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Started by kariballa, October 05, 2003, 11:11:42 PM

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Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson feels Liverpool's Steven Gerrard is ready to take over from Roy Keane as the finest midfielder in The Premiership.
The Scottish tactician, who is looking to reshape his squad over the summer, feels Gerrard is probably out of reach in terms of prising him away from Anfield but has made no secret of his admiration for the England international.

Ferguson was also quick to praise Arsenal titan Patrick Vieira, but he feels Gerrard does more for the team than the French superstar.

"If you were looking for the player you would replace Keane with, it's Gerrard, without question," Ferguson told The Sunday Times. "He has become the most influential player in England, bar none.

"Not that Vieira lacks anything, but I think that Gerrard does more for his team than Vieira does.

"To me, Gerrard is Keane; he is now where Keane was when Roy came to us in 1994. I've watched him quite a lot, and everywhere the ball is, he seems to be there.

"He's got that unbelievable engine, desire, determination. Anyone would take Gerrard.

"Vieira has done that job for Arsenal for two or three years. But you can see Gerrard rising and rising."

Keane is still the driving force at Old Trafford but he is very much in the autumn of his career.

Ferguson is sure to be making plans for life without Keane, but he would face a huge battle to lure Kop favourite Gerrard away from Liverpool.
l'mar'u ma'a man ahabba.


Hey! Hey! stop that, Viera is more better than Gerrard.
I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.


Well done Kariballa, i think u deserved to be praised, keep it up.UP MAN U.


Leeds striker Alan Smith is still expected to join arch rivals Manchester United as the England man is keen to move to Old Trafford.
The Whites have already turned down a couple of bids from United, while Liverpool are also said to be sniffing around.

Everton have confirmed that they are interested, while Newcastle and Birmingham are also eyeing the powerful England striker.

Italian side Perugia are rumoured to be another interested party, although he would only move abroad to join one of the top sides.

Elland Road director Peter Lorimer says that they still expect Smith to move across The Pennines and join fierce rivals Manchester United.

"We discussed the situation at a board meeting (on Friday), but as yet no deal has been done," Lorimer told the club website.

"We have offers from other clubs, but Alan has said he would like to go to Old Trafford.

"This is the situation as it is now and, with United in the Cup final, we will look at it again next week."

The relegated West Yorkshire side are thought to want ?10 million for their star striker, to go some way in appeasing the fans who will be furious if he follows in the footsteps of Rio Ferdinand.

United boss Sir Alex Ferguson is looking to add another striker to his squad and sees Smith as a quality addition.

Smith failed to make Sven Goran Eriksson's squad for Euro 2004 so has plenty of time to sort out his future, and the boyhood Leeds fan looks keen on joining their fiercest rivals.
l'mar'u ma'a man ahabba.


Sir Alex Ferguson is confident that Manchester United's FA Cup triumph can be the springboard to help the club regain the Premiership title next season.
The Red Devils put a gloss on what has been a largely disappointing campaign by seeing off Millwall at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday - but Fergie has already set his sights on next season.

The wily Scot insists United will be driven by a burning desire to recapture the league crown from Arsenal, and believes the return of Rio Ferdinand will prove crucial.

"This won't do us any harm as far as next season is concerned but the momentum has been created by the whole of this season," he stated.

"The pivotal moment was Rio Ferdinand's suspension. I know that for a fact.

"It cost us dearly, but come September that will be behind us and we can go on and improve ourselves next season.

"I won't worry about my summer. I know we will be back.

"But I'm never fulfilled. That's my problem."

"You have to take the good times with the bad in this game. It makes the good times really good.

"I have been a manager for 30 years and in nine of them I have not won anything. I can handle that even though I don't like it.

"But I can do something about it, and fortunately I have the players who can do something about it too."
l'mar'u ma'a man ahabba.


Manchester United easily avoided any prospect of a momentous FA Cup Final shock as they outclassed Millwall 3-0 at The Millennium Stadium.

A first half header from Cristiano Ronaldo and a second half brace from Ruud van Nistelrooy, one a penalty, did the damage as The Lions never threatened to cause an upset in Cardiff as the chasm in class between The Premiership and Division One was all too obvious.

With United captain Roy Keane back to fitness, it was Phil Neville, not Darren Fletcher, who made way while Millwall player-manager Dennis Wise's midweek trip to Italy paid dividends as he figured from the start.

