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www.red11.org DAILY NEWS
Date: Sun Oct 03 08:18:02 GMT+00:00 1999
Mail: barry@www.red11.org

This Issue:
2. D-DAY FOR CHELSEA CHALLENGE -  official site
3. Butt looking for a place of his own 
5. Sir Alex insists 11 points are required to qualify.
6. Cole hits target - Guardian
7. New recruit offers case for defence- Sunday Times
8. European treadmill starting to take its toll
9. Danny Kelly on Beckham - Football 365



Barry Comment:
Today a crunch match, Chelsea away to stay top of the premier.
Hopefully we can protect our unbeaten record in the League & Cup to 39!

Live RADIO coverage today at
Match Tracker from 3.30pm, half an hour
before the big match kicks off.
Click here for more information:

Official site - 02-OCT-1999 [06:00] Ready For Action
Manchester United are focused, hungry and ready for action.
That?s the frightening message from Alex Ferguson to Chelsea 
ahead of the Stamford Bridge clash on Sunday. 
Fergie says that he expects a good game on a ground where United
have performed well in recent years. And according to the Boss, 
there is no reason why that record should not be extended at the weekend.
Confidence, seemingly, is not a problem!

Uniteds unbeaten runs currently stand at:
29 games League
45 games League and Cup
38 games domestic League and Cup

Message from Paul Hinson:
The 40-game record Nottingham Forest hold is 40 games in domestic League
and Cup. United need to remain unbeaten against Chelsea/Watford
and Aston Villa in the Worthington Cup 3rd Round to beat it.
The League only record is 42 games, against by Forest, and we would need to
avoid defeat up to around January 15 2000 to manage that!

NEW Treble Background
	2359352 Sep 20 08:33 treble_big.bmp
or http://www.red11.org/mufc/images/99/treble_mufc.jpg
	111250 Sep 20 08:32 treble_mufc.jpg

Group D  ** Manchester United **
Olympique de Marseille * NK Croatia Zagreb * SK Sturm Graz

Manchester United FC Champions League Squad List
 1 Mark John Bosnich      2 Gary Alexander Neville 3 Dennis Joseph Irwin
 4 David May              6 Jakob Stam             7 David Robert J Beckham
 8 Nicholas Butt          9 Andrew Alex. Cole      10 Edward Sheringham
11 Ryan Joseph Giggs     12 Philip Neville         14 Johan Jordi Cruyff
15 Lars Jesper Blomqvist 16 Roy Keane           17 Raimond RJH Van der Gouw
18 Paul Scholes          19 Dwight Yorke           20 Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
21 Henning Berg          23 Michael Jamie Clegg    25 Josť Quinton Fortune
26 Massimo Taibi         31 Nicholas James Culkin  33 Mark Antony Wilson
34 Jonathan Greening

Real Audio - Last weeks Daily News Sound Archive:
Click on INDEX at http://www.red11.org/sound

*** FIXTURES ON 03/10/99 ***
             Chelsea  v  Manchester United
    Newcastle United  v  Middlesbrough
   Tottenham Hotspur  v  Leicester City
             Watford  v  Leeds United
     West Ham United  v  Arsenal


99/2000 fixtures/match reports are at

Mark Bosnich's Personal Details 



Previous News:
 BSKYB Takeover news/pics at http://www.red11.org/mufc/bskyb.htm
  Brian Kidd Press conference, pic, real audio
 Peter Schmeichel's last Season at United!


         Aston Villa   0-0   Liverpool             39,217
       Bradford City   0-4   Sunderland            18,204
             Everton   1-1   Coventry City         34,839
 Sheffield Wednesday   5-1   Wimbledon             18,077


Pos Team                  P   W   D   L   F   A   GD  Pts
 1  Manchester United     9   6   3   0  23  10   13   21
 2  Sunderland           10   6   2   2  18   8   10   20
 3  Leeds United          9   6   1   2  17  11    6   19
 4  Arsenal               9   6   1   2  12   7    5   19
 5  Everton              10   5   2   3  16  10    6   17
 6  Aston Villa          10   5   2   3  11   9    2   17
 7  Chelsea               7   5   1   1  10   3    7   16
 8  Leicester City        9   4   2   3  14  11    3   14
 9  Tottenham Hotspur     8   4   2   2  14  11    3   14
10  West Ham United       7   4   1   2   9   5    4   13
11  Middlesbrough         9   4   0   5  10  13   -3   12
12  Liverpool             9   3   2   4  10  10    0   11
13  Southampton           8   3   1   4  13  16   -3   10
14  Coventry City        10   2   3   5  12  14   -2    9
15  Watford               9   3   0   6   5   9   -4    9
16  Derby County          9   2   2   5   7  15   -8    8
17  Wimbledon            10   1   5   4  14  23   -9    8
18  Bradford City         9   2   2   5   4  13   -9    8
19  Newcastle United      9   1   1   7  18  22   -4    4
20  Sheffield Wednesday  10   1   1   8   8  25  -17    4

