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www.red11.org DAILY NEWS
Date: Sat Nov 28 00:37:01 EST 1998
Mail: barry@www.red11.org

This Issue:
1. Fergie must get ruthless after Great Dane's latest clanger
4. United calibre on show at the Nou Camp
5. Massive Italian twist for Man United!! 


"This is Peter Schmeichel's last season at Manchester United! Click image for more info!"

Subject: Fergie must get ruthless after Great Dane's latest clanger By Graham Hunter Friday, November 27, 1998 It cannot have escaped Peter Schmeichel's attention that Alex Ferguson has a track record of taking hard, even harsh decisions on goalkeepers. Ferguson enjoyed similar successes with Jim Leighton as he has done with Schmeichel. But the Old Trafford boss secured his first United trophy by summarily dropping Leighton after three needlessly conceded goals in the 1990 FA Cup Final draw with Crystal Palace. Despite the astonishing mistake Schmeichel made in conceding the second goal in the 3-3 draw with Barcelona on Wednesday night, the difficulty currently facing Ferguson need not be resolved as it was with Leighton eight years ago. But anyone who thinks that Ferguson is not pondering long and hard about whether Schmeichel will remain United's automatic No.1 between now and the keeper's chosen sell-by date of next May is kidding themselves. Even Schmeichel admits he has a problem - not so much one of ability but of concentration. He has a lot to think about. Having recently announced his intention to quit English football at the end of the season, he is awaiting offers from interested parties. This is bound to affect his ability to stay single-minded about his ambition to finish his United career holding the Champions Cup aloft. Repaying exceptional service with loyalty is something Ferguson has grown more able to do since almost crushing Leighton's spirit with such public humiliation. Bryan Robson, Steve Bruce, Gary Pallister and Eric Cantona have all been afforded a curtain call, bouquets thrown from the audience and a dignified exit stage left. But goalkeepers are different. Schmeichel has begun to demonstrate an alarming capacity for inventing new and ever more bizarre ways of damaging his reputation and Manchester United's ability to win big matches. From the deeply eccentric race upfield against Arsenal at Old Trafford last season - when the title was effectively lost and he injured himself badly - his form has been inexplicably erratic. When he was caught wrong-footed and allowed Rivaldo's free kick to go in at the Nou Camp, there was a look of baffled horror on his face. Even Schmeichel did not understand how, on a night when he repeatedly saved United with first-class work, he could get something so basic so wrong. Thus it was in Munich, too, with the gaffe for Bayern's late equaliser and against Sheffield Wednesday last weekend when he virtually threw the ball in his net. Like golfers who get the yips on the green, goalkeepers can develop a mental block which ruins their otherwise pristine work. Seeking an explanation often only results in inflicting mental torture without finding a solution and the best answer is usually to let them play through it. Hard when you have been one of the best two or three keepers in the world in recent years, hard when you play in the relentlessly demanding atmosphere of Old Trafford and hardest of all when you have already confessed that the time has come to call it quits. Put simply, Peter Schmeichel just cannot afford to keep on doing this. His huge frame is infamously creaking but the impression from the outside is that his massive psyche is under no less strain. A proud and fantastically competitive man is apparently having great difficulty in coming to terms with the passage of time. Two Schmeichel eras are simultaneously drawing to a close - for Manchester United and Denmark. Friends and fellow legends in the national team with whom he won the European Championship in 1992 have gone, leaving him behind. In his head he is certain he must follow them but in his heart he is not sure when. His mentality is far less fragile than Brian Laudrup, who recently swapped the potential pinnacle of his career, with Chelsea, for hearth and home in Copenhagen. But it is a factor in his current dilemma that, like Laudrup, Schmeichel has borne the oppressive weight of national expectation on his shoulders for many years now. Nobody - not Ronaldo, Cruyff, Best or Shilton - can do that beyond the certain point after which burn-out occurs. Schmeichel's problem at Old Trafford is not dissimilar. Already gone are six of the magnificent seven - leaving the keeper alone - who have made United the dominant force they are now. Bruce, Pallister, Cantona, Robson, Paul Ince and Mark Hughes have all felt the need to reinvent themselves in a variety of ways to feed their hunger to succeed without trying to play King Canute against the lapping waves of time. Like them, Schmeichel could not bear the thought of letting go slowly at United while he lost his automatic No.1 status - but has he acted soon enough? Perhaps it should be remembered that David Seaman, who is the same age, survived the awful blunder against Holland in 1993 when Ronald Koeman's free kick exposed him and Nayim's long-range punt which caught him out to rob Arsenal in the 1995 Cup-winners Cup Final. Not only did Seaman survive, he was exceptional in last season's Double-winning side. Ferguson needs to take into account that Schmeichel performed brilliantly last season against Juventus, in Munich this season and on several occasions in Barcelona before his error. The temptation for the manager is to ride out the crisis and hope Schmeichel can dredge up one more momentous mental effort to correct the mistakes. Edwin van der Sar, the superb Ajax keeper, is United's long-term target with Ipswich's Richard Wright marked down as the trainee and Raimond van der Gouw the meat in the sandwich. Van der Gouw enjoys Ferguson's trust and admiration and, rather than buying in panic, the United manager may draft in the Dutchman from time to time if Schmeichel continues to make errors. A side who draw Barcelona, Bayern and Brondby and score 19 goals in five games while remaining one of only two teams in the six Champions League groups to avoid defeat can win the trophy. But until they cure their defensive fallibility, United will remain dark horses whose potential will not take them to the line. The form of Peter Schmeichel will be central to whether United do, or do not, realise their rich promise.
"This is Peter Schmeichel's last season at Manchester United! Click image for more info!"

