Thursday, 30 June 2011

Spanish keeper David de Gea has lofty ambitions as he signs for Manchester United

David de Gea has officially joined United from Atletico MadridDavid de Gea has officially joined United from Atletico Madrid
David de Gea has set himself a United wish-list that includes a formidable ambition – he wants to better Edwin Van der Sar’s Old Trafford efforts.

The young Spaniard officially became a Red yesterday when a fee of around £18m was agreed with his former club Atletico Madrid and he penned a five-year contract with the champions.

The length of the deal is just 12 months shorter than the time United’s ex-Dutch number one Van der Sar spent in Manchester.

He arrived at Old Trafford prior to the transitional 2005-06 campaign when the club was rocked by internal strife which eventually led to the controversial exits of Roy Keane and Ruud van Nistelrooy.

But Sir Alex Ferguson’s side still managed to finish second and acquire the Carling Cup.

Three Premier League titles on the bounce followed in 2007, 2008 and 2009 and a fourth on his CV was claimed in May as he retired.

A Champions League win and two Euro finals and an FA Cup final were also on his illustrious United record. Van der Sar made his professional debut for Ajax in 1990 just a week before De Gea was born. Like the Spanish Under-21 keeper, he was 20 when he hit the big time.

He became a Champions League winner with the Dutch club inside five years of his career starting.

But United’s confident new boy is comfortable that he’s got the background and ability to challenge Van der Sar’s stellar achievements.

“In my opinion, Edwin has been the best goalkeeper in the world while here at United,” he said.

“I hope to emulate him and spend a great number of years here and, hopefully, equal or even surpass the performance and contribution he made to the club.

“I am young but I’m coming here on the back of two full seasons in La Liga in Spain, so I think I’ve got enough experience to contribute to such a big club as United and I’m planning to work extremely hard and do the best I can.

“I feel proud. Obviously, I am keen to start and it’s a great privilege to be part of a club like United and I’m keen to do my best and show what I can do. When a club the size of Manchester United comes in for you it obviously makes you very very happy.

“I saw their interest as an extra motivation to work even harder to show off my ability and now here I am.”

Van der Sar had played in Holland and Italy before his first experience of England playing with Fulham.

He had four seasons at Craven Cottage soaking up the Premier League challenge before moving to United.

The non-English speaking De Gea will be thrust into the limelight and a new style of play with just two years of senior football behind him. But he is looking to learn the ropes swiftly.

“I think there are differences between the Premier League and La Liga,” added De Gea.

“The Premier League is known to be a more physical style of play. There’s a lot of high balls and a lot of play in the air but I do hope to adapt to that fairly quickly and with my own style I hope to contribute to it being an all-round success.”

And the objective is for an instant Premier League and European double to get his United career up and running.

“Everybody wants to win the Premier League. That’s no different from me, I’d like to do that,” he said.

“But I think also to aim to win the Champions League is realistic and that’s what we’re going to do.”

Having only just ended his 2010-11 campaign last weekend when he won the European Under-21 Championship with Spain in Denmark, De Gea is now enjoying a break and will join his new Old Trafford colleagues late on the club’s  pre-season tour of America.

But he’s already itching to get back to start work.

“The manager seemed to say to me that I should enjoy the holiday I’ve been afforded now but, of course, I’m more excited about getting started training and meeting my future team-mates,” De Gea added.

“I want to get on and learn as much as I can about them and from them as possible and to start training.”

Fergie identified De Gea as the man to ensure the Reds avoid a repeat of their post-Peter Schmeichel traumas.

In the first nine matches following the great Dane’s departure in 1999, Fergie used three different goalkeepers.

Mark Bosnich arrived on a free transfer and was the first to be handed Schmeichel’s gloves. But four matches into the season he suffered a hamstring injury and Raimond van der Gouw took over before the Reds recruited the gaffe-prone Massimo Taibi from Venezia for £4.5m.

It wasn’t until Van der Sar arrived in Stretford six years later that real stability was restored.

The Dutch newcomer made an impressive start with seven clean sheets in his first nine matches.

De Gea’s first major challenge is set to be at Wembley in the Community Shield against City.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Sir Alex Ferguson gets in the swing of rebuilding Manchester United

Sir Alex Ferguson with Wilf McGuinness on the golf course on Tuesday Sir Alex Ferguson with Wilf McGuinness on the golf course on Tuesday

Sir Alex Ferguson knows how to win a major and he warmed up for the champions’ return to pre-season training next week by turning out at the United Association of Former Players’ golf day, sponsored by BetFred.
The Reds Old Boys celebrate their 25th anniversary this year and their charity golf day at Northenden Golf Club is a highlight of the calendar.
An evening at Old Trafford last night, with its biggest-ever turnout, raised £15,000 to add to the £500,000-plus the association has brought in over a quarter of a century.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

David De Gea set to sign a five-year Manchester United deal

Reds security staff’s attempted to hide David de Gea under a white blanket as he arrived in Manchester for a medical. Reds security staff’s attempted to hide David de Gea under a white blanket as he arrived in Manchester for a medical.
David de Gea will be hoping to keep plenty of clean sheets when he signs for United in a £20m deal.

But yesterday it was Reds security staff’s turn as they attempted – but failed miserably – to hide the Spanish Under-21 star under a white blanket as he arrived in Manchester for a medical.

The Atletico Madrid goalkeeper is set to send Sir Alex Ferguson’s summer spending soaring past the £50m mark.

De Gea had part of his medical at a private hospital in Manchester yesterday and was at the Reds’ Carrington training HQ and Old Trafford today tying up the deal.

The 20-year-old, who won the European Under- 21 Championships with Spain at the weekend, flew straight from his triumph in Denmark to seal a move to the Premier League champions.

He is expected to sign a   five-year contract but official confirmation might have to wait until Friday when De Gea’s new agent takes charge of his affairs.

The long search for Edwin Van der Sar’s successor is over with the young Atletico number one rising to the top of Fergie’s wanted list after he considered the likes of Schalke’s Manuel Neuer and Ajax’s Maarten Stekelenburg.

After a summer holiday, he will miss the start of United’s pre-season training next week but could join up with his new Reds colleagues on the club’s tour of America in mid-July.

De Gea becomes Fergie’s third capture of the close season, joining Ashley Young and Phil Jones as new arrivals to the first team squad.

The total of over £50m is United’s biggest ever summer cash outlay.

It surpasses the incoming activity in 2007 when they brought in Nani, Anderson and Owen Hargreaves for £44m and also added Carlos Tevez on a two-season loan.

United have been the quickest and busiest club in the transfer  market this summer.

Now Reds fans are waiting to see if United will go for the big one and pursue the midfield playmaker to complete the rebuilding jigsaw.

Inter Milan’s Wesley Sneijder remains the man the United support want to fill the Paul Scholes void but Arsenal’s Samir Nasri is still very much on the champions’ radar.

Sneijder’s arrival would push the spending past the £80m received for Cristiano Ronaldo two years ago and the Dutchman could command a salary of £200,000 a week.

Arsenal’s Frenchman would come cheaper in wages and the transfer fee.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Manchester United linked with Celtic ace

HIGHLY RATED: Emilio Izaguirre  
HIGHLY RATED: Emilio Izaguirre

Manchester United are said to be interested in Celtic’s full back Emilio Izaguirre.

The highly-rated Honduras international has claimed himself that the Reds are keen.

Izaguirre established himself as one of the SPL’s star players in his debut season.

