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www.red11.org DAILY NEWS
Date: Wed Aug 25 04:08:11 GMT 1999
Mail: barry@www.red11.org

This Issue:
1. Vierra, ooh ooh ooh oh Vierra!! by OUR SALFORD LASS
2. Arsenal match report - by Craig Stevens
3. RUCK AND BRAWL
4. Goalkeeper's fitness battle for United
5. UNITED IN CHASE FOR A DEFENDER
6. United raid for Helveg mooted
7. Yorke could miss a month for United
8. KEANE NOTHING TO PROVE - FERGIE

++++++=========+++++++========+++++++++========++++++++

Bill's Daily Comment:

I apologize for the delay in sending out OUR SALFORD LASS'
Arsenal Match Report - it slipped my mind (thanks for the
reminder Craig).

Please check the matchreports webpage as well, since 
OUR SALFORD LASS' reports do appear there as soon as 
we get them from her.

http://www.red11.org/miva/matchreports.mv

Special thanks of course to OUR SALFORD LASS for bringing
these reports to us!  You don't realize how great they are
until they are gone (or temporarily forgotten to be sent
out as the case may be).

Let's hope Rai is fit in a hurry (not that Nick Culkin
can't do the job, but I'll feel better seeing Rai between
the posts). 

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

*** RESULTS AND ATTENDANCES ON 24/08/99 ***

       Middlesbrough   0-3   Leicester City        33,126
             Watford   0-1   Aston Villa           19,161

*** CONDENSED LEAGUE TABLE AS AT 24/08/99 ***

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

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

MANCHESTER UNITED STATS v ALL teams on the Web
http://www.red11.org/mufc/stats.htm

MANCHESTER UNITED RESULTS v ALL teams on the Web
http://www.red11.org/mufc/stats/

ALL FIXTURES at: http://www.red11.org/mufc/fix992000.htm

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Subject: First Team Fixtures 1999/2000 [All dates/times subject to change]
Dates of possible cup ties also shown

Date        Opposition                         Score  Pos.  Attend.
--------------------------------------------------------------------
1/08/99    Arsenal      Wembley Charity Shield  1-2     -     70,185
 3/08/99    Omagh Town   aid of Omagh Bomb Fund  9-0    -      7,000
 4/08/99    Wigan Athletic friendly              2-0    -     15.000 
08/08/99    Everton                  Away     D  1-1    10    39,141
11/08/99    Sheffield Wednesday      Home     W  4-0     3    54,941
14/08/99    Leeds United             Home     W  2-0     1    55,187
22/08/99    Arsenal                  Away     W  2-1     1    38,147

25/08/99    Coventry City            away PL   20.00
27/08/99    Monaco - Lazio           ESC       19.45
30/08/99    Newcastle United         home PL   13.00
11/09/99    Liverpool                away PL   11.30 Live on Sky
15/09/99    ?     EC
18/09/99    Wimbledon                home PL   15.00
22/09/99    ?     EC
25/09/99    Southampton              home PL   15.00
29/09/99    ?     EC
 3/10/99    Chelsea                  away PL   16.00 Live on Sky
*11/10/99   Sir Alex Ferguson's testimonial OT [Cantona + Schmeichel]
13/10/99    ?     WC 3
16/10/99    Watford                  home PL   15.00
20/10/99    ?     EC
23/10/99    Tottenham Hotspur        away PL   15.00
27/10/99    ?     EC
30/10/99    Aston Villa              home PL   15.00
 3/11/99    ?     EC
 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
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]

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
 5/02/2000  Coventry City            home PL   15.00
12/02/2000  Newcastle United         away PL   15.00
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
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
24/05/2000  ?    EC f