Subject: 365 FERGUSON'S GOT HIS DREAM TEAM By Howard Johnson SOMETIMES, a game is so thrilling that you simply have to stare in open-mouthed wonder. Manchester United's 3-3 draw with Barcelona in the Nou Camp on Wednesday was just such a match. It had everything; passion, pace, power and wondrous skill. United's second goal, a quickfire exchange between Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole which started with the former's sublime dummy, then featured two astonishing first-time balls and ended with a superlative finish from the latter, was quite simply brilliant - football from the very top drawer. No right-minded fan of the game could fail to be moved by that kind of quality, and while doubtless many English football supporters would have gained much pleasure from a United defeat, surely no-one can argue that football's annals are all the richer for that wondergoal, that wondergame. United, of course, are on the receiving end of a huge number of brickbats most of the time - and it's not too hard to see why. They can seem arrogant and aloof to those who hold no truck with the notion of Old Trafford as 'The Theatre Of Dreams'. Indeed, the staff and players at Manchester United sometimes are arrogant and aloof. Manager Alex Ferguson's red-tinted spectacles can often be too much to take. But let's not allow ourselves to suffer from myopia. To Ferguson's eternal credit he has always tried to put out teams which are dedicated to playing the game in an attack-minded fashion, with flair, inventiveness and joy. Not for him the desire to build from the back and scrape a 1-0 win. The mean-spirited would, of course, insist that United's tradition absolutely insisted on teams with style. But the mean-spirited have probably forgotten the state the club was in when Ferguson arrived. The fans would have accepted anything from a consistently successful team back in 1986. Now that the Scot has shaken off the shackles of the club's once-restrictive signing policies and, most likely, his own nature which obviously balks at paying players their exorbitant salaries, maybe only now will we see the very best of his managerial skills as he works with the very best players in the world. Now that he is willing and able to spend 12m on Yorke, we'll see even more clearly what a shrewd judge of talent he is. After all, who's going to argue against the idea that Yorke is the finest striker in the Premiership right now? Certainly not me. The thought that the anti-Man U backlash starts here isn't exactly a comfortable one for someone infatuated with the blue rather than the red half of Manchester. But just think about Wednesday night's second goal for a minute...
"This is Peter Schmeichel's last season at Manchester United! Click image for more info!"