The First Division side did not appear to be unduly afflicted by nerves but they spent the bulk of the opening half on the back foot, once The Red Devils created their first chance after four minutes.

The returning Keane played a simple pass to Ronaldo, who delivered a fine cross for Ruud van Nistelrooy but the Dutchman's stooping header was wide of the target.

Ronaldo then displayed great artistry to dink the ball into the box but, from Ryan Giggs' flick-on, Paul Scholes completely missed his kick.

Scholes then drilled a low shot harmlessly wide while Giggs took the ball too far beyond Millwall keeper Andy Marshall after racing onto an excellent Keane pass.

The first flashpoint of the final arrived on 20 minutes when Wise put his hands into Ronaldo's face after the Portuguese winger had bamboozled a pair of opponents. Sensibly, no action was taken by referee Jeff Winter against Wise, nor against Fletcher, who needlessly embroiled himself in the argument.

Midway through the half, The Lions were indebted to a magnificent save from Marshall after the keeper pushed over Keane's volley which appeared destined for the back of the net.

Millwall sporadically raided forward and caused panic in the United area when Peter Sweeney's cross was palmed off Tim Cahill's head by Tim Howard after the midfielder evaded the offside trap.

But the majority of the action was at the opposite end as Millwall were forced into desperate defending five minutes before the interval.

Gary Neville's cross was glanced on by van Nistelrooy to Ronaldo, who controlled the ball before steadying himself for a shot. His attempt was half-saved by Marshall with Darren Ward on hand to clear the ball off the line and, from the resulting corner, Scholes whipped a shot wide.

The Lions' stubborn resistance was shattered a minute before the break as the underdogs appeared to fall asleep after surviving a penalty scare when Fletcher fell to the turf.

United worked a corner from left to right, with Keane feeding Neville. The England full back clipped a cross to the far post where Ronaldo surged towards the ball to place a header beyond Marshall.

Wise was not setting the right example for his younger colleagues as he tangled with Scholes before half time and was then booked after the recess for a high tackle on Giggs.

Immediately after the restart, Fletcher superbly wove his way through the Millwall rearguard but he could only flick his shot into the arms of Marshall.

The Millwall keeper then had to get down smartly to keep out a Scholes shot while, from the corner which followed, Ronaldo headed the set-piece over the bar.

On the hour mark, Wise did lead by example when he nodded Mikael Silvestre's header off the line just as United seemed set to extend their advantage with Wes Brown receiving a boot in the head as The Lions frantically cleared the danger.

Millwall shot themselves in the foot 20 minutes into the second half when they failed to cope with the trickery of Giggs. The Welshman skipped into the box from the right flank and his run was abruptly halted by a rash challenge from behind by David Livermore.

Van Nistelrooy, who has missed some important spot kicks this season, made no mistake on the biggest occasion as he smashed the ball into the top corner with Marshall helpless.

With ten minutes remaining, United further demonstrated the gulf in class between the two teams as van Nistelrooy helped himself to a second goal, despite appearing to be offside.

Scholes slipped a pass to Giggs down the left channel, who coasted past a Millwall defender, and his cross-cum-shot was converted by van Nistelrooy although he looked to be in an offside position.

United boss Sir Alex Ferguson then rang the changes as he brought on Nicky Butt, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and goalkeeper Roy Carroll for the closing minutes of the one-sided showpiece.

The Lions did create history when substitute Curtis Weston became the youngest player to appear in an FA Cup Final but that was the only crumb of comfort they could glean from the contest.

The youthful exuberance of Ronaldo and the wise head of Keane were too much for Millwall to contend with as they never once forced Howard, or his replacement Carroll, into a testing save.
l'mar'u ma'a man ahabba.


Safety and Peace


Ai No team can compare to Man - U-. Its got to be our game!!!! :D


Muawiya, nima dai supportan Man U ne, amman akwai wata yar danayi noticing. Kunsan Man U abun da ya kara musu girma da recognition is yawan supporters dinsu. But take a closer look at Real Madrid. Wallahi  akwai wasa kuma sunanan da boyayen plan da idea kuma idan suka tashi tafkawa jama'a da yawa zasu ji jiki.


Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson has spoken of his delight after watching his side put in a commanding display against Newcastle.

United came away from St James' Park with a 3-1 success and Ferguson believes his side showed excellent character in their performance.

"It was a hard game, Newcastle put everything into the match, but I thought the football was excellent at times," said Ferguson.