++++++=========+++++++========+++++++++========++++++++


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Subject: Vierra, ooh ooh ooh oh Vierra!! by OUR SALFORD LASS One day, Patrick Vierra will get what's coming to him! Yesterday was very nearly that day but, unfortunately, the rest of the United side managed (with great difficulty, it has to be admitted) to drag Stam off him and prevent the nasty, cheating, vicious **** getting what he deserved! It's now Monday morning and, as you can probably tell, I'm still seething. But lets go back to the beginning of the story, which began with a burning van on the M1 services: We had left Old Trafford at 9.30am after being serenaded by some passing cockneys who sped past the car park at about 60 mph, hanging out of the car window, singing "Arsenal, Arsenal, Arsenal." After my last trip to the capital a couple of weeks ago, it was nice to be back on coach no 3 with slim and his mates on the back seat and not a glory-hunter in sight. This being the first time we had all met up again since Barcelona, there was some mickey-taking about drunken antics in Palamos as we set off down the M6 on a bright, sunny Sunday morning. After reading the Sunday papers (Keane in a Juventus shirt - aghh!!) to the accompaniment of chanting from the back seat, we arrived at the services for a comfort stop. As we descended from the coach, we noticed smoke coming from under the bonnet of a van parked nearby. As the smoke turned into flames, and the flames began to rise higher and higher, we decided that it might be a good idea to move to a safe distance. The driver moved the coach and we all stood and watched whilst the whole van was consumed in flames. Eventually, the fire brigade arrived and spoiled the fun by putting out the fire, but not before the lads off the coach had given their opinion as to the cause of the fire and the action that should be taken by the lads from the fire services! We arrived in London early and found ourselves outside the turnstyles by 2.30pm. We did consider wandering off to the pub, but the son-and-heir had forgotten which pub the others were meeting in, and I didn't fancy walking around the area looking for it, so we went into the ground, had some chips and spent the next hour admiring the green carpet that is the pitch at Highbury. Nice pitch, nice ground, what a shame the team and the fans are such a bunch of w*****s! We cheered Raimond van de Gorgeous as he came out to warm-up, and soon afterwards the team arrived to further applause. The rest of the time was spent watching all the tourists having their photos taken (where do they get the tickets?) and returning friendly gestures with the arriving Arse fans. As kick-off time approached, we began to think we were in the Throstles Nest! First, we met up with Tim (who has been a part-timer of late - sorry Tim!). Then Paul B and mates arrived, only to inform us that he had never been present at a United/Arse game when we've won! The next thing we knew, the Sausage Man arrived behind us, along with Mark R. And just to our left was Pat and his sister! From the kick-off, it was obvious that this was (as usual) not going to be a game for the faint-hearted as both teams got stuck in. In the paper this morning, one commentator pointed to the similarities between United/Arse games in the 90's and United/Leeds games in the 70's and I have to admit that this was also going through my mind, if only because the Arsenal players seem to be attempting to take over the title of "Dirtiest team of the century" from the fondly remembered sheep-shaggers of earlier years. Those of you who didn't see the game, must not believe the statistics - 4 bookings to us and only 1 to them sounds as if we were dirtier than them - the truth was that we were booked for everything and they were booked for nothing. They should have ended up with 9 men but both players who should have gone off didn't even get booked, let alone sent off. If I sound angry, that's because I am, and I still haven't calmed down today! I can accept getting stuck in (our Keano isn't exactly an angel) but the diving and the cheating just gets me so angry. Vierra's whole philosophy seems to be "fall over as often as possible and eventually, you will get someone booked". On one level, he didn't get away with as much as he usually does - at one point, the referee refused to believe his play-acting and made him get off the ground and play on, but he still didn't book him for wasting time, pretending to be injured or just being a cheating *******! Anyway, back to the plot. Whilst it was all happening on the pitch, with play going from one end to the other and the United lads looking like they were getting on top of the game, off the pitch the atmosphere in the United section was excellent. The best fun was had bouncing up and down singing "We are the Champions, Champions of Europe". The son-and-heir did complain that