Month February 2010

Month February 2010

van der Sar confirms new contract

February 26, 2010 Tags: Shorts No comments

Manchester United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar has signed a new one-year contract with the club that will keep the great Dutchman at Old Trafford until June 2011. The contract, worth around £5 million, is reward the the stoppers’ continuing good form. The former-Ajax ‘keeper has played 16 times for the club in an injury-hit season.

The news, broken last week but confirmed by United today, ensures a sixth season at the club for the 39-year-old player. van der Sar, who joined United in a £2.5 million deal in June 2005, has missed games this season due to hand and knee injuries, together with a serious illness for his wife Annemarie.

“Edwin’s professionalism and dedication to his job and the way he looks after himself as a professional has given him the longevity in the game,” Sir Alex Ferguson told

“That longevity includes such great experience not just at United, but at Juventus, Ajax and on an international level. We are absolutely delighted he is continuing for another year.”

van der Sar, who has appeared 207 times for United, is credited with a resurgence in United’s form during February following the Dutchman’s return to fitness.

“I still feel good and am enjoying my football,” van der Sar told

“This is a great club and I was shown a great deal of compassion and support during a difficult time in December and January for which I am extremely grateful. I am looking forward to winning more trophies with this great team.”

United is now unlikely to spend heavily on a new goalkeeper this summer. The club has been linked with big-money transfer moves for CSKA Moscow’s Igor Akinfeev and Schalke’s Manuel Neuer.

Doubts also exist about the long-term futures of United reserves Ben Foster and Tomasz Kuszczak, who have each played 13 games this season.

Poll: predict Carling Cup final score

February 26, 2010 Tags: , , Polls No comments

Manchester United take on Aston Villa in the Carling Cup final at Wembley this Sunday. Holders United start favourites for the match against Martin O’Neil’s Midlanders but Villa came away from Old Trafford with a win in December. It was the club’s first victory in Manchester for 26 years. Who will win on Sunday? Your score predictions below please…

Who will win Sunday's Carling Cup final?

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In age of celebrity Fergie right to dictate player standards

February 26, 2010 Tags: Opinion 1 comment

The problems at Chelsea in recent weeks with John Terry and Ashley Cole’s off-the-field indiscretions are symptomatic of the modern footballer. Rich beyond belief when barely out of their teens, contemporary Premier League footballers surround themselves with a plethora of advisers, agents and hangers-on.

It’s a culture upon which Sir Alex Ferguson is leading a one-man fight-back.

News emerged this week that Ferguson, always wary of young footballers adopting a celebrity lifestyle too early, has not only banned the academy side from wearing coloured boots but curtailed any interviews with the players by the in-house TV channel MUTV.

An extraordinary move it is but one squarely out of the Sir Alex’ school of coaching. And who can argue with the man who has helped to develop more world-class talent than almost any coach alive?

The Scot, who famously fell out with David Beckham over the players’ perceived lack of focus on football, detests a culture in which footballers enjoy lionisation to a degree that is more than healthy.

“They’re less ready to hold their hands up,” Ferguson said pointedly late last year.

“If you go back several years you had a player with a certain pride and responsibility for their own performance. They were less protected, so they could come in and say, ‘Hands up, it was my fault’. That was good.

“But today they’re very protected, fragile, more fragile than ever, and that’s a lot to do with the type of people who protect them. Agents and even, to a degree, the press do protect them a bit, the stars, whereas a few years ago they didn’t have that protection.”

It’s an attitude that Ferguson sees as not only endemic but tied up with a celebrity lifestyle that seemingly begins with coloured boots and ends with a sarong at a fashion show.

Ferguson’s tough stance is nothing new of course. The Scot shrouded the early part of Ryan Giggs’ career in secrecy, with little to no media access allowed and the Welshman’s every move closely monitored by Ferguson’s coaching staff. Stories that the Scot himself turned up at the winger’s house in the early hours are not beyond the mark.

