Monday 2.45am(spore time) Portsmouth V UNITED. Wah sei 2 games back to back! Lucky our squard deep enough!
Monday 2.45am(spore time) Portsmouth V UNITED. Wah sei 2 games back to back! Lucky our squard deep enough!
Hargo: Rooney can 'explode'
Owen Hargreaves has heaped praise on Wayne Rooney and predicted the striker will have a ‘massive’ 2008/09 season.
Hargreaves already believes his team-mate is England’s most talented player and warned the rest of the Premier League that the 22-year-old will only get better.
The Reds midfielder said: “This will be a massive season for Wayne. He could be one of the most influential players in the Premier League and I am looking forward to seeing him really explode.
“Ability-wise he is the best English player. It is very rare you get someone as good as that – he is exceptionally gifted. He is only 22 and it feels like he has been around for ever.
“Wayne has had a fabulous career already but he has so much more to offer. This season I am looking forward to him doing even better, scoring more goals and being even more effective.”
Rooney was frequently deployed in an unfamiliar wide role last term and his goal tally suffered as a result, although Hargreaves recognises the value of the frontman’s tireless contribution to United’s cause.
“It is a blessing and not a coincidence that we were so successful last season with Wayne and Carlos [Tevez] doing so much work up front,” Hargreaves continued.
“Wayne is so unselfish – he will do a job anywhere you ask him. He does a lot of work for the rest of the team, which other offensive players would not do.
"But he has so much ability to decide a game as well. The Aston Villa game in the FA Cup was probably the best example of that. He decided the game on his own in the space of 20 minutes. Not a lot of English players can do that.”
Round up by James Tuck
Reds close in on Tevez deal
Carlos Tevez will sign a permanent deal with the club before the end of the year, according to United chief executive David Gill.
Gill confirmed the Reds have reached a deal with Tevez's owners MSI that will turn his current loan deal into a permanent move.
Tevez netted 19 goals in his first season at Old Trafford as United sealed a glorious double and Gill insists it was always the club's intention to offer the Argentine a long-term deal.
"We have spoken to Carlos and see him as part of our long-term squad," revealed Gill. "We have been pleased with his first season. He is a good age - a great player and well liked within the team.
"We know what we have to do and what we have to pay. The only issue is that we would have to sort out a long-term contract for him.
"But it's not a problem - we can do it in September, October, November or December. Sir Alex has explained it to him and he is very comfortable with it."
Round up by Gemma Thompson
We're simply the best
After a summer spent reflecting on the Reds’ Premier League and Champions League success, Wayne Rooney has targeted more of the same for the 2008/09 campaign. And he’s confident there’s no team in the world better than Manchester United.
“It was exciting to come back into the camp after winning two trophies last season, but I can’t wait for the new season to start,” Rooney told MUTV.
“Obviously after the success we had last year, there are going to be high expectations this time. But we’ve got a strong squad and hopefully we can emulate last season.”
Rooney, fiercely competitive, admits he’ll be out to prove last season was no fluke.
“We’re a confident team anyway, but winning two trophies has helped to give us the confidence and belief that we’re the best team in the world. Hopefully we can prove that again this season.”
Round up by Nick Coppack in Johannesburg, South Africa
A battle to stay on top
By Norman Hubbard
Updated: July 25, 2008, 11:06 AM UK
Champions of England and Europe, acclaimed as the most relentless attacking force on the continent, Manchester United looked set for a decade of dominance. It is not 2008, however, but 1999. The subsequent nine years were scarcely unsuccessful - five Premier League titles were secured before they conquered the continent again, so it hardly represented a decline of Leeds United proportions - but the lofty predictions were not realised. Sir Alex Ferguson took to accepting that a third European Cup should have been won long before it was in Moscow in May.
So 1999 did not precipitate a collapse; United retained their domestic title for a further two seasons. But in hindsight, it might be regarded as an opportunity missed. Of the four signings made that summer, two were regrettable - Mark Bosnich and Massimo Taibi - and two merely satisfactory, Quinton Fortune and Mikael Silvestre. Thus far this summer United are yet to sign anyone, and acrimony surrounds their principal target.
