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www.red11.org DAILY NEWS
Date: Mon Mar 15 GMT+00:00 1999
Mail: barry@www.red11.org

This Issue:
2. Newcastle United 1-2 Manchester United: Cole returns to haunt old mates
3. Rupert Murdoch - United bid back on track? 
4. Ronaldo urges Inter on against Man Utd 
6. Inter will be up to all their old tricks, warns anxious Fergie
7. Half-fit striker makes low-key return:  Internazionale 2 AC Milan 2
8. Ronaldo Won't Worry Stam (Times)
9. Manchester senior cup
10. United's Schmeichel set to face Inter Milan 


Daily RED Trivia  Monday 15th March 1999:

15/3/1986: Peter Davenport made his debut at Queens Park Rangers. A forward with 
 good close control, Davenport made 105 appearances and scored 26 goals 
 between 1985-88, moving to Middlesbrough in November 1988. He played in
 the 1992 FA Cup Final with Sunderland and  won 1 England cap in 1985.

1997: United beat Sheffield Wednesday 2-0 at Old Trafford in a Premiership 
 game watched by 55,267. Andy Cole and Karel Poborsky score the goals that
 continue United's title chase. Team was: Schmeichel, G.Neville, Irwin, May,
 Butt, Pallister, Cantona, Solskjaer (Scholes), Cole (Poborsky), Beckham, Giggs.


Barry Daily Comment:

United's Premiership match at Blackburn will now take place on Wednesday,
May 12 (8pm). It has been switched because of the Reds' FA Cup semi with
Arsenal on April 11. Fergie's side now face a five-game in 16-day title
run-in in May.

Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson's testimonial will go
ahead on October 11, when a World XI travel to Old Trafford.
Organisers had pencilled in August 6 as the date for Ferguson's
£250,000 windfall night but that will clash with the start of the
new Premiership campaign.

Previous News:
 Brian Kidd Press conference, pic, real audio
Peter Schmeichel's last Season at United!

Next games: 
ALL Result/Fixture Index:

17 Inter Milan  (A) ECL "Quarter Final" 2nd leg 19.45
21 Everton      (H) 15.00 PL
3 Wimbledon (A)  15.00 PL
7 European Cup Semi??
11 FAC Semi Arsenal at Villa Park  Live Sky Sports Uk
17 Sheff Wed (H) 15.00? PL
21 European Cup Semi??
25 Leeds (A)  11.30 {am} UK PL Live Sky Sports UK 

UNITED Stats v All teams:


       Middlesbrough   3-0   Southampton           33,387


Pos Team                  P   W   D   L   F   A   GD  Pts
 1  Manchester United    29  17   9   3  65  30   35   60
 2  Arsenal              29  15  11   3  40  13   27   56
 3  Chelsea              28  14  11   3  41  23   18   53
 4  Leeds United         29  14   9   6  45  26   19   51
 5  Aston Villa          29  12   8   9  39  34    5   44
 6  Derby County         29  11  11   7  31  28    3   44
 7  West Ham United      29  12   7  10  32  39   -7   43
 8  Wimbledon            29  10  10   9  33  41   -8   40
 9  Liverpool            28  11   6  11  52  37   15   39
10  Tottenham Hotspur    29   9  12   8  34  34    0   39
11  Newcastle United     29  10   8  11  38  39   -1   38
12  Middlesbrough        28   8  12   8  37  39   -2   36
13  Sheffield Wednesday  29  10   5  14  35  32    3   35
14  Leicester City       28   8  10  10  28  37   -9   34
15  Coventry City        29   8   7  14  31  40   -9   31
16  Everton              29   7  10  12  22  32  -10   31
17  Charlton Athletic    29   6  10  13  33  40   -7   28
18  Blackburn Rovers     29   6   9  14  29  41  -12   27
19  Southampton          29   7   5  17  27  56  -29   26
20  Nottingham Forest    29   4   8  17  26  57  -31   20