it made us look like Leeds fans, but I pointed out that the difference is that we really are Champions of Europe! Luckily, no-one was tempted to take off their shirts and wave them over their heads, and we did it during the game, and not only at half-time! Other songs which became ever present during the game were "Giggs, Giggs will tear you apart again" and "Vierra, Vierra, he gave Giggsy the ball, and Arsenal won f*** all" (the latter the the tune of Arsenal's own Vierra song). It was also good fun to sing "Have you ever won the treble, have you f***" to the nice VIP's on the balconies above us. The Arsenal fans only managed the occasional chant of "Arsenal, Arsenal, Arsenal" and "Vierra" (which was answered with our own version). At one point, they tried a chorus of "Stand up, if you hate Man U" but soon went quiet when the whole United section (even those in the quiet corner) stood up and sang "Stand up for the Champions". Apart from the living dead in the corner, we stood throughout the game. The stewards tried to get us sit down for the first 15 minutes, but then gave up and simply tried to ensure that the aisles were clear. For the first 20 minutes or so, it only seemed to be a matter of time before we scored. Cole and Yorke were running rings around an Arsenal defence which seemed vulnerable without Adams. We were attacking the goal at the other end of the pitch and we thought we'd scored when Becks took a free kick and Andy hit the bar. Then a wonderful pass from Becks put Giggs through, but he shot wide, much to the delight of the Arsenal fans. It was something like 35 minutes before Arsenal had a shot on target - Kanu's shot was tipped over the bar by Raimond. This gave Arsenal some heart and they began to come back into the game. After a period during which I shut my eyes every time the play came down our end, it became increasingly clear that Arsenal would score. Just before half-time, Bergkamp put through Ljungberg and the ball was in the back of the net to (I suspect) no-one's surprise. As we watched in stunned silence, every Arsenal fan in the stadium found their voice for the first time - the whole stadium was jumping up and down, screaming and shouting and celebrating - bringing back some pretty dire memories from last season! As the son-and-heir muttered "Please not again, please not again", we tried to raise ourselves for a chant of "United" and "Champions of Europe". I just prayed for the half-time whistle as our lads looked within seconds of going to pieces and Arsenal had what seemed like chance after chance. The half-time break brought a chance to calm down for both fans and players, and a visit from Dr Mark and Dave A., as well as your reporter making a fool of herself by almost hugging a complete stranger due to the poor eyesight of the Sausage Man! If we thought the first half was not for the faint-hearted, well the second half was the sort of game that can lead to heart attacks in the vulnerable! Right from the kick-off, Arsenal (and their fans) were looking for that second goal. Now attacking the other end, they poured into our penalty area, over and over again and only the heroic defending of Stam, Berg and Raimond kept them out. I spent half of my time watching from behind my fingers and the other half turning my eyes from the game until I could tell by the sound of the crowd that the danger was over! After about 10 minutes, it looked like our hopes would be dashed as Upson hit the post and the ball bounced around in our penalty area. I couldn't look away - I just stood there, not able to breath, waiting for the Arsenal fans to erupt and that awful sinking feeling in the stomach - but somehow, we survived and within minutes we had gone from despair to elation as Cole and Keane exchanged passes, the Arsenal defence seemed to stop in their tracks and Keane placed the ball passed Manninger and into the net, right in front of us! He stood in front of us, with both hands at his side and his chest puffed out, grinning up at us as we went mental. The son-and-heir (along with a couple of hundred others) ran down to the front, within a few feet of Keane, giving a piggy back to a complete stranger. The players jumped all over Keane. He just stood there, looking up at us, with this look on his face that said "How's that then??" Until now, I have been wavering about the Keane situation but tending towards believing we'll lose him at the end of the season, but in that moment, as we shared the triumph of that goal, it was hard to imagine how he could leave, how he could want to leave. Up until that goal, the atmosphere had gone a bit flat in the United section - not because we didn't care but simply because we were all so nervy. Now the nerves went in an explosion of sound as we sang "Keano, there's only one Keano" and "Naa, naa, naa, nana na naa Keano" and "Champions of Europe". The Giggs song was sung again, and the Vierra song, and