There are parallels, too, in the composition of the squad. Nine years ago, only Peter Schmeichel and, to a lesser extent, Teddy Sheringham, did not appear to have a long-term future. Now Edwin van der Sar is the veteran goalkeeper and, Gary Neville, Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs excepted, it is another youthful squad.
But the similarities with 1999 may prove a cause for concern at Old Trafford. The best position from which to buy is one of strength and they have never been stronger. Nine years ago, the arrivals were underwhelming; now they risk starting the season with a worse team on the pitch and in the dugout.
United stood still in 1999. Now, through little fault of their own, they could go backwards. Carlos Queiroz, the consigliere who has branched out to become the boss of his own family, is gone to Portugal; Cristiano Ronaldo, the sharpshooter responsible for pulling the trigger on inferior opponents, is starting to look like a gun for hire to the bigger bidders from the Bernabeu.
While Sir Alex Ferguson's defiance last week earned headlines, Ronaldo has never been for sale. That has not deterred Real. When Giggs, a survivor of the generation of '99, urged his younger team-mates not to wait nine years for a further taste of continental supremacy, he forgot to specify that he meant in Manchester, not Madrid. But the consequence of the Ronaldo saga is that uncertainty has replaced optimism as the prevailing emotion.
Yet there should be sympathy for Ferguson. Neither situation is of his creation. In both cases, he has provided reasons for the architects of United's success to stay. Both, however, are proof that visible progress can be counter-productive, with envious glances directed at the assistant manager and star turn alike.
Ferguson may get his wish and keep Ronaldo, but the effect has been destabilising nonetheless. The Portuguese has endangered his relationship with the United support; the unstoppable momentum that propelled him onto the scoresheet with remarkable regularity seems gone. With a sense his motives may be selfish, team-mates may prove less willing to sacrifice themselves for Ronaldo's benefit; Wayne Rooney, for instance, occupied a deeper or a wider role to allow the nominal winger to operate as a centre-forward. And the longer uncertainty surrounds his future, the less time United have to recruit a replacement if he does depart. It will not be easy: 42 goal wingers are few and far between.
In attack, Ferguson's target is well chosen. Dimitar Berbatov would become a high-calibre signing, and is the type of player who can add another dimension to the forward line. In addition, he would strengthen a department short of personnel, though not quality. The holy trinity - Carlos Tevez, Rooney and Ronaldo - could yet become a fantastic four, but the worst-case scenario is that they will be reduced to a double act. Two rancorous situations are unlikely to both be resolved in the champions' favour. Tottenham's complaints, whether justified or not, about United's conduct in the Berbatov affair add to a summer of discontent.
So what should have been Ferguson's easiest summer has become has hardest. A position at the top has brought attention from snipers, not converts to the cause. Issues go beyond personnel. The unofficial title of the world's biggest club may be at stake. It would be a dent to United's pride and a boost to some already rather sizeable egos at the Bernabeu if Ronaldo could be lured away.
He has served as a distraction from all other players. That may not beneficial; attention elsewhere may have provided a focus on the United squad. In 1999, there was not the recognition that, fine footballers as both remained, Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke had both just enjoyed the best season of their careers. The question can be asked if the same now applies to, say, Wes Brown; given Ferguson's earlier interest in Jose Bosingwa, a right-back may have been on the agenda before he pronounced he intended to make a solitary signing. Likewise, the admiration of Miguel Veloso - perhaps fuelled by Queiroz - may have faded. That is not to suggest dispensing with a successful and exhilarating team; merely that Old Trafford should be a more enticing destination, and the Manchester rain less of an obstacle, when it houses the European champions.
On the two previous occasions that was the case, it did not provide a springboard for greater achievements. Given Chelsea's heavy expenditure, the modern-day United could do much worse than emulate the team of 1999 by winning a hat-trick of Premier League title. The other issue, however, is whether they could do so much more, and the fear the events of this summer could ultimately hinder them.
Report: Chiefs 0 United 4
United were too classy for Kaizer Chiefs in the Vodacom Challenge final, as the Reds cruised to a 4-0 victory.
Goals from Ryan Giggs, Wayne Rooney, Tom Cleverley and Fraizer Campbell settled a game in which the Reds only fully took control in the second half.