Date        Opposition                        Score   Pos.   Attend.
15/08/98    Leicester City           Home     D  2-2    11    55,052
22/08/98    West Ham United          Away     D  0-0    11    26,039
09/09/98    Charlton Athletic        Home     W  4-1     9    55,147
12/09/98    Coventry City            Home     W  2-0     5    55,193
20/09/98    Arsenal                  Away     L  0-3    10    38,142
24/09/98    Liverpool                Home     W  2-0     3    55,181
03/10/98    Southampton              Away     W  3-0     2    15,251
17/10/98    Wimbledon                Home     W  5-1     2    55,265
24/10/98    Derby County             Away     D  1-1     2    30,867
31/10/98    Everton                  Away     W  4-1     2    40,079
08/11/98    Newcastle United         Home     D  0-0     3    55,174
14/11/98    Blackburn Rovers         Home     W  3-2     2    55,198
21/11/98    Sheffield Wednesday      Away     L  1-3     2    39,475
29/11/98    Leeds United             Home     W  3-2     2    55,172
05/12/98    Aston Villa              Away     D  1-1     2    39,241
12/12/98    Tottenham Hotspur        Away     D  2-2     1    36,079
16/12/98    Chelsea                  Home     D  1-1     2    55,159
19/12/98    Middlesbrough            Home     L  2-3     3    55,152
26/12/98    Nottingham Forest        Home     W  3-0     3    55,216
29/12/98    Chelsea                  Away     D  0-0     3    34,741
10/01/99    West Ham United          Home     W  4-1     3    55,180
16/01/99    Leicester City           Away     W  6-2     2    22,091
31/01/99    Charlton Athletic        Away     W  1-0     1    20,043
03/02/99    Derby County             Home     W  1-0     1    55,174
06/02/99    Nottingham Forest        Away     W  8-1     1    30,025
17/02/99    Arsenal                  Home     D  1-1     1    55,171
20/02/99    Coventry City            Away     W  1-0     1    22,596
27/02/99    Southampton              Home     W  2-1     1    55,316
13/03/99    Newcastle United         Away     W  2-1     1    36,500

Champions League:
Group D         P  W  D  L  F  A   Pts
Bayern Munich   6  3  2  1  9  6  11   
Man United      6  2  4  0 20 11  10
Barcelona       6  2  2  2 11  9   8    
Brondby         6  1  0  5  4 18   3   

Dec  9 Brøndby         0-2  Barcelona
Dec  9 Man Utd         1-1  Bayern Munich


 Manchester Utd  2 v 0  Inter Milan
 Real Madrid     1 v 1  Dynamo Kiev
 Juventus        2 v 1  Olympiakos
 Bayern Munich   2 v 0  Kaiserslautern

