Monday, 29 June 2009

Tevez takes aim at Berbatov

Carlos Tevez could not resist one last parting shot at Manchester United when he rounded on former strike partner Dimitar Berbatov for forcing his exit this summer from Old Trafford.

The Argentina international raised eyebrows last week when he announced he had asked to leave after rejecting the offer of a five-year contract to stay with the Premier League champions. Manchester City and Chelsea now lead the race for his signature, although the former loan forward has insisted he has not decided on his plans for the future.

Tevez struck a chord with match-going United supporters because of his willingness to chase lost causes and the former West Ham favourite felt he was not rewarded in the big games by manager Sir Alex Ferguson.

"I am not sure where I am going to play, but I know for sure that it will not be at Manchester [United]," Tevez told the Argentina TyC Sports television network. "When I arrived I had to fight for a place like any other player. My first season was good. I was a starter or a substitute, but I respected that.

"But in my second year, after the match against Liverpool, the coach started to overlook me. The fans supported me a lot so I thought that something was going on as my performances were also good. I was a professional.

"The signing of Berbatov from Tottenham on transfer deadline day last summer also convinced Tevez he was not rated by Ferguson. Curiously, Tevez revealed he was never urged by the Old Trafford boss to sign a new contract.

"I did not feel supported after they signed Berbatov, because I was the man for the job he was bought to do. Last year I was the second top scorer after Cristiano [Ronaldo]. We won two titles [the Premier League and the Carling Cup] and being shut out like this was something that I could not understand.

"They did not ask me to sign the contract. Ferguson told me not to be worried about Berbatov's arrival, but I did not like it when he started to put me on the bench often. I gave my life for the Manchester United shirt."

Nick Walsh writes features and football betting previews for Betfair.

Friday, 19 June 2009

No hard feelings, insists Charlton

Club director Sir Bobby Charlton has assured Manchester United fans that manager Sir Alex Ferguson can be trusted to spend the cash generated from the impending world-record transfer of Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid wisely.

The Portugal international is expected to complete his dream move to the Santiago Bernabeu by the end of June and he will leave Old Trafford "with our blessing", according to Charlton, who also described the fee as "vulgar".

Ferguson fought long, hard and, sometimes, publicly, on his mission to defy Real's overtures so it curious that he has kept a diplomatic counsel on the loss of his most prized asset.

The sale of Ronaldo has been greeted with open arms by rival Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal supporters. Charlton, however, who has witnessed the departures of former favourites such as Bryan Robson, Eric Cantona, Roy Keane and David Beckham, has insisted it would be folly to write Ferguson off just yet.

The wily Scot has been given the Glazer family stamp of approval to strengthen his attacking options and Charlton would not be surprised if he had one last trick up his sleeve.

"He is a great judge of player. Alex Ferguson is very brave, he's very brave with his decisions, he's very decisive with his decisions, and that is why he's been a major success," Charlton said.

Ferguson has been linked with close-season swoops for Franck Ribéry of Bayern Munich and Antonio Valencia of Wigan.

Nick Walsh writes about football betting for Betfair

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Ribéry riddle to rumble on

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has set aside a large proportion of the world-record £80m fee to be received for the transfer of Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid by making an offer for France playmaker Franck Ribéry, according to Bayern Munich chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge.

Real have also enquired about the 26-year-old's availability, but, Rummenigge claims, Chelsea and Barcelona have stolen a march by joining the Premier League title-winners in making offers for the in-demand forward.

The former Germany international, speaking in an interview with Bild newspaper, said: "Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez and his advisor Pedro Jiménez asked if we were willing to speak with them over a transfer but we rejected the chance and we have no intention of selling Ribéry."

Asked if Spain's big-spending capital club made an offer, he replied: "No but other clubs have done. Chelsea have lodged a bid, as have Manchester United and Barcelona. We are completely relaxed about it. The power lies with Bayern Munich."

Old Trafford officials have maintained a diplomatic silence on their attempts to recruit Bayern's most saleable asset, but it is safe to suggest Ferguson, who is on holiday in the south of France, is keen to bolster his attacking options.

United want the transfer of Ronaldo to Spain rubber-stamped by June 30 and uncertainty over the future of Carlos Tevez, who is wanted by neighbours City, leaves Ferguson with potentially two large holes to fill.