most songs from the United songbook as we willed the lads to score again. Sometime in the second half, I think it was after the second goal but I lost my sense of timing at some point, the tension that had been simmering beneath the surface for the whole game erupted as Vierra assaulted Keane (there is no other description for what happened - if he had done what he did on a Saturday night in Manchester, he would have ended up in a police cell). Before (it seemed) Keane could react, Stam had run down from the our end of the pitch to the half-way line and was trying to wreak some revenge on Vierra. This was a very scary sight! Even from so far away, the sight of Stam out of control, having to be held back by at least 6 players, certainly frightened me anyway! Of course, then the atmosphere was electric with "Yip Jaap Stam" being belted out by the United fans and the Arsenal fans screaming at the referee in defence of their "innocent" Vierra. From then on, it was again, a roller coaster ride! One minute they were down the other end and I was covering my eyes, the next minute they were at our end and I was praying and holding my breath! Teddy came on 10-15 minutes from the end to "Oh Teddy, Teddy. Signed for Man United and he won the lot" from us and "Signed for Man United and he's still a ****" from the Arsenal fans! The Arsenal fans sang "Teddy is a wanker" and we sang "Teddy is a champion" and "Teddy is a champion, champion of Europe" Teddy was thoroughly enjoying the attention! The referee caused yet more controversy by booking Becks for speaking to the linesman before he had even found out what he'd said! We were beginning to think that a draw would be a relief when, around 10 minutes before time, Giggs decided to "tear them apart again" by taking the ball from Parlour's feet and took a shot. The shot was deflected off Keown and fell at Keane's feet. He didn't hesitate and there was more bedlam in the United section as the winning goal went into the net. The son-and-heir went running off down the steps again, with yet another stranger taking a flying leap onto his back, whilst I stayed close to my seat trying to keep my feet as lads fell to the ground all around me in mad celebrations. The Arsenal fans just sat stunned and silent. So all we had to do was to survive another 10 minutes and we had done it at last - beat the Arse! But there was more drama to come. We sang "Teddy, Teddy what's the score" (he turned and lifted the correct number of fingers) and "Champions of Europe", whilst averting the eyes from their attacks. Seconds before the end it looked like our celebrations had been a little too optimistic as they attacked our goal. Down at the other end of the pitch, there was yet another attack and the ball seemed to have been caught by Raimond, but then we saw it bulging the back of the net. For a few seconds, we felt despair - so near and yet so far. But the teams weren't coming back to the centre circle, everything seemed to have stopped. For a while, there was complete confusion in the stadium, as the Arsenal fans stopped celebrating and we tried to figure out what was going on. At first, we thought it must have been off-side, but there had been no sign of a flag being raised. Then we realised that the goal had been disallowed and that Raimond was lying very still on the ground. For the next couple of minutes, we carried on chanting, but it was half-hearted as we realised that Raimond could be seriously hurt. All we could see, was the yellow of his shirt lying still in the goal-mouth, our other players standing round him and the referee gesturing for a stretcher. Eventually, he was carried off, still worryingly still on the stretcher and Culkin came on. He kicked the ball downfield, the whistle blew, and that was it - we had beaten Arsenal! "United, United, top of the league." As we queued up to leave the ground, we sang "Champions of Europe" and waved to the VIPS on their balconies. Arriving back at the coach, we found we were next to the Milton Keynes Arsenal Supporters Club coach (perhaps the Sausage Man could get a lift up to OT with them later in the season!). Of course, no-one could resist a chorus of "Do you come from Highbury?" Some of the lads on the Arsenal coach decided to take exception to this and the levels of testosterone on the coach rose to the point where us females were able to sit back with amusement and watch the men make total prats of themselves! Screaming abuse at each other through the glass, running up and down the aisle shouting "let me at 'im" - it was hysterical. Then trouble kicked off down the road and hundreds of police were seen running down towards the tube station and the main shopping area. Of course, this raised the testosterone levels even further as the lads on the bus told the world what they would do to the Arsenal "crew" if only the steward would let them off the bus!! By this time, I was having quiet