return Ties to be played on March 17


Latest protest at OT

Subject: COLE RETURNS TO DESTROY NEWCASTLE NEWCASTLE UNITED 1 MANCHESTER UNITED 2 Newcastle old boy Andy Cole returned to haunt his former club with a precious double as the Manchester United bandwagon rolled on.The England international struck with his 20th goal of the season after 25 minutes to cancel out Nolberto Solano's brilliant opener, and then added a second six minutes into the second half to clinch victory.It was scarcely more than the Premiership leaders deserved from a highly-competitive game in which Newcastle played their part but rarely looked like winning after Cole's equaliser. Ruud Gullit's side have come a long way since he took over the hot-seat, and this defeat was just their second in 12 outings. But the visitors, led by the excellent Roy Keane, justified their billing as one of Europe's top sides with a highly-professional display. Jaap Stam kept Alan Shearer quiet for most of the game, albeit with the benefit of a little help from referee David Elleray, who seemed to be in a benevolent mood, and apart from Solano's superb free-kick, the United goal was never really under threat. Gullit's assertion that opposite number Alex Ferguson would select his strongest side despite Wednesday night's trip to Milan proved accurate with Ryan Giggs, Dwight Yorke and Cole all in a formidable starting line-up. The Dutchman handed a return to last Sunday's goal hero Temuri Ketsbaia, who resumed his partnership with skipper Shearer, just one strike away from 150 in the Premiership. Peruvian midfielder Solano, also rested for the midweek win at Nottingham Forest, came back, as did Greeks George Georgiadis and Nikos Dabizas. In an untidy start, neither team was able to exert any telling pressure, although Manchester United's share of the possession will have been a concern for Gullit. Mr Elleray was in the thick of the action, and the home side felt hard done by as a series of decisions that went against them. But it was a decision which went in their favour that proved the key moment in the early stages as Stam was penalised for a bad tackle on German midfielder Dietmar Hamann. Shearer and Hamann, both noted for the power of the shooting, stood over the ball, but it was surprise package Solano who skipped up to send a delicate curling shot arcing past Peter Schmeichel's despairing dive. The ball clipped the inside of the Dane's left post before dropping into the opposite corner to send the home fans into wild celebrations. However, even the most fervent Newcastle supporter knew that the game was far from over, and it took Ferguson's men just 10 minutes to restore parity. That they did so courtesy of some slack defending will have been a major topic of Gullit's half-time team-talk, Henning Berg flicking on Gary Neville's throw-in and Yorke helping the ball towards goal before Cole toe-poked it home from close range. Shearer had only two opportunities to improve his scoring tally, just failing to get above Didier Domi's 31st-minute cross to direct his header on goal, and then shooting well wide after Schmeichel mis-kicked a 36th-minute clearance. Newcastle had a let-off when Neville found space down the right but could not pick out either Cole or Yorke, and Keane tested Shay Given with a firmly-struck 20-yard effort. If Georgiadis' replacement by Rob Lee at half-time did not come as a surprise, Schmeichel's failure to re-appear did, Raimond van der Gouw taking his place. But it was opposite number Given who was on the receiving end within six minutes of the restart as Giggs carved out a second opening for Cole. The Welshman's curling cross enticed the keeper from his line, but the striker sneaked in before him to touch the ball into the open net. Newcastle knew they had to up the pace if they were to drag themselves back into the game, but despite a wealth of possession, they never really put the United defence under any real pressure. Indeed, van der Gouw did not have to make a serious save, Solano's overhit cross towards the far post on 70 minutes his most anxious moment of the half. Shearer's frustration grew as Stam got away with a series of robust challenges which earned him a ticking off from Mr Elleray but nothing more serious. Keane's experience came to the fore as the visitors gradually closed the game down, allowing the Magpies plenty of the ball but putting up the shutters at the back whenever they threatened.
Latest protest at OT

Subject: Newcastle United 1-2 Manchester United: Cole returns to haunt old mates Saturday, March 13, 1999 Andy Cole returned to Tyneside and revived memories of the scoring touch that made him a hero with the Toon Army. But this time there was no celebrating among the home fans as Cole struck the two goals that kept the Old Trafford side on course for the treble. Cole struck in each half as Alex Ferguson's men came from a goal down to set up their European Cup trip to Inter Milan on Wednesday in style. Newcastle flattered when they took the lead through a Nolberto Solano free-kick and their ideas could not match their effort. The pitch, resembling a sponge pudding, dictated the pattern of the play. Efforts to keep the ball on the ground paid few dividends but, after a spell of innocuous interchanging, the game suddenly sprung to life around the quarter-hour mark. First, Cole took a pass from Yorke and fired in a rising shot that thudded into Shay Given's hands as the Newcastle 'keeper got everything behind the ball. But that flash of activity spawned action of a much more significant kind in the next minute when Newcastle went ahead with a superbly worked free-kick. Jaap Stam brought down Didi Hamann five yards outside the penalty area and it was anybody's guess who would get the strike as Alan Shearer, Hamann and Solano lined up behind the ball. But Shearer's quick dart forward broke United's concentration long enough for the little Peruvian to follow up and bend a right-footer around the wall and in off Peter Schmeichel's left-hand post with the big Dane completely stranded by the accuracy of the effort. George Georgiadis was booked for bringing down David Beckham, an incident which did little to appease the home crowd who - in keeping with every other opposition ground - gave the Manchester midfielder unmerciful stick whenever he touched the ball. But Beckham at least had the satisfaction of joining in the visitors' joy when Cole marked his return to Tyneside with a 25th-minute equaliser. Gary Neville's long throw was headed on by Henning Berg to the back post where Yorke scrambled the ball through a ruck in the goalmouth for Cole to shoot into the roof of the net. Roy Keane thundered another 30-yarder into Given's body in the 37th minute and a minute later Shearer just failed to get maximum power behind a Didier Domi cross and the ball flew wide of the mark. There was a shock when the visitors re-appeared after the break with Raimond Van der Gouw between the posts instead of Schmeichel. Newcastle also made a change with Robert Lee, deposed as captain by Shearer, taking over from Georgiadis. But it was Manchester who made a telling change to the scoreline when they took the lead six minutes after the break. Beckham and Giggs combined down the left and when the Wales winger's cross came over, Cole nipped in front of Given to lift the ball confidently into the net. Newcastle brought on Louis Saha in the 61st minute for Temuri Ketsbaia as the home side exploited all attacking options and the visitors sought to tighten the game by bringing on Ronny Johnsen for Giggs in the 74th minute. In between, Denis Irwin was booked and fortunate not to be sent off when he protested about a corner kick and maintained his tirade to the extent that referee David Elleray had to calm him down. Silvio Maric replaced Warren Barton seven minutes from the end and the Croatia international almost got his name on the scoresheet when he reached a Lee effort and diverted the ball, but Van der Gouw was equal to the test. Phil Neville took over from the hard-working Paul Scholes in the 87th minute as United closed the game down to take the points home to Manchester
Latest protest at OT