TODAY       [16:00] Manchester Utd. vs Chelsea  (FA Premier League, AWAY)
11-OCT-1999 Sir Alex Ferguson's testimonial OT [Schmeichel + Cantona]
13-OCT-1999 [19:45] Manchester Utd. vs Aston Villa  (Worthington (League) Cup, AWAY)
16-OCT-1999 [15:00] Manchester Utd. vs Watford  (FA Premier League, HOME)
19-OCT-1999 [19:45] Manchester Utd. vs Marseille  (UEFA Champions League, AWAY)
24-OCT-1999 [15:00] Manchester Utd. vs Spurs  (FA Premier League, AWAY)

The line-up for the testimonial game is:
Eric Cantona		Peter Schmeichel
Zinedine Zidane		Gabriel Batistuta
Paul Gascoigne 		Juninho
George Weah		Alessandro Costacurta
Christian Ziege		Lillian Thuram
Roberto Mancini		John Collins


UNITED Stats v All teams:
ALL FIXTURES at: http://www.red11.org/mufc/fix992000.htm
First Team Fixtures 1999/2000
All dates/times subject to change
Dates of possible cup ties also shown

Date        Opposition                        Score   Pos.   Attend.
15/07/99    Melbourne Australia   pre-season  W  2-0     -    60,000
18/07/99    Sydney    Australia   pre-season  W  1-0     -    78,000
21/07/99    Shanghai  Shenhua     pre-season  W  2-0     -    80,000
24/07/99    Hong Kong South China pre-season  W  2-0     -    40,000

 1/08/99    Arsenal   Wembley Charity Shield  L  1-2     -    70,185
 3/08/99    Omagh Town Omagh Bomb Fund        W  9-0     -     7,000
 4/08/99    Wigan Athletic friendly           W  2-0     -    15,000 
08/08/99    Everton                  Away PL  D  1-1    10    39,141
11/08/99    Sheffield Wednesday      Home PL  W  4-0     3    54,941
14/08/99    Leeds United             Home PL  W  2-0     1    55,187
22/08/99    Arsenal                  Away PL  W  2-1     1    38,147
25/08/99    Coventry City            Away PL  W  2-1     1    22,024 
27/08/99    Monaco - Lazio               ESC  L  0-1     -    15,223
30/08/99    Newcastle United         Home     W  5-1     1    55,190
11/09/99    Liverpool                Away     W  3-2     1    44,929
14/09/99    Croatia Zagreb           Home EC  D  0-0     -    53,250
18/09/99    Wimbledon                Home     D  1-1     1    55,189
22/09/99    Sturm Graz               Away EC  W  3-0     -    16,480
25/09/99    Southampton              Home     D  3-3     1    55,249
29/09/99    Marseille                Home EC  W  2-1     -    54,276

 3/10/99    Chelsea                  Away PL   16.00   "live on sky"
*11/10/99   Sir Alex Ferguson's testimonial OT [Schmeichel + Cantona]
13/10/99    Aston Villa              Away WC 3 19.45
16/10/99    Watford                  Home PL   15.00
19/10/99    Marseille                Away EC   19.45 
24/10/99    Tottenham Hotspur        Away PL   15.00 - moved from 23/10
27/10/99    Croatia Zagreb           Away EC   19.45
30/10/99    Aston Villa              home PL   15.00
 2/11/99    Sturm Graz               Home EC   19.45 
 6/11/99    Leicester City           Home PL   15.00
20/11/99    Derby County             Away PL   15.00
24/11/99    ?     EC
27/11/99    Sheffield Wednesday      Away PL   15.00
30/11/99    Tokyo  Palmeiras         WCC       20.00
 1/12/99    ?     WC 4
 4/12/99    Everton                  Home PL   15.00
 8/12/99    ?     EC
11/12/99    FAC 3 Will not enter ...
15/12/99    ?     WC 5
18/12/99    West Ham United          Away PL   15.00
26/12/99    Bradford City            Home PL   15.00
28/12/99    Sunderland               Away PL   20.00  "live on sky"
 3/01/2000  Middlesborough           Home PL   20.00