The Chiefs set much of the early pace, as the English champions took time to find their groove. The heat and altitude in Pretoria may have played its part, likewise United’s unfamiliar team selection.
That was understandable, however. With the Reds due to face Portsmouth in Nigeria little more than 24 hours after this clash, Sir Alex called on the club’s youth. Youngsters Craig Cathcart and Rodrigo Possebon (both yet to make competitive first-team appearances) both started, as did Danny Simpson and Lee Martin.
Possebon’s first two touches oozed confidence and class, as the young Brazilian slotted easily into his central midfield role. Later, when he sprayed a pass 40 yards out to Martin on the left wing, it was just like watching Paul Scholes.
But it was the familiar face of Wayne Rooney who engineered the game’s first spark. Collecting the ball on the right side of the Chiefs’ box, Rooney shaped to blast the ball goalwards. Instead, he orchestrated a cheeky chip that had goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune scrambling back towards goal before breathing a sigh of relief as the ball dropped onto the roof of the net.
As was the case in Cape Town last Saturday, Kaizer Chiefs weren’t intimidated by United. Tricky winger Siphiwe Tshabalala was particularly direct, running at Simpson at every opportunity. Tshabalala, in his bright red boots and dreadlocked hair, makes Chief tick. Speedy and skilful, he also possesses an assured first touch and exquisite vision.
After a period of United dominance, in which Rooney saw two shots saved by Khune’s feet, Chiefs almost took the lead. They were first denied a penalty when Tomasz Kuszczak raced out to reach Cathcart’s header and Mthembu went to ground. Then Tshabalala flashed a free-kick inches wide of the post.
When the next chance of the match fell to Ryan Giggs on 40 minutes, the Welshman made no mistake, lashing Lee Martin’s cross back past Khune and into the roof of the net. Giggs’ right-foot rocket not only put United in the driving seat, it also raised R100,000 for the tournament’s Goals For Miracles campaign. By the time the final whistle went, the charity was R400,000 better off.
Giggs was denied a second shortly after the interval by a fine save from Khune, and Wayne Rooney blasted the follow-up into the side-netting. United’s record appearance maker was again involved on 53 minutes, his curling cross finding Cathcart at the back post. Despite the time and space he was afforded, however, the young Northern Irishman could only plant his header wide.
The Reds did add a second on 57 minutes as Wayne Rooney beat the offside trap to sprint clear and finish under the onrushing Khune. It was the sort of composure in front of goal strikers sometimes lack during pre-season, and yet Rooney has now found the net in his last three starts.
He turned provider five minutes later, nodding down Danny Simpson’s cross at the back post for substitute Tom Cleverley to fire home from six yards. Cleverley, a constant fixture in the Reds’ second string last season, was engulfed by team-mates as they celebrated his strike.
The Chiefs’ early energy had faded and United’s final goal arrived courtesy of another substitute, Fraizer Campbell.
Again, the Chiefs’ offside trap failed. Chris Eagles laid the ball into Campbell’s path and the 21-year-old showed the kind of finishing that netted him 15 goals during his loan spell at Hull City last season.
In truth, the result was never important; United’s time in South Africa was all about improving fitness levels. Still, it’s always nice to see the Reds win some silverware.
United: Kuszczak; Simpson, Vidic (Evans 63), Cathcart, O’Shea; Fletcher (Gibson 63), Possebon (Cleverley 46), Carrick (Scholes 63), Martin (Eagles 46); Rooney (Tevez 66), Giggs (Campbell 66)
Subs not used: Amos, Neville, Silvestre
Kaizer Chiefs: Khune; Tau, Bhasera, Nahayo (Tsotetsi 66), Quartey; Nengomashe, Zwane, Letsholonyane (Schalkwyk 46), Tshabalala (Nkambule 46); Mthembu (Motaung 38, Lebese 71), Torrealba (Bulu 66)
Subs not used: Baron, Mathebula, Sibeko
Round up by Nick Coppack in Pretoria, South Africa
Dream debut for Tom
Hmm... will he be able to stay in the first long?A beaming Tom Cleverley couldn't contain his delight after scoring on his senior debut during United's 4-0 victory over the Kaizer Chiefs in the Vodacom Challenge final.
