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Compiled by
Barry J. Leeming    Digest Prgram by  William McArthur  Canada
Theatre Of Dreams  Banner's  by Sam Hayward   Download the digest program here!
The Devil's Advocate "REDitorial" commentary by Alex Paylor  "RED sky at night UNITED delight!"

Date: Mon Aug 10 05:50:50 GMT+00:00 1998
Mail: barry@www.red11.org

This Issue:
1. Charity Shield Quick Fire FULL TIME TV Report
2. Shield Report (PA)
4. Robson Backs Becks (PA)
5. Season Preview (ET)
6. United Sign Wonderkid (PA)
7. Giggsy (PA)
8. Fergie Wants To Stay At United (PA)

Daily RED Trivia  10th August:
1968: United 2-1 against Everton at Old Trafford in a Division 1 match watched by
      61,311. George Best and Bobby Charlton got the goals. Team was: Stepney,
      Brennan, Dunne, Crerand, Foulkes, Stiles, Best, Kidd, Charlton, Law, Aston.  

1971: Roy Keane born in Cork. Joined United from Nottingham Forest for £3.75 million                       And made his debut at Norwich City in August 1993. He claimed Premiership medals in                        1994, 1996 and 1997, plus FA Cup Winners medals in 1994 and 1996. Between
      1993-98 he made 170 appearances and scored 21 goals for the Reds, and won 35 caps
      for the Republic of Ireland, playing in the 1994 World Cup Finals.

July 25  Birmingham City  (A)     result: L 3-4
     27  Valerengen (A) (Oslo)    result: D 2-2
     31  Brondby (A) (Copenhagen) result: W 6-0
Aug   4  Brann Bergen (A)         result: W 4-0
      9  Arsenal (N)              result: L 0-3

Coming Matches Index: http://www.red11.org/mufc/fix9899z.htm
Wed 12/8 H Widzew Lodz CL
Sat 15/8 H Leicester PL 
Tue 18/8 H Eric Cantona XI (H) - Munich testimonial
Sat 22/8 A West Ham PL

Results of Week of Aug 2
Do you want Patrick Kluivert to join Manchester United?
  Yes:  116   64%
   No:   65   36%
Total:  181 voted
Question closed: 20:00 EST 09/08/98

Barry Comment;
Ok. Maybe pointless you say after we had the news that he was not coming.
The result tho' may possibly be an indication that "the fans" reckon that we need back up to Andy Cole for a long hard season ahead? Thanks for voting.
Simplenet celebrated guest nr 100.000 this week and currently there are 2-2500 guests on a weekly basis.
Great to have yo all on board any suggestions/comments/future survey questions 
Mail: Barry and Bill at barry@www.red11.org

NEW SURVEY STARTED TODAY: immediate response with an update as you vote:

Manchester United Survey #14 
How far will Manchester United go in this season's European Cup?
Champions League
Question opened 20:00 EST 09/08/98


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From: Barry Leeming Subject: Charity Shield Quick Fire FULL TIME TV Report The "Stars" had Mars giving a strong one way game to Manchster United, this is the story of what happened..... Proud Team Captain: Roy Keane 1 Schmeichel 2 G Neville, 6 Stam 5 Johnson, 3 Irwin, 7 Beckham, 16 Keane, 8 Butt, 11 Giggs, 19 Scholes 9 Cole UNITED playing in RED strip Very hot, sunny day, 90 deg Farenheit! 1300hrs CROWD singing "Andy Cole" LOUD! 03 G.Nev tackle from behind YELLOW 04 Keane goes in strong, Roy is back! Quick word by ref United going forward 05 Giggs thro' the middle Schole's just offside 09 Beckham good centre, pressure Corner, headed out 10 United pressure, Beckham combining well with Butt, Seaman takes cross Arse crowd generally giving Becks the stick (boos) 12 Schole's difficult volley well wide 13 All United, Arse attacks all taken out! 15 Giggs cross, brilliant Seaman saved by the whistle 18 Schmeichel kicks away in front of Anelka/Johnson 22 YELLOW to Keown who catches Scholes, ref did not give Andy advantage 23 Butt center taken by Seaman 24 Jaap tackles Overmars :) 25 CROWD sing "Ryan Giggs running down the wing" 26 Brilliant control and play by Scholes midfield. 25 Irwin YELLOW for a challenge 27 Giggs goes right through release Scholes just offside.. abs brilliant! 28 Overmars taken out by Roy Keane :))))))))) superb 31 First good shot by Arsenal Bergkamp, Schmeiks good flying save! 33 Overmars close in SCORES top right corner 1-0 Arse! Johnson loses footing trying to clear in the box, Schmeiks no chance. 