 ***** 5-14 /01/2000 Brazil WTC  *****   [3-4 games]

*  8/01/2000  FAC 4 Will not enter ...
12/01/2000  ?    WC sf i
15/01/2000  Leeds United             Away PL   15.00
22/01/2000  Arsenal                  Home PL   15.00
26/01/2000  ?    WC sf ii
* 29/01/2000  FAC 5 Will not enter ...
 5/02/2000  Coventry City            Home PL   15.00
12/02/2000  Newcastle United         Away PL   15.00
* 19/02/2000  FAC 6 Will not enter ...
26/02/2000  Wimbledon                Away PL   15.00
27/02/2000  ?   Wembley WC f
 1/03/2000  ?   EC
 4/03/2000  Liverpool                Home PL   15.00
 8/03/2000  ?   EC
11/03/2000  Derby County             Home PL   15.00
15/03/2000  ?   EC
18/03/2000  Leicester City           Away PL   15.00
22/03/2000  ?   EC
25/03/2000  Bradford City            Away PL   15.00
 1/04/2000  West Ham United          Home PL   15.00
 5/04/2000  ?   EC qf i
 8/04/2000  Middlesborough           Away PL   15.00
*  9/04/2000  FAC sf Will not enter ...
15/04/2000  Sunderland               Home PL   15.00
19/04/2000  ?   EC qf ii
22/04/2000  Southampton              Away PL   15.00
24/04/2000  Chelsea                  Home PL   15.00
29/04/2000  West Ham United          Away PL   15.00
 3/05/2000  ?   EC sf i
 6/05/2000  Tottenham Hotspur        Home PL   15.00
10/05/2000  ?   EC sf ii
14/05/2000  Aston Villa              Away PL   15.00
* 20/05/2000 Wembley FAC f Will not enter ...
24/05/2000  ?    EC f



Click On pic - for latest interviews/pics from OT"

Subject: DEFINITELY TAIBI FOR UNITED Massimo Taibi is still number one choice at Manchester United despite the form of Raimond van der Gouw in goal for the Old Trafford club. Van der Gouw had hoped he had done enough to oust Taibi following another solid performance for United in the Champions League win over Marseille in midweek. The Dutchman's hopes had also been raised by Taibi's blunder against Southampton last Saturday when he let Matt Le Tissier's daisy-cutter trickle through his legs. However Sir Alex Ferguson will stick with Taibi, who was ineligible for the Marseille game, and the Italian remains his first-choice goalkeeper. He said: "(Taibi) did make a mistake, but the important thing is to get over mistakes in games. That's a quality people have to have here." Van der Gouw will be disappointed by Ferguson's decision. When asked following the victory over Marseille if he would like to face Chelsea, he replied: "You don't have to ask me that, you already know the answer." Mickael Silvestre is also available again and Ferguson will play him at Stamford Bridge and rest either Phil Neville or Denis Irwin. Otherwise the side will largely be the same as Wednesday because seven players are still in the treatment room. "We've got one or two back and Mickael Silvestre will come back in and he wasn't available for Wednesday, as you know," said Ferguson. "That will freshen things up, but other than that we will depend on the same lads again because we have a lot of injuries. "But these lads have done well and we'll be OK." The match will be United's last Premiership engagement for two weeks and by the time they face Watford at Old Trafford on October 16, Roy Keane should be back. The United skipper is being rested in an attempt to treat his troublesome ankle and Ferguson feels he should be fine by then. "He won't be available for Sunday," he said. "There's no game after that for two weeks and so that should give him sufficient rest."
Click On pic - for latest interviews/pics from OT"

Subject: D-DAY FOR CHELSEA CHALLENGE - official site Managers Sir Alex Ferguson and Gianluca Vialli will doubtless roll out the usual cliches on Sunday afternoon, whatever the outcome of Chelsea versus Manchester United. "Too early for a title decider," they'll say, understandably trying to hush the hype. Sometimes the media can be rather hysterical about these big games, almost turning a blind eye to the significance of a gritty 1-0 away win at Middlesbrough or Coventry which is where the real difference often lies. That could be reflected in last season's League meetings between Luca's Blues and Fergie's Reds, played over a festive fortnight. The United manager joked about his team's Christmas spirit gifting Southampton a 3-3 draw last weekend, but last Yuletide they were rather less generous to Chelsea. Both games ended in low-scoring draws (1-1 and 0-0), and there was another stalemate when the sides met at Old Trafford in the FA Cup. So Chelsea fared well against the Champions, if you ignore the exquisite double by Dwight Yorke which settled the Cup replay. The Blues also beat Liverpool home and away, held Arsenal at Stamford Bridge and took four points off Leeds United. But it was in the so-called lesser fixtures where Chelsea choked, such as the goalless draw with Sheffield Wednesday in late April. So they have some work to do this season to convince pundits they have the spirit and the conviction to really push Manchester United all the way to the wire. Halting the Reds' long unbeaten run would be a good start, though, especially as Chelsea haven't savoured the sweet taste of victory over Manchester's finest since November 1996. That was at Old Trafford, surprisingly enough, and you have to go back a further three years for a Chelsea win at the Bridge. It was so long ago that Glenn Hoddle was still lacing up his boots! The Chelsea side has changed beyond all recognition since 11 September 1993, and there certainly isn't the same dependency today on British talent. Then, there were nine Brits in the starting eleven, including Denis Wise, the only link with the current team. Now, Wise is sometimes the only Brit in a side comprising Italians, Frenchmen and other nationalities. United, meanwhile, have retained three survivors from that season, 1993/94 - Roy Keane, Denis Irwin and Ryan Giggs. Elder statesman Irwin is presently the only match-fit member of that trio, but there's a good chance Giggsy will recover in time from his hamstring injury. The Welshman trained on Friday. Should Ryan not make it, Phil Neville would be a good option for midfield, given that he performed so well to snuff out the threat of Gianfranco Zola last season. The skilful little Italian is still Chelsea's best weapon, even if his finishing has been rather erratic recently. The same accusation could be levelled at ten-million-pound signing Chris Sutton, the big Norwegian Tore Andre Flo and others in the goal shy side. Top scorer Gustavo Poyet only has three to his name in all competitions, and the last four League wins have all been clinched with a 1-0 margin. Even at home to ten-man Galatasaray, who had their goalkeeper Taffarel sent off after 33 minutes, the score was still only 1-0 to Chelsea, courtesy of midfielder Dan Petrescu. It's a problem that needs a quick solution, but at least Gianluca Vialli can feel satisfied with his defence, the tightest in the division with only three goals conceded in seven League games this term. The formidable pairing of French World Cup winners Marcel Desailly and Frank Leboeuf are the best bedrock you could wish to find; their contest with the Premiership's premier attack should make for an absorbing contest on Sunday afternoon. Probable teams: United: Taibi; Irwin, Stam, Berg, Silvestre; Beckham, Butt, Scholes, Giggs (or P Neville); Cole, Yorke. Chelsea: De Goey; Ferrer, Desailly, Leboeuf, Babayaro; Petrescu, Wise, Morris, Ambrosetti (or Poyet); Sutton, Zola.
Click On pic - for latest interviews/pics from OT"