Subject: Rupert Murdoch - United bid back on track? UNITED SKY DEAL IS FIXED By Harry Harris of the Daily Mirror United fans dismiss rumours Rupert Murdoch has succeeded in his £623million bid for Manchester United. Mirror Sport can reveal that the Monopolies and Mergers Commission yesterday forwarded their decision to Trade and Industry Secretary Stephen Byers. The Commission stated there was insufficient evidence to block the BSkyB deal on the grounds that it is anti-competitive. United supporters will be disappointed as they believed their fight to keep Murdoch away from Old Trafford had been successful. They have pledged to fight to overturn the decision. However, there will be a number of safeguards built into the ruling allowing media mogul Murdoch to buy English football's top club. United will be locked out of talks over the new £1.2billion TV deal to be put on the table by Sky - and possibly matched by rival companies - when the current agreement expires. Another key condition would involve an undertaking that United can not abandon the Premiership for any rival competition. One of the most far reaching consequences will be Sky's ability to monopolise live Premiership football, much the same way as they do at the moment. Murdoch's control of United will be on the proviso that Sky are not guaranteed to win the next round of TV contracts. If they do, then the matches they do not buy must be allowed to go to digital TV stations and terrestrial television
Latest protest at OT

Subject: Ronaldo urges Inter on against Man Utd MILAN, March 14 - Ronaldo urged his Inter Milan team mates on Sunday to salvage a horrible season by beating Manchester United when they meet on Wednesday in the second leg of their European Cup quarter-final. The Brazilian said he hoped to play the full match in the San Siro, despite only playing 45 minutes in Saturday's 2-2 draw with AC Milan. "This is our most important match this season -- our pride is at stake and we must be up to the task," said Ronaldo, last season's world player of the year. Inter, who lost the first leg 2-0 in Manchester, are looking to the European Cup as their last chance to salvage a season in which they have been knocked out of the Italian Cup and are out of the title race at mid-table. "We are playing better now, we're creating chances and are doing a good job in preparing the match with Manchester United, who are a great side who are very fast on the counter-attack," the Brazilian striker told a news conference. Ronaldo started his first match in two months on Saturday after a knee injury, playing in the first half in Inter's 2-2 draw with AC Milan. "I never said I was 100 percent, but I'm satisfied with my performance last night," he said, adding that he hoped to play the entire match on Wednesday "even if it will be difficult." "There will be many scoring chances for both sides ... we've got to be prepared for everything and believe in our success until the very end." ---------------------------------------------------------- RONALDO READY AND WAITING FOR UNITED Ronaldo has warned he is ready and waiting to face Manchester United in their Champions' League quarter-final second leg against Inter Milan on Wednesday. The two-times world player of the year has been troubled by tendinitis problems all season but made his first start in two months in the 2-2 draw with city rivals AC Milan on Saturday, and now expects to be ready to help Inter try and come back from a 2-0 deficit against United. "I may not have the match rhythm back yet, but I'm ready to give everything to beat Manchester," said the Brazilian. "Last night's game wasn't a test, it was a real match. It was difficult but I did my duty. I'm pleased with my performance, I'm gradually getting better and I don't feel any pain any more. "The team are playing well at the moment and we're creating a lot of chances. We're also preparing very carefully for the match against Manchester, who are a great side, and are very quick on the break. "I'm hoping to play for the whole match. It will be difficult to do so, but I'm not ruling it out. "And whatever happens, I'm certain I can go out there and do my job well," he warned. "I'm convinced that the rest of the team are going to do the same. They are very, very motivated."
Latest protest at OT