36 Cry of "Champions" from Arse crowd 39 2 UNITED corners cleared 41 Keane good shot by Keane on target 42 Beckham chases back and tackles hard 44 Arse handball not given, Nicky Butt takes out Viera on the run, super play HT Manchester United 0-1 Arsenal (against run of play) Bergkamp off, substituted, slight hamstring 46 Schmeiks good save from Overmars, looks threatening 48 Giggs attack with Scholes cut out by Arse 50 CROWD sing "Andy Cole Andy Cole Andy Cole!" 51 Slow start to first half (prob heat 95F+ pitch level) 53 Ole Gunnar Solskjaer ON for Butt 55 Parlour shoots wide 56 Anelka, Wreh huge gap in our defence, confusion at the back 2-0 Arse :( United need to turn it on now! 57 Giggs corner just wide CLOSE! 59 Becks free kick 50yds just over, a long way out.... 62 UNITED start the pressure Andy close, header missed, Scholes shot blocked. 66 Overmars taken off replaced by Stephan Hughes 68 Cole attacking in the box close, squashed by Adams making a back 67 Triple sub by Alex: Teddy, P.Nev & Cruyff on (off Scholes,Giggs,Cole) Alex realises we have lost today, concentrating on Wed Champions League now? 70 Anelka thro' 3-0! smashes it past Smeiks good finish, our defence lacking! 74 Becks corner caught by Seaman, Arse crowd shouting "off off off" 75 Keano' off for Henning Berg 76 Seaman saves a dbl chance from Solskjaer, its Arsenals day :( 78 Phil Nev booked for tackle 82 Sheringham shoots just wide, offside tho' 83 Sheringham poor finish just wide should have scored, what next? no consolation goals today 90 Sheringham blasts wide (again) THE END Result: MAN UNITED 0-3 Arsenal Sky Man Of Match: Marc Overmars Who believes in the "Stars" anyway First Charity Shield win for Arse since 1953 v Blackpool Question remains for us REDS how do we beat the Arse I'm sure we will work things out.
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Subject: Shield Report (PA) Date: Sun, 9 Aug 1998 22:47:53 +0200 Arsenal v Manchester United By John Curtis, PA Sport. England midfielder David Beckham found himself running a gauntlet of hate as he stepped back into English football in the FA Charity Shield clash with Arsenal at Wembley. The Manchester United star was making his first appearance on home soil since his sending off in England's World Cup encounter with Argentina in St Etienne just under six weeks ago. But any hopes that the Gunners' fans might be in a forgiving mood were quickly shattered. Right from the kick-off Beckham was relentlessly booed every time he touched the ball and any mistake was greeted with jeers. It was a taste of what Beckham can expect when the action gets underway for real in the Premiership next Saturday from fans who have clearly made him the scapegoat for England's second phase exit in France. And to pile on the agony a goal from Arsenal midfielder Marc Overmars gave Arsene Wenger's side a 34th minute lead in the sweltering conditions. The first half was hardly a classic with both sides guilty of far too many misplaced chances and being caught constantly off-side. The two heavyweights appeared to be sparring with each other before the bigger prize of the Premiership crown, which Arsenal wrestled from United's grasp in May, gets underway in earnest. Gary Neville went into referee Graham Poll's book after only three minutes for a foul on Overmars who then produced the first on target effort of the game - a 20-yarder which flew straight at Peter Schmeichel. Beckham, despite the tirade of abuse from the terraces produced a couple of neat early touches. A fine pass let him Paul Scholes but his cross was misplaced and easily cut out. A fine cross-field ball from Beckham to Ryan Giggs allowed the United winger to send in a teasing first time cross which just eluded the on-rushing Scholes. Arsenal defender Martin Keown was then yellow-carded for a scything challenge on Scholes while Dennis Irwin went the same way for another reckless tackle against Tony Adams. Scholes found himself with a great chance to break the dead-lock in the 27th minute when Giggs' chip found him unmarked but he shot wide with only David Seaman to beat. It evoked memories of his crucial miss against Argentina from a similar position when England were leading 2-1. Within seconds of that blunder, Argentina stormed up-field to equalise - and in similar fashion Arsenal broke away to take the lead. Dennis Bergkamp broke into the area and turned a pass inside to Patrick Vieira who looked as if there was no way past the United defender Irwin. But the ball somehow broke to Overmars 15 yards out and he coolly rolled his shot into the roof of the net. Bergkamp also forced Schmeichel to save low to his right but the first 45 minutes had certainly failed to live up to their billing. HT Arsenal 1 Manchester United 0 Arsenal made a half-time substitution with Bergkamp replaced by Christopher Wreh. Arsenal defender Lee Dixon produced the first meaningful action of the second period when his 25-yard shot stung the hands of Schmeichel who needed two attempts to hold his effort. After 53 minutes United manager Alex Ferguson brought on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in place of Nicky Butt with Scholes dropping back into a midfield role. Ray Parlour was off target with a first time drive from 20 yards but after 56 minutes the Gunners doubled their advantage through substitute Wreh. Overmars and Anelka combined to find Wreh in space and his first effort was blocked by Schmeichel. However the rebound fell invitingly to him and he swivelled to tuck his shot into the corner of the net. United were stung into action by this reversal and Beckham took a free kick from a similar position to where he had scored in spectacular style against Colombia in the World Cup. But this time his sights were off target and his 25-yard effort curled just over the bar. Ferguson made a treble substitution with Giggs, Cole and Scholes replaced by Phillip Neville, Jordi Cruyff and Teddy Sheringham. But it made little difference and with 19 minutes left Arsenal looked to have made sure of victory as they went 3-0 ahead. Parlour supplied the through ball to Anelka who appeared to have been forced out wide by the challenge of £10.75million summer signing Jaap Stam. But the Gunners striker still managed to get a shot on target and it flew past a startled Schmeichel. Solskjaer had a chance to pull one back for United but Seaman blocked his close range effort at the expense of a corner. © PA Sporting Life
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Subject: Mirror Report: WENGER'S HOT SHOTS HAVE FUN IN THE SUN WENGER'S HOT SHOTS HAVE FUN IN THE SUN Arsenal 3 Man Utd 0 FUNNY, but wasn't this exactly where we finished it all last May? Arsenal sauntering off the Wembley pitch drenched in sunshine and sporting another easily-won trophy, was a scene happily familiar to the Gooner Army from the FA Cup final win over Newcastle. The taming of Manchester United on an even hotter afternoon yesterday was a satisfying repeat. And what surely made it even more enjoyable for the victorious Gunners, was the fact that United, unlike Newcastle, very definitely wanted to make a game of it, even if they are headed for the Champions' League on Wednesday. For Arsenal it was another canter at the Twin Towers, and they will now hope their European clashes - which are being staged at Wembley - will also prove as easy. United skipper Roy Keane even turned up with a new skinhead haircut and promptly launched into a very interesting contest with Patrick Vieira early on. But by the end, his Old Trafford team-mates and poor old boss Alex Ferguson were tearing their hair out too as Arsenal drowned them in an impressive tide of style, simplicity and laser-sharp finishing. A first-half goal by dangerous Dutch winger Marc Overmars was the body punch to United's ribs that sucked out all the breath after they dominated the opening skirmishes. Then, a soul-destroying strike apiece from youngsters Christopher Wreh and Nicolas Anelka sent them crashing to the deck after the break. It was all done with the same sharpness of mind, fleetness of feet and strength of body which carried Arsene Wenger's team to Double glory last season. In fact, for all the fears about World Cup hangovers, Overmars and the French pair Vieira and Emmanuel Petit could have enjoyed a glass of champagne or two at half-time and it would have done no harm at all. United looked like they had the same taste early on, but things turned more sour as every minute ticked by following Overmars' decisive