Saturday, 6 August 2011

Paul Scholes testimonial: Manchester United 6 New York Cosmos 0

Paul Scholes marked his Manchester United farewell with a trademark stunner as the champions eased to an emphatic win over the New York Cosmos in his testimonial.
The 36-year-old United legend, who retired at the end of last season, opened the scoring at a sell-out Old Trafford with a fierce 20-yard strike after just eight minutes.
Scholes left the field to a standing ovation after 75 minutes as United, featuring a number of players who may feature in the Community Shield on Sunday, enjoyed a comfortable run-out.
The famously reticent Scholes - who made 676 appearances and scored 150 goals in a glittering 17-year United career that included 10 Premier League titles - had certainly lived up to his pre-match hope.
"I'm not someone that likes too much attention and tonight that's what it is about," Scholes told MUTV before the game.
"All eyes are going to be on me, watching everything I do.
"I just hope I have a good game.
"I know how good these fans have been. They have been really good to me over the past 16 or 17 years so hopefully tonight I can do something to make them happy.
"Let's just hope it's a good game and there are plenty of goals."
Despite the proximity of the match to Sunday's season-opening Wembley clash against Manchester City, United boss Sir Alex Ferguson honoured Scholes by fielding a strong team alongside him.
The evening also gave United fans the chance to pay tribute to another club legend, Eric Cantona, now director of soccer at the Cosmos.
Cantona greeted Scholes before kick-off and was given a reception far louder than that afforded to all-time great Pele, who is part of the reborn Cosmos' promotional drive.
The revived American team are hoping to earn a place in Major League Soccer in 2013 and relive their 1970s glory days when a previous incarnation of the team featured Pele and Johan Cruyff.
They lined up with an invitational team filled with familiar names including two of Scholes' former United team-mates in Gary Neville and Nicky Butt.
Former Arsenal and Manchester City midfielder Patrick Vieira came off the bench in the second half and received the only boos of the night.
Scholes, who also won 66 England caps, set the game alight as the crowd beckoned him to shoot from outside the box early on.
Tottenham goalkeeper Brad Friedel had little chance of keeping out a powerful effort that flew into the top corner.
Despite the routine nature of some of the contest, it was a genuine top-class strike evocative of so many from a fine career.
Scholes turned down the chance to add a second from the penalty spot, as Wayne Rooney did the honours after a foul on Ashley Young before Anderson, one of seven half-time changes, added a third after 50 minutes.
Danny Welbeck claimed the fourth after a defensive mix-up and Mame Biram Diouf beat substitute goalkeeper Chad Calderone twice in quick succession to complete the scoring.
Scholes, who made his debut in 1994, returned to the pitch after the game to address the crowd.
"I hope I gave them a few decent memories," he said, rather modestly.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Manchester United legend Paul Scholes to say farewell at Old Trafford

Manchester United legend Paul Scholes  
Manchester United legend Paul Scholes
Paul Scholes will tonight say goodbye to United in front of a sell-out crowd at Old Trafford.

Around 76,000 fans will bid farewell to the legendary midfielder, who announced his retirement at the end of last season.

The former England international, who won 10 Premier League titles and helped United to two Champions League successes, bows out against a New York Cosmos side managed by Eric Cantona.

And United’s fans have shown just how much they appreciate Scholes by buying up all the tickets available for what is set to be an unforgettable occasion for the ginger magician, who is set to join Sir Alex Ferguson’s coaching staff.

And if he is able to transfer his ability as a player onto the training ground, the 36-year-old will prove an invaluable asset.

“A couple of years ago I felt like my career was never going to end, so you don’t think about what to do in the future in the same way as I have done over the past six months,” said Scholes.

“Football is the only thing I know a little bit about so I am going to give the coaching a go. If it doesn’t work or I am not very good at it I won’t carry on doing it.”

The 36-year-old has received a glowing endorsement from Cantona, who was one of his idols as he emerged from United’s academy.

“Paul Scholes was a great player,” said Cantona. “I knew him when he started young. He can play anywhere in midfield or up front, he can score goals, assist and tackle.