He landed every major individual honour on offer as he was named SPFA Players’ Player of the Year, Scottish Premier League Player of the Year and Celtic’s player of the season.

“I have to confirm it’s 100 per cent true that Manchester United were following me and were interested in me. It was Alex Ferguson directly who made contact with the Celtic directors,” the 26-year-old revealed.

“I am aware also that Manchester United and Celtic agreed for a meeting in July. We have to see what happens if I stay or I go.

“If I have the chance I welcome the move with open arms. If that is the case I will thank God and I will take my opportunity.”

Meanwhile, Bayern Munich have been linked with Nani. United’s Players’ Player of the Year, who was only a substitute in the Champions League final at Wembley, is under pressure with the arrival of £16.5m Ashley Young.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Wolves eye raid on Manchester United defender Jonny Evans

Jonny Evans Jonny Evans

Jonny Evans may be on the move following the arrival at Manchester United of £16.5m Phil Jones – and Wolves are ready to pounce.

Molineux boss Mick McCarthy is after a centre-half and has failed in bids to land Reading’s Matt Mills and Birmingham’s Roger Johnson.

He is now considering asking Sir Alex Ferguson about Evans.

The defender’s form went downhill in the first part of last season in direct contrast to the impact made by £10m new boy Chris Smalling.

Though the 23-year-old Northern Ireland international rallied at the end of the season the Reds still went ahead with the expensive outlay for 19-year-old Jones.

Ferguson now has a trio of young centre halves to challenge the first choice senior men Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand.

However, he may consider that excessive and allow Evans to leave for Wolves. Unitedare looking to trim their squad further and Wes Brown, Darron Gibson and John O’Shea are all considering moves away from Old Trafford over the summer.

Among the players vowing to stay and battle on have been Antonio Valencia who says he doesn’t fear the arrival of £16m England winger Ashley Young.

And Ji-sung Park is also wanting to remain at the Reds even though Juventus are showing a keen interest in the Korean.

“It would be an honour for me to keep playing for Manchester United," said Park.

“I just want to stay at Manchester United. As an Asian player, it’s an honour to play for the biggest club in the world. I want to achieve the 20th league title for United."
Injury-plagued Owen

Hargreaves will officially end his tenure as a United player next Thursday when his Old Trafford contract runs out. He is a target for Toronto and Vancouver Whitecaps in Canada where he was born.

Meanwhile, 24 hours after Hargreaves’ time is up at the Reds, goalkeeper David de Gea could be starting his Old Trafford career.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Manchester United keen to hold onto Nani

Michael Carrick and Nani Manchester United will not be offloading Nani following Ashley Young's £17million arrival at Old Trafford.

With Young signing a five-year contract with United on Friday, it has been suggested Nani's time at the club is coming to an end.

Although the Portugal winger claimed more assists than anyone else in the Premier League last term, and was named United's players' player of the year, the return of Antonio Valencia from injury in March reduced his involvement.

Nani then failed to make Sir Alex Ferguson's starting line-up for last month's Champions League final defeat to Barcelona, leading to fresh speculation about his future.

If he indicated a desire to leave United in the wake of Young's arrival from Aston Villa, there would be huge interest across Europe.

However, whilst the 24-year-old's thoughts on the situation have not been aired, it is now understood United's stance to be of a club currently building a squad, a process that does not involve allowing what they regard as key men to leave.

There will be casualties, and it is hard to see Sunderland targets Darron Gibson and Wes Brown remaining beyond the end of August.

When his squad returns to training at the start of next month though, Sir Alex Ferguson will be assuring Nani of his position in the Scot's plans for the future, and attempt to meet the challenge Barcelona set with their devastating performance at Wembley.

Certainly, Ferguson has been the most active of the big-name managers so far this summer and his spending will go beyond £50million once the deal for Atletico Madrid keeper David de Gea is completed.

De Gea will be part of the Spain side that attempts to secure the European Under-21 Championships by beating Switzerland on Saturday evening, after which it is expected the remaining loose ends of his transfer will be tied up.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Manchester United's Anders Lindegaard set to steal No1 spot

Rising to the challenge Anders Linegaard Rising to the challenge Anders Linegaard

United keeper Anders Lindegaard could steal a march on his rivals for Edwin Van der Sar’s number one position in America.

The Reds jet off for their five-match, three-week pre-season tour of the USA in two-and-a-half weeks and the gloves will be off in the battle for the retired Dutchman’s jersey.

Danish international Lindegaard signed from  Norwegian club Aalesunds in January and, in Sir Alex Ferguson’s new-look goalkeeping department, will be challenged by Atletico Madrid’s David de Gea and Ben Amos.

Last season’s deputy, Tomasz Kuszczak, is likely to leave the Reds this summer.

The £20m Spaniard de Gea is set to be officially signed up on July 1.

The 20-year-old is currently on duty at the Under-21 European Championships with Spain and after this weekend is likely to be given a three-week holiday.

It could mean he’ll join up with his new Old Trafford colleagues in mid-tour, giving Lindegaard the chance to stake a claim early in Boston and Seattle.

And the 26-year-old is well aware of the importance of impressing in the States.

“In  the USA, it’s going to be especially important for the goalkeepers to play well because Edwin’s retired and the rest of us are fighting for  that jersey,” said Anders, who featured against Southampton and Crawley in the FA Cup before undergoing knee surgery in spring.

“I know it’s going to be a lot of hard work but I’m looking forward to it very much.

I’ve been to Florida twice for training camps with other sides but we didn’t play many games in America – certainly not big ones in sell-out  stadiums. That’s going to be a great experience.

“Also, I know we’ll do a lot of promotional work in America as well and we’ll get to meet the fans. That’s only natural because we’re the biggest club in the world and America is a huge market.

“When you come from a small side in Norway you can’t prepare yourself for how big Manchester United is. But, on the other hand, it has the same mechanisms as any other club – people talk about the same things, they interact in the same way. There’s  nothing different in that respect – it’s just that this club is a million times bigger.

“I’m enjoying my time in Manchester very much –  more and more with each day that passes, actually. I’m a happy human being at the moment and that’s what life is all about.”

De Gea is keeping tight-lipped about joining the Reds.

The deal is set to go ahead early next month and not beforehand, because the negotiations have been handled by Portuguese agent Jorge Mendes, who will not represent De Gea until the beginning of July, when the deal with his current representative runs out.

But he’s a confirmed admirer of United’s goalkeeping legends Peter Schmeichel and Van der Sar. “Edwin has been playing for 20 years at the highest level. He’s a great  goalkeeper and a big point of reference for me," said De Gea.

“When I was younger I liked Schmeichel a lot, as well as Van der Sar – they’re the two best that I’ve seen."

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Ashley Young poised to sign for Manchester United after completing medical

Manchester United are on the verge of completing their second signing of the summer after Ashley Young underwent a medical at the Reds' Carrington training ground today.
The 25-year-old forward is now expected to sign tomorrow once personal terms are finalised on the deal, which will see him move from Aston Villa for around £20m.
He was also pictured leaving the private Bridgewater Hospital this evening dressed in a red hoodie and carrying a pair of trainers.
Young, a regular member of Fabio Capello's England squad, follows Phil Jones into Old Trafford after the defender's switch from Blackburn Rovers earlier in the month.
United boss Sir Alex Ferguson will now turn his attention to 20-year-old Spanish goalkeeper David de Gea, who is expected to join the Reds from Atletico Madrid in the next two weeks.
And Fergie is still on the hunt for a midfielder to replace the retiring Paul Scholes, with Inter Milan's Wesley Sneijder his number one target.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Battle for Manchester United's Dimitar Berbatov

Dimitar Berbatov with the Premier League trophy Dimitar Berbatov with the Premier League trophy
The battle is on for Dimitar Berbatov with a clutch of clubs ready to test Sir Alex Ferguson’s resolve to keep the Reds’ £30.75m record buy.