Indeed, among the Scot’s many strengths as a manger is his microscopic attention to detail, which goes as far knowing the names of every single player of United’s books. It can run to hundreds of boys.

And while the number of coaching sessions taken by the manger in the last decade are minimal, the rule over his players’ lifestyle is total. Given the behaviour of some modern footballers, Ferguson is right.

It is perhaps why United’s manager has such admiration for Wayne Rooney, who is not only the complete footballer but a consummate professional. The former Everton player is a happy family man whose immaturity it a thing of the very distant past.

Ferguson spoke with warmth this week of Rooney’s professionalism on the training pitch and the time the striker finds for the fans. 

“He’s a one-off in terms of the modern type of fragile player we’re getting today, cocooned by their agents, mothers and fathers, psychologists, welfare officers,” Ferguson told the Observer.

“Rooney’s a cut to the old days. His attitude is: ‘Give me the ball, I’ll tell you how good I am.’ He’s a throwback. I don’t think he has any inhibitions about that. He knows what he is.

“What we’re seeing now is a terror of a player. What he’s got that he can’t lose is an in-built hunger, in-built energy, in‑built desire. Some people are born with these things. We’ve seen many players like that, by the way, and they’ve all been great players. Some really ordinary players have made great careers because they’ve got this drive inside them.”

It’s a lesson the manager is keen to hand down to the academy players now wearing very black boots at Carrington.

Rant Cast 20 – Wigan in the Champions League

February 26, 2010 Tags: Rant Cast 1 comment

In this episode of Rant Cast regulars Ed & Paul:

  • Review Everton, Milan and West Ham
  • Reminisce over Phil Neville
  • Say adiós to Gary Neville
  • Preview the Carling Cup final
  • .. and defend Dimitar Berbatov

Stream the episode below or click here to download the podcast (right click > save as).

Email all feedback to or comment below.

Subscribe on iTunes now.

Fergie: Giggs back for Milan tie

February 25, 2010 Tags: , , Shorts No comments

Sir Alex Ferguson says Ryan Giggs could yet make Manchester United’s Champions League tie with AC Milan on 10 March. United head into the Old Trafford tie 3-2 ahead on aggregate after the first leg in Milan but will miss injury victims Rio Ferdinand, Anderson and Owen Hargreaves, together with suspended midfielder Michael Carrick

“Ryan still has the injury to his arm,” said Ferguson of 36-year-old Giggs.

“But we are taking the plate out at the end of the week and he will be in full training after that, which is good news.”

Giggs fractured his right arm in a challenge with Aston Villa’s Steve Sidwell earlier this month. The Welshman will need clearance to play in a lightweight cast and could yet be pressed into a central midfield berth with just Paul Scholes, Darren Fletcher and Darron Gibson available to Ferguson for the Milan tie.

34 years

February 25, 2010 Tags: Just for fun 3 comments

“When we go to Old Trafford, we will take that banner down. This is the last year, because we will win.” – Roberto Mancini, Manchester City manager.

“This football club is, without doubt, going to be the biggest and best football club in the world.” – Gary Cook, Manchester City CEO.

Carling Cup semi-final second leg, Old Trafford, 27 January 2010

Manchester Untied 3 – 1 Manchester City

FA Cup Fourth Round replay, Britannia Stadium, 24 February 2010

Stoke City 3 – 1 Manchester City

Premier League
1. Chelsea – 61 pts
2. Manchester United – 60 pts

5. Manchester City – pts

Time to update the Stretford End banner…

34 years

Anderson ruptures cruciate to end season

February 25, 2010 Tags: Shorts No comments

Anderson, Manchester United’s 21-year-old Brazilian midfielder, has ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee and will miss the rest of the season. The player, who started against West Ham United at Old Trafford on Tuesday night, left the field in the 18th minute, with the club confirming the injury today.

“I think I need more tests but I am fearful. I heard a crack as I turned. I am having no luck this season,” said Anderson after the West Ham match.

