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Thursday, September 25, 2008

We're off and running

With tricky trips to Portsmouth, Liverpool and Chelsea out of the road for another season, Ryan Giggs believes United's campaign can be kick-started by this week's Carling Cup victory over Middlesbrough.

The Reds overcame Gareth Southgate's side with a swaggering attacking display, continuing an upward trend in performances started by draws against Villarreal and Chelsea. With Bolton next up this weekend, Giggs is confident that Tuesday's triumph can be the start of a long winning run.

"It was a tough start, there’s no doubting that," he told MUTV. "We didn’t play well at the beginning of the season, but over the last week or so – against Villarreal, and at Chelsea in the first half especially, then tonight – we’ve showed some really good stuff.

"We’ve got a really strong squad. A lot of the players perhaps haven’t played games in the last few weeks, but they got that game time tonight. This team’s capable of going on a winning run of 10 games. Hopefully that’s started and we can carry it on against Bolton."

Ole happy with youth system

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was beaming with pride during United's Carling Cup win over Middlesbrough on Tuesday.

Four regulars from the Norwegian's Reserves squad started and played prominent roles in the Reds' 3-1 victory over the Teessiders, and he was delighted to see them comport themselves so well against a strong Boro side.

"On Tuesday I was very proud of Danny Welbeck, Ben Amos, Rafael Da Silva and Rodrigo Possebon," Ole told the Manchester Evening News. "They showed the character and temperament to handle playing in front of a 50,000-plus crowd at Old Trafford.

"We teach them good habits and I have been delighted that when some of them have gone off to train with the first team, I have been getting good reports back from the manager, Mick Phelan and Rene Meulensteen about them."

As well as the four fledgling starters, United's bench was packed with young talent on Tuesday - with the likes of Darron Gibson, Tom Cleverley, Richard Eckersley, David Gray and Ron-Robert Zieler all involved.

Solskjaer is certain that the club's famously fruitful conveyer belt of youngsters is in good working order, and will supply more potential first-teamers in the coming years.

"There are huge demands on players at United, but I think there are loads in the Under-16s and Under-18s and the Reserve team who we will see play in the first team," he said.

"It is not like they won't get a chance here. It is the tradition and we have some great players coming through who will keep that tradition going.

"We have a good set of players who we hope and think have a chance of making it. They have sessions with the first team and they come back from them with a renewed energy.

"They want to be training and playing with the likes of Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes, Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney. That's what they dream about.

"They know from the manager's track record that if they do well they will stay in his thoughts and plans. It is important young players do get a chance and they will here."

Pogatetz sorry over tackle

Emanuel Pogatetz will apologise to Rodrigo Possebon for his horror challenge on the teenager. Possebon, 19, was chasing a ball in Manchester United’s Carling Cup clash with Middlesbrough on Tuesday. But Pog went through him with both feet, sending the Brazilian flying. Possebon had blood running from his leg and had to be given oxygen on the pitch. Boro defender Pogatetz insisted: “I have to say that I went for the tackle because I thought I could win the ball - I now accept, however, that I misjudged the challenge. Immediately after the incident I did not think it was a red-card offence because I did win the ball. But now that I have had the chance to see the tackle on TV, I know the ref was right to send me off. I am going to speak to Rodrigo by telephone and I will apologise for hurting him. I hope he will make a quick recovery.”
Neil Custis, The Sun