hysterics (well, I wouldn't want to hurt their feelings, would I?) which became total and very noisy hysterics (along with everyone else on the bus) when an Arsenal fan passing by was so busy gesticulating and screaming abuse at our lads, that he walked straight into a tree! His girlfriend just lowered her head with embarrassment and walked on, pretending she didn't know him!! The amusement continued all the way out of London. Having sat for an hour waiting for the trouble to be cleared in front of us, we set off for the motorway and the lads on the back seat decided to entertain the female population of Islington by doing moonies through the back window, having ensured that there were no fellas around first, of course! I kept my eyes on my book and made sure I did not look at the back of the bus, until we were approaching Manchester! My moment of the match? Stam in a temper - absolutely awesome!! My man of the match? It could have been Raimond or Stam but has to be Keane - he took the game by the scruff of the neck and got it sorted. Come on, Roy - you won't get anywhere else what you have in Manchester, stay with us. Copyright 1999 by OUR SALFORD LASS. All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced without permission of the author
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Subject: Arsenal match report - by Craig Stevens The tube journey to Arsenal was remarkable only for the amount of gooners who kept talking about the Charity Shield and how that would have demoralized United so much that they would be scarred for the season! Did they not learn anything last season?? Upon entering the stadium it reminded me how nervous I always seem to get when I visit Highbury. With the exception of Anfield and Euro aways, Highbury always seems to make me a little intimidated which is weird as it is a rather small (by OT standards) stadium that is not even joined together. Maybe it is because of previous trips here. I always seem to be lucky enough to get drawn out for a ticket to Highbury and this was my fourth trip in a row. The last two ending in defeat and the one before that a very nervous 2-1 victory in heavy winds and rain. So it was with nervous tension that I took my seat (how I wished I was behind the goal where the United fans all stood and not in with the execs who sat) right next to the cocky Arsenal fans. I was very pleased to see Raimond in goal as he made me feel 100 times more secure last week against the sheep. I have nothing against Bosnich and I am one for not judging until people have had time to prove themselves, but I just feel more confident with Van der Gouw. The atmosphere was good from the start and got a lot more heated when Keane brought down Viera after a matter of minutes. I stood up to applaud the referees leniency and that was the first time I realized that this was going to be an interesting afternoon as about 20 Arsenal fans told me in various different ways to sit down and shut up. The game seemed very fast to me but I couldn't help thinking that the ball kept falling to them in midfield and that they were finding a lot of space and time by playing through balls behind our defence. Fergie described the game afterwards as a practice game where each team would take it in turns to attack, and this wasn't far from the truth. Cole came close with a header and I have to say that as soon as Becks played Giggs through on goal I turned to my brother and said "Bollocks, it's on his right foot". Sadly I wasn't made to eat my words as I was at Villa Park last year when I told my brother that Giggs should have held possession rather than trying to take on the whole Arsenal defence. The Arse fans were reminded of this regularly in the first half when the Boyle-esque lyrics of "Giggs: Giggs will tear you apart: Again" worked it's way around the United contingent. Sadly, it looked like Giggs was going to have another indifferent game. Attacks came and went and Van der Gouw and Manninger were both looking like first-choice keepers until finally the Arsewipe got behind the defence again and this time converted for the lead. Scenes reminiscent of Anfield in April were in evidence all around us as the Gooner fans suddenly thought they had won the European Cup. Those nearest me made a point of attracting my attention and gesticulating and I have to admit it was hard not to rise to their bait. I just hoped I would get the opportunity to do likewise later. And so halftime came only minutes after Van der Gouw had kept us in the game with some more remarkable saves. A number of Arsenal fans walked past us kissing their replica kit and shouting "You're not singing any more" which always annoys me at away games as United always sing ten times more variety of songs than anyone else and it especially annoyed me then as apart from their staple "Arse-se-nal, Arse-se-nal" tripe, the fans to my left had not sung all half. After discussing with