The player, whose full name is Anderson Luís de Abreu Oliveira, underwent further tests on Wednesday and the injury will keep the former-Gremio player on the sidelines for several months.

The anterior cruciate is one of four such ligaments in the knee joint and a tears often occur in footballers. The injury is similar those suffered by Roy Keane and Ruud van Nistelrooy, with a typical rehabilitation period of six to nine months depending on the severity of the rupture or tear.

The club confirmed that Anderson will undergo an operation in two weeks time in Portugal when swelling in the joint has subsided.

£18 million Anderson has suffered a mixed season at the club. Starting the campaign on the sidelines, the Brazilian forced his way back into the team during the autumn only to be singled out for criticism following United’s Carling Cup semi final first leg defeat to Manchester City.

Rio blow a disaster for United’s hopes

February 24, 2010 Tags: Opinion No comments

Let there be no doubt, a cold chill of fear will seep through Sir Alex Ferguson’s veins today. England captain Rio Ferdinand’s omission from the Scot’s matchday squad yesterday after the defender felt a twinge in his fragile back at Carrington Tuesday morning represents a huge blow for club and player alike.

“He felt a twinge in his back this morning. We did a warm-up at Carrington this morning and he felt a twinge,” said Ferguson in the aftermath of United’s 3-0 win over West Ham United at Old Trafford last night.

“We couldn’t risk it of course. He’s had twinges before and we can’t take any chances. He won’t be ready for Sunday. It is unfortunate for him that he’s going to miss a couple of games.

“”Rio has been training great – there had been no mishaps at all.”

The defender will now miss at least Sunday’s Carling Cup final and presumably England’s friendly with Egypt too. But the fear that the defender’s injury is much worse than a two game absence must pervade. History, when it comes to Ferdinand’s back, points to a lengthy time in the treatment room for the 30-year-old former-Leeds United defender.

Ferdinand, who has featured in just 11 United games this season, has suffered recurring back-related problems since the FIFA Club World Cup in December 2008. Missing more than 50 per cent of United matches in that time, Ferdinand’s injury is highly disruptive to the player’s form and Ferguson’s tactical thinking.

The defender’s calm assurance at the heart of United’s defence cannot be underestimated in a season where United has lost nine times in all competitions – most without Rio in the side.

In the Rio’s absence Nemanja Vidic, Wes Brown and Jonny Evans have each featured but only when fit enough to play themselves. Vidic, superb against West Ham United on Tuesday, has played in just 19 United games after being sidelined with a mysterious nerve injury. Brown, never the most reliable when it comes to fitness, has played 28 and Evans, who suffered a serious ankle injury earlier this campaign has played 23.

But that’s not really the point. Stats aside, Evans’ potential and Brown’s heart cannot match just yet Rio’s class and experience. Ferdinand is absolutely central to United’s ability to maintain parity with the club’s leading challengers, at home and especially abroad.

Should Ferdinand’s injury not clear up within the week the defender will miss Sunday’s match with Aston Villa, the Premier League clash with Wolverhampton Wanders and potentially the Champions League second leg against AC Milan at Old Trafford.

Even if by some miracle Ferdinand returns early then he still has just 10 Premier League games to play himself into form and match fitness before the season ends, hopefully, with a Champions League final in Madrid on 22 May.

Better news came from Vidic whose performance offered some classy professionalism to United’s rearguard after the shambolic defending at Everton last weekend.

“It is nice to be back,” said the Serbian, who featured for the first time in 2010 last night.

“It’s a long time since I last played and I didn’t feel any reaction, so I am very happy. This year has been very frustrating. When I finished last season, I thought this one would be even better.

“But I missed pre-season, then had this injury and have been out for another two months recently.

“I hope it is all in the past now and I can look forward to the next few games.”

Ferguson will need him and then, with no new contract signed and Vidic free to leave in 2012, the Scot may find himself needing to replace two experience central defenders in the summer.