Monday, April 26, 2010

Wayne Rooney has been named the Professional Footballers' Association Player of the Year while James Milner won the Young Player prize.

Rooney's selection ahead of fellow nominees Cesc Fabregas, Carlos Tevez and Didier Drogba means Manchester United have supplied the winner of the prestigious award for a fourth successive year.

The 24-year-old has been in sensational form this season, scoring 34 goals for United and eight for England, and is key to the nation's World Cup hopes.

"It's a great feeling to win the player of the year award because it's voted for by the players," said Rooney.

"It's something I'm really proud of and it's a great honour.

"I remember coming here in 2005 and 2006 to win the young player of the year.

"I saw the players winning the main one and it's something I've aimed for since."

Rooney, who has only just returned from an ankle problem, missed the weekend's 3-1 victory over Tottenham with a groin injury sustained in training.

The Barclays Premier League's top scorer with 26 strikes hopes to return for United's campaign finale against Stoke next month and promised he will be fit for the World Cup.

"The groin will be fine for the World Cup, there are no worries about that,2 he said.

"I'm hoping to play for United in the last game of the season."

Rooney, the first Englishman to win the award since Steven Gerrard in 2006, paid tribute to the influence United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has had on his career.

"Sir Alex is a great manager who has really brought me on as a player since I joined United," he said.

"His hunger passes through to the players. It's great to see that he's pushing 70 and hasn't changed a bit.

"I'm sure he'll be here for a long time yet."

Rooney was also nominated for the PFA Young Player of the Year, but that award went to James Milner of Aston Villa.

Milner appears to have played himself into Fabio Capello's World Cup squad with a string of stellar performances and the 24-year-old midfielder credited a change in position for his success this season.

"I've been moved into the middle and that suits me as it helps me influence the game a bit more," said Milner.

"Maybe sometimes wide right you want to influence the game but you just can't get yourself into it."

Leeds legend and former South Africa captain Lucas Radebe, 41, won the PFA Merit award.

"I'm very proud to get such a great award. Sport can change the world - football has played such a big part in lifting my community," said Radebe.

The PFA divisional team of the year contains four United players, spearheaded by Rooney.

Arsenal, whose title challenge fell away in the final rounds, supply Fabregas and Thomas Vermaelen and there are also two from Chelsea in Drogba and Branislav Ivanovic.

The inclusion of Milner and Richard Dunne means Aston Villa are represented twice as well.

Premier League team of the year: Hart, Ivanovic, Vermaelen, Dunne, Evra, Fabregas, Milner, Fletcher, Valencia, Rooney, Drogba.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Scholes was wonderful!

Sir Alex Ferguson praised Manchester United's "ghost" for raising their spirits in the Barclays Premier League title race.
Veteran midfielder Paul Scholes celebrated the signing of a one-year extension to his contract with a dramatic winner in the derby against Manchester City.
Three minutes into stoppage time he got on the end of a cross from Patrice Evra to flick a header beyond goalkeeper Shay Given.
With Scholes rolling back the years, United are still in with a chance of a record fourth successive title.
Ferguson said: "It was an amazing finish. We have three last-minute goals against them now (this season) but deserve it.
"We had the best chances but it did not look like anyone was going to win. The game became very open in the last 10 minutes.
"That gave us the chance to get players forward and there is none better at that than Scholes. I'd almost given up and thought it would be 0-0.
"You know with us it's happened so many times we score late and you always hope it will happen again.
"I decided to put Scholes a bit further forward and it paid off.
"No-one is better than him at ghosting into the box. There was no-one near him and it was a free header.
"He was man of the match today, he was wonderful, he's such a skilful player."
Scholes said: "I think we were the team pressing to try to score and fortunately we were lucky enough to win the game with not much time left.
"It's nice to win any game against City, and away from home especially."
With Wayne Rooney back after an ankle injury United carved out a number of chances but were unable to convert any of them until Scholes struck.
The England striker looked frustrated and was replaced in the second half by Dimitar Berbatov. That came shortly after he was left rolling on the floor following a challenge from Vincent Kompany, which saw the City player booked.
Rooney suddenly recovered, then raced away and Ferguson said: "I asked him why he got up.
"He said it was because he thought Kompany was getting sent off so he jumped up. Then the crowd booed. It's a cruel world."
Ferguson added: "We wanted to keep a clean sheet because we know if we get back to zero against it gives us a chance. One-nil wins have played a big part in our title wins and 1-0 today shows that's true.
"Derbies are derbies and the way we have won has given our supporters great excitement. To do it that way on City's own ground is a great result for us."