Berbatov,  last season’s joint Golden Boot winner, scored 21 goals in all but the bulk of the 20 Premier League strikes that won him his prestigious award came before spring.

His personal campaign faltered in the run-in as the Reds boss favoured Javier Hernandez.

And the season ended in bitter disappointment for the Bulgarian when he was left out of Fergie’s 18-man squad for the Champions League final against Barcelona.

A host of sides saw that Wembley snub as a signal  the 30-year-old’s days were numbered at Old Trafford.

But Fergie has not been chasing a new striker this summer and would be reluctant to lose a 20-goal-a-season hitman.

United, though, haven’t exercised the option in the initial contract drawn up in 2008 when he joined from Spurs that would allow them to extend his deal for another year after 2012.

French side Paris St Germain, backed by oil-rich new owners from Qatar and with new manager Leonardo at the helm, are keen on Berbatov’s style.

Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund also believe, having proved himself in the Bundesliga with former club Bayer Leverkusen, that he could add to their goal output.
AC Milan are also on the look-out and could be ready to test the water.

However, Berbatov’s agent insists there has been no movement yet for his client and says he wants to stay at Old Trafford.

“There is no news because we have not heard anything from anyone,” said Emil Dantchev.

“After we speak to Manchester United, we will know more but now he is very happy to be a Manchester United player."

But talks have yet to take place at Old Trafford over Berbatov’s future.


The player himself vowed at the end of the season he was ready to fight on - despite his Champions League omission.

“I will stay,” he said. “I will fight for the 20th title. If I were an easy quitter, I would never have made it this far. Everything at Manchester United starts from scratch for me on July 4.”

Meanwhile, United have set in motion plans to allow young striker Joshua King to leave the club on loan.

The Norwegian is bound for Borussia Monchengladbach. The German club’s sporting director Max Eberl said: “We have an agreement with Manchester United for a loan of one year.

“The contracts must be translated and checked, that’s now going back and forth between lawyers of the two clubs. Our goal is to have him in next Monday.”

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard fires warning to Manchester United

Steven Gerrard Steven Gerrard

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard is desperate to rejoin battle with Manchester United at the summit of English football.

Sir Alex Ferguson's side edged one ahead of their arch-rivals in terms of championship titles with their 19th success in May.

By contrast, Liverpool have not won the league since 1990 - when Kenny Dalglish was in charge first time around - and their last trophy of any kind was the 2006 FA Cup.

With owners Fenway Sports Group willing to invest heavily in players for the long-term future - having recently signed England Under-21 midfielder Jordan Henderson in a £20million deal - Gerrard is optimistic they can match United and he will win more trophies before the end of his Anfield career.

"As a Liverpool fan and a player it's frustrating when you see your arch-rivals lifting trophies but you've got to give credit where it's due. They've won it, they've overtaken us," said the 31-year-old.

"Now the challenge for us is to equalise. We've got to make sure we've got a squad capable of going into the season and competing with Manchester United.

"It's a big statement by the club getting a big signing in early and now we're watching anxiously for a few more to follow. It's exciting times.

"It's important this team delivers very soon because we've been a number of seasons without putting a trophy in the cabinet and that's not what Liverpool is about.

He added on "I want to play well, I want to score goals - but it's much more important that the team plays well and we all end the season happy."

Monday, 20 June 2011

Everton lead way in Manchester United's Wes Brown chase

Everton and Aston Villa are in the hunt for Reds ace Wes Brown Everton and Aston Villa are in the hunt for Reds ace Wes Brown

Everton are the favourites to provide Wes Brown with a new challenge.

Goodison boss David Moyes has enjoyed successful business with Sir Alex Ferguson taking Phil Neville, Tim Howard and Louis Saha from Old Trafford.

Now he wants 32-year-old Brown to add backbone to his defence and the switch would suit Brown who is not keen to uproot from his Cheshire home.

That desire has already blown Sunderland’s hopes of capturing the Mancunian and Everton’s keen interest is likely to ruin Bolton’s plans to lure Brown to the Reebok.

Aston Villa could though still try their hand to persuade the defender to move to the Midlands.

Villa Park’s controversial new boss Alex McLeish has had his cross-city switch from Birmingham backed by Fergie who was his boss at Aberdeen in the Dons glory days.

Like Moyes, McLeish has done business with his old manager taking Ben Foster from the Reds to St Andrews last summer.

Moyes has identified Brown, who fell out of favour at the Reds this season, as a potential replacement if Arsenal pursue their interest in Everton’s England centre back Phil Jagielka.

Arsene Wenger backed out of a move for Jagielka 12 months ago but defensive deficiencies cost the Gunners dearly in the Premier League and Carling Cup final and the Frenchman is looking to cure their Achilles heel.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Manchester United looking for travel sickness cure

Manchester United celebrate winning their 19th league title Manchester United celebrate winning their 19th league title

Manchester United might need another of their traditionally strong finishes if they cannot  remedy their habit of making sluggish starts.

And the Premier League fixture computer has thrown down an almighty early challenge to the Reds to see if their away form has been repaired from last season.

United’s performances away from Old Trafford last term were the Achilles heel that could have spoiled the record 19th title party.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s champions won only 25 points from a possible 57 on their travels, won only five league matches away from Old Trafford all term and didn’t win one until their fifth attempt of last season.

August and September present a tough test as to whether United can shed their travel sickness.

Liam Bradford is the presenter of Red Wednesday on Radio Manchester, is co-editor of the Red News fanzine and is an IMUSA spokesman.

The United fanatic says it is going to be a key start for the Reds as they open their defence of the Premier League crown.

“So often United struggle at the start of a season. They get out of the traps so slowly normally,” Liam told MEN Sport.

“It is a heck of a start. We won at West Brom on new year’s day last season but only just. I’d rather be going to the highest ground above sea level in August than the depths of winter but the Hawthorns is still a hard place to go.

“I think that opener could be a significant one for the Reds. Get an away win under our belts on the first weekend and all the problems from last season might just disappear.

“It would then set us up for the two Old Trafford matches following against Spurs and Arsenal. We’d be flying then.

“Lose that first one and the away form will be under scrutiny again and we’d be on the back foot.

“There are going to be a number of changes to United’s squad this season so with integrating new faces it is imperative you start well. But it is a toughie.

“In that opening period are away matches at Bolton, Stoke, Liverpool and Everton after the Hawthorns. That will really ask some questions.

“The plus side is our run-in. I always look at the final matches and, apart from the derby at Eastlands at the end of April which could be an absolutely huge game, United’s final games look, on paper, among the easiest I can recall for a long while.

“Blackburn, QPR, Wigan, Villa, Everton, City, Swansea and Sunderland is as good as it could possibly get.

“You’d be looking for 21 points from 24 from that.”

Fergie has been handed the huge filip of a kind run of games following the six Champions League group stage matches.

Every single Euro game this autumn and early winter is followed by a home match at Old Trafford.

“Sir Alex Ferguson has been justified in moaning about some of the games following European matches in seasons past, but this is perfect,” added Liam.

“I think it could be an absolutely huge bonus for United.