"It was a bad goal to lose but the immediate reaction got us a penalty kick and at that point I couldn't see us losing.

"Winning today was good, coming here is very difficult. They're a very committed and passionate team, and their fans are fantastic.

"I've got a great bunch of lads and today's result will do nothing but encourage them."

Ruud van Nistelrooy's crucial second came from the penalty spot after Shay Given was adjudged to have brought down Paul Scholes.

Newcastle have since voiced their misgivings about the decision but Ferguson is adamant that referee, Mike Dean, made the right decision.

Ferguson was in no doubt that Scholes was fouled for the penalty and even had time to have a dig at last weekend's referee in the Manchester derby, Graham Poll.

"A penalty is a penalty," continued Ferguson. "Last week was ridiculous.

"Graham Poll never gives us penalty kicks and that's a well known fact. Last year at Highbury Ryan Giggs was brought down for a clear penalty.

''The year before at Chelsea - it was a clear penalty kick when Paul Scholes was brought down.

"We have to live with that but the breaks even themselves out over the season and maybe it's our turn to get the breaks now."
l'mar'u ma'a man ahabba.


Manchester United edged a little closer to their championship rivals after an impressive display saw them win a pulsating contest at St James' Park 3-1.

Ruud van Nistelrooy was the man on the spot when he netted in the second half after Alan Shearer had cancelled out Wayne Rooney's clever opener.

The England man was involved in much of United's most productive work and in the final moments, struck his second in what was a hugely satisfying afternoon.

The opening exchanges saw both sides in a combative mood and passing the ball with the crisp intensity one would expect from two of The Premiership's more entertaining sides.

United's spiky Argentine Gabriel Heinze was the first to be engulfed by the caldron atmosphere in St James' Park and when he felled Craig Bellamy on two minutes, Shearer set his sights.

With United's wall creaking, Shearer unleashed a customary cannon which Roy Carroll did well to divert for a corner when unsighted.

Newcastle had begun the game on the front foot and when Shearer pulled wide and fed Bellamy, Patrick Kluivert was unfortunate to see his beautifully controlled volley drift over from the Welshman's lay-off.

United had opted to leave Ryan Giggs on their bench and within six minutes, Sir Alex Ferguson's decision was vindicated, when surprise inclusion Darren Fletcher created the game's opener.

Given rare space in what was a minefield of a midfield, the young Scot advanced with the ball and chipped a clever pass behind Newcastle's backline.

Titus Bramble was left leaden footed by Rooney's run and the new Old Trafford darling was just as sharp in his finish as he dispatched past Shay Given from the narrowest of angles to hand United early advantage.

Rooney's sublime finish galvanized the visitors and on the quarter hour mark, Cristiano Ronaldo was left ruing a missed opportunity when after capitalising on a slip by Stephen Carr to turn Bramble, he could only find the feet of Given.

United continued to show menace on the counter but as the half progressed, Newcastle slowly grasped controlled and created a trio of chances that left Graeme Souness exasperated on the touchline.

The first fell to Shearer in unusual circumstances after the normally infallible Rio Ferdinand flapped at a long punt from Given, to leave the veteran hitman a clear path to goal.

St James' Park expected a goal but from the edge of United's box, Shearer drilled his effort wide by the narrowest of margins.

Van Nistelrooy found the side netting when cutting in from the left flank and then Kluivert squandered the most guilt-edged of chances after rounding Carroll.

When Rooney's wayward back pass found only the Dutchman, Kluivert was left embarrassed after pulling his effort woefully wide with Carroll already crestfallen.

With Newcastle in the ascendancy, Kluivert fed Lee Bowyer on the overlap but the former Leeds scrapper was thwarted by a brave and important block from Mikael Silvestre and United headed into the break with a crucial advantage.

The interval provided respite for the visitors and their reappearance after the break brought with it a controlled period of sustained possession.

Paul Scholes, peripheral for much of this season in comparison to his normal contribution, had by this point played his way into the game and it was his vision that should have created United's second.

A run from the left went unattended and after he threaded the most sumptuous of passes, Fletcher could only blaze wildly over the top when perfectly positioned to add a goal to his assist.

Newcastle were never short in their exertions or possession, but with Bellamy a square peg in a round peg on the left they struggled to fashion clear cut opportunities.

With chances at a premium, Shearer took matters into his own hands and after dispossessing a ponderous Wes Brown, he headed for the United goal.