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Fergie asking for Benzema and Silva

Sir Alex Ferguson will persuade Manchester United chiefs to part with £60million to purchase Karim Benzema and David Silva.

The Red Devils have endured a tough week having crashed out of the UEFA Champions League at the hands of Bayern Munich before seeing their Premier League title challenge derailed by a scoreless draw at Blackburn Rovers.

The Sun reported that the Scotsman is refusing to sound the alarm bells as he continues to insist that only minor tweaking needs to be done when it comes to the depth of his squad.

Real Madrid striker Benzema is reportedly a top priority despite his reluctance to move away from the Bernabeu while Valencia's pacy winger David Silva is the other player Ferguson is monitoring.

Both players could have no option but to move with Valencia in a financial conundrum while Benzema cannot seem to find regular playing time at Madrid.

In defence, Fulham's Chris Smalling will move to United at the end of the season as a readymade replacement for the ageing Rio Ferdinand while more firepower in the form of Mexican hotshot Javier Hernandez from Chivas.

It remains to be seen if the Glazers will give Fergie the huge transfer kit he has requested for.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Reds agree Hernandez deal

Manchester United is pleased to announce it has reached agreement with Mexican club, Chivas de Guadalajara for the purchase of 21 year-old Mexican striker Javier Hernandez, better known as “Chicharito,” for an undisclosed fee, subject to a successful application for a UK work permit.

Personal terms have been agreed and Javier passed a medical in Manchester this week.

The application for the work permit will be submitted shortly. If a permit is granted, Javier will become a Manchester United player on 1 July 2010. As part of the deal, the Club will play a match to open the new 45,000 capacity Chivas Stadium in Guadalajara as part of its 2010/11 season preparations.

Sir Alex Ferguson said: "I am delighted to reach agreement with Chivas to bring such an exciting young striker, who has been in such prolific form for both his club and his country. He will be a great addition to our squad and we look forward to welcoming our first Mexican player in the summer.

“We are equally excited to play our first game in Mexico, opening the magnificent new Chivas Stadium in July."

Thursday, April 8, 2010

'Typical Germans' fumes Ferguson

Sir Alex Ferguson slammed the behaviour of the Bayern Munich players after Manchester United's Champions League exit at the hands of the German side.

United, who lost on away goals having won 3-2 on the night, appeared to be cruising through when they led 3-0 after 40 minutes thanks to goals from Darron Gibson and Nani (two).

But Ivica Olic slotted home just before the break for Louis Van Gaal's side. Rafael was dismissed for a second booking early in the second half and a stunning volley from Arjen Robben saw the visitors progress on away goals as the tie ended 4-4 on aggregate.

Ferguson was furious about the manner in which the Bayern players had put pressure on referee Nicola Rizzoli to show Rafael a second yellow card after tugging back Franck Ribery.

When asked if the sending-off had changed the course of the game, Ferguson told ITV1: "There is no doubt about it. They were never getting through that tie, with 11 men we had no problem.

"The young boy showed a bit of inexperience, but they got him sent off, everyone sprinted towards the referee - typical Germans."

The Scot also believed United had been the better side across the two legs.

"We played better today than they did in their own ground. Without the extra man they made the ball work and I thought we defended very well, it's taken an exceptional strike to settle the tie.

"We have done well, the performance was excellent, we were very unlucky."

Ferguson also played down any fears that Wayne Rooney had suffered a recurrence of his ankle injury.

The England striker was a surprise starter at Old Trafford but was soon limping after being caught in a challenge, he was eventually substituted after 55 minutes.