“When you’ve travelled away there is often a knock-on adverse affect, but to not have to then get back on the road again in the Premier League immediately after is great for avoiding fatigue.

“Two of the league matches after European midweek games are big ones against Chelsea and City but they’ll have had Champions League games as well.

“For the first time in a while I have to say the fixture list is weighted in United’s favour.”

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Manchester United bid to wow 'em

Alexis Sanchez Alexis Sanchez

From functional to fantastic – Sir Alex Ferguson’s summer targets are evidence of his determination to bring the wow factor back to Old Trafford.

The Manchester United manager’s incredible success has been built around the fact he is impossible to satisfy – and not even a record 19th title last season or a third Champions League final in four years has lessened his determination to take his side to the next level.

He has set his sights on some of Europe’s most dazzling talent in Wesley Sneijder, Alexis Sanchez, Luka Modric and Samir Nasri to give his team the sparkle it needs to challenge Barcelona’s supremacy.

The chastening defeat to Pep Guardiola’s brilliant team last month is increasingly looking like one of the watershed moments of his career.

Like defeat to the same side in 1994 and Champions League elimination to Real Madrid in 2003, Ferguson will use that disappointment to revolutionise his team.

Real’s 6-5 aggregate win in the Champions League quarter final in 2003 prompted Ferguson to begin the building of his third great side.

He did so despite ending that campaign as Premier League champions.

Out went David Beckham, with Ronaldinho – Zidane’s successor as the best player in the world – his primary target.

United ultimately missed out on the Brazilian but signed an unknown Cristiano Ronaldo from Sporting Lisbon.

Wayne Rooney came a year later and Carlos Tevez the summer after Ferguson’s latest generation won their first title in 2007, going on to become champions of Europe the following season.

Ronaldo and Tevez have since departed and, despite winning a fourth title in five years, United’s latest success was achieved without the flair of their predecessors.

And despite coming within 90 minutes of another Champions League crown, their humbling Barca loss, showed just how far away they are from being considered Europe’s best.
In many ways Ferguson’s hand has been forced.

Paul Scholes’ decision to retire at the end of last season and Ryan Giggs’ aging limbs has robbed United of two their most enduring flair players, while Dimitar Berbatov has failed to provide consistent moments of magic and the earnest work of Darren Fletcher and Michael Carrick cannot come close to raising United to the level of Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Xavi at Barca in centre midfield.


That is why Ferguson has made flair a priority in a record-breaking summer of transfer activity.

He has already committed the best part of £55m to the triple signing of £18.3m goalkeeper, David de Gea, Phil Jones at £16.5m and £20m Ashley Young.

But he still has the money to splash out on a superstar name, which is expected to see him break United’s transfer record.

Both Sneijder and Sanchez would come in for more than £30m, while Tottenham hope to create a bidding war between United, City and Chelsea for Modric.

Spurs chief Daniel Levy, has already rejected a £22m bid from Chelsea and, having sold Berbatov for £30.75m, will expect a similar amount for the Croatian playmaker.

United also retain interest in Nasri, who would be the cheapest option, but it is increasingly likely he will remain at Arsenal.

Ferguson will be extremely disappointed if he cannot land one of those targets, knowing he needs a top class replacement for Scholes.

Udinese winger Sanchez is the hottest property in Europe and is also a target for Barca and City.

Should either of those sides pip United to the signing of the 22-year-old then it would be doubly disappointing.

Sneijder has been a top target for United for the past 12 months and sources in Holland claim the Dutchman would be keen on a move to Old Trafford.

But Inter Milan would want £35m for the player who led them to Champions League glory in 2010, while Reds would have to meet wage demands of around £175,000 a week.

Ironically, Ferguson’s determination to add more flair to his side is placing renewed question marks over the future of Nani.

United’s player of the year enjoyed his most consistent season since signing in 2007 but, should Sanchez join Young then the Portuguese winger’s opportunities could be limited.

There have been suggestions Inter might want him as a makeweight in any deal for Sneijder, which could significantly reduce the cash outlay United would have to spend on the Dutch World Cup star.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Let's make it Manchester United's Lord Alex of Old trafford

A motion calling for Alex Ferguson to be made a Lord has been tabled before the House of Commons.

Manchester’s Blackley and Broughton MP – and United fan – Graham Stringer has put forward the Early Day Motion calling for Fergie to be given a peerage.

The EDM, also signed by Manchester Central MP Tony Lloyd – a fellow Red - reads: “This House recognises the economic, social, cultural and sporting importance of football to the United Kingdom; is therefore surprised at the paucity of representatives from the world of football in the Upper House; further notes that Sir Alex Ferguson, as the manager of Aberdeen and Manchester United, is the most successful manager in the history of British football; and calls for him to be recommended for appointment to the House of Lords.”

Mr Stringer said: “If the House of Lords is there for anything, it is to represent people who’ve been extraordinarily successful in as many walks of life in this country as possible.

“Football is not represented at all and Alex Ferguson’s claim to be the first football lord is overwhelming because he’s been the most successful football manager the British Isles has seen.


“Football is no longer just the working man’s game - it permeates every level of society. You can’t go anywhere without having a conversation about what’s happening in football. It’s a national obsession.”

A United spokesman said: “It’s an interesting idea and he would certainly keep them on their toes.”

MUST chief executive Duncan Drasdo said: “MUST fully backs the motion and believes Sir Alex would be thoroughly deserving of such a major honour in recognition of his immense achievements – not least his most recent – displacing Liverpool from their perch.

“If Sir Alex does become Lord of Old Trafford the feedback, we’ve had tells us United fans will be delighted for him – as long as it doesn’t interfere with his day job.”

2011/2012 Fixtures

August 13 West Brom (a)
August 20 Tottenham (h)
August 27 Arsenal (h)
September10 Bolton (a)
September 17 Chelsea (h)
September 24 Stoke (a)
October 1 Norwich (h)
October 15 Liverpool (a)
October 22 Man City (h)
October 29 Everton (a)
November 5 Sunderland (h)
November 19 Swansea (a)
November 26 Newcastle (h)
December 3 Aston Villa (a)
December 10 Wolverhampton (h)
December 17 QPR (a)
December 21 Fulham (a)
December 26 Wigan (h)
December 31 Blackburn (h)
January 2 Newcastle (a)
January14 Bolton (h)
January 21 Arsenal (a)
January 31 Stoke (h)
February 4 Chelsea (a)
February 11 Liverpool (h)
February 25 Norwich (a)
March 3 Tottenham (a)
March 10 West Brom (h)
March 17 Wolverhampton (a)
March 24 Fulham (h)
March 31 Blackburn (a)
April 7 QPR (h)
April 9 Wigan (a)
April 14 Aston Villa (h)
April 21 Everton (h)
April 28 Man City (a)
May 5 Swansea (h)
May 13 Sunderland (a)


Thursday, 16 June 2011

Bolton eye Manchester United defender Wes Brown

Wes Brown Wes Brown
Wes Brown could kick-start a transfer merry-go-round which would help City land Bolton’s England defender Gary Cahill!

Sunderland have been in pole position to lure the 31-year-old United defender to the Stadium of Light.

But £5m-rated Mancunian Brown is reluctant to uproot his family from Cheshire to Wearside and would find a switch to Bolton more favourable.

M.E.N. Sport understands Sunderland boss Steve Bruce is close to giving up hope of signing Brown, whose 13-year Old Trafford first-team career petered out this season following an alleged bust-up with Sir Alex Ferguson.