Subject: Butt looking for a place of his own Nicky Butt arrives in London's West End tomorrow to continue the audition that will determine whether he becomes a star as Roy Keane's potential successor or remains merely a gifted member of the Old Trafford chorus. With Keane's long-term future uncertain, Butt, 24, recognises that he is moving into the defining moment of his Manchester United career and says: 'I know I could be the one to take over if Roy leaves and I know it's down to me right now to show I am ready. 'I am working on getting better, on increasing the number of goals I score from midfield - something that Keano does so well. This might be my chance. If it is, I want to give it my best shot.' United have been linked with Barcelona's Rivaldo and Edgar Davids of Juventus as replacements should Keane move on. Butt could save a £20million fee if he proves good enough. In the absence of the injured Keane, he continues his midfield alliance with Paul Scholes against Chelsea tomorrow and is full of praise for his partner. 'Paul is playing brilliantly, so there's opposition from that area,' he added.
Click On pic - for latest interviews/pics from OT"

Subject: SPURS DATE PUT BACK Manchester United's away clash with Tottenham Hotspur has been put back 24 hours to October 24. Spurs went through to the next round of the UEFA Cup with a 0-0 draw against Zimbru Chisnau of Moldova, and will play their next match on Thursday October 21. To allow them time to recover, United will now travel to White Hart Lane on the Sunday rather than the Saturday.
Click On pic - for latest interviews/pics from OT"

Subject: Sir Alex insists 11 points are required to qualify. Champions' League verdict ------------------------- United are walking it Sunday October 3, 1999 Little wonder Sir Alex Ferguson looked a picture of satisfaction after Marseille had been ticked off by Andy Cole and Paul Scholes. United are cruising through the group without exerting themselves. There wasn't a whiff of anxiety when they found themselves trailing Ibrahima Bakayoko's early blast with time slipping away. It was almost as if they knew that they could wriggle out of that little pickle sooner or, as the case was, later. Last season's European exploits have imbued the team with unshakeable inner belief. Critics of the new format, 32-team Champions League lament groups like this, which may as well be a pre-qualification round before the real thing starts for the likes of United. Until the moment they are eyeball to eyeball with fellow giants, the European night tingle doesn't quite hit the spine. As a team they are not yet in scintillating form, but then they don't need to be. This is a good opportunity for Cole and Dwight Yorke to enjoy their telepathic rapport, and for Raimond Van der Gouw to press his case in goal. The only surprise is that Fergie hasn't given some of his less experienced players more of a run-out. Sir Alex insists 11 points are required to qualify. With seven already in the bag and three at home to Sturm Graz as sure as sure can be, it is impossible to envisage anything other than a spot in the draw for the next stage. Worryingly for rivals at home and abroad, qualifying without too many stresses and strains can only benefit United in the longer term.
Click On pic - for latest interviews/pics from OT"