Subject: CHAMPIONS LEAGUE AFTERMATH Stam Vows To Bury United's German Jinx Against Bayern JAAP STAM insists Manchester United will be going all out to lay their German jinx and advance to the quarter-finals of the European Cup when they take on Bayern Munich at Old Trafford on December 9. The 10m man was at the heart of a United defence which struggled to cope with Barcelona's attack during Wednesday night's amazing 3-3 draw at the Nou Camp, and that result means that Alex Ferguson's men must beat Bayern to top Group D and advance to the last eight automatically. A draw could be enough to see United through as one of two best runners-up, but Stam is determined that the Reds will collect a maximum return from another clash of the titans. The two sides fought out a 2-2 draw in the Olympic Stadium last month, with Peter Schmeichel's injury-time blunder costing his side a win their dominance had deserved. And Ferguson doesn't have to look too far back for a German side upsetting the odds in Manchester. Two seasons ago, unfancied Borussia Dortmund recorded a 1-0 semi-final victory at Old Trafford on their way to a surprise European Cup win. This season, Bayern appeared to be out of the running after taking just one point from their opening two group games, but they have recovered to put themselves within sight of qualification and Stam knows how difficult this latest crunch clash will be. ''We do believe that we can win at home to Bayern,'' he said. ''But German teams are always tough because they keep coming back at you. Sometimes you play them and you think you are winning in the game, but then they come back at you. They are very strong that way. We've seen before in European Championships and World Cups where it did not look like the Germans would make it or that they would not do well, but they nearly always seem to get there in the end. This match will require 100% concentration from us.'' United could still qualify as one of the two best runners-up on ten points if they draw the game. Their goal difference of plus nine is the best in the competition and they have also scored more goals than any other team. Stam, though, claims all they will be going for against Bayern is the win. ''A draw may be enough, but I'm not sure how the other groups are,'' he said. ''It's better for us to win and come first in the group than think about other teams and hope they might do us a favour. Realistically we have to win this game because if we draw we will have ten points and they will have 11. We have got to win to make sure.'' United's task on December 9 would have been so much easier if they had beaten Barcelona at the Nou Camp. Instead they had to settle for a point in the scintillating 3-3 draw and for Stam that was a disappointment. ''It's just a pity we didn't win because it means we have to win our next game,'' he said. ''It was nice to get a point but we needed all three.''
"This is Peter Schmeichel's last season at Manchester United! Click image for more info!"