“He is a great player – I’m very proud to be here for him.

“When I was there I played with two generations of players. Ferguson brought in a lot of young players – young talent. Scholes was one of them. He has been very
successful at the club. I come back after 15 years and he’s still there. Anyone who can play for Man United that long is a great man.”

Ferguson is still hunting for the man to fill Scholes’ shoes, with Wesley Sneijder still at the top of his wanted list.

United are hoping the Dutch World Cup star will be willing to lower his wage demands – understood to be in excess of £200,000-a-week – to come to Old Trafford.

But, in Beijing with Inter Milan yesterday ahead of the Italian Super Cup against AC Milan, he insisted that trophies were his priority.

“I’m a footballer, I have many objectives and I want to win because I enjoy winning,” said Sneijder. “Saturday is the first big challenge of the season.”

And while Ferguson hopes to bring him to the Premier League, the 27-year-old said Jose Mourinho remains the best manager he was worked under.

He said: “I’ve played for many coaches and each one has been different from the others, but Jose Mourinho is still the one I liked best both as a coach and as a man.”

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Edwin Van der’s farewell party a star-studded show

Edwin Van der Sar leads the teams out with his children  
Edwin Van der Sar leads the teams out with his children
Edwin Van der Sar bowed out of football on an emotional high last night in Amsterdam.

His former club Ajax staged a tribute to the great goalkeeper with United stars Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Michael Carrick, Ryan Giggs and Wayne Rooney paying their tribute by joining their former teammate in his Dream Team.

Gary Neville also played for the star-studded side, managed by Sir Alex Ferguson, who took the lead at the start of the second half when Everton’s former Red Louis Saha latched onto Ferdinand’s through ball to score.

Van der Sar was beaten by a Rodney Sneijder rocket that came back off a post and Derk Boerrigter stroked in the rebound for Ajax’s equaliser.

A goal of genuine quality proved decisive. Giggs and Rooney were heavily involved in the build-up and Dennis Bergkamp drilled home.
United’s Under-13s drew 2-2 with their Ajax counterparts thanks to two goals by Callum Gribbin – Edwin’s son Joe played in goal for the young Reds.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Sir Alex Ferguson: Phil Jones ready for Manchester United first team

READY: Phil Jones  
READY: Phil Jones
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson believes 19-year-old new signing Phil Jones has the talent to break into the first team immediately.

Jones, who cost £16.5million from Blackburn, will face competition at centre-back from Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, as well as fellow up-and-coming defender Chris Smalling, but he has played for Rovers as a holding player in central midfield too.

Ferguson told club magazine Inside United: "We first identified Jones when he played for Blackburn's youth team against us a couple of years ago when they beat us 3-0. He was absolutely magnificent.

"You might think he might not play, but the ability he's got and the determination he's got, he could quite easily play. He's the future obviously, but he could certainly come in right away."

Ferguson revealed he intends to start with Ashley Young as a left-winger though will consider him in a number of positions, and also backed goalkeeper David de Gea to fill the void left by the retired Edwin van der Sar.

The Scot added: "Ashley can play in more than one position. He can play wide right, left, even behind the striker, so we have options there. But, initially, we'll start him as a wide left player."

In relation to De Gea, he added: "We worked hard to get the deal done because it wasn't easy. Atletico Madrid obviously regarded him very highly. But we managed to get it done and we're delighted he joined us.

"The past is the past and Edwin is part of the past. He had an incredible career with us. He was an incredible goalkeeper. But, hopefully, the future belongs to David de Gea."

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Manchester United's Sir Alex Ferguson in Euro glory plea to David Gill

David Gill looking for top class player to make United European champions again  
David Gill looking for top class player to make United European champions again
Sir Alex Ferguson has told David Gill to land him the ‘top- class’ player that can make United European champions again.

The pair are determined to secure the superstar name they have been hunting all summer before the transfer window closes at the end of the month.

Wesley Sneijder and Samir Nasri are at the top of that list – and with both players still available, Ferguson is refusing to give up hope on either one.