The 18-year-old was a late inclusion in the Reds' South Africa squad after flying out with fellow youngsters Rodrigo Possebon and Craig Cathcart on Thursday.
Cleverley entered the fray at the start of the second period and wasted little time in making an impression, expertly converting Wayne Rooney's knock-down just after the hour for United's third goal.
"It's been an unbelievable day and I'm pretty speechless," he told MUTV.
"I got the call on Tuesday to say I'd be coming out to South Africa so it's all happened very quickly.
"I came on and did quite well and got a goal - I feel very proud."
Having experienced a successful taste of first team action, the midfielder is determined to build on his bright start.
"I've done well in my first match, but I want to stay there and carry it on into the season," he insisted.
"I'm just a down to earth lad from Bradford and to see Scholesy coming on to play next to me was unbelievable; you have to pinch yourself.
"It's great to play with the likes of Tevez and Rooney and it really helps you to raise your game. Hopefully I can continue to do that."
Round up by Gemma Thompson
Ronaldo is an excellent footballer but it seems that he seem to make dumb decisions like the winking incident and this saga. Really as drama as Cantona but the diff is Cantona din anger the fans.... that why he is king!
Eagles on target again he is getting Hot!!!
Report: United 2 Portsmouth 1
Again another goal conceded in the last min!A solid test in the Nigerian capital of Abuja saw United’s unbeaten pre-season campaign continue, with the Reds running out 2-1 winners against Portsmouth.
Second-half goals from Chris Eagles and Carlos Tevez gave United a deserved win in what was a decent work-out against Premier League opposition, a side that will become familiar foes in the coming weeks. This is the first of three matches in the space of a month against Harry Redknapp’s men; there’s also the Community Shield at Wembley on 10 August, then the league encounter two weeks later at Fratton Park.
United were without Wayne Rooney for this match, he suffered a dead leg against Kaizer Chiefs on Saturday, while Ben Foster was also out with a knock. Sir Alex continued to give young players a chance, with Jonny Evans, Darron Gibson, Eagles and Fraizer Campbell included from the start.
The Reds began brightly and were controversially denied a fifth-minute opener. Glen Johnson fouled Campbell inside the area, giving Tevez the chance to score from the spot. He expertly sent David James the wrong way, but the referee ordered a retake for an encroachment into the box. Having previously plumped for placement, Tevez chose power but could only look on as his second attempt rattled the bar.
Despite a dramatic start, the game was played at a relatively conservative pace, perhaps due to the heat – humid 28oC temperatures at kick-off – or the fact that both teams had played matches the day before. However, any openings were coming from United; Chris Eagles missed a one-on-one with James midway through the half, then Campbell spurned a chance from a similar position on 35 minutes.
In the second half Jermain Defoe was first to go close, forcing an excellent low save from the rarely-tested Tomasz Kuszczak. But five minutes after the restart United, and Eagles specifically, made amends for missed first-half chances. Pompey failed to clear the ball from a Reds attack and Eagles smashed the loose ball into the top corner from 12 yards. It was nothing more than Sir Alex’s men deserved.
United soon moved 2-0 in front with another emphatic finish. Tevez raced down the right channel and surprised James, who was expecting a shot across goal, with powerful low drive into the near corner. It was his last touch of the match – he was replaced by Ryan Giggs - but a good note to end on for the impressive Argentinian.
Defoe pulled back a goal for Portsmouth in the last minute of normal time, but United held out to record a third win in four matches in Africa, bringing the curtain down on a highly successful visit.
Other plus points on the night were Jonny Evans’ display in defence, and outings for youngster Ben Amos, Tom Cleverley and Rodrigo Possebon. United now return to England with matches against Espanyol (2 Aug), Peterborough (4 Aug), Juventus (6 Aug) and Portsmouth (10 Aug) before the start of the season.
United: Kuszczak (Amos, 76); Neville, Vidic, Evans (Cathcart, 65), Silvestre; Gibson (Possebon, 73), Carrick (O'Shea, 65), Scholes, Eagles (Cleverley, 79); Tevez (Giggs, 65), Campbell.