Subject: Cole hits target - Guardian ... on why he'll miss the FA Cup... on United's flat nights in Europe... on England Paul Wilson Sunday October 3, 1999 It is always a good idea to interview a striker when he has scored a notable success, as opposed to when he has missed a penalty or failed to find a barn door, and the day after Andy Cole's spectacular overhead kick had transformed the Champions League tie against Marseille found the Manchester United forward in ebullient mood. 'I think it might have been one of the best goals of my career,' he said. 'I will have to watch it a few more times to decide, but those chances are always difficult and it's great when they come off. It's not important that it was spectacular, the main thing was that it put the team back in the match and gave us a reward for our pressure, but obviously there are some goals you are more proud of than others.' Few strikers at any level can match Cole's phenomenal rate of almost a goal every other game, though spectacular is a word more normally applied to the contributions of Dwight Yorke or David Beckham. Cole's goals, during the Manchester United years at any rate, have tended to be less memorable than his misses, so it makes a pleasant change for him to be feted for an unquestioned piece of skill. Or it should do. 'I couldn't help noticing everyone said I had scored with the hardest chance after missing several easy ones,' he said. 'Some reports even suggested I missed half a dozen chances, in which case I was either at a different game or there's something wrong with my arithmetic. It seemed to me I only had one real chance before I scored, and I put it by the post, but of course I'm no expert. All strikers miss chances, and I'm no different. You just pick yourself up and get into position to miss the next one. There's no point dwelling on criticism, you just have to get used to it.' Cole has had a lot to get used to in his time. He claims to have conquered the chip on his shoulder placed there by pen treatment, but he would have to be inhuman to remain unaffected by some of the vitriol hurled in his direction. Here, for example, is what Malcolm Allison, no blinkered hack but a coach of some standing (he was scouting for England under Terry Venables at the time), had to say on the subject of Cole's transfer from Newcastle to Manchester United four years ago. 'Alex Ferguson has just made the biggest mistake of his life. He has bought £7.5 million of problems. Cole will not help United win the European Cup, and might even prevent them retaining the championship. I have analysed his game, and when he's not scoring he's doing nothing. You are effectively playing with 10 men. If I was drawing up a list of strikers Stan Collymore would be at the top and Andy Cole at the bottom.' Allison never was one for sitting on the fence when he could hang himself from it, but it might cheer him up a little to know Cole has thoroughly enjoyed proving him wrong. Collymore is presumably less delighted. 'I love doing that,' Cole said, almost biting the air with enthusiasm. 'I might have to accept criticism but it doesn't mean I have to enjoy it, and proving your critics wrong is a fantastic feeling. I don't think there's any doubt I have made Malcolm Allison eat his words, every single one of them.' Cole's goals, particularly the one against Juventus in Turin, were instrumental in helping United win the European Cup, and his partnership with Yorke has highlighted all the quick passing ability, vision and support play that often had to be taken on trust when he played alongside Eric Cantona. Cole is far too polite to point it out, but Yorke really should have opened the scoring against Marseille from his inviting lay-off. 'Credit the goalkeeper with making a good save,' he said. 'Dwight got his shot on target and nine times out of 10 he would have scored.' Unsurprisingly, the 3-2 win at the Stadio delle Alpi last season remains Cole's proudest European memory. The final in Barcelona might have been the ultimate demonstration of United's unquenchable desire and extraordinary ability to keep going - until the 94th minute if necessary - but the semi-final victory over Juventus was the psychological breakthrough, the true moment of self-discovery when they knew winning the European Cup was not beyond them. Even if United were to win the treble again this season (which they can't unless they rejoin the FA Cup) it would inevitably appear anti-climactic. Cole accepts this philosophically - 'Manchester United are probably the only team who can win a championship and it's still not enough' - but agrees that the game's administrators don't appear over-stressed about preserving football's romance or playing fair by the fans. 'I'm disappointed not to be playing in the FA Cup, because it's a great tournament and a magical day out if you reach the final,' he said. 'It's going to feel strange watching this season's final knowing we weren't even in the competition, but players don't get a say in these matters. We haven't even talked about it much. It's our job just to get on with the games.' Which is precisely why Uefa, and all their individual FAs, should try to protect players whenever possible instead of constantly inventing new fixtures and running the risk of losing interest through over-exposure. Fifa are not blameless either, though their secretary general, Michel Zen-Ruffinen, surely struck a chord this week when he claimed the expansion of the Champions League was not in anyone's interests and viewers would soon begin to switch off. Manchester United would possibly be among the last clubs to lose support, but Cole feels the Champions League has been devalued. 'We won it from second place last season, so perhaps I'm on dodgy ground, but I think it's a bit much if teams who finish third or even fourth can get in,' he said. 'European nights should be special. It should never be hard to get excited about playing in Europe, but I can see that situation arriving. Someone mentioned before the Marseille game there did not seem to be the same atmosphere. It was just another game. You know you have to get through this group and then after that there's another group before you get down to the nitty-gritty. 'It's hard work, and you can't expect players or teams to hit peaks on a weekly basis. We play far too many games, and everybody knows it.' That brings us neatly to Chelsea this afternoon. 'It's not difficult to motivate yourself for a game like that, I'm looking forward to it,' Cole said. Does it follow then that the supposed 'easy' games, the Wimbledons and Southamptons at home, are the payback time for Champions League exertions? 'Not necessarily,' Cole said. 'That might be what has been happening, but you quickly learn at Manchester United that you have to be up for every game, because you can guarantee your opponents will be at their very best. There's no rest here.' Cole will get a rest next weekend though, since Kevin Keegan has not called him up for England's friendly against Belgium. He is likely to field an experimental side anyway, and Keegan knows what Cole can do. So does Cole. Since blowing his top over his treatment by Glenn Hoddle, he is relaxed about his international career. 'If I'm in I'll do my best, if not I'll live with it,' he said. 'I've always seen my priority as Manchester United. Appearing for England is nice, but I'm playing international football every week for my club. I don't think I have anything to prove.'
Click On pic - for latest interviews/pics from OT"

