke to Steve McClaren a couple of times about it when he became the new coach. I considered it quite strongly for a while.

"But in the end I came to the conclusion that I had made the right decision in the first place and I didn't want to go back.

"When Steve was appointed he rang and asked me to return. Just the fact the England manager had rung and asked me to come back and play for my country meant a lot to me.

"He didn't have to do that but he went out of his way to ring me and also came down to training and asked if I fancied it.

"I did think about it but I don't really think I was ever that close that I would have said yes. It wasn't about not thinking it was too much or I wasn't capable it was just the fact that when I was playing I wasn't enjoying it one little bit.

"So I thought the time was right to get out and I finally decided it wasn't right to go back into it all again."