Subject: COLE HAILS YORKE AS NEW BEARDSLEY Andy Cole lit the blue touch paper for Manchester United's Milanese trip - and then paid tribute to the new Peter Beardsley. With impeccable timing, the 27-year-old striker took his tally for the season to 21 with a goal in each half to see off his former club four days ahead of his side's Champions' League quarter-final second leg in Italy. And while he later admitted that he is currently enjoying his football more than at any other time in his career, Cole put much of his success down to the form of strike partner Dwight Yorke. The £12.6million former Aston Villa star has plundered 26 goals so far since his move north, but it is the relationship he has formed with the man in the number nine shirt which reminds the former Magpie of his days at St James' Park. Cole scored a staggering 68 goals in just 84 appearances for Newcastle and puts much of that success down to Beardsley. "It's the kind of partnership I've been looking for. I haven't had that kind of partnership since I left here with Peter," said Cole. "Now I've got someone who I enjoy playing with and we know we're going to score goals together, which is important. "I'm really enjoying my football. You never know, it could be taken away from me tomorrow, so you've just got to enjoy it as much as you can." Cole's form has strengthened his claims for a place in Kevin Keegan's first England squad, but although the man who took him from Bristol City to Newcastle to launch his top-flight career announces his first selection on Thursday, the striker maintains that he is not even thinking about it. "I don't know when the England squad is announced. It's more important for me to play well for my team," he said. "At the moment the manager likes to give me a rest every now and then. It's frustrating for me because I want to play all the time. But it's for me to enjoy my football." Cole's goals helped United to come from behind after Nolberto Solano opened the scoring with a brilliant free-kick, and maintained a gap of four points over second-placed Arsenal at the top of the Premiership table. But the frontman will not even countenance talk of a famous treble and said: "The media talk it up saying we can win all three, but we don't talk about it. "We're trying to win one game at a time and come May, if we end up with three pieces of silverware we'll be delighted with it. "It's a great result for us. Arsenal are breathing down our necks. I know Chelsea slipped up but Arsenal keep winning. It was a great result for us and that sets us up nicely for Wednesday." While Cole was pulling the trigger at one end, Dutchman Jaap Stam was ensuring that Alan Shearer could not do the same at the other - and the striker was quick to acknowledge his team-mate's key role. "Jaap is a quality player and he did a great job on him. But for me, Jaap's done a great job all season," said Cole. "People gave him a bit of flack when he first came but everyone knows he's a quality player and he's settled down nicely now." United boss Alex Ferguson revealed after the game that goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel, who made way for Raimond van der Gouw at half-time, was suffering from flu. But Ferguson was confident the influential Dane will be fit enough to take his place in the starting line-up against Inter Milan at the San Siro in midweek. Opposite number Ruud Gullit criticised his team for showing their opponents too much respect, but it is a measure of the job he has done in recent months that the Magpies came so close to getting something from the game. And that fact was not lost on Cole, who backed Gullit to continue his rebuilding work. "They'd only lost one in 11 games before today and I think he's got them going now," he said. "He's looking to buy and bring his kind of players in, so I'd say they're going in the right direction."
Latest protest at OT