Subject: New recruit offers case for defence- Sunday Times At three o'clock on Friday morning, Mickael Silvestre woke with a start. The fire alarm had gone off at his Manchester hotel. He would be relieved to be moving to his new house outside the city later that day. A month into his career with Manchester United, Silvestre otherwise feels very much at home. It's just that he could do with no more alarm bells, and there are one or two still ringing over the contagion which has swept through the United defence over the past eight days. In two games at Old Trafford, opponents have scored a total of four goals, each the consequence of an individual error. Silvestre, his head hung a little low, listened to the manager address the issue last week. Sir Alex Ferguson used the word "suicidal". Of the defendants, Massimo Taibi blushed deepest, following his goalkeeping howler against Southampton. Then there was Henning Berg's blunder against Marseille. Jaap Stam and Silvestre were both sinners in the 3-3 draw with the Saints. The excuses? There are the absences, injured, of Gary Neville, Ronny Johnsen, Wes Brown and David May. Closer to the mark, United have been without the formidable sentryman Roy Keane. Difficulties accommodating replacements for the vigilant and vocal Peter Schmeichel also seem to be extending beyond the edge of the penalty area. There are new personnel to bed-in, too, such as Taibi, Mark Bosnich and Silvestre, whose one error thus far - he allowed himself to be dispossessed close to goal by Marian Pahars - ought not to disguise the general impression left by the Frenchman. Comfortable on the ball, athletic and strong in the air, Silvestre's faux pas looked like the slip of somebody adjusting to the rhythm of English football, with its high premium on time and space. "At United," Silvestre says, "there's also the crowd pushing you to go forward all the time. What I was trying to do at that moment against Southampton was use the ball on the counter-attack. It may be that sometimes we are too concentrated on attack." He spoke these words with a coy smile, his expression its own mea culpa. That one notable mistake and the perils of hotel living apart, Silvestre has enjoyed being at United since his £4m move from Internazionale. He comes with a good pedigree. He's from France, where defences win World Cups, and did his most recent learning in Serie A, the modern defender's Oxbridge. And Silvestre, 22, is versatile. At Stamford Bridge today he is likely to continue at left-back, although his preferred position is centre-half, where Ferguson expects him eventually to flourish. In a sense, he says, he's been lucky that United's many injuries allowed him to break straight into the team. In another, he was unlucky, joining too late to register for the first group phase of the Champions League. "I knew we'd qualify for the second round anyway," he adds, with characteristic confidence. The promise of European football had been a factor in the move, Inter having failed to qualify for continental competition. Besides that, the Italian club had begun to make Silvestre feel peripheral, restricting him last season to uncomfortable duty at wing-back and then spending the summer buying defenders at a rate which would make even George Graham cry "Enough!" Once Laurent Blanc and Christian Panucci arrived in Milan, Silvestre "felt deflated. I'm young, and I need games". Liverpool quickly announced their interest. Once United declared theirs, the choice seemed straightforward. "United are the defending European champions," he enthuses, "and they are in the Intercontinental Cup and the World Club Championship." By most reckonings that's about two competitions too many, but for a tyro who had found first-team starts hard to come by in Italy, the concentration of United's fixture list looked like a bait rather than a burden. "Another difference from Italy was the politics of recruitment," observes Silvestre. "I had four different managers in just over a season at Inter." At United, Ferguson surprised him by going to the airport to collect him. That was on the Thursday. By Saturday morning, he would be lining up to make his first start, against Liverpool. It made for a memorable debut, confirming everything Silvestre had hoped for and heard about the vibrant English game. It was the adventure and the atmosphere which attracted him to this country, he says, and which made encounters like today's visit to Stamford Bridge more appealing even than the European nights, particularly at this stage of the season. He feels it strongly. If he was to end the campaign with one, and only one, champion's medal, I wondered, which would he choose it to be, domestic or European? Silvestre pondered and came up with the former. "I get that feeling from the reactions of supporters," he says. So, the Premiership has seduced him. "It's a good league to be a defender in, too," Silvestre says, "because you see so much more of the ball. There's more work. I sometimes feel I'm getting the ball every 30 seconds. That's not the case in Italy." Others making the same journey would concur. After today's contest, Silvestre might care to compare notes with Chelsea's Marcel Desailly, his compatriot and the man Silvestre should one day succeed at the heart of the France back four. Les Bleus, present and future, are in vogue among United's two London rivals, Chelsea and Arsenal. Yes, says Silvestre, but remember who began the fashion: "It was Eric Cantona who opened the door for French players in England and he didn't just push it ajar. He made a huge impression while he was at United, both in France and here." As a young man growing up in Chambray-Les-Tours, Silvestre admired Cantona; as a boy, it had