Subject: United calibre on show at the Nou Camp MANCHESTER, England. Nov 26 - Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson might not admit it, but his team's 3-3 Champions' League draw with Barcelona on Wednesday night was a testament to how far they have come since he started chasing his European dream. The last time United visited the Nou Camp in 1994 they were beaten 4-0 by a team that contained players of the calibre of Romario, Hristo Stoitchkov and Ronald Koeman. Ferguson has admitted it was one of the worst defeats of his career after his gamble on leaving out Peter Schmeichel to ensure he did not break the three foreign player rule backfired. But from the phoenix of those ashes has risen a team capable of finally capturing the biggest prize in European football. And the fact only a mistake by Schmeichel denied United a famous victory was proof that Ferguson's canny planning is bearing fruit. He said: "We have to be satisfied to come away with a draw because it seemed one side might eventually score a winner. "We concentrated better in Munich but despite that you have to say we scored three goals in the Nou Camp which is great." But getting to the stage where United can travel to the great clubs of Europe confident of getting a result has been a painful process. One of the lessons Ferguson learned from that heavy defeat in Spain was the need to build a side of home-grown players and concentrate more on the European Cup and less on the domestic front. His bid to test out his masterplan in the following season was short-lived as United went out in the first round of the UEFA Cup to Rotor Volgograd. But his single-mindedness nearly paid off in the 1996-97 season as his stars quickly learned a European style of play that was new to English clubs banned from European action following the Heysel disaster. But despite reaching the semifinals after qualifying from a tough group, United lost out to eventual winners Borussia Dortmund by two deflected goals. Ferguson was left only with the consolation that the European experience gained would stand his team in good stead for the following season. He said at the time reaching the last four showed United were making progress. But despite his claims United slipped out at the quarter-final stage last term as Monaco repeated the sucker punch treatment after the Reds had provided their fans with some of the club's best displays in Europe. The 3-2 victory over Juventus at Old Trafford was Ferguson's brand of football at its best with quick breaking moves that tore apart the Italian giants. But the European dream was snuffed out for another season by a catalogue of injuries that saw most importantly Ryan Giggs sit out large parts of the second half of the season. Depth in the squad was the one area Ferguson knew he had to improve and his summer spending spree that saw Jaap Stam, Jesper Blomqvist and Dwight Yorke sign for the Reds has finally given United the look of potential world beaters. Giggs' current absence with a broken bone in his foot has hardly been noticed as Blomqvist has terrorised defences down the left and Yorke has struck up a deadly understanding with Andy Cole. But now comes Ferguson's biggest test. His freescoring side must find a way through Bayern Munich's methodical defence without falling pray to their achilles heel -- gifting opponents a soft goal that could ruin their chances of reaching the knock-out stages.
"This is Peter Schmeichel's last season at Manchester United! Click image for more info!"

Subject: Massive Italian twist for Man United!! United will be keeping a watchful eye on events in Group B of the Champions' League which could seriously affect the Reds' hopes of reaching the knock-out phase of the competition. United sit on nine points in Group D and, because of their superior goal difference and goals scored, are favourites to proceed to the quarter-final stage - should they fail to beat Bayern Munich on Wednesday week. However, because of political problems between Turkey and Italy, the Galatasaray-Juventus fixture has been postponed and, although scheduled for next week, could be delayed for even longer. UEFA have stipulated that the tie must take place in Istanbul, but the Italian giants have refused to travel. The authorities could take one of three paths: (A) - Wait until the two sides have reached a compromise (they have until March when the next round is scheduled). (B) - Play on neutral territory (or in Italy). (C) - Give the game to Galatasaray because of Juve's refusal to fulfill the fixture. If UEFA decide to take the third option, the repercussions for United could be severe. It would give the Turks ten points and they would then need just the one point to guarantee themselves a runners-up spot. The headache would then come from Group C where Real Madrid, Inter Milan and Spartak Moscow could all get more than ten points and finish second. Although for Spartak to progress, they would have to beat Real Madrid heavily when the two sides meet on December 9th. All of which means United have just one option, and that is to beat Bayern Munich at Old Trafford and go through as group winners.
"This is Peter Schmeichel's last season at Manchester United! Click image for more info!"

Subject: FERGUSON WILL RULE EUROPE, PLEDGES ROXBURGH Former Scotland manager Andy Roxburgh has backed Alex Ferguson to bring the European Cup to Old Trafford this season. Roxburgh, UEFA's technical director, who became Scotland boss following Ferguson's caretaking role, is sure his old mate has at last got the team to win the cup for the first time since Sir Matt Busby's legends in 1968. "Manchester United are in the forefront. The Champions' League is a highly competitive arena and they have always threatened," said Roxburgh. "Alex is an extremely experienced manager and won in Europe with Aberdeen before he went to United. He has nothing to prove to anyone, but winning competitions is a chemistry thing. "I watched them play Barcelona and they were devastating. They could well feel aggrieved that they did not win, but they are getting the chemistry right. Certainly his team have the potential to go the whole way. "Alex is willing to prioritise competitions. Look at how he dealt with the Worthington Cup. He has a decent sized squad and can use it to make sure he goes for the right competitions."
"This is Peter Schmeichel's last season at Manchester United! Click image for more info!"

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