That has alerted Bolton boss Owen Coyle, and if he can land Brown it will pave the way for Cahill to leave, with several clubs joining City in the race for the defender.

Brown was one of a trio of Reds being chased by former United defender Bruce at Sunderland in what would have been a £12m joint deal.

Midfielder Darron Gibson is set to agree to his move, but the other member of the trio – John O’Shea – is still mulling over his options.

With Reds’ boss Sir Alex Ferguson cutting back on his fringe players, O’Shea too could fit the bill for Bolton.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

David May says Phil Jones is a perfect player for Manchester United

Phil Jones has been with the Manchester United Under-21s this week Phil Jones has been with the Manchester United Under-21s this week
David May knows exactly how Phil Jones is feeling following Manchester United’s £16.5m swoop for the England Under-21 defender.

Seventeen years ago, when the Reds’ new boy was just two-years-old, May made the same step up from Blackburn Rovers.

May was five years older than Jones and made the switch from Ewood Park to Old Trafford for a more modest £1.2m, so Sir Alex Ferguson’s 2011 summer buy from Rovers has even more to cope with as he contemplates life with the champions next season.

May joined the ’94 double-winning Dream Team and was immediately daunted by the challenge he had taken on at Old Trafford.

But he has words of comfort for Jones.

“You may have been to Old Trafford before and played there and you know it is going to be bigger than a small club like Blackburn, but it is not until you are in there that you realise how massive the club is,” May said.

“I was over-awed by the size of the place. I walked into the dressing room where there were title and cup winners like Peter Schmeichel, Paul Ince, Mark Hughes, Roy Keane and Eric Cantona. All huge characters.

“It is an awesome situation to go into, but I can assure Phil then you get used to it. Your character eventually comes through and you start to feel more comfortable.

“I don’t know Jones, but to have impressed the way he has in the Premier League as a 19-year-old means you have to have a certain strong character about you.
Hopefully, he won’t be fazed by it.

“Despite the names and achievements of the players around, when I joined they were all still very welcoming and I am sure Phil will find that in the current dressing room.

“It’s all about the team at United and they want players to come in and feel part of it. That helps with the spirit.

“In terms of what he is walking into, you could not find anything better anywhere. You have the best boss in the business in Sir Alex Ferguson and the best players in the Premier League. You cannot buy that kind of experience.

“For a new player going to a place like Old Trafford, you could not have it better to settle you in and get you playing your natural game.

“Even though I was awestruck at first, I eventually warmed to it and fed off it. I am sure Phil will be looking forward to it in the same way and will benefit from it.

“The other great thing he’ll get is patient backing from the United fans and that is absolutely vital. They stick by their players at Old Trafford. The support trust the manager’s judgment and they are very, very patient. That is a huge help for any young newcomer.”

Like Jones, May had versatility to his game that enabled him to play right-back as well as the centre of defence.

The £16.5m capture is comfortable in the number two spot, central defence and in midfield.

“I hope he’s a better right-back than I was!” joked May.

“I have watched Phil a few times and he certainly has the right attributes. He is an out and out defender and very much in the Nemanja Vidic mould because he is strong in the air and loves a tackle. The timing of his challenges and the way he reads the game is superb.

“But not only has a Vidic look about him he also is very comfortable coming out of defence like Rio Ferdinand. I have recently been playing in the Masters football in Barbados for a United side and was alongside Ronny Johnsen.

“We were talking about Phil and about what a good purchase he was, but I was also thinking how much he also reminded me of Ronny. Ronny was versatile. He was a great centre-half but could also fit nicely into a midfield role. I think Jones could do a job like Ronny.

“There is so much scope for him to improve. He has seen the improvement that Chris Smalling has made since he joined from Fulham. It will be great to have been able to talk to Chris with the England Under-21s about the club.

“He has seen someone he knows pretty well cope with it superbly and I am sure that will give him confidence. I’m sure Chris will also be telling him how much he’s learnt from Vidic and Ferdinand.

“To have two of the best central defenders in the world to learn from is just fantastic for any young player. Listen, look and pick their brains and you cannot go wrong.
“He can only improve – he isn’t going to get worse.

“When he finally gets to join up with the United players for pre-season he will look around that dressing room and think at 19 with a five-year Old Trafford contract that he’s the luckiest lad alive.

“I am convinced he will measure up and do United proud. £16.5m might seem a lot but I am sure we will be looking back in years to come and talking about Phil Jones being a bargain.”

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Chris Smalling relishing centre-back pairing with new Manchester United defender Phil Jones

Chris Smalling Chris Smalling

Chris Smalling is relishing the prospect of forming a centre-back pairing with Phil Jones for both Manchester United and England for years to come.

And Smalling would love nothing more than to make it a trophy-winning partnership straight away at the European Under-21 Championship in Denmark.

Jones today all but completed his protracted move to Old Trafford from Blackburn, which had reportedly been held up by a wrangle over the transfer fee.

United look set to pay between £16.5million and £20million for the 19-year-old, who further enhanced his reputation in the Young Lions' 1-1 draw against Spain last night.

Smalling also shone in an otherwise disappointing England performance in their Group B opener and could not wait for Jones to become his clubmate.

"It's brilliant," said Smalling, who himself only joined United from Fulham last summer.

"I've really enjoyed playing with him and it's hard to think he's only 19 as well, so hopefully we can play together for a few years and see this
championship out as well first and go further than a couple of years ago."

Jones could be forgiven for being distracted by his transfer saga but Smalling said: "You wouldn't think it.

"We've just trained together these last couple of weeks and nothing's changed and that togetherness showed."

The duo appear to complement each other well, much like Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic at United or Ferdinand and John Terry for England.

But Smalling claimed the pair could each do the silky and the tough stuff, saying: "I'd like to think we've both got a bit of both.

"The manager wants us both to attack and also not to give the striker an inch."

Jones might not have even started this month's tournament had Micah Richards not pulled out through injury, but his talismanic influence was in evidence again last night as he extended his unbeaten record to five wins and two draws from his seven caps.

Smalling said: "Phil and I have been pretty together for many of the games.

"It's been disappointing Micah's not been able to come but Jonah's come in, done really well and we've been able to set our stall out.

"A couple of clean sheets in these next qualifying games and that'll hopefully see us through to the knockout stages."

Smalling accepts concentration will need to improve at set pieces in Wednesday's game against Ukraine after Spain opened the scoring too easily from a corner last night, albeit with the use of a hand.

"We were a bit sloppy to concede from a set piece but we'll look at that," Smalling said.

"We don't see ourselves conceding from those situations but our self belief came through and we never gave up."

He added: "This was always going to be one of the hardest games in the group but we've still got to play a team who came through qualifying undefeated.

"So, if we can get one more win, we'll really be kicking on towards the semi-finals."

Monday, 13 June 2011

Manchester United striker Danny Welbeck annoyed by Spain showboating

Danny Welbeck Danny Welbeck
Manchester United striker Danny Welbeck admitted he was irked by Spain's showboating after helping England snatch a dramatic draw in their European Under-21 Championship opener in Denmark.

And the Reds forward warned Sunday night's opponents they would be made to pay even more dearly should they do the same if the sides meet again in the final.

Welbeck netted an 88th-minute equaliser in the Group B clash in Herning to spare his country what would have been a controversial but deserved defeat.

Spain dominated the game virtually from start to finish, keeping possession in a way that has become a hallmark of Spanish sides in recent years.

But they could manage only Ander Herrera's 14th-minute goal and were made to pay for losing concentration after turning on the tricks in the final 15 minutes.