been Michel Platini. Football was a family obsession. Silvestre's father, a first-generation immigrant from Guadeloupe who worked for the French railways, was a keen follower and Mickael's older cousin, Frank, would become a respected professional at Montpellier, a centre-half and something of a mentor. Ferguson, meanwhile, had held Silvestre in high regard since his performances at the 1997 World Under-20 championship in Malaysia, in a French team including Nicolas Anelka and Thierry Henry. Silvestre was already off limits, though, having signed a pre-contract with Inter, an agreement which gained him some notoriety at home. He was nurtured by the French system and by Rennes, so Silvestre's move to Italy, for no significant fee, caused a rumpus all the way from the patriotic heart of France to adjudication at Uefa. "It made a big noise," recalls Silvestre. "The fact is the French system wanted me to sign for Rennes for five years. I might have ended up playing in the second division with them. Under Bosman, the law said I could go." In Milan, he would be governed by sod's law. Inter had a dreadful season by their standards and Silvestre found himself marginalised. When he did play, it was usually wide on the left. It did not suit him. "I was on the outside of a back five," he says, "and I do prefer it as a centre-half. In a 4-4-2, I'm happy at left-back, in a position where there's always someone in front of me, be it Ryan Giggs, Jordi Cruyff or Ole Gunnar Solskjaer." It will not be Giggs today, although the Welshman has begun training again after injury. Gary Neville and Johnsen are further away from full fitness, weeks rather than days. It is a concern for Ferguson, not least because of the major contests ahead. Fatigue will be one of United's more persistent opponents this season, and if the trips to Tokyo and Brazil either side of the new year seem exciting for their French recruit, to others they will be about as welcome as a letter from the taxman. The new boy recognises the hazards. "We must keep our concentration," says Silvestre.
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Subject: European treadmill starting to take its toll Saturday October 2, 1999 The Guardian The much-travelled followers of Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United are about to get a fortnight's rest from check-ins and check-outs, security bleeps and passport controls. For the next two weeks the Champions League is taking a breather. As well it might. Already the monster has generated 48 matches in 16 days and the opening group phase is still only half complete. By the time the tortuous business is over next May those television viewers now cursing their lack of ONdigital, which is the only way to watch the Tuesday night matches live, may feel grateful to have missed part of the TV deluge. Surely even the most devoted fan can only take so much. For the supporters who trek back and forth across Europe these must be wearying times. If it's Tuesday we must be in Florence or Berlin and where on earth is Hertha anyway? For the moment at least Arsenal will be going nowhere more exotic than Upton Park. Tomorrow, moreover, Chelsea and Manchester United will meet at Stamford Bridge in one of the Premiership's top fixtures without the distraction of having to play Champions League matches two or three nights later. For once both sides can concentrate fully on the job in hand. It is not quite the same in the UEFA Cup. Nevertheless David O'Leary, the Leeds United manager, is right to regard as a nonsense the late entry of eight Champions League drop-outs into the third round of this tournament. "I've never heard of teams knocked out of one cup being allowed to enter another," he said, "except at Wimbledon." Plate competitions aside, the initial intensity of Champions League football this season, with another tidal wave imminent, has prompted the thought that, in its efforts to appease the leading clubs and prevent a breakaway Euro-league, UEFA risks losing the essential appeal of its most prestigious competition. When in the 1950s Gabriel Hanot and the French newspaper L'Equipe evolved the idea of a tournament for the champions of the European leagues the aim was to provide an exhilarating diversion from domestic football, not a rival treadmill. Already, if the performances of the English teams are any guide, players are raising their games for the big matches - Milan, Barcelona etc - but slipping into neutral for others. Likewise the fans. At Old Trafford on Wednesday the corner of the ground populated by the supporters of Marseille made a fine din all evening but the Manchester United crowd were mute until the late goals arrived. European football was never meant to become just another night shift, but that is what is happening. The crowds are still flocking to games and the TV ratings remain high but those who assume that a fully fledged European league, which is virtually what we have now, will have limitless appeal may be presuming too much. A European league can only be as strong as the teams who take part and that strength comes from the national leagues which must always be the bedrock of the game. So when clubs competing in the Champions League feel they can rotate their squads for routine Premiership matches they are playing fast and loose with the foundations. Watford's recent victory over a much-changed Chelsea was important in more ways than one. A big European night still makes the pulse race and the way Manchester United won the Champions Cup last season, with their multi-goal thrillers against Barcelona and Juventus preceding that unforgettable climax at Nou Camp, was as enthralling as anything previously seen. Yet so much of European football is now