The United manager still has money to spend despite already splashing out £50m on Ashley Young, Phil Jones and David de Gea.

He is determined to add a marquee name to his squad as he bids to close the gap on Champions League winners Barcelona.

And Gill admits only the best will do when it comes to finding a replacement for the retired Paul Scholes.

The chief executive said: “I don’t want to talk about specifics, but it’s clear to say that in order to get into the United team you have to be a top-class player.”

Sneijder has left the door open to a £35m move to Old Trafford – even if his salary demands of more than £200,000-a-week are understood to be a stumbling block in any potential deal.

But he flew out to Beijing with Inter Milan yesterday as he continues to prepare for the new season with the Serie A giants.

Nasri was the man who commanded Ferguson’s attention at the start of the summer, with the French international yet to sign a new deal with Arsenal.

His contract expires next year – but Arsene Wenger has so far refused to cash in on player he could lose for nothing in 12 months’ time.

Ferguson has suggested that he believes Nasri will go elsewhere – with City appearing to be at the head of the queue for his services – but his future remains in question.

A cut price midfield option could yet be Joey Barton.

United have been alerted to his situation at Newcastle after the former City player was made available for a free transfer yesterday.

Meanwhile, Antonio Valencia has been handed a contract extension that will keep him at the club until 2015.

The Ecuador winger made a remarkable come back from a horror ankle break last season to play in the Champions League final.

“Antonio has made a fantastic contribution since his arrival,” said Ferguson. “His speed, crossing ability and versatility have been a big asset for us.

“He has a quiet, unassuming way of going about his business, which is underlined by great strength of character – as his recovery from such a bad injury last season proves."

Valencia added: “I am delighted to stay at United. Since my first day at Carrington, I have been happy here. I hope that I can continue to develop as a player.

“I am looking forward to making my contribution to helping this squad compete for more trophies.”

Monday, 1 August 2011

Dutch ace Wesley Sneijder opens the door on a £35m summer move to Manchester United

Wesley Sneijder has been linked with a move to United all summer  
Wesley Sneijder has been linked with a move to United all summer
Wesley Sneijder last night opened the door on a £35m summer move to United.

The Inter Milan midfielder, long identified as the Reds’ number one target to replace Paul Scholes, pointedly refused to rule out the prospect of a transfer to Old Trafford.

“There is always speculation, every year,”  the 27-year-old Dutch World Cup star said in  Ireland where he was in Dublin Super Cup action for his club.

“I’ve played for almost 10 years at the highest level and every year there is speculation. There is always a chance that something will happen.

“I’ve played in many big competitions, in Holland, in Spain and now here. We will see what’s going to happen.

“I’m happy to stay here, I’m happy to train every day with my colleagues and to play my games for the fans and everybody in the club and we will see.”

Sneijder’s wage demands of more than £200,000-a-week are understood to be the main stumbling block over a move.

Weekend reports claimed Sir Alex Ferguson had issued a take-it-or-leave-it offer, but he he denied  any ultimatum had been made. “Absolute nonsense,” he said. “I have never discussed him. There is nothing new.”

Meanwhile,  Fergie is banking on Tom Cleverley being United’s answer to Jack Wilshere – if he can’t land number one target Sneijder. The United manager is already considering alternative options in case he fails in his bid.

And Ferguson thinks Cleverley could prove a home-grown hero, just like Wilshere at Arsenal.

The England Under-21 midfielder was outstanding in United’s 2-1 win against European champions Barcelona on Saturday night. And it was enough to convince Ferguson that he can help fill the void left by Scholes’ retirement.

“It is an area we have to find a solution for,” he said. “That is why we played Tom Cleverley against Barcelona. Physically he is not the strongest but he is wiry and has a great idea of the game.

“He was our best player. He is a quick passer of the ball and he has good eyes.

Meanwhile, fans labelled as "anti-people" by United chief executive David Gill have launched a furious defence of their opposition to the Glazer family's ownership of the club.

Although Gill claimed the vast majority of United fans worldwide were supportive of the club's controversial American owners, he said there were some who would never change their view.