many reds at half time how Fergie will shake them up at half time and probably take Scholes off for Butt (as Scholes had a yellow card and we really don't want to play Arsenal again with 10 men), I was only half surprised to find out that he did neither of these. The shirts looked really vulnerable at the start of the second half and we nearly went 2 down as the Arse rattled the post. That seemed to wake us up a bit and we started to keep possession better. During a lull in the game I responded to the Arse chants of "You're not very good" by taking out a pre-arranged Cigar, taking a pretend drag and then singing "Champions of Europe", then another pretend drag and another "Champions of Europe". This caused bemusement to the Arse fans looking but I think they got the point that what we did last year puts anything that happens this year into perspective. And then we only went and scored. It was a well worked goal and I was so glad that it was Keano that scored as I felt that the crowd were a bit divided on whether to get behind him or not up to that point. We made a point of making a point to the Arse fans and things seemed so much better all of a sudden. Standing on my chair and singing "we shall not be moved" led to a policeman telling me to sit down and shut up before he turned to the guy in front of me and said "I have been watching you all game and if you look over there (pointing to the Arse fans) when the ball is over there (pointing to the field) one more time you will be out". What the hell is all that about? Have things sunk so low that you can't take your eye of the ball anymore at a football ground and engage in a bit of chit chat with the opposing fans? Many renditions of "Championes" , "Who put the ball in the Germans net" and "Champions of Europe" (this last one was sung with a great deal of passion by everyone at last) went round and the Arse were suddenly a lot quieter. My brother and I couldn't resist one more swipe at the fans around us and chose a quiet moment to sing at the top of our voices (whilst leaning over the barriers and looking directly at the Arse fans) "Who put the ball in the Arsenal net, Who put the ball in the Arsenal net, Who put the ball in the Arsenal net, half of fucking Europe!". This was met by laughter from the United fans and a concerted effort from the Arse fans to have me and my brother ejected from the stadium. Fortunately the nearest steward must have been a Spurs fan as he just told me and bro to sit down. When Giggs dispossessed Parlour and Keane scored I was surprised to find my brother, who is traditionally the much more sensible and placid of the two of us at football games, jump onto the barrier separating the two sets of fans and go absolutely mental. Risking the wrath of the Policeman I thought it was too much of a good opportunity to turn down and besides there was only 2 minutes left (or so I thought) and so I decided to join him in a very satisfying 60 seconds or so of Arse baiting and laughing. The end of the game was made even more satisfying when the Arse thought they had scored. They all went mental but it was short lived as realization dawned on them that you must kick the ball over the line, not the ball and the goalkeeper. On a very subdued tube it was left for one Arse fan who thought it funny to change the lyrics of "always look on the bright side of life" to "always look on the runway for ice" to be reminded that United fans take particular exception to this type of barracking and I just wish I had had the nerve to sing to him "always look on the tube floor for mice" as he lay there clutching his stomach after one of our 'bigger' supporters had put an end to his singing. And so it was that I returned home particularly satisfied with the result. Not only because if we win the return leg at OT we will have taken 6 points of Arsenal and that would make a huge difference at the end of the season (they did the very same thing to us 2 years ago), but because I couldn't help thinking of the contrast in reaction of the Arsenal faithful before (with their Charity Shield stories) and after (in quiet disbelief). I love being a red. Craig Stevens
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Subject: RUCK AND BRAWL Sunday saw the official unveiling of the new Manchester United rugby shirt. To celebrate this momentous event, a celebrity-packed game was staged between United and Arsenal at Highbury. It was all jolly good fun and, in the best traditions of rugger, the players indulged in a 'bit of hanky-panky' at the least little excuse. After an innocuous challenge, scrum-half Roy Keane took an air-kick in the direction of flanker Patrick Vieira, who responded by appearing to butt Keane. Lock-forward Jiip Jaap Stam added to the gyp by attempting to lump one on the Frenchman - it took a determined heave by his own pack to stop him dishing out retribution. You'd have thought that Vieira - at least - would have received his marching orders, but wink-and-a-smile referee Graham Poll decided that rules were neither here nor there and a friendly chin-wag would suffice instead. But should these scallywags still be reprimanded? The FA are uncharacteristically dragging their feet on this one. "As in every case like this we must first look at the referee's report," said an FA spokesman. Surely Arsene Wenger will punish his errant star. "I will have to look at the tape and see what happened and then maybe decide what action to take," said the Arsenal boss, becoming the second person to require more time to work out what the rest of us understand already. UGO-ING NOWHERE Rumours that Manchester United are about to nick yet another player from Aston Villa appear to be wide of the mark. If you trust the word of an agent, that is, which of course the Fiver has no reason not to. Weekend newspapers had suggested that King of Kings Alex Selassie, Emperor of Trafford, was about to bid 8m for Villa defender Ugo Ehiogu. But Ehiogu's agent Steve Kutner today insisted that Ugo was content to stay with Villa: "There is nothing going on. We are not looking for a move and do not envisage anything happening. People are making mountains out of nothing." Denying the existence of a molehill didn't stop the agent looking for a mole, however. "I don't know where all this speculation has come from but it has certainly not come from us," Kutner added, in no way adding fuel to rumours that all this speculation may have come from them.
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Subject: Goalkeeper's fitness battle for United By Christopher Davies RAIMOND VAN DER GOUW, the Manchester United goalkeeper, should be fit to play against Coventry tomorrow despite being kicked in the face at Highbury in the last minute of United's 2-1 win. The Dutchman was caught by Martin Keown's knee as he challenged for the ball. Van Der Gouw, who had a scan on the injury yesterday, was carried off and replaced by Nicky Culkin. Manager Sir Alex Ferguson said: "He's okay. Fortunately it is just severe bruising which hopefully will die down within a day or two. We are hopeful he is going to make Wednesday's game, but I wouldn't say categorically he is going to be ready. He should be ready for the Super Cup game against Lazio on Friday though." If van Der Gouw is not risked tomorrow, it would mean Culkin, 21, making his full debut, with England youth international Paul Rachubka on the bench. Ferguson said: "If Nicky Culkin has to play he will be okay. He's a solid young keeper and I know he'll be all right if Rai isn't fit."
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Subject: UNITED IN CHASE FOR A DEFENDER By David Anderson, PA Sport Manchester United are battling against the clock to a defender after being told Ronny Johnsen needs surgery on his knees. United had hoped that Johnsen could avoid surgery to cure the tendinitis, but doctors have told the club that an operation is the only way to clear up the long-standing problem. The Norwegian international will be out of action for three to four months and with Wes Brown and David May also on the sidelines, boss Sir Alex Ferguson knows he needs to strengthen the heart of his back line. Ferguson has already identified his target and is trying to complete a deal before next Tuesday's Champions' League transfer deadline. "Ronny will be out for three to four months now," he said in the Manchester Evening News. "We need to sort out the problem completely and then at least we may get the last three months of the season from him. "He has come to accept that something had to be done over the last few weeks after there had been no improvement. "We're working at something, but it's difficult to say which way it will go. We're not saying who the target is, but nobody has got the name right yet. "We're just waiting on the price and it may be a couple of days before something is sorted." PA Sporting Life
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Subject: United raid for Helveg mooted Reports are claiming that Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson is planning a swoop for AC Milan's Danish star Thomas Helveg. Helveg, who can operate in several positions in defence or midfield, was an integral part of the Milan side that won Serie A last season, as well as helping his country to the quarter-finals of France '98. Helveg is rated around the 7m mark, although it is unlikely that Milan would prepared to sell him at any price unless another big name defender/midfielder was brought into the San Siro. United were represented when Milan took on Parma in the Super Cup on Saturday night, with the Dane said to be the focus of their scouting mission. Bringing in a player of Helveg's stature would prove to be a massive boost ahead of the club's forthcoming Champions' League campaign.
Click On pic - for latest interviews/pics from OT"