Invited to continue his run by Ferdinand's reluctance to close down, Shearer drove towards goal and dispatched past Carroll on the stretch with his left foot.

Credit United for their resilience, as within four minutes, on 72, they were back in front courtesy of a controversial van Nistelrooy spot-kick.

Andy O'Brien was hurried out of possession by a busy Rooney and after the England youngster attempted a chip, Given could only palm and in attempting to win back possession, bundled over Scholes who was looking for the rebound.

Souness will argue O'Brien was pushed in the build up to the incident but van Nistelrooy, a model of composure, cared little and converted with customary ease.

The final twenty minutes saw Newcastle enjoy possession but they created precious little of substance and in injury time, Rooney netted his second after the type of defending that will alarm Souness greatly.

Smith was left unattended to head across goal and after van Nistelrooy's finish was cleared off the line by a desperate Bramble lunge, Rooney was on hand to stab home.
l'mar'u ma'a man ahabba.


Manchester United chief executive David Gill has stated the club are looking to restructure the contracts of players at Old Trafford.

With many of The Red Devils stars on hefty wage packages, the club want to make around a quarter of the players' deals based on the performance of the team.

Gill has stated qualifying for the group stage of the UEFA Champions League is crucial and that any loss of income suffered by the club should be filtered through to the players.

"Getting to the Champions League group stage is critical, and it is important that players contribute to that element," said Gill.

"Part of their remuneration would be dependant on them getting into the Champions League.

"If we don't get in, our income goes down. That would be mitigated by the players' wages going down.

"It would be good if we could get 25 percent based on that second element.

"For the young players, we need to look at them having appearance-based money but they would still get a very nice basic."
l'mar'u ma'a man ahabba.


Ryan Giggs' long term future at Manchester United has been plunged into doubt after the flying winger admitted he has turned down the club's latest offer of a contract.

The 30-year-old has been a fixture in the United team for 14 years, making over 500 appearances, and is keen to see out his playing days at Old Trafford.

However, Giggs has confirmed that he has rejected the club's offer of a one-year top up on his present deal.

"I have been offered a one-year extension to my current deal but I turned it down," he said.

Giggs claims he wants more security and has asked the club's paymasters to reconsider their position.

"The club have gone away to consider it and we're now waiting to arrange a second meeting," he added in the News Of The World.

"I hope that they come back to me with a longer deal. For the moment, I'll just have to wait and see."

Giggs has not been at his penetrating best this term and has found himself on the bench on occasions recently, but it is believed that Red Devils chief Sir Alex Ferguson is keen to keep the left winger at Old Trafford.

Ferguson, though, has seen the club's board reject his recommendation and this could prompt a sale - either in January or next summer - with Bolton rumoured to be keen on offering the Welsh wizard a Premiership lifeline.
l'mar'u ma'a man ahabba.


Final score: Newcastle 1 Manchester United 3

90+4 mins: Almost straight after the restart the final whistle goes. Manchester United thoroughly deserved their win and this was one of their most impressive displays of the season. There looks to be plenty of work for Graeme Souness to do at Newcastle though.

90+4 mins: GOAL - ROONEY. It's all over now. Great work from Smith gives van Nistelrooy a gilt-edged chance but his attempt is cleared off the line by Bramble, only for Rooney to lash in the rebound.

90+3 mins: Shearer wins a freekick against Ferdinand in a dangerous position on the right edge of the area. The ball is played in by Robert and Johnsen eventually stabs it into the net but long after the whistle goes for a foul from Shearer.

90+2 mins: The crowd is unusually quiet - there seems a real lack of belief that Newcastle can find an equaliser.

90+1 mins: Bellamy tries to spark a Newcastle attack but his ball forward is too strong and goes straight through to Carroll.

90 mins: There will be four minutes of added time.

89 mins: Given lets the ball go out of play, seemingly unaware that the last touch was from a Newcastle player so it's a corner to Manchester United. Luckily nothing comes of it though and Newcastle resume their search for an equaliser.

88 mins: The cross into the Newcastle area from Giggs finds van Nistelrooy but he can't get enough power on his header and Given scrambles clear.

87 mins: Smith wins a freekick for Manchester United out near the right corner flag.

86 mins: There's a half chance for Rooney as the ball breaks to him on the edge of the Newcastle area but his low shot is well blocked.

85 mins: Smith is straight into the action to win the ball back well for Manchester United deep inside his own half.