Subject: Inter will be up to all their old tricks, warns anxious Fergie Alex Ferguson will warn his players to guard against Italian gamesmanship when Manchester United face Inter Milan in the white hot atmosphere of the San Siro on Wednesday night. 'I think there will be a lot of scheming, diving and referee-baiting,' said a grim-faced United manager, in anticipation of the Champions League quarter-final, second leg. 'They will go through the whole repertoire. It will be the Italians at their best and we are hoping for a strong referee.' But Ferguson believes that United, 2-0 up, will find that their semi-final place depends on whether they can grab an away goal. 'The key for us is to score. If we do, we'll win,' he declared. 'We are better in a positive frame of mind and we'll go there to attack.' The United boss knows the whole fever-pitch occasion will provide a stiff examination for his team. 'It is a test of temperament for us but ability has got a lot to do with it too,' he added. 'I know it will be a difficult game for us. We must show courage in the atmosphere of the San Siro but at the same time, the players are going to have to express themselves.'
Latest protest at OT

Subject: Half-fit striker makes low-key return: Internazionale 2 AC Milan 2 THE STAR of the show was not Ronaldo, though he did play the first 45 minutes, but his fellow Brazilian Leonardo, who scored two fine goals for AC Milan and also hit a post. Inter were unconvincing in defence, but there is no doubt about their spirit. The fact that Ronaldo started brought joy to the Inter fans behind their huge banner on the north bank. He even had an early, left-footed shot which gave Milan's keeper Abbiati scant trouble as the game had an explosive beginning. The way Inter conceded Milan's equalising goal and the way their defence gave their opponents space must have been encouraging for Manchester United. The first goal, for Inter, was banal in the extreme. The Argentine Diego Simeone crossed in the seventh minute and Bruno N'gotty turned it past his own goalkeeper. Milan were not demoralised and equalised seven minutes later. The Dane, Thomas Helveg, crossed from the right, and Brazil's Leonardo expertly flicked the ball home with his head at the near post. Inter, who won't be able to use the Croatian Dario Simic against United, kept centre-back Fabio Galante on the bench, used Taribo West to mark Oliver Bierhoff, and did not even have veteran Bergomi on the bench, though he may return on Wednesday. Ronaldo is not match-fit, but there were moments, particularly in a four-minute period late in the first half, when he showed what a threat he still can be. After 36 minutes, he raced into the penalty box at devastating pace and looked as if he would have the better of Costacurta, only for Abbiati to dive desperately at his feet and save at the expense of a corner. Soon afterwards Ronaldo struck a powerful low shot which Abbiati resiliently saved. Overall, however, it was Milan's adventurous formation which looked the more progressive and promising, with Zvonimir Boban pulling the strings. Unsurprisingly, Ronaldo gave way at half-time to Nicola Ventola. The verdict on his display would have to be not proven. The second half had a dramatic beginning. Within three minutes, the ever-active Simeone had a header saved by Abbiati, but five minutes later Milan went ahead. Leonardo took a free kick a yard or two outside the penalty area and struck it perfectly, wide of a helpless Pagliuca. Leonardo proceeded to hit the right-hand post with another left-footer and Weah burst past the uneasy Colonnese to force a near-post save from Pagliuca. Milan seemed in control, but after 76 minutes West enterprisingly moved upfield to make an equalising goal for Zanetti. In the last, exuberant minutes, Simeone sent Ventola through, only for Abbiati to dive gallantly at his feet, while at the other end Weah stretched Pagliuca. But a draw it was. Internazionale: Pagliuca, Simic, Colonnese, West, Zanetti, Paulo Sousa (Cauet 57min), Simeone, Djorkaeff (Baggio 67min), Silvester, Zamorano, Ronaldo (Ventola 46min). AC Milan: Abbiati, N'gotty, Costacurta, Maldini, Helveg, Aborsini, Boban (Donadoni 67min), Guly, Leonardo (Ayala 79min), Bierhoff, Weah. Scorers: Internazionale: N'gotty 7og, Zanetti 76 AC Milan: Leonardo 14, 53 Referee: P Collina (Viareggio)
Latest protest at OT