Subject: Yorke could miss a month for United Dwight Yorke could miss a month of Manchester United's season if he decides to play for Trinidad and Tobago in February's USA Gold Cup. The United striker could become one of several Premiership stars, including Arsenal's Kanu, missing for some key battles during the crux of the season unless he opts not to make the trip. United would be powerless to pull their top scorer out of the tournament as it is a FIFA sanctioned event and viewed by the organisers as on a par with the European championships. However, there have so far been no indications from the Trinidad and Tobago FA that Yorke will be picked or from the player that he would accept the invitation.
Click On pic - for latest interviews/pics from OT"

Subject: KEANE NOTHING TO PROVE - FERGIE By David Anderson, PA Sport Sir Alex Ferguson insists Coventry's 6million new boy Robbie Keane has nothing to prove to him ahead of Manchester United's trip to Highfield Road. During the summer the United boss reportedly said he would not pay 6million for the teenage striker and that the Republic of Ireland international would only make the reserves at Old Trafford. Ferguson is keen to play down the furore and he insists his comments, which were made off the record at a dinner in Fleetwood, were twisted. He maintains that he rates Keane, who scored twice on his debut against Derby on Saturday, very highly. "He's nothing to prove to me," said Ferguson. "There was all that stuff in the papers saying I didn't rate the boy, which is absolutely untrue and everyone knows that. "What I said was if I spent 6million on a player I would need to put him in my first team. "And at 19 years of age with Yorke, Cole, Sheringham and Solskjaer that would be very difficult. "That's all I said, but of course some smart journalist has turned it round." However, Ferguson has a tougher job trying to explain away the criticisms he made about Sky Blues boss Gordon Strachan. In his autobiography 'Managing My Life' Ferguson accuses Strachan of going behind his back to engineer moves away from Aberdeen and then United. When Strachan unsuccessfully tried to join Lens in 1988 after he had promised to stay at Old Trafford, Ferguson said: "I decided that this man could not be trusted an inch. "Our lives had been enmeshed for most of a decade, but I knew in that moment that I wouldn't want to expose my back to him in a hurry." Strachan was incensed by these criticisms, which he felt were unjustified, and their meeting tomorrow should be interesting. Ferguson, though, is quick to praise Strachan for his managerial abilities and he was impressed by Coventry's 2-0 victory over Derby. "I thought that was a terrific win for them, although Derby have been toiling a little bit," he said. "They are the great survivors, Coventry, so we will have a hard game down there. "However, these are the games we have to win." United are certainly not short of confidence following their terrific 2-1 win against Arsenal at Highbury on Sunday. Ferguson is anxious that his side maintain this high standard against the Sky Blues, which will be their second game in a run of four matches in nine days. Following the game, United will fly to Monaco to prepare for Friday's European Super Cup clash with Lazio before they take on Newcastle at Old Trafford on Bank Holiday Monday. Raimond van der Gouw hopes to be fit although his right cheek is swollen and he has a black eye from his collision with Martin Keown on Sunday. Nick Culkin, who replaced him for the final seconds at Highbury, is on standby to make his full senior debut if the Dutchman cannot play. Ferguson has received some welcome news on the injury front and Gary Neville, who has not played yet this season because of a groin strain, will continue his recovery in a behind closed doors friendly against Bury reserves at Gigg Lane on Wednesday.
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