84 mins: Alan Smith, sent off in the Manchester derby last week, is on for United as he replaces Ronaldo.

83 mins: A great run from Ronaldo isn't matched by the finish as he mis-kicks horribly wide when a square ball to van Nistelrooy looked the better option.

82 mins: A Robert freekick from 30 yards out almost gets over the Manchester United wall but just catches Scholes' head and loops harmlessly back to Carroll.

81 mins: There's a late tackle from Scholes on Bellamy but the referee resists putting the Manchester United man's name in the book.

80 mins: Newcastle's frustration shows as Butt chops down former teammate Scholes. It's a freekick to Manchester United.

79 mins: Manchester United are keeping possession well and almost create a chance for Giggs but Johnsen gets in well to hack the ball clear.

78 mins: Rooney does well to keep possession for United as the clock ticks down.

77 mins: It appears that Bramble and Jenas were both booked for dissent after the award of that penalty.

76 mins: Manchester United make a change for the final quarter of an hour as Ryan Giggs comes on for Fletcher.

75 mins: Newcastle are shellshocked by the award of that spot-kick - it looked a 50:50 call.

74 mins: GOAL - VAN NISTELROOY. The Dutchman makes no mistake with a clinical spot-kick as he sends Given the wrong way.

73 mins: It's a penalty to Manchester United after Given brings down Scholes.

72 mins: Some of the credit for that Shearer goal must go to Bellamy whose run helped things open up - Shearer took advantage superbly though.

71 mins: GOAL - SHEARER. Newcastle needed a moment of inspiration or a slice of luck and they get both as Shearer takes advantage of an error from Wes Brown to collect the ball and then he bears down on goal and fires past Carroll to make it 1-1.

70 mins: Robert and Bellamy link up well and Dyer almost gets in on goal but Newcastle fail to get a shot on target.

69 mins: Gary Neville gets a foot in to thwart another Newcastle attack and the Magpies have to start from square one again.

68 mins: There's a freekick to Newcastle out on the left but Robert's effort is easily headed clear by Manchester United.

67 mins: Robert nips past Gary Neville down the left but fails to get in a cross - much to Shearer's displeasure.

66 mins: Rooney tries a hopeful ball down the left flank but it's too long and goes straight through to Given.

65 mins: Manchester United will be delighted with the way things are going - Newcastle are struggling to create much in this second half and the crowd noise has dropped accordingly.

64 mins: A mazy run from Ronaldo comes to nothing as Ronny Johnsen stands his ground well.

63 mins: Newcastle make a change as Laurent Robert takes over from Kluivert.

62 mins: Another great run from Scholes, this time down the right, sees him find Rooney who cuts back but then fires high and wide.

61 mins: Rooney races clear down the left and wins another corner for Manchester United but again the delivery from Scholes isn't great and Given easily collects.

60 mins: There's a corner to Manchester United but it's a poor one and Newcastle gratefully clear.

59 mins: Manchester United are forced to make a change before the corner is taken, Wes Brown coming on for Silvestre. When the corner is eventually taken it's straight into Carroll's arms.

58 mins: Newcastle win a corner after Keane nudges the ball out under strong pressure from Kluivert.

57 mins: We''re back under way now - there's sure to be plenty of injury time at the end of this half.

56 mins: After a couple of minutes of treatment Silvestre is back on his feet but he hobbles off for more attention.

55 mins: There's a stoppage after Bowyer's boot accidentally goes into Silvestre's face as the pair tumble over. That proves to be Bowyer's last involvement as he's replaced by Kieron Dyer.

54 mins: Kluivert has the ball in the net after a slick Newcastle move but the flag has gone up for offside - incorrectly, suggest the replays.

53 mins: A great piece of skill from Rooney sees him take down the ball superbly but O'Brien is up to the challenge and wins it back for Newcastle.

52 mins: Great play from Scholes tees up Fletcher just inside the area but the Scotland youngster blazes over the bar.

51 mins: Ronaldo skips clear down the right but his cross is too long and Manchester United didn't have numbers in the box either.

50 mins: Fletcher tries a snapshot from the edge of the area but Given gets down well to gather.

49 mins: A great crossfield ball finds Ronaldo but he can't get past Bernard and Given hacks clear.

48 mins: There are calls for handball against Keane but they come from the crowd rather than the Newcastle players and play is waved on. Replays show it never went near his arms.

47 mins: Ferdinand leaves his foot a bit high as he challenges Shearer and Newcastle win a freekick but Heinze gathers well and clears when it's played into the area.