about multinational teams playing one another wearing colours of convenience. In terms of national pride supporters identify more with the shirts than the players. When Ajax were achieving their European Cup hat-trick in the early 70s this was Dutch football making its case to be regarded as a world power. When Bayern Munich also won the trophy in three successive seasons they were speaking for Bavaria, not West Germany. Liverpool reflected the variations in the British game as did Matt Busby's Manchester United in the 60s. There is no longer a curiosity about foreign teams, a situation hastened by the influx of foreign footballers into Britain. When Moscow Dynamo toured this country in 1945, spectators sat on the stand roofs at a packed Stamford Bridge to see if the Russians had snow on their boots. European football should be special but some of the recent Champions League matches have been about as entertaining as watching queues for cashpoints. And this, sadly, is what a large part of the exercise is about: a hole in the wall which guarantees millions simply for turning up. Millions are still turning up or turning on to watch it, but for how long?
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Subject: Danny Kelly on Beckham - Football 365 'Hail Beckham, The Most Powerful Figure In English Football' WHAT a brilliant week for David Beckham. And, as a kind of sideshow, an excellent one for footy fans too. Yes, David Beckham, even though he almost certainly doesn't know it, has advanced his plan for global domination while we, the poor bloody infantry who only watch the game, have been treated to a stunning illumination of just where the power lies in the modern game. Ok, let's deal with the power thing first. Anybody above the age of 14 months knows that David Beckham has had a, how shall we say, turbulent start to the season. It's not just that he has been booked more times that Engelbert Humperdinck in Las Vegas, but he's also been seen screwing his face up like Violet Elizabeth Bott from Just William and kicking seventeen shades of shinola out of, among others, Jamie Redknapp and Herr Thatbloke of Sturm Graz. But the recent efforts of Graham Bean, the FA's Compliance Officer (whatever the hell that is) to get to speak to Mr Posh about his behaviour have been nothing short of laughable. Not even the intervention of David 'look I'm still in charge, me' Davies has made a jot of difference to Man United's attitude. Without actually baring their arse to the FA, the European Champions have pretty well told them to sod off. David Beckham is, after all, their property, and they won't have him messed about by a collection of unrepresentative amateurs. Good for them in this case, but be aware that this is the thin end of the wedge. How long will it be before United, or any other big club for that matter, refuse to accept the FA's ruling on any matter? And what are the FA going to do about it? Throw them out of the Premiership? Oh yeah, sure. So we know that Manchester United pretty much run English football now. Cool. But who runs Man United? The sight this week of Sir Alex Ferguson attempting to reign in the excesses, both physical and sartorial, of his young England star has been as comic as that of watching the FA dance from foot to foot like a schoolboy about to piss himself outside the closed gates of Old Trafford. Alex Ferguson can fine David Beckham £50,000 but it doesn't matter a fig to Becks. Let's get this straight: Beckham is nowadays surrounded by an army of media savvy PR literate advisers, not least of them his own wife. When he goes to a jewellery launch wearing a £75 snot-rag on his head, it is not because he is interested in cameo brooches or avant-garde headwear. He goes because he has been told to go, he goes because his PR advisors know that, dressed like a refugee from a church hall production of The Pirates Of Penzance, he will be photographed and that picture will be in all the papers. Furthermore, that picture will be in next year's coffee table best seller 'Becks: My Life In Pictures'. And the memory of that will be one of many carefully orchestrated triggers that will remind the adoring millions why to shell out for the glossy tome. Here are the economics: 1) David photographed looking like a prat puts on, lets say, 100,000 sales of aforementioned photo annual at, say, £15 a throw. Bingo! One-and-a-half million of your English straight off. 2) Alex Ferguson fines Captain Pugwash fifty grand. 3) As a result of 2), picture is printed in papers again. Another 100,000 readers, another one-and-a-half million in the Becksy bin. 4) Total profits to David Beckham £2,950,000. Kerching! And more to the point, would you like another Ferrari with your toast dear? In any event, Alex Ferguson, for all his public bravado, will actually have asked David Beckham for the £50,000 fine from a kneeling position; probably while polishing Beckham's boots as well. Everybody knows that there are powerful voices within the immediate entourage of David Beckham plc who want him to play in London. Not Barcelona, not Milan, not smoggy old Turin, but London. So, even while Fergie is sheepishly laying down the law to his most prized possession, somewhere in the bowels of Highbury, Arsene Wenger crosses another date off the specially prepared calendar that he keeps in his office, counting down the days until his plum falls, weirdly dressed, into his lap. Yes, a great week for David Beckham and for us. He is nearly £3million up on the deal and we now understand better the pecking order in English football. The FA quiver and quake at the very shadow of Manchester United. But that David Beckham, he fears no man...
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