opener. They were left only with injured pride and more questions about their £10.75million Dutch defender Jaap Stam. Fair enough, just about anyone would have been wrong-footed by the deft back-flick performed by Dennis Bergkamp which led to Arsenal's first goal. But he was clearly sucked out of position when Overmars surged forward and left Wreh free and unmarked to score the second. And, finally, he was outpaced and then by-passed by the quick feet of Anelka when he fired in the third. The slab-thighed Stam looked the part at most other times - like when he executed a superb sliding tackle to halt Overmars in his tracks in the 21st minute. That was during the spell when United defied the 100-degree heat at pitch level and buzzed around like wasps fired up by the sunshine and eager to sting. Gary Neville was booked after only two minutes for walloping into Overmars. Then Keane got into a couple of tangles with the long-legged Vieira to underline that United meant business. All the while, Nicky Butt, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and David Beckham looked to prise openings. It was Butt who tested David Seaman with a low shot in the 10th minute. However, the Gunners defence, which may now be approaching the combined age that could soon make it a listed monument, showed they are still a formidable barrier. And slowly, but surely, Arsenal tuned once again into the rhythm that allowed them to waltz ahead of everyone last term. The first sign of a shift in the balance of power came in the 19th minute when Seaman's long clearance sent Anelka scurrying towards goal and Stam had to keep pace all the way until Peter Schmeichel could tidy up. Then Keane had to make a timely intervention after a thoughtful pass from Petit sent Overmars on another troublesome dart along the left. Bergkamp's low 20-yard shot in the 31st minute was the final course of the starters - then he trickily set up the first goal four minutes later. Vieira found Bergkamp, who was lurking just on the left of the 18-yard box, and the Dutch striker's back-flick to Anelka bamboozled his World Cup team-mate Stam. Anelka took the loose ball and even if it looked suspiciously like a tug of the shirt he managed to beat the tumbling Ronny Johnsen and Overmars finished off the opening in emphatic fashion from 10 yards out. A clever one-two between Bergkamp and Anelka almost produced an instant second goal, but Schmeichel did well to hold the French teenager's shot. It always seemed likely the heat would drain the game of life in the second half. Yet Arsenal seemed to revel in it. Substitute striker Wreh fired a shot on the run just wide in the 54th minute. Then one minute later it was the energy of Overmars, surging once more down the left, which carved a second goal for the Gunners. Gary Neville tumbled as he raced across to challenge while Stam carelessly moved wide too. That left Wreh eagerly awaiting Overmars' simple touch to the right and the young Gunner drove home at the second attempt after Schmeichel had gamely stopped his first effort. United looked totally sapped. And in the 65th minute, Neville got so fed up with his tormentor Overmars, that he tried to crack him one in the face. Arsenal boss Wenger stepped in to end Neville's torture by taking the flying Dutchman off immediately afterwards. A minute earlier, Beckham had flared briefly into life when he directed a 25-yard free-kick just above the bar. If it had gone in, it would have gloriously echoed his World Cup strike against Colombia. But it was the kind of day when luck was not on United's side. Instead, Arsenal delivered the final slap in the face in the 70th minute. Ray Parlour's incisive ball from the middle sent Anelka charging away side by side with Stam. The Arsenal man got himself in front and then drove in a sharp, left-foot shot he should never really have been allowed to attempt. That came amid a flurry of substitutions which drew any remaining sting from the game. But there was one final, bitter moment to come for United. Substitute Teddy Sheringham stubbed a 15-yard shot crudely wide, after being sent clear by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, and that provoked howls of derision from the Arsenal end.