46 mins: We're back under way at St James' and neither side has made any changes at the break.

45+2 mins: Rooney so nearly bursts through the entire Newcastle defence just before the whistle goes for half-time. Manchester United deserve their lead but Kluivert's had two great chances late on for Newcastle.

45+1 mins: Bellamy breaks clear through the centre and passes to Shearer and the ball eventually finds its way to Bowyer inside the area but his shot is charged down well by Silvestre.

45 mins: There will be two minutes of added time at the end of the first half.

44 mins: Kluivert should have done much better with that chance and Newcastle have another opportunity when Shearer nods the ball across the six-yard box to the Dutchman but his header is embarrassingly poor.

43 mins: There's drama aplenty as a poor back pass from Rooney almost lets in Kluivert but he makes a real mess of it after rounding the goalkeeper as he shoots wide. All that happened after a clash between Shearer and Heinze which leaves the Manchester United defender clutching his back.

42 mins: Van Nistelrooy hits the side netting after cutting in well and unleashing a shot from the left-hand edge of the area.

41 mins: Carroll reacts quickly to get in ahead of Bellamy after the ball ricochets into the area.

40 mins: Ronaldo goes to ground theatrically after a tackle from Bramble and quite rightly doesn't win a freekick.

39 mins: The corner from Manchester United is too long and Newcastle are able to clear.

38 mins: Olivier Bernard needs to time his tackle on Ronaldo perfectly as he slides in inside the area and knocks the ball out for a corner.

37 mins: That was a great chance for Shearer and came straight from a punt downfield by Given.

36 mins: Newcastle's best chance of the match falls to Shearer after a comical mis-kick from Ferdinand but he can't take advantage as he lashes his effort just wide of the goal.

35 mins: Bowyer takes the freekick but it's cleared straight back to him and when he heads it back in the ball goes straight to Carroll.

34 mins: Shearer wins a freekick for Newcastle against Mikael Silvestre out near the right corner flag.

33 mins: Butt is quick to close down Rooney near the centre circle and Manchester United are forced to play the ball back.

32 mins: Jenas is penalised for a foul on Ronaldo in the middle of the park.

31 mins: Rooney takes advantage of a slip by Andy O'Brien and gallops clear down the left flank but Butt rescues Newcastle with a perfectly-timed challenge.

30 mins: Bramble bursts into the Manchester United half, dinks the ball to Shearer on the edge of the area and he chests it down for Kluivert but the Dutchman can't keep his shot down and it doesn't trouble Carroll.

29 mins: The offside flag goes up against Ronaldo to halt another slick Manchester United attack.

28 mins: There's almost a flare-up as Bowyer and van Nistelrooy tangle when battling for the ball, but both are quickly on their feet and no action is taken.

27 mins: Referee Mike Dean again resists showing a yellow card, this time Ronaldo being the man to escape with a lecture.

26 mins: Keane is lucky not to go into the book for another late tackle on Bowyer.

25 mins: United are playing possession football right now - to the frustration of the majority of the St James' crowd.

24 mins: Butt is penalised again for a foul on Ronaldo and it's a freekick to United out on the right but the delivery from the Portuguese starlet is awful and Newcastle hack clear.

23 mins: Jenas almost breaks clear for Newcastle but he's shepherded to the edge of the area and when he passes the ball back to Bellamy the shot that comes in is a tame one and goes straight into Carroll's arms.

22 mins: Manchester United break swiftly and Butt blocks Ronaldo - to the protests of the United bench.

21 mins: The freekick is taken short by Newcastle but it's nothing like as effective this time and Manchester United clear.

20 mins: Roy Keane catches Bowyer late and it's a freekick to Newcastle from 35 yards out - almost the same spot from which Shearer tested Carroll earlier.

19 mins: Nice play from Newcastle is wasted when Jermaine Jenas over-hits a ball out to the right and it goes out of play.

18 mins: Newcastle clear from the corner but are then forced to make a change at right-back as Carr limps off and is replaced by Andy O'Brien.

17 mins: Another excellent ball in from the right by Fletcher causes all sorts of problems for Newcastle but they escape as it goes out for a corner.

16 mins: Rio Ferdinand coolly chests back a cross to Carroll to break up another Newcastle attack.

15 mins: That was a great save from Given - but a square ball from Ronaldo could have given van Nistelrooy a virtual tap-in.