Asked if that had annoyed him, Welbeck said: "Yes, but that's football.

"You've got to deal with every situation you come up against.

"I thought we stayed patient as a team and we passed as a team and we got out towards the end and got a goal."

He added: "They're a good team and that's how they play.

"If we meet them in the final, we'll know what to do."

Head coach Stuart Pearce rubbed salt into Spain's wounds by claiming England would have thrashed them had they had enjoyed as much possession as their opponents did.

"If we had kept the ball away from the Spanish team for that period of time over 90 minutes, we'd have maybe won the game 4-0," he said.

"I was sat on the touchline and even though we didn't have possession of the ball, I didn't feel as though the opposition were going to score a goal.

"It's not often you can say that."

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Nemanja Vidic is staying at Manchester United, says agent

Nemanja Vidic
Manchester United's Nemanja Vidic played a pivotal role in the club's 19th league title triumph.

Nemanja Vidic's agent has dismissed talk of the Manchester United captain leaving Old Trafford.
The 29-year-old Serbia defender has been linked with a move away from England – Juventus are the latest club reported to be interested – despite having three years left on his United contract.
However, his agent Silvano Martina has rejected any talk of a summer departure. Speaking to Radio Sportiva in Italy, he said: "He's a player that everyone wants. I talked to him about a hypothetical transfer and he replied, 'I am the captain of Manchester United, earning well, I've won almost everything ... Why should I go to Italy right now, when Italian football is going through a turbulent period?'
"This response removes any doubt about where his future lies – he stays where he is."
Vidic joined United from Spartak Moscow in January 2006 and signed a new four-year contract last August. He was a key performer in United's Premier League title victory and run to the Champions League final last season.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Paul Scholes testimonial: Manchester United legend Eric Cantona to return to Old Trafford

Paul Scholes Paul Scholes

Manchester United icon Eric Cantona is coming back to Old Trafford.

Cantona's return has been confirmed as part of Paul Scholes' testimonial game on August 5, when the Frenchman will coach the legendary New York Cosmos side, currently bidding to gain admittance to Major League Soccer.

Although a decent crowd could have been anticipated anyway to mark Scholes' retirement, which was announced in the wake of Manchester United's Champions League final defeat to Barcelona last month, Cantona's presence will only fuel interest further.

The charismatic striker is regarded as one of the most significant figures in the club's entire history, proving to be the catalyst for United's emergence as the dominant side of the Premier League era.

He quit suddenly in 1997, having won four titles and two domestic doubles in his five seasons at Old Trafford.

"I wish to congratulate Paul for such an incredible career at Manchester United and I am looking forward to returning to Old Trafford in my new role with the New York Cosmos," said Cantona, who recently celebrated his 45th birthday.

Following David Beckham's return for Gary Neville's testimonial last month, it marks another significant day for United, and Scholes in particular.

"This is going to be a big night for me and my family but one which I intend to enjoy and I will savour every moment," said Scholes.

"I have spent my whole footballing life at Manchester United, so this will be an emotional farewell.

"This club is special in many ways but the fans are the best and I have always appreciated their support throughout my career.

"I hope they enjoy the night, especially seeing the Boss and Eric battling it out in front of the dug outs."

Scholes has committed himself to a coaching career at Old Trafford, having marked the end of his playing days, during which he secured 10 league titles, a figure second only to Ryan Giggs.

He is widely acknowledged to be one of the finest English players of his generation, with Sir Alex Ferguson all the more appreciative because Scholes turned his back on the celebrity lifestyle so many of his contemporaries revel in.

"Paul's retirement was typical of the man, low key, he was safe on holiday just so he could avoid any media interviews," said Ferguson.

"However he won't be able to hide away this time and it will be fantastic for the fans to be able to bid farewell to this exceptional footballer.

"The accolades he's received have been well deserved but for me Paul is one of those players who turns up, plays his football and it is that natural ability that makes Paul unique and revered by many, including myself.

"Now from one great player to another, Eric Cantona. I am going to relish this touchline showdown, one Gaelic mind to another.

"Neither of us will want to lose this one, it is sure to be a great night and a well deserved recognition for Paul."

Brazilian superstar Pele will be in attendance too in his role as Cosmos honorary president.

He played for the team during their previous incarnation, when they attracted superstar names from all over the world.

The club eventually crumbled, along with the demise of the North American Soccer League in 1984.

Former Tottenham vice-chairman Paul Kemsley acquired the rights to the Cosmos name in 2009.

He is aiming to secure an MLS franchise by 2013 and is using guest players to fulfil friendlies in order to revive interest in the Cosmos name.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Gossip: Manchester United move closer to Samir Nasri deal

Samir Nasri Samir Nasri

Speculation is growing that Arsenal star Samir Nasri could make a sensational switch to Manchester United.

Gossip spread on Twitter on Thursday that a potential move was gathering pace, and the Daily Telegraph have reported United have opened talks over a deal.

Nasri, 23, was one of the Gunners' most impressive performers last season and has just one year left on his contract.

He would be a natural replacement for Paul Scholes who retired at the end of the season.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

All change: Manchester United land Phil Jones as Sunderland target trio

Phil Jones Phil Jones
Phil Jones’ £16m arrival at Manchester United is set to spark the departure of up to three Old Trafford stars.

Sunderland are poised to move for Wes Brown, Darron Gibson and possibly John O’Shea, after Sir Alex Ferguson homed in on the young Blackburn prospect.

The Reds boss is looking to the future with the imminent signing of the versatile 19-year-old central-half – and that will have direct consequences for out-of-favour Brown. Sunderland want to offer the Mancunian the kind regular football that eluded him last term following allegations of a pre-season bust-up with the Reds boss.

Defender Jones can also operate effectively in midfield, where Gibson could  find himself surplus to requirements.

The Wearsiders, with cash to spend after the sale of Jordan Henderson to Liverpool, are in need of a replacement – and have targeted the Republic of Ireland international as the second part of a potential triple swoop.

Fellow Irishman O’Shea – who has been used reliably in midfield and defence by the Reds – is thought to also be on the Stadium of Light club’s wanted list.

Fergie’s surprise move for Jones is part of his plan to provide a young supporting cast – along side Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans – to his first-choice defensive partnership of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand. Vidic will be 30 in October and Ferdinand 33 a month later.

While Kenny Dalglish snapped up United target Henderson from Sunderland, Fergie moved quickly to beat him to Jones.

The teenager had been on the Reds’ radar, but was a target for next summer until the Anfielders showed interest. He had a medical at United’s Carrington training HQ yesterday before joining Smalling, Danny Welbeck and Tom Cleverley on the England Under-21s flight to Denmark for the European Championships.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Manchester United set to complete signing of Phil Jones

Sir Alex Ferguson has made a shock swoop for Blackburn defender Phil Jones.

The England under 21 international was due to undergo a medical at Manchester United today after Rovers accepted a £16m bid for their highly-rated centre back.

Ferguson stepped in after interest from Liverpool manager, Kenny Dalglish, forced his hand.

The United boss was understood to have been prepared to wait until next summer to sign Jones – but realised he had to move quickly with Liverpool ready to pounce.

Ferguson has already reluctantly had to shelve his interest in Sunderland midfielder, Jordan Henderson, who is set to move to Anfield in a £20m deal.

But he refused to watch another England starlet slip from his grasp, making Jones his first signing of what is expected to be a busy summer of rebuilding at Old Trafford.