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Subject: Robson Backs Becks (PA) Date: Sun, 9 Aug 1998 22:47:55 +0200 GIVE BECK A BREAK, PLEADS ROBSON Former England manager Bobby Robson today called on Premiership football fans to forgive and forget fallen idol David Beckham. Robson, now coach of Dutch side PSV Eindhoven, is concerned that Beckham could be forced abroad by a backlash from non-Manchester United fans who blame him for England's exit from the World Cup following his sending off against Argentina. "We are worried that there are too many foreigners keeping our own good youngsters out of the picture, but we have a gem in Beckham and he must not be driven abroad...don't make him frightened to play for England again," said Robson. "The boy has to be forgiven. He's young and he has to learn. He is with a fantastic club with a good manager in Alex Ferguson who understands what's going on. "He's one of England's best players. He has a great future and mustn't be destroyed. He made a mistake, but he knows that more than anybody. He and his family have had a difficult time and now it has to end." Robson is concerned that a public witch hunt against Beckham could be a blow to all young English players in the Premiership. "Beckham is a starlet. There are 300 foreign players in England and that means there are 300 of our lads not getting a chance. He's in there with Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and Michael Owen as England's future and we are trying to chase one of them out," Robson told Express Sport. © PA Sporting Life
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Subject: Season Preview (ET) Date: Sun, 9 Aug 1998 15:52:19 +0200 Thoroughbred United leading the field in a three-horse race By Patrick Barclay PROMISED lands seldom live up to their promise. Those tempted by the project known as the European Football League should heed the lesson of England, where most of the money sucked in by the Sky-driven Premier League has gone straight to the players or the foreign clubs who increasingly supply them. Football can never go hand-in-hand with naked commercialism for a variety of reasons, one of which is that it is a uniquely competitive business. It will always be ruled by what Alan Sugar calls "prune-juice economics" because paying over the odds is the simplest way for one club to obtain an advantage over another. It is not a prudent industry. The decline of Newcastle United, for example, can be dated from the day they decided to go public. And even Manchester United, while apparently a model for followers of this strategy, have had their European ambitions frustrated by the requirement to satisfy non-footballing shareholders. The seductive idea put forward by the Milan-based firm planning the Super League, however, is that big clubs should establish a closed shop so they need not fear failure and can concentrate on making money. Golden-egg economics. Anyway, who have most to gain from this? Who, indeed, are desperate for it? Silvio Berlusconi's Milan, a club so ineptly run they sent an entire team of lavishly paid but under-achieving stars to the World Cup only weeks after their officials had travelled to a UEFA meeting in Amsterdam and practically got down on their knees, begging to be allowed to enter the InterToto Cup. If Milan have a problem, let them sort it out. But let the likes of Arsenal and United not be side-tracked from their duties as the Premiership prepares to resume next Saturday, especially bouyant after the sight of so many familiar faces dotted around the big event in France. Although I gather United and some Arsenal board members are still dazzled by figures, it is reassuring to learn that the Highbury vice-chairman, David Dein, remains fundamentally opposed to a breakaway. Dein, a member of the UEFA competitions committee, deserves support rather than the suspicion he is sometimes accorded. The best use to which the European Football League can be put is as a negotiating weapon against UEFA, who must respond to demands from the major European leagues, led by England's Peter Leaver, to reform their competitions so the game can stay under a single organisation and be the master, not servant, of television. The point is not to provide a great deal more European football, because attendance figures offer no argument for it and the house-full notices with which the Premiership is familiar are the game's best advertisement. The tedious necessity to address these issues ensures that it will be refreshing, even after so short a break following the World Cup, to see a Premiership ball kicked in earnest. There could be no better antidote to Euro-sickness than a visit to Old Trafford, where United face the typically indigenous Leicester and their don't-give-a-damn manager Martin O'Neill. The strange loss of momentum that allowed Arsenal to overhaul United must still disturb Alex Ferguson, who may privately be grateful Glenn Hoddle gave Nicky Butt and Phil Neville more rest than they wanted this summer. The acquisition of Jaap Stam, who will look a lot better in the Premiership than against the likes of Ariel Ortega, Gabriel Batistuta and Ronaldo, is another reason to believe United can regain the championship, but Ferguson will rate as the key factor the return of Roy Keane. He views the