Among those are the Manchester United Supporters' Trust (MUST), who have long campaigned against the Glazer family

"David Gill talks about the 'anti-people' being in a minority. What he fails to mention is the hundreds of millions of pounds the Glazers have taken out of the club in interest, fees, debt repayments, personal loans and expenses all on top of the actual debt," said Drasdo.

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Manchester United have post-Sir Alex Ferguson plan, says David Gill

David Gill
Manchester United chief executive David Gill (right) with Seattle Sounders owner Joe Roth pose before the pre-season friendly between their clubs. 
David Gill, the Manchester United chief executive, has acknowledged he will always be unpopular with some supporters – the "anti-people", as he describes them – but he has spoken of his belief that the Glazer family have now won over the majority of the club's fans.
Gill, describing the Glazers as "genuinely long-term owners", reiterated the point by revealing that he and the American owners already have a strategy in place for when Sir Alex Ferguson retires. He said: "What we're trying to do is make sure we get the quality of team and the correct age profile so the new manager coming in, whoever that might be, has the nucleus of a world-class team."
Gill expects the Glazers to still be in control when Ferguson ends his long association with the club, but he was candid enough to accept that his comments would go down badly among the fans who were involved in the green-and-gold protest movement.
"We are never going to win [over] those people," he said. "If we won four European Cups in a row, there will be certain people who won't like the owners and what they stand for. The anti-people were here before the Glazers. But we are running the club for the vast majority of millions of fans around the world who believe the club is moving in the right direction.
"The minority – Must [Manchester United Supporters' Trust] etc – will always be against it, but the vast majority can't be dissatisfied with the seasons we've had [under the Glazers]."
The campaign against the Glazers has become less visible, in Gill's words, "once the Red Knights went away," referring to the consortium of businessmen who embarked on a failed bid to buy the club. "The green-and-gold campaign has not disappeared completely, but it has died down dramatically during the past season and we move on," he said.
Gill, speaking on the club's pre-season tour of the United States, dismissed the allegation that the Glazers, with an average net spend of £2.5m in their first six seasons, had not backed Ferguson sufficiently in the transfer market, citing the arrival of Ashley Young, David de Gea and Phil Jones for a combined £50m this summer. "One thing the owners have never shied away from is supporting Alex in terms of investment."
Similarly, he rejected the argument that the Florida-based businessmen had unfairly hiked ticket prices. "They are sensible prices to watch top-class entertainment and players worth millions on view. Other clubs have clearly raised their prices more than us," he said.
Gill has been singled out for particular criticism because of the way he fought against the Glazer takeover in 2005, once infamously saying that "debt was the road to ruin", before siding with the new owners and turning against the supporters' groups he had previously backed. "You say I did a volte-face, but we are going back many years now," he said. "Directors and chief executives aren't often liked, but I am trying to look after the employers and the fans, and there will always be an element among the fans who don't like you."
At times the anger has manifested itself in something more sinister, with graffiti appearing on his house and several incidents that have led to increased security. "It has calmed down now. It would be naive to say you don't want it to happen, not necessarily for yourself but because of your young children, but you just move on. I have never sought a profile; I just try to do my best for the club."
His son, Oliver, was booed when he was named as a substitute for one match, and has recently turned down the offer of a contract with the club to go to university. Gill, however, says it is unrelated. "He did take some stick, but he is quite a strong character. I don't think he ever thought like that."
Going into a season during which Ferguson will turn 70 and mark his 25th anniversary at the club, Gill talked about himself and the Glazers planning ahead to when the most successful manager in the business retires. "There won't be meltdown. It will clearly be a sea change for the club and we have to be ready."
He will be in charge of appointing the successor, although Ferguson will also be heavily involved. "I will co-ordinate the process, but, clearly, I will take great store in what he [Ferguson] says and what other key people at the club say. The owners will clearly have a view. All these things will come together. It would be a collective body, not a big body, but we would get all the input to make sure we make the appropriate choice."
There was no one in mind yet, he added, and he was unclear when Ferguson would stand down. "We never discuss it, put it that way. He delegates well and football keeps him young."