Ferguson is also hoping to tie up deals for £15m Aston Villa forward, Ashley Young, and Atletico Madrid’s £18m goalkeeper, David de Gea as he bids to bridge the gap between his Premier League champions and Champions League winners, Barcelona.

Wesley Sneijder, Luka Modric and Jack Rodwell are also targets.

19-year-old Jones is seen as a long-term successor for Rio Ferdinand.

Alongside Chris Smalling, Ferguson will hope he has a central defensive partnership that can lead club and country for years to come.

Jones was one of the highlights of Blackburn’s battle to avoid relegation last season, prompting interest from Liverpool and Arsenal before United made their move.

Tweeting about him, Wayne Rooney said: "Phil jones is a good young English player. One of the toughest defenders I played against last season. Can play midfield too."

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Javier Hernandez: I'll keep scoring for Manchester United to repay Sir Alex Ferguson

FINE SEASON: Javier Hernandez FINE SEASON: Javier Hernandez
Javier Hernandez’s debt to Sir Alex Ferguson and United will spur him on to greater things. The Mexican striker was an unknown to Reds fans 12 months ago following his late- season signing from Chivas in Guadalajara for £8m.

The first glimpse his new supporters got was against England as a second-half substitute in a World Cup Wembley warm-up.

He then gave United fans a taste of things to come impressing in South Africa.

A year on and – after a sensational 20 goals in 45 appearances in his Old Trafford debut term that helped secure the record 19th League title – he is still at it for Mexico.

He scored his first senior international hat trick against El Salvador last weekend in the Gold Cup in America.

And the 22-year-old has vowed to keep winning titles for the Reds.

“I’m not a symbol or an idol, or anything like that. Football is not a sport like golf but a team game,” said Chicharito.

“I am very motivated after a great season with Manchester United.

“From now on I’ll owe a great debt to Sir Alex Ferguson for bringing me to Europe. My dream continues and has not changed.

“I want to win many titles to give back to the team that opened the doors for me.”

Hernandez’s next Gold Cup match is against Cuba in Charlotte at the Bank of America Stadium on Thursday.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Manchester United set to step up Ashley Young chase

Ashley Young and Philippe Senderos in action on Saturday Ashley Young and Philippe Senderos in action on Saturday
Sir Alex Ferguson wants to wrap up the signing of Ashley Young as soon as possible after the Aston Villa winger’s outstanding performance for England.

United are at the head of the queue for the 25-year-old and are close to sealing a £15m deal.

But they are aware his match-saving performance against Switzerland in the Euro 2012 qualifier at Wembley on Saturday will only heighten the interest in him from the Premier League’s top clubs. Liverpool are also in the hunt for Young, while Chelsea have monitored him for the past two seasons.

But Ferguson believes he is in the box seat for a player he tried to sign during the January transfer window.

Young has only one year remaining on his Villa contract and wants to experience Champions League football and play in World Cups and European Championships.

He said: "I've always had the belief I can play at the highest level.

"I've always had self-belief. I've always had the confidence I can play at the highest level.

"I want to test myself at World Cups, European Championships and the Champions League.

"As a kid you always want to play in the best competitions. As a kid I wanted to play in the Champions League - and hopefully one day I will.

"People say the prime of your careers is aged 25, 26, 27. I'm 26 next month so hopefully I'm coming into my prime."

Young has constantly intimated he will speak with Lerner before announcing any news about his future - and nothing has changed.

He said: "I'm going away on holiday. But I said at the end of the season I was going to speak to the chairman.

"I'm going to talk to him this week and we'll see where we go from there."

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Wayne Rooney admits bald truth after Harley Street visits

Man Utd striker joins select club of sportsmen to have paid thousands for hair transplants
    Manchester United Training & Press Conference - UEFA Champions League Final
    Wayne Rooney in training before Man United's defeat by Barcelona at Wembley last month. 
    Wayne Rooney is set to become an unlikely role model after he admitted having had a hair transplant. The Manchester United footballer gave the news to his 740,000 Twitter followers. "I was going bald at 25 why not. I'm delighted with the result. It's still a bit bruised and swollen when it dies down u will be first to see it. Anyone recommend any good hair gel. Haha. I had it done in Harley street hair clinic London. Thanks to all the staff who looked after me." A few minutes later, Rooney made an appeal to get #hairwego trending on Twitter. Rooney's secret was revealed when a photographer spotted the striker emerging from the Harley Street Hair Clinic, which provides "follicular unit extraction". The procedure, carried out over several eight-hour sessions, involves taking thousands of hair follicles from the back of the head and "planting" them in a bald area. Rooney's wife, Coleen, seemed delighted with the results: "His own decision not me asking him, like a lot are saying! Pleased for him and it will look great." About half of men aged 50 and above are affected by baldness. Losing hair is often cited as something that causes men more concern than anything else. Genetic background is the main cause of baldness but physical and emotional stress can also be factors. Rooney's sessions are thought to cost a high five-figure sum in total, as one twitterer pointed out on the #hairwego hashtag: "Seriously, get yourself down to Harley Street everyone. For just 37,500 pounds, you too can look this good." Teammate Ryan Giggs was photographed leaving a hair clinic with a grin on his face and a "progress report" clutched in his hand last year. Other scalps claimed by the anti-hair loss industry include the former England rugby player Austin Healey, who in 2005 appeared in a television advert promoting laser therapy. Ex-England cricket captain Graham Gooch and former Australian bowler Shane Warne also appeared in adverts for laser treatment. All three still appear on the Advanced Hair Studio website, as do the former cricketers Michael Vaughan and Greg Matthews. The company's patented strand-by-strand hair replacement procedure did, however, fall foul of the Advertising Standards Authority, which later ruled the therapy's effectiveness had not been proved.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Decision time: Sir Alex Ferguson faces tough Manchester United call as rivals up ante for top English talent

John O'Shea and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain John O'Shea and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Sir Alex Ferguson fears Arsenal and Liverpool will force his hand over long-term targets Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jordan Henderson.

The Manchester United manager has asked to be kept informed about two of English football’s brightest prospects, but has higher priorities as he plans to overhaul his squad this summer.

His top targets include Ashley Young, Luka Modric, Wesley Sneijder and Jack Rodwell in what is expected to be his biggest spending spree since 2007.

He maintains an interest in Southampton winger Oxlade-Chamberlain and Sunderland midfielder Henderson but neither would be seen as being able to make the significant impact at United that Ferguson is looking for after Champions League final defeat to Barcelona last Saturday.

Arsene Wenger and Kenny Dalglish are aware of Ferguson’s interest and are trying to steal a march on the Premier League champions.


Wenger is ready to pay up to £10m, with add-ons, for Oxlade-Chamberlain – a player described as the new Theo Walcott – and Dalglish opened the bidding for Henderson this week, tabling a £13m offer for the England international.

United fear they could be backed into a corner if either Southampton or Sunderland decide to cash-in on their most saleable assets, when ideally they would rather wait before firming up what has so far been tentative interest.

Ferguson has more than £100m to spend in the transfer market this summer.

He will use £18m of that to secure goalkeeper David de Gea from Atletico Madrid.

Young will cost upwards of £15m from Aston Villa and United are understood to be close to securing a deal for the England winger.

Tottenham will demand £25m for Modric and will stick to their guns having already forced United to pay top-end prices for Michael Carrick in 2006 and Dimitar Berbatov two years later.

One or both of those players,  who cost £18.6m and £30.75m respectively, could yet be used as makeweights in any deal for Modric.

