Custom Search

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Rafael's rave reviews

Patrice Evra and Nemanja Vidic believe 18-year-old Brazilian full-back Rafael has a big future ahead of him at Old Trafford.

The teenager has made short work of impressing everyone, including his team-mates, and turned in another fearless display against Aalborg. His third outing for the Reds bristled with the attacking intent you expect of a Brazilian, but he also doesn't need an invitation to tackle.

"He looks to be a very good player and he is ready to play for Manchester United," says Evra. "He is the future of the club. Rafael and his brother Fabio don’t seem to feel any pressure, they love to play football and Rafael does it with a smile on his face."

Rafael didn't look out of place alongside Evra, Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic in United's back four, and he is fast becoming a legitimate challenger for the right-back slot with Gary Neville and Wes Brown.

"He has a great future in front of him," added Vidic. "I hope he can become a great player. He has a big personality to play in the Champions League at only 18 years old. To go forward and shoot like he did was very impressive. He has the confidence to go forward and the pace to get back as well."

Scholes out for 10 weeks

Paul Scholes has suffered medial ligament damage and will be out for approximately 10 weeks.

The news came at lunchtime on Wednesday, the day after Scholes had been stretchered off in United's 3-0 win over Aalborg BK in Denmark.

Scholes wasn't the only casualty. Wayne Rooney and right-back Rafael were also substituted for medical reasons during the match. But Scholes was the first injured and, it would seem, the most serious.

"There were a lot of plus points but we lost Paul Scholes," Sir Alex said after the final whistle.

"We had one or two other injuries," the boss added. "Young Rafael got injured and Rooney has an ankle problem. He felt a weakness in it when he went to receive a ball and we took him off straightaway.

"So there was maybe a cost to pay for the victory. Nonetheless we have four points now and it's where we want to be."

The three points in Aalborg were made safe by Dimitar Berbatov's first and second goals in a United shirt. Sir Alex was delighted to see the Bulgarian open his account so emphatically in only his fifth appearance.

"He scored two fantastic goals and that will help his confidence," said the manager.

"When you're transferred for that amount of money, you want your first goal quickly and he's got it. The second goal (volley from Ronaldo's cross) was a lovely goal."

Berbatov's second-half brace may have spared the blushes of his team-mates - Sir Alex's other complaint, aside from the injuries, was that "we missed a lot of chances."

Ronaldo relishes Berba link-up

Cristiano Ronaldo is excited about playing alongside Dimitar Berbatov this season after watching the Bulgarian bag two goals for the Reds against Aalborg on Tuesday.

Berbatov struck twice in the second half against the Danes, much to the delight of his boss Sir Alex Ferguson and his team-mates, too.

“It's good for Berba to score his first goals for United, and he played well,” says Ronaldo. “It's always good for forwards to score, it keeps your confidence high. Everyone knows he's a good player. His style is different to Carlos [Tevez] and Wayne [Rooney] but after two or three games we're getting better together. He's a fantastic player and he's going to help the team a lot.”

Berbatov’s first Reds goals and the improving form of Ronaldo and Rooney, who was impressive despite being substituted with an ankle injury after an hour, certainly bode well for the coming weeks. “The most important thing was to win,” added Ronny. “It’s our first Champions League win this season and we hope to reach the next round in first place – that’s our priority.

"We played some good football and 3-0 is a great result. The team has started to play better and better in the last two or three games.”

Ronaldo, who is still gaining match sharpness following his pre-season ankle surgery, insists he feels completely settled at United despite a summer of speculation linking him with a move away from OT. “I feel very comfortable,” he says. “I feel very good at the club, very happy and I want to carry on like that.”