Subject: Ronaldo Won't Worry Stam (Times) Internazionale (0) v Manchester United (2). European Cup, quarter-final, second leg. Wednesday, kick-off 7.45pm, ITV 7.30pm March 14 1999 FOOTBALL Inter's Brazilian striker may play in the San Siro, but that will not unduly worry Jaap Stam, says Brian Glanville Fit for United At whatever stage Ronaldo comes on to the field on Wednesday night for Inter at the San Siro against Manchester United - and he's believed not to have more than an hour in those ever vulnerable legs - Jaap Stam is unlikely to tremble. Although the Dutch centre-back had a mixed World Cup in France last summer, when he was guilty of a series of blunders that cost two goals, a penalty and cast serious doubt on the size of the enormous transfer fee paid for him by United to PSV Eindhoven, when it came to the crunch against Brazil, Stam stood up manfully to Ronaldo. Holland deserved better than they got in the semi-final and Stam unquestionably had the better of Ronaldo. The Brazilian's half-hour return to Inter's attack last Wednesday in Parma, however, has given his team new heart and hope, but, no matter what he says, he cannot play for 90 minutes against United. To say he is talismanic is to say no more than the half of it. From Mircea Lucescu, the team's temporary Romanian manager, to the Milanese sports writers and to the Inter fans, the refrain is the same: Inter with Ronaldo are an altogether better team. His return, however, presents his club - so unsuccessful in recent weeks and so disappointed by defeat at Old Trafford - with an odd and unexpected problem: an embarrassment of riches up front. "If they need a goal late in the game on Wednesday," joked a Milanese football journalist, "they could put five strikers on." For, indeed, strikers are there in spades: Ronaldo, Roberto Baggio, Francesco Moriero, Ivan Zamorano and Nicola Ventola. In Parma, where they lost their Italian Cup quarter-final return 2-1, having gone down 2-0 at home in the first leg, Inter brought back Moriero, long injured, and at one stage deployed three men up front. When Ronaldo came on, the 20-year-old Ventola went off but, given the threat he posed at Old Trafford, the three occasions in which he nearly scored - twice thwarted by Peter Schmeichel and once on the line by Henning Berg - he is certain to be used at one stage or another. There are critics in Milan who would prefer him to Zamorano, the Chilean striker who, although largely opaque in Manchester, did test Schmeichel with one of his typically powerful headers. The reason for this express preference is that while Zamorano these days so seldom scores - despite his prowess both in last May's Uefa Cup final in Paris and in the subsequent World Cup - Ventola scores more often. Tall and strongly built, Ventola is described as a classical centre-forward, quick, alert, and eager to go for goal whatever the odds, and remaining the focus of attack, rather than dropping back to receive the ball. This was clear to see earlier in the season - before he was badly injured - on his League debut away to Cagliari last September. Inter were two goals down, then on came Ventola who, with a couple of magnificent bursts from the left, scored twice. In doing so, he saved Gigi Simoni, the manager at the time, whose job had been hanging by a thread. Ventola is what they would call in Italy un uomo serio, a dedicated young man who has been studying jurisprudence at Bari University. He was born near Bari and is strongly attached to his region. Indeed, when Milan came in and bought him last season for a gigantic sum, he was not sure that he would not prefer to stay with Bari for a season. At least there, he reflected, he could be sure of playing 34 league games a season, injury permitting. Last season, in fact, was a cruel anticlimax for him. Having helped Bari to promotion to Serie A with 10 goals in 29 Serie B games during the previous season, a shocking injury ruled him out for all but eight Serie A games and a couple of goals in season 1997-98. Playing in November 1997 against Empoli, he suffered fearful damage to his right knee. The operation that followed was successful, but after his dazzling start with Inter this season Ventola badly damaged the same knee playing against Sampdoria, almost exactly a year after his initial injury. Some thought he had been brought back too soon this year and, indeed, he looked somewhat rusty in his first games. Untypically, he is the most modest of young men. He was even reluctant to come off the bench as a substitute against Lazio in Rome last month. But since then he has made quick progress and United's puzzled defence would doubtless testify that he is again a substantial danger. Ventola's family, by contrast with that of most Italian