14 mins: There's a fantastic save by Given after Ronaldo takes advantage of a slip from Stephen Carr and beats Titus Bramble before unleashing a powerful shot which the Newcastle keeper does well to block.

13 mins: There's the first real lull in the game - which isn't a surprise given such a frantic start - as Newcastle play the ball back to Given.

12 mins: Fletcher upends Lee Bowyer and is perhaps a little fortunate not to collect the game's first caution.

11 mins: A lovely ball from Keane through the middle so nearly sets Ruud van Nistelrooy clear on goal but the Dutchman can't quite control it and it runs through to Given.

10 mins: A raking 60-yard ball from Scholes almost finds Ronaldo down the right but it just runs out of play.

9 mins: The game is incredibly open at the minute and Nicky Butt wins the ball for Newcastle to break up the latest Manchester United attack.

8 mins: There were question marks over Newcastle's central defensive duo for that United goal but Fletcher's pass over the top and Rooney's finish were both outstanding.

7 mins: GOAL - WAYNE ROONEY. It's been a fantastic start to the match and Manchester United strike first. The goal was pure quality as Rooney's first touch tucks the ball from Fletcher past Shay Given.

7 mins: A lovely chest-down from Bellamy tees up Patrick Kluivert who doesn't disappoint as he volleys in a fantastic shot which only just fizzes over the bar.

6 mins: Fletcher makes a great run down the right and whips in a decent cross but Ronaldo can't quite get on the end of it and Newcastle head clear.

5 mins: Carroll is again called on to paw away the corner which almost curls in underneath the bar - it's been a great start to the match.

4 mins: Gabriel Heinze hauls down Craig Bellamy 35 yards out and it's a freekick to Newcastle. Shearer is over the ball and lashes in a fearsome shot which Roy Carroll is grateful to deflect away with his legs for a corner.

3 mins: There's an early corner to United which is taken short by Paul Scholes but when the ball is chipped into the box it's headed clear by Newcastle.

2 mins: Darren Fletcher and Cristiano Ronaldo link up well but Ronaldo loses possession on the edge of the Newcastle area.

1 min: We're under way with both sides bidding to cut the gap at the top between themselves and Chelsea. Manchester United trail by 13 points while Newcastle are 15 behind.

Pre-match: Sir Alex Ferguson pairs returning striker Ruud van Nistelrooy with Wayne Rooney in attack as his side look to get their season back on track at Newcastle. The Dutchman and the man the Magpies tried to lure to St James' Park in August are just two of 10 changes to the side which knocked Crystal Palace out of the Carling Cup in midweek with skipper Roy Keane, Gary Neville and Cristiano Ronaldo among those recalled and only Darren Fletcher retained. Newcastle boss Graeme Souness dispenses with Andy O'Brien from the team which started against Chelsea on Wednesday night to restore the fit-again Stephen Carr and Lee Bowyer. That means that the central defensive partnership of Titus Bramble and former United man Ronny Johnsen is retained for a vital game.


Newcastle: Given, Carr, Bramble, Johnsen, Bernard, Bowyer, Butt, Jenas, Bellamy, Shearer, Kluivert.

Subs: O'Brien, Dyer, Harper, Ameobi, Robert.

Man Utd: Carroll, G, Neville, Ferdinand, Silvestre, Heinze, Fletcher, Keane, Scholes, Ronaldo, van Nistelrooy, Rooney.

Subs: Howard, Brown, Saha, Giggs, Smith.

Referee: M Dean (Wirral).
l'mar'u ma'a man ahabba.


Wayne Rooney remains upbeat about Manchester United's prospects of reclaiming the Premiership title.

The England international netted twice during The Red Devils' 3-1 victory at Newcastle United on Sunday.

The three points ensure United stay within hailing distance of Chelsea and Arsenal, who also picked up wins at the weekend.

Though The Red Devils languish 11 points off the pace being set by Chelsea, Rooney is refusing to concede defeat in the title race.

He feels his team can never be dismissed as title contenders and acknowledged the importance of beating Newcastle.

"With Chelsea and Arsenal winning this weekend, we needed a win to keep ourselves in the title race," said Rooney.

"I think we can still win it.

"It's going to be a difficult job to catch the teams at the top but you should never write us off.

"We all believe in ourselves, especially after coming to a hard place like Newcastle and winning.

"We still have enough quality to win the title."
l'mar'u ma'a man ahabba.