If successful in his pursuit of the Croatian international, it is debatable whether Ferguson would move for £30m-rated Sneijder as well – but he is determined to add more technical ability to his side after being chastened by defeat to Barcelona.

Rodwell, from Everton, remains his first choice combative midfield option – ahead of Henderson – at a price of around £15m.

Should United secure all their summer targets then it will be their busiest since signing Carlos Tevez, Owen Hargreaves, Nani and Anderson after the 2007 title success.


As a rule, Ferguson prefers not to introduce too many players into his squad for fear of upsetting the balance too soon.

But with Paul Scholes, Edwin van der Sar and Gary Neville all retiring, as well as the expected exits of several fringe players, it will be a close-season of significant change at Old Trafford.

Loanees Tom Cleverley, Danny Welbeck and Federico Macheda are also due to return to the club, while members of the FA Youth Cup winning squad will push for more opportunities.

But Ferguson will also be loathe to pull out of the race for two players he has monitored for some time.

Oxlade-Chamberlain is understood to favour a move to Arsenal, following in the footsteps of another Southampton starlet, Walcott.

Ferguson missed out on him when he moved to the Emirates in 2006 and also failed to lure Gareth Bale from Southampton when the Welshman opted for Tottenham in 2007.

He won’t want to miss out for a third time, but it is becoming increasingly clear that Oxlade-Chamberlain wants to make the step up to the Premier League sooner rather than later.

Ferguson was understood to be incensed when he thought Arsenal had beaten United to Oxlade-Chamberlain during the January transfer window, which is a measure of how highly he rates the England Under-19 starlet.

There is also fierce competition between United and Arsenal when it comes to luring the best emerging talent from across the globe.

Wenger pipped Ferguson to Walcott and Aaron Ramsey in recent years, while United were successful in tempting Cristiano Ronaldo, the Da Silva twins and – most recently – Chris Smalling to Old Trafford.

Henderson is a different issue.

Although United have made Sunderland aware of their interest, at 20-years-old there will be questions over whether he can immediately establish himself at the Premier League champions.

Given the wealth of experience that has made way in the shape of Scholes, Neville, Hargreaves and Van der Sar this summer, Ferguson may not want to overload his squad with too many young heads.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Lifeline: Sunderland may offer Manchester United duo a fresh chance

PASTURES NEW? Darron Gibson and Wes Brown PASTURES NEW? Darron Gibson and Wes Brown
Steve Bruce is ready to offer Manchester United duo Wes Brown and Darron Gibson a career lifeline at Sunderland.

The former Reds captain is planning a raid on his old club this summer.

Bruce is aware that Sir Alex Ferguson is set for a clear-out at Old Trafford as he bids to win a 20th title and lead United back to the top in Europe.

That means several fringe players will be allowed to leave the Premier League champions and Bruce will waste no time in trying to lure them to the Stadium of Light.

The Sunderland manager is also looking to rebuild his team after seeing them fall away badly in the second half of the season.

He lost England striker Darren Bent to Aston Villa in the January transfer window, while United forward Danny Welbeck is due to return to Old Trafford from his season-long loan at the Wearside club. Bruce knows he needs to bring in several players to bolster his squad if they are progress from mid-table to a European finish.

Brown is looking for a new start after being pushed out of the picture at United.

The former England international has slipped behind Chris Smalling, Jonny

Evans, John O’Shea and the Da Silva twins in the defensive pecking order and will find first team opportunities even more limited next season.

Gibson has failed to establish himself as a regular at United and at the age of 23 will not be happy to remain a bit part player.

With Ferguson targeting a list of midfielders including Luka Modric, Wesley Sneijder and Jack Rodwell this summer, the Republic of Ireland international will realise that his time at United is coming to an end.

Bruce has the option of using Jordan Henderson as a carrot in any deal for Brown and Gibson, though it is debateable whether Ferguson will want to move for the England midfielder right now.

The United manager has asked to be kept informed about Henderson’s future, but he is already planning a heavy summer of spending in the transfer market.

Liverpool tabled a bid of £13m for the 20-year-old on Thursday, but Sunderland are hoping to hold out for closer to £20m.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Dimi more: Berbatov insists he is staying with Manchester United as Luka Modric rumours grow

Dimitar Berbatov Dimitar Berbatov
Dimitar Berbatov could hold the key to Manchester United’s hopes of landing top target Luka Modric.

But the Bulgarian striker insists he will fight for his Old Trafford future.

Despite increased speculation that Berbatov will be shown the exit door at United this summer, he says he is going nowhere.

“I will remain at United,” said the £30.75m hitman. “I will fight for my place and I will fight for title number 20.

“If I was a man who gave up easily, I would never be here in the first place. Starting July 4, everything begins all over again – my personal fight to be in the first team, and for United to win more titles.”

Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp is a huge admirer of Berbatov and is desperately in search of firepower as he bids to bring Champions League football back to White Hart Lane next season.

That could see the Premier League’s joint Golden Boot-winner used as a bargaining chip by Sir Alex Ferguson when it comes to signing £25m-rated  Modric.

He believes the Croatian international can fill the gap left by Paul Scholes’ retirement. But he knows Redknapp is reluctant to sell his best players, even after failing to secure a top-four finish this season.

Berbatov would prove an ideal sweetener for the deal, with Redknapp hunting for a top-class striker since January. Berbatov was omitted from United’s squad for last Saturday’s Champions League final defeat to Barcelona, with Michael Owen named on the bench ahead of him.

And on Wednesday his future at the Premier League champions looked even more bleak as Owen was handed a new one-deal.

“It was embarrassing for me that I was not included in the group,” said Berbatov, back home in Bulgaria. “I was in the dressing room. I watched the final from there. I didn’t want people to see the pain in my eyes.”

With Danny Welbeck due to return from a loan spell with Sunderland and Ferguson also monitoring strikers Karim Benzema and Hulk, it looks increasingly apparent that this will be Berbatov’s final season at the club.

Newcastle, Bayern Munich, Roma and Juventus have all been linked with him in recent months.

Bids in excess of £7.5m could be enough to prompt United to cash in – but they would also be tempted by a part-exchange deal for Modric.

Ferguson is also targeting Ashley Young, Wesley Sneijder and Jack Rodwell as he prepares for a summer of major spending.

As well as Berbatov, he will be aware that Redknapp is also an admirer of midfielder Michael Carrick, who was given his chance at West Ham by the Tottenham manager.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Michael Owen signs one-year deal at Manchester United

Sir Alex Ferguson has made Michael Owen his first summer signing – handing the former England striker a new 12-month deal at Old Trafford.

Owen’s current contract was due to expire next month – but he made it clear that he wanted to stay at United after helping the club to a record 19th title this season.

And Ferguson believes he still has a part to play, despite using the 31-year-old sparingly since his free transfer from Newcastle in 2009.

The emergence of Javier Hernandez – scoring 20 goals in his first year in English football – limited Owen to only a handful of starts this season.

But Ferguson insists he will get more opportunities as United plot the defence of their Premier League crown next term.

“Michael has proved to be a top footballer," said the United manager. "It’s unfortunate that he didn’t get more opportunities, but the form of Chicharito put everyone in the shade and his partnership with Wayne Rooney proved invaluable.

“I am delighted Michael is staying for a further year and we will look to give him more opportunities in the new season.

Former Liverpool and Real Madrid star, Owen, added: “I’m delighted to have agreed a one-year extension to my contract.

“To play alongside so many great players, under an exceptional manager, and in front of so many incredibly passionate supporters is a real inspiration. I can’t wait for next season to start.”