professional footballers - Gianluca Vialli is another exception - is emphatically middle-class and very close. His lawyer father has a responsible job in local government, while his mother teaches history and philosophy. Back in June 1997, when Milan in particular were buzzing around young Ventola, his father declared: "Nicola will always have me at his side, even if he has to have an agent. Like that, the sharks which cruise around the world of football will not be able to do him any damage." When he joined Inter from Bari at the end of October, his mother, Nuccia Scarola, remarked: "At the beginning, with all those important names like Baggio and Ronaldo, I was perplexed, I was afraid that they would squash him like a flea" She was quite wrong. In Bari, Ventola was cherished as well as admired. He was known as the kid who slept on the team coach when Bari played away, who watched Roma's games on television and wept when Bari lost a game. When, last May, he went north to Milan for his medical, he refused to let the attendant photographers take pictures of him with an Inter jersey. He still wasn't sure, he said, whether he wanted to leave Bari. Some weeks ago, when Dino Zoff, Italy's manager, chose him for the Azzurri squad for an international, he found himself in Cremona with an under-21 team and, far from being overjoyed, was distressed by the fact that he would have to leave his young teammates. Not only is he large, incisive, penetrative and good in the air, but he also has enviable technique. He could, indeed, prove a greater threat to Stam and company than Ronaldo, who, after so long a hiatus, could scarcely be expected to be fully match-fit. Ronaldo's presence, however, may do much to restore the Inter team's shaken morale. Relations with the hapless Lucescu are still hardly ideal. How could they be, when he and everybody else know that he is no more than a bird of passage? He is destined to move on, or back to Bucharest, when Marcello Lippi takes over for pre-season training in the summer. The Taribo West situation - a rebel without a cause, you might say - has been especially unfortunate. At Old Trafford, West's power in the air might have been enough to stop Dwight Yorke heading those two rather easy goals. Alternatively, had West been playing at left-back rather than the uneasy Aron Winter, it is unlikely David Beckham would have had the time and space to send Yorke those two pinpoint right-wing crosses. United start as favourites on Wednesday, but Ronaldo, Baggio and Ventola are formidable foes.
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Subject: Manchester senior cup Old news from Thursday 11th March: United left it late before securing a narrow Manchester Senior Cup win over Oldham Athletic at Boundary Park last night.Two goals in the closing nine minutes claimed a victory which until then had looked to be well within Oldham's grasp.Teddy Sheringham put United on terms in the 81st minute after taking a pass from Jonathan Greening.Then, with time running out and the obligatory penalty shoot-out looming for games in the competition which end with the scores level, Michael Clegg snatched a last-gasp winner.Ryan Sugden had given the Latics the lead just before the break, but that goal was wiped-out on the hour when Jonathan Greening scored with a tap-in after receiving a cross from Sheringham. Oldham looked to have cleared the way for a memorable victory in the 73rd minute after Danny Bushell had given his side a 2-1 lead from the penalty-spot.But then came the late rescue act and United had got their Senior Cup campaign off to a winning start
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Subject: United's Schmeichel set to face Inter Milan MANCHESTER, England, March 14 - Manchester United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel is expected to recover from a bout of 'flu in time to play against Inter Milan in Wednesday's European Cup quarter-final second leg. The Dane was taken off at half-time in Saturday's 2-1 premier league win at Newcastle as a precaution after complaining of feeling unwell. Manager Alex Ferguson said: "I was prepared to leave him out (on Saturday) but he wanted to play and it is difficult when they want to play, but he'll be okay for Wednesday." United midfielder Nicky Butt is struggling to be fit because of a calf injury but United are otherwise at full strength. Ferguson has told his players to keep their heads in what will be an intimidating atmosphere at the San Siro. "The players are going to need courage and they must show the maturity to handle whatever happens. It is a big challenge for them and it is a case of now is the time." United won the first leg at Old Trafford 2-0.
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