"We will have a look at it," Ferguson said.

"I don't think it is serious. It's just that tissue and the blood vessel has just burst. I am sure he'll be fine for the following week."

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Man United vs Bayern Munich Key Battles

We pick out some of the key one-on-ones to look out for in the crunch game between Manchester United and Bayern Munich.

Rafael Da Silva (Manchester United) vs Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich)

With Sir Alex Ferguson opting for youth before experience, Rafael will replace Gary Neville as the man to man-mark Ribery. The Frenchman was all over Neville in the first half of the first leg - running the veteran into the ground with his pace and trickery on the flank.

Rafael's stamina will give United a huge advantage, but the youngster will have to curb his penchant for going on attacking runs and leaving wide open spaces behind him.

If the past is anything to go by, Rafael hails from the Paul Scholes School of tackling - and he'll have to be very careful not to go in stabbing with his leg when Ribery is in and around the penalty box.

Michael Carrick (Manchester United) vs Mark Van Bommel (Bayern Munich)

Carrick will likely replace Scholes, who played the full 90 minutes in the first leg. The younger midfielder will be up against the highly experienced Van Bommel. The Dutchman was relatively quiet in the first leg except for one exhilarating run which culminated in Edwin van der Sar having to make a brilliant save.

However, the Bayern captain is incredibly versatile - capable of stemming opposition attacks as well as setting forth his team on the counter. Carrick will have to shadow him all over the pitch to make sure the indefatigable Van Bommel does not dominate the midfield.

Dimitar Berbatov (Manchester United) vs Martin Dimichelis (Bayern Munich)

Berbatov looks lazy. But some people think he does it to lull the opposition into a false sense of security. It might be sacrilege to say this - but on his day the Bulgarian is probably as good as Rooney in front of goal.

For his part - Dimechelis looked like the court jester in the majestic Allianz Arena during the first leg. His clumsy slip allowed Rooney to sneak in for the opener and the defender was constantly caught out of position from crosses and long balls. While he will most likely not have to deal with the all-action Englishman this time, Berbatov can make shaky defenders wish they had never been born.

The Argentinean will have to be on the lookout for the clever flicks, lobs and nutmegs that Berbatov has made a living out of.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Rooney could be back for derby

Sir Alex Ferguson has revealed that Wayne Rooney could return for Manchester United against Manchester City on April 17.

The striker is currently sidelined with an ankle problem picked up in the Red Devils' 2-1 defeat to Bayern Munich last Tuesday.

Fears were raised as to his long-term fitness the moment he hobbled out of the Champions League quarter-final clash at Allianz Arena.

Relief for United and England came with the news that he was only expected to be out for up to three weeks, but his absence could yet put paid to the Red Devils' hopes of landing major silverware this term.

Understandably, they are keen to have Rooney back in action as quickly as possible and Ferguson is hoping his talisman may return for a crucial derby encounter at Eastlands later this month.

"I think he will be back at the most in three weeks and we have earmarked the game at Manchester City," said the United boss.

"There will be time for him to still have a big impact on our season.

"Hopefully if we get past Bayern Munich he would be available for the semi-finals."

United welcome Bayern to Old Trafford in the return leg of their last eight contest on Wednesday.

Rooney will definitely play no part in that fixture, as Ferguson's men look to turn the tie on its head, but veteran goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar is confident the Red Devils can prevail without their leading forward.

"The one thing we know about Bayern is that they will be mentally strong - as they were in the first leg after we scored first," said the Dutchman.

"It's a very German strength, of course. They are very fit and they have a belief in themselves that keeps them going right until the very end.

"And having (Louis) Van Gaal as their coach will have only added to their quality and belief because I know from experience he is a man who leaves nothing to chance.

"He is someone I have a great deal of respect for, and I know he will have Bayern set up the right way to get a result to go through at Old Trafford.

"The thing is, we also have a very good coach - and Ferguson knows what will be in Van Gaal's thoughts even better than I do.

"We have the experience to progress beyond Bayern and we also have the quality.

"And even though we were disappointed to lose the first game in the last minute, we know we can win even without Rooney."