Subs not used: Fletcher, Simpson, Martin.
High hopes for starlets
Sir Alex Ferguson has earmarked a host of his promising youngsters as future Old Trafford stars and hopes to see them make significant progress over the coming season.
A number of the young players have impressed during United's pre-season trip to South Africa with Chris Eagles, Lee Martin, Tom Cleverley and Fraizer Campbell all finding the net.
Assured displays from Brazilian midfielder Rodrigo Possebon and Belfast-born defender Craig Cathcart during Saturday's Vodacom Challenge final victory have given Sir Alex further cause for optimism.
"They are all at a good age in terms of us judging them," he said. "Most of them have been out on loan and done well.
"Jonny Evans had a good spell at Sunderland and was instrumental in them staying up. Campbell was instrumental in bringing Hull up.
"Lee Martin has been unfortunate with injuries, but he showed what he can do by setting up the first goal [against the Kaizer Chiefs]. He has potential.
"Cathcart is looking much stronger and the intention is to put him out on loan this season. Possebon will stay as he has potential for first team football, while Cleverley is just a young lad and has time on his side. All the young players have good potential."
Round up by Gemma Thompson
4 more games to season opening!
02 Aug Pre-season RCD Espanyol H 15:00
04 Aug Pre-season Peterborough A 19:45
06 Aug Pre-season Juventus H 20:00
10 Aug Community Shield Portsmouth A 15:00
17 Aug Barclays Premier League Newcastle H 16:00
25 Aug Barclays Premier League Portsmouth A 20:00
29 Aug UEFA Super Cup Zenit St Petersburg N 19:45
30 Aug Barclays Premier League Fulham (Postponed, new date TBC) H 15:00
Tom Cleverley and Fraizer Campbell must be patient as they might get a chance. Man Utd still a bit short of strikers at the moment. But Fergie always buy his strikers I think.
Seems like Spurs is pushing things too far for Bebertov. At 38m, I dun think any club will buy him. I think he is at most worth 20-25m.
Papers: Reds chase Eric?
is giggs talking abt his good friend in LA n Ronaldo?Fergie plays hardball with Ince
Sir Alex Ferguson has given old boy Paul Ince a brutal welcome to the dog-eat-dog world of the Premier League by stealing his goalkeeping coach. The United manager has lined up a swoop for Eric Steele, who joined Ince at Blackburn only 19 days ago after being shown the door by Mark Hughes at Manchester City. Steele is wanted to replace Tony Coton who was forced to retire last season because of a long-standing knee injury. Ferguson confirmed recently he had his target in mind saying: “We have approached someone for the job and we’re waiting the clearance to employ him by the beginning of August.” Although having only just joined Rovers, Steele views the chance to work with the Premier and Champions League winners – and keepers of the calibre of Edwin van der Sar, Ben Foster and Tomasz Kuszczak – too good to turn down.
Richard Tanner, Daily Express
In other news, Eric Cantona reckons Cristiano Ronaldo would be "bloody stupid" to quit United for Real Madrid.
As part of an interview for GQ magazine which is featured in The Sun, Ryan Giggs puts the boot in on the soccer mercenaries who sell their soul to the highest bidder. "Many players want to make as much money as they can and change teams for ten grand. But how is that going to make much difference to their lives?" rapped the winger.
Round up by Gemma Thompson
Giggs a beacon for Reds' future
Ryan Giggs' gloriously successful career has been underpinned by an unyielding desire to keep on winning trophies.
The 34-year-old Welshman has never been one to rest on his achievements, preferring and United will be hoping his attitude and approach to staying at the very top of the football pyramid will filter down to the young players in the current squad.
Giggs has been around long enough to recognise the winning trait in players, and one look around the dressing room fills him with confidence that last season’s highs will not be his last.
“I think that’s the biggest challenge,” he said in an exclusive interview with Inside United magazine.
“To be fair, the young lads rose to the challenge of defending the Premier League title last season. For many of them that had been their first time as champions, and it’s much harder to defend it because everybody always wants to beat the best. They did that, and then went on to win the Champions League as well.”
Ten league titles and two Champions League crowns are the pride of Giggs’ honours. He’s won enough to know that the challenge only gets more difficult.
