News, views and rumours relating to Manchester United in the past 24 hours.
Manchester United were victorious at Old Trafford on Saturday, beating Norwich 4-0, maintaining their 12-point lead at the top of the Premier League.
Summer signing Shinji Kagawa scored a hat-trick and Wayne Rooney scored his side’s fourth on 90 minutes in the comprehensive win.
United now face Real Madrid at Old Trafford this Tuesday evening in the second-leg of their last-16 Champions League tie that stands 1-1 on aggregate.
However manager Sir Alex Ferguson insists his team should not fear former United star Cristiano Ronaldo who makes his return to Old Trafford for the first time as a Real Madrid player.
“I don't think it is one we should fear. If we go out fearing the damage Cristiano can do us then we will forget what we can do,” said the Scot.
"You hope in a game of this nature that you are going to get the best refereeing performance, on the same level as the players on the pitch," said Ferguson.
Ferguson also stated his hope that the ‘tactics are right’ against Madrid. He pointed to United’s victory over Barcelona in the 2008 semi-finals as the kind of defensive display to aim for in an interview with ManUtd.com
"That probably will be the key to the game, to be honest. As we know, Real Madrid are one of the best counter-attacking teams in Europe.” He continued,
"That showed itself last Tuesday at the Nou Camp – they were absolutely stunning on the counter-attack so we have to find a way of coping with that while also having our own threat in an attacking sense.”
In team news, Phil Jones has been ruled out of Tuesday evening’s game, as he is not expected to recover from his ankle injury in time.
“He's not fit. He won't be fit for tomorrow,” Ferguson revealed.
Striker Wayne Rooney is ‘ready to shine’ against Real Madrid. He told The Telegraph:
“The age I am at now is the time when most players start to peak,” Rooney said.
“From now and across the next four or five years. Hopefully that will be the case and the team will benefit from that.”
The Guardian reports that hat-trick hero Shinji Kagawa can play a ‘key role’ in Tuesday’s clash and the player himself is looking forward to playing his part.
"My hat-trick will be huge news in Japan," acknowledged Kagawa.
"But they are really looking forward to the Real Madrid game; that's what I'm aiming for as well.”
The Manchester Evening News has a dedicated photo piece focusing on United training at Carrington ahead of the tie.
The same source also shows Cristiano Ronaldo and his Real Madrid teammates training at Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium as part of their preparations.
In transfer news, Sir Alex Ferguson dismissed suggestions that Ronaldo could re-sign for United as ‘false hope’.
"I don’t think there’s anything as far as I’m aware to encourage me that he’d come back here," reiterated Sir Alex.
"I don’t think there’s anything in that at all.”
Meanwhile, United are linked with interest in one of South America’s ‘top talents’ Juan Fernando Quintero who is reportedly on United’s ‘radar’ presently as his current club Pescara are looking increasingly likely to be relegated form Serie A.
“If I score against them it would be spectacular, a beautiful sensation,” said the former Red Devils man.
“I can't say what I'll do. It would be something spontaneous, but I'd love to be in that situation.”
United vice-captain Patrice Evra hopes the Portuguese superstar receives the ‘love’ he deserves from the crowd tomorrow night.
“It is difficult when you play with love,” Evra explained.
“Cristiano will get a great reception because of what he achieved for Manchester United. The fans will never forget what he did.”
Meanwhile Real Madrid’s Pepe and Sergio Ramos have insisted they are ‘confident’ they can beat United after their Copa del Rey semi-final clash with Barcelona.
“Psychologically the team has strengthened after the Clasicos and we go to Manchester convinced we can go through. We know we can go through,” Ramos revealed.
Madrid midfielder Xabi Alsono is also looking forward to returning to Old Trafford where he played against United as a Liverpool favourite.
"During my time at Liverpool, playing at Old Trafford always resulted in very intense games, which were always very important. I always enjoy playing there and, for Cristiano, who played there for many years, it is even more special,” revealed the Spaniard.
Finally, The Guardian reports that United are moving ‘closer to matching the financial might’ of Real Madrid.
The Spanish champions are, along with United one of the richest clubs in the world and United’s business deals in recent years have moved them closer to equalling the financial security of the Spanish giants.
image: © Jan Solo