Irishman as the dynamo of his team, even if United took a long time to manifest the effects of Keane's absence through self-inflicted injury last season. It looks a three-horse race this time, with Liverpool more likely to stay the course now Gerard Houllier is on hand to influence the training and recruitment. Even with Michael Owen, soon to be abetted by a fit-again Robbie Fowler, they must stop leaking silly goals. In other words, they must take a leaf out of Arsenal's book. Though to bet against the Highbury club would seem folly, Arsène Wenger having swiftly established himself as the cleverest of managers, the worry is that too many key players - Emmanuel Petit, Patrick Vieira, Dennis Bergkamp and Marc Overmars - had prolonged involvements in the World Cup. That, and a failure to replace Ian Wright, lead to the conclusion that United are narrow favourites. The search for a fresh face at the top naturally takes us to Stamford Bridge, where Chelsea, having picked up a couple of cups, continue to play fantasy football, adding two of the World Cup's outstanding performers, Marcel Desailly and Brian Laudrup, to an already glittering array. Albert Ferrer and Pierluigi Casiraghi too. And a restored Gustavo Poyet. If they can be blended, Chelsea's title challenge will be both strong and exciting. But it is a lot to ask of such an inexperienced manager as Gianluca Vialli. At least Chelsea picked from the best of the Frenchmen. Newcastle appear to have gone for the most mundane, securing Stephane Guivarc'h, the prospect of whose partnership with Alan Shearer must already have the Geordie icon licking his lips in apprehension. No, it could have been worse and let's not forget that, last season, it was. My fear that Newcastle would face a renewed battle against relegation has also been assuaged by the arrival of Dietmar Hamann; the young German midfielder's leadership qualities are much needed. It would not be healthy if the three who come up from the Nationwide League promptly go down again, as happened last seaon. While Middlesbrough, Paul Gascoigne's fragility notwithstanding, look the best equipped to survive, at whose expense might this be? Tottenham's fans are concerned and a lack of activity on the transfer front points to another season of struggle there. Let us recall, though, that Spurs' great escape in the spring played to packed houses. Where there is uncertainty, there is life. This applies throughout Europe and is something the European Leaguers, in their sterile calculations, choose conveniently to forget.
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Subject: United Sign Wonderkid (PA) Date: Sun, 9 Aug 1998 22:47:58 +0200 UNITED LAND NORWEGIAN WONDERKID Manchester United have struck a deal with Norwegian side Brann Bergen for teenage wonderkid Erland Hantsviedt. The Under-17 Norwegian captain, who can play either in central defence or midfield, has already had trials at Old Trafford and is rated as an outstanding prospect by United coaches. But Hantsviedt will not be joining United immediately. United boss Alex Ferguson has agreed that the player can stay with Brann for another 18 months before arriving at Old Trafford. In the meantime, however, he will still make trips across to Manchester so United can check his progress. © PA Sporting Life
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Subject: Giggsy (PA) NEW AGE OF THE BOY WONDER Alex Ferguson said recently that Manchester United had plans for Ryan Giggs. It sounded more like a cautious comment on one of the club's new signings than on someone who has won enough medals and put on enough dazzling performances to be among only seven current Premiership players named in the "100 League Legends". Ferguson knows that Giggs faces a season which could justify that "legendary" status but just as easily turn him into a famous substitute. What Ferguson meant was that with the arrival of the naturally left-footed Swede Jesper Blomqvist, Giggs will be seen less often dashing down the touchline and more frequently in a free role, symbolically searching for the fulfilment of a fine talent that, unlike the spell-binding gifts of George Best, has not been dependable enough on the big occasions to merit being high among the greats. If the new role should fail, the arrival of Blomqvist will mean Giggs will no longer be able to escape to the left wing, as he did last season when his midfield work sometimes made no progress. The move from winger to potential playmaker has come sooner than he expected, especially as for years his passing let him down. Ferguson told him to study how John Barnes changed from a flying, dribbling winger to one of the game's most accurate passers. "I worked on that until I was not giving the ball away so stupidly," Giggs said. Giggs is also aware of the need for a "playmaker" to take a full share in stopping opponents from counter-attacking. He noted that the most successful midfield players in the World Cup this summer were those who were not only creative but went deep into their own half to re-build directly from the goalkeeper. However, he says that he still takes his inspiration on that score from the very English Peter Beardsley. Blomqvist, formerly of Milan and Parma and bought by United for £4.4m, said Giggs "was" one his inspirations, as if