“It does get tougher, because you’ve got to keep that desire and that hunger in order to succeed," he added. "I’m sure all the young lads have that, but us older ones and the manager will stress it to them anyway. They’re all good lads, they all wanted to win trophies when they came here, and they want to win more now. There won’t be a problem there.”
Vidic hails pre-season form
Nemanja Vidic says the squad have been buoyed by four wins out of five during their pre-season preparations for the new campaign.
The Reds kicked off their warm-up fixtures with a 2-0 victory at Aberdeen earlier this month, before heading to South Africa to take part in the Vodacom Challenge.
A 1-1 draw with the Kaizer Chiefs in their opening match, was followed by three consecutive victories for United, including Sunday night's 2-1 win over Portsmouth in Nigeria.
"We're pleased to have won a few games and kept some clean sheets - it's never too early to pick up good form," said Vidic, who has featured in all but one of United's five games, in an interview with MUTV.
"We had some good matches in South Africa and we're happy with what we did out there. Our fitness is improving all the time.
"We still have another few weeks to train and make sure we're ready for the first game [against Newcastle]."
Vidic has developed a formidable partnership with Rio Ferdinand at the heart of United's defence over the last couple of seasons, but the Serb has found himself alongside two of the Reds' upcoming youngsters during his last two games.
Craig Cathcart started with Vidic against the Kaizer Chiefs, while Jonny Evans was given his chance in the game with Pompey.
"The young players have done very well," observes Vidic. "I played with Craig for the first time [on Saturday] and I thought he produced a good performance, as did Jonny.
"All the youngsters have been impressive. Rodrigo [Possebon] has looked good, and Tom [Cleverley] and Fraizer [Campbell] both scored [against the Kaizer Chiefs] so things have gone well.
"It's been a great experience for them and they should be proud of how they've performed during the trip. They have a great future ahead of them."
Chris Eagles has joined Championship club Burnley.. ..
Reds snare Lancashire Cup
Lancashire Senior Cup final
County Ground, 30 July, 2008
MANCHESTER UNITED 3
Cleverley (28), Gray (51), Drinkwater (87)
Eccleston (40), Brouwer (72)
din know that tis match actually exisit! Anyway we win a usual!Danny Drinkwater slotted home an 87th-minute winner as United overcame Liverpool in a thrilling Lancashire Senior Cup final at the County Ground.
The two sides dished up a memorable see-saw encounter as Liverpool twice came from behind, only for Drinkwater's late intervention to take the trophy back to Old Trafford for the first time in almost four decades.
A breathtaking match started in style when Rodrigo Possebon - with two scorching goals already under his belt this pre-season - drilled just over the crossbar from 20 yards with only two minutes gone.
Andras Simon should have put the Merseysiders ahead shortly afterwards when he burst through and rounded Ron-Robert Zieler, but he allowed the chance to go begging.
Fraizer Campbell then passed up a similarly gilt-edged chance, but he atoned just before the half-hour mark by laying on the opening goal for Tom Cleverley.
Less than a week after scoring on his non-competitive senior debut in South Africa, Cleverley continued his hot streak by slotting home a close-range finish after Campbell had worked space down the right wing.
United weren't able to savour the advantage for long, however, as Liverpool striker Nathan Eccleston smashed a scorching 25 yard effort into Zieler's top corner.
A breathless first half ended with the scores level, but only six minutes of the second period were required before United moved ahead again. Once again Campbell was involved, crossing for David Gray to tap in and restore the Reds' lead.
The game could have been dead and buried 20 minutes from time, but Campbell smashed his close-range effort against the bar with the goal gaping, and he would rue that miss moments later as Jordi Brouwer headed Gary Ablett's side level.
Just as the match seemed set for a dramatic penalty shoot-out, Cleverley burst down the left wing and picked out substitute Drinkwater, who calmly guided a finish home to swing a see-saw encounter in United's favour and take the trophy.
United: Zieler; Eckersley, Cathcart, Chester, Simpson; Gray, Possebon (Drinkwater 46), Gibson, Cleverley, Hewson (C Evans 88); Campbell.
Subs not used: Derbyshire, Amos, Eikrem.