Bayern have repeatedly insisted Ribéry is not for sale and maintain he will see out his contract, which runs until 2011, so Ferguson may decide Antonio Valencia of Wigan is a more viable option.

DW Stadium chairman Dave Whelan revealed: "They (United) have been in touch with us and we will be starting negotiations very shortly, I would imagine. United have been in touch with us over Antonio for the last two or three months, expressing an interest and actually putting cash offers on the table."

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Berbatov safe, says agent

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has no desire to offload striker Dimitar Berbatov before the start of next season, according to the player's agent.

Speculation has been rife that Ferguson will look to shake up his attacking options during the close-season, with England international Wayne Rooney, at its core, while ongoing speculation about the futures of Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez could shape any decision he makes about incomings and outgoings.

Berbatov, a £30.75m transfer deadline-day capture from Premier League rivals Tottenham, has blown hot and cold since making the switch from White Hart Lane and a perceived lack of effort has led to dissenting voices from sections of match-going supporters.

The Bulgaria international managed just nine Premier League goals for the champions last season, despite making 29 league starts, and failed to cement his place as the principal focal point of Ferguson's strikeforce.

Ferguson, when pressed, refuted all talk last season that the former Bayer Leverkusen man doesn't like getting his socks dirty and agent Emil Dantchev has insisted he has no knowledge of the Scot seeking a parting of the ways

"Despite speculation that he may leave, I want to declare that Dimitar will play next season in Manchester United," Dantchev told Dnevnik.

"There is no desire from the management for any separation.

"He will stay and we hope that he will win what he missed out on this year."

Monday, 8 June 2009

Ferguson right on with Valencia offer

Antonio Valencia looks set to follow Steve Bruce out of Wigan in a move which could have significant repercussions for the JJB Stadium outfit – and the Ecuadorian winger's reported suitors.

Manchester United and Real Madrid are understood to have lodged bids in excess of £16million as both clubs look to beef up their attacking options ahead of a summer of transition.

A close-season switch to Old Trafford, however, would fuel more speculation about the future of Cristiano Ronaldo. Valencia could operate on the right, allowing Ferguson to play world player of the year Ronaldo as his principal striker, as seen in the Champions League last season.

Alternatively, his arrival could also give weight to the theory that Ferguson has grown tired of speculation about his star forward and is finally prepared to let him leave for pastures new.

Nani has continued to frustrate match-going United supporters and it would appear Ferguson's patience has finally snapped.

Newly-elected president Florentino Perez has vowed to return Real to the summit of domestic and continental football and, although a confirmed admirer of Ronaldo, is also in the running for Valencia.

The 23-year-old nearly moved to the Bernabeu in the winter transfer window but the Latics managed to keep hold of their most saleable asset.

Now, with Bruce confirmed as the new manager of Sunderland, the goalposts have changed and Dave Whelan may decide now is the time to secure a maximum profit.

Friday, 5 June 2009

Pérez puts Ronaldo back on agenda

Florentino Pérez has risked a complete breakdown in relations between his club Real Madrid and Manchester United by promising "to work" at finally delivering Cristiano Ronaldo to the Bernabeu faithful.

Pérez, the capital club's new president, has fanned the flames by vowing to go back over a pre-contract agreement made between Real and Ronaldo last season which could see the 24-year-old world player of the year quit the Premier League title-winners for an estimated £75m.

He said: "It would be very good if great players were at Real Madrid this season. Cristiano would be one of them."

And the question facing Sir Alex Ferguson now is how much more conjecture about his star forward can he possibly take before his patience snaps? The Scot infamously declared he would never sell "that mob" a virus, but, at the risk of upsetting a harmonious dressing-room, the thought of cashing in on his most saleable asset is a carrot even Ferguson may not resist.

Ferguson has never shirked a decision and past favorites such as David Beckham, Roy Keane and Ruud van Nistelrooy all faced the same inevitable end when the notoriously unsympathetic Old Trafford boss thought they had overstayed their welcome.

A public show of dissent when substituted in the Manchester derby and apparent criticism of his manager's tactics in the wake of United's 2-0 Champions League final defeat by Barcelona has led to suggestions that holes are appearing in Ronaldo's relationship with Ferguson.

The Portugal international affectionately refereed to Ferguson as a "second father" when seemingly nailing his flag to the mast recently. He will do well to hold on to that thought if he should decide to end his near six-year association with the club this summer.