the Welshman was some boyhood hero now in decline. In fact he and Giggs are both only 24. It is just that Giggs has been in the United first team for seven years while seven years ago Blomqvist admits he was "learning to tie my laces in the Swedish third division". In the meantime Giggs has won the small matter of four Premiership titles and two FA Cup winners' medals. Whether these two similar players will become compatible or fail to link - presumably leaving Giggs fighting to retain his place - is for the coming season to reveal, but there is little doubt that this is a crucial period in the career of the normally darting Giggs who, at the back of last season was too often appearing with remnants of injuries, costing him his vivid pace. Diplomatically, he said: "This is a big season for all of us. We were all very disappointed by what happened last season and just want to bounce back." Having missed out on the World Cup experience and never having won a European Cup medal, he still lacks complete international recognition of his ability. That is something which clearly hurts. "You've got to play in one of the big ones, like the World Cup or a European final before you get recognised as a world-class player," he said. For several reasons there is cause to think that this season should be his best, though there is always the lurking danger of it becoming his most frustrating. Inevitably he is going to be compared with Blomqvist, but he says he has lived with the comparison with Best for so long he no longer feels challenged by anyone, past or present. Yet in truth he has not achieved the great Irishman's consistency. It is a modern fallacy that Best was an overnight wonder, an early victim of an over-indulgent lifestyle. In fact, for seven years he played not only superbly but reliably. Giggs says he is ready for the new challenge. While most other members of the United squad sweated in France he had had time to recover from his injuries, but more importantly, he saw the media spotlight switch to Michael Owen. For that he should be grateful. Unlike the majority of British club players who had no part in the World Cup (several have almost proudly declared that they never even saw a game on television), Giggs made the effort to visit France (albeit mainly because his sponsors made it worth his while) and said he "enjoyed it more than I thought I would". He had anticipated being frustrated but returned "more determined than ever to play in the next finals". Ferguson says that too much has been read into the fact that Giggs will operate in a more central, prompting position, with the emphasis on coming from behind the attack to score the important goals that have too often eluded the strikers, especially since the departure of Eric Cantona. "Whenever we had the opportunity last season, Ryan was used in midfield, but he was also the only left-footed player we had, so often he had to play on the wing because we needed the width. But the thing about him is that he's now got the experience to go with his talent. We can play him in a number of different roles." Ferguson admits that Giggs has been criticised for not always playing at his best in European competition "but you can judge his value to us when we lose him". He was thinking particularly of last season when United were knocked out of the Champions' League at the quarter-final stage by Monaco. Giggs was absent. Ferguson said it was that disappointment that made him realise how much United depended on one left-side player. In fact, it made everyone realise that the squad was not deep enough - hence this summer's spending spree and the rejected attempt to sign Patrick Kluivert. Meanwhile, Giggs himself is still regularly linked with Italian clubs, and regularly goes to sleep when watching them on television. © PA Sporting Life
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Subject: Fergie Wants To Stay At United (PA) Date: Sun, 9 Aug 1998 15:52:21 +0200 FERGIE WANTS TO EXTEND UNITED REIGN Alex Ferguson wants to manage Manchester United well into the millennium. There has been speculation that the 56-year-old Scot may move behind the scenes at Old Trafford next season and leave number two Brian Kidd in charge. But Ferguson, who has two years to run on his present contract, has quashed those rumours. He tells Sunday's News of the World: "It is unfortunate that I keep on getting pigeon-holed for retirement because I have no intention of doing that. "If it was up to me, I'd go on for ever. I'm determined to take us back to the top." Kidd, meanwhile, is quite happy to continue his six-year spell as Ferguson's number two, having turned down the chance to manage Everton. "It doesn't bother me that I'm in the background. Let's be honest, the boss is a celebrity now. He's fine with it and handles it great - but it's not for me," the 49-year-old tells the tabloid. "It's not a question of pressure, it just doesn't appeal to me. For the moment I enjoy working with the players every day in training. I don't want to give that up. "I have no reason to push myself forward or promote myself. Some people are obviously happy living that way, but it has too many negatives for me. I don't need the fuss and I don't want it either." © PA Sporting Life
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