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Will Cristiano Ronaldo return to help Manchester United kids and Louis Van Gaal make Red Devils great again?

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Maybe the media have got it right? Maybe Jose Mourinho WILL be manager at Manchester United next season. Or maybe they’ve got it totally wrong. I hope they have got it wrong. Because recent events have shown the Louis Van Gaal is finally on the right track – giving home grown talent their chance.

In my opinion, it would be criminal to destroy the exciting foundations ‪United have laid for the future.Van Gaal has consistently trusted the young stars served up by the Academy and under 21 boss Warren Joyce.

How many managers have the courage and forsight van Gaal has shown, when he could have packed his squad with more senior players?

The dream for United fans is creating a new dynasty like we did on the back of the ‪‎Class of 92‬ – not a short term boom and bust gamble, with Jose Mourinho.

I do have a soft spot for the self-appointed Special One. He is a great manager. Of that there is no doubt. But I can’t get away from the gut feeling that this club is built on turning home grown talent into the best players in the world.

Personally, I love the way Van Gaal has survived his fight with the media. His philosophy of giving kids a chance has been totally under-estimated.

Louis Van Gaal kids.

I can’t imagine Mourinho ever choosing youth ahead of established stars and big money signings.
The cynics will tell you that Marcus Rashford only got his dream debut and 4 goals in his first 2 matches because of United’s unbelievable injury list. But that is just media propaganda from journalists who’ve consistently made up stories about LVG. Because, their agenda is not what’s good for Manchester United.

Rashford runs riot with double on 3-2 Premier League debut win over Arsenal

What we’ve seen this past 10 days is exactly why Jose Mourinho is not the right man to lead this great football club.

Playing entertaining football is United’s DNA. But so is bringing through the kids. Just as Sir Alex did with Giggs, Scholes, Beckham, Butt & the Neville brothers when United’s academy discovered the Class of 92.

Just as Sir Matt did with the Busby Babes. Pre-Munich . . . and then to win the European Cup in 1968.

This year Sir Bobby Charlton celebrates the 60th anniversary of his United debut. Meantime, Ryan Giggs this week celebrated the 25th anniversary of his United debut. And 22 years ago Paul Scholes scored his 1st Premier League goal for the Reds in a team of kids who flourished alongside the iconic Eric Cantona.

My bet is that many years from now we’ll be talking about the current crop of kids. Whether that be the likes of Academy youngsters Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard. Or young signings like Anthony Martial & Luke Shaw. The point is, Louis van Gaal’s role is to lay the foundations for the next generation of United heroes. And for the next manager, who LVG has already told us will be Ryan Giggs.

I must admit I was worried when United were playing boring football before Christmas. And I was initially disappointed United allowed Guardiola to choose City.

But LVG is living up to his reputation of bringing the best out of the kids. As he’s done ever since he won the European Cup with Ajax back in 1995. Van Gaal’s home grown squad that year remains the youngest ever to be champions of Europe. And they did it playing Total Football, with a team of youngsters – most of whom became superstars.
The team that lined up against Milan in that Final a who’s who of Dutch football.

Ajax: 1995 European Cup winners still the youngest team ever to be champions of Europe

Let him complete his 3-year contract and LVG will deliver. His apprentice Ryan Giggs will take United forward to the next level. And the production line will continue to flourish, with old boy Nicky Butt a great addition as the new Academy boss – because Butt understands what makes United great.

Rome wasn’t built in a day. And neither was the Theatre of Dreams. United’s spirit will never die. And neither will the magic that makes Manchester United the most special club on the planet. . . a Special Club that doesn’t need the self-appointed Special one.

Not when we have an eccentric Dutchman who can make United’s current crop of Kids our next generation of heroes.

Personally I’d love to see one inspirational, marque signing added to the current mix of young stars – just as Sir Alex did with Cantona . . . Imagine the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo leading by example, just as Eric did 20 years ago.

Meantime, injured skipper Wayne Rooney is a great role model for the kids. I hope to see Rooney and Van Gaal at Old Trafford for one more season. for VISIONSPORT


Were you watching Mr Blatter? Ronaldo deserves to be crowned World No.1 after knocking out Ibrahimovic’s Swedes

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Who is the Greatest of them all? . . . Cristiano deserves 2013 Ballon d'Or

Who is the Greatest of them all? . . . Cristiano deserves 2013 Ballon d’Or


Ronaldo or Messi. Messi or Ronaldo. The debate over who is the best player in the world is never ending and the argument got personal when FIFA’s buffoon of a President Sepp Blatter recently delivered a tasteless putdown of Real Madrid’s former Manchester United superstar.

Confirming his preference for Messi, Blatter mocked the Madrid hero for having “more expenses for the hairdresser” than the Barcelona player when he made an address at the Oxford Union last month. It sparked a storm that has overshadowed the countdown to the vote for this year’s world player of the year.

Tonight, on the pitch, it was much anticipated Cristiano Ronaldo v Zlatan Ibrahimovic II . . . and the man from Portugal delivered one of the most spectacular statements ever in the quest to be crowned No.1 with a sensational one-man demolition of Sweden’s World Cup hopes.

In one of the most dramatic qualification play-off deciders in the history of the FIFA World Cup, we were treated to a gladiatorial showdown of the highest quality that will force many of the experts who have thus far  favoured Messi to reconsider who is the greatest of them all.

The talk in the game is that the Ballon d’Or voting – which was due to end last week – has been extended to the end of November, which means that Ronaldo’s latest extraordinary show could help him to the world title.

With a ticket to Brazil on the line, Portugal went to Sweden with the slender margin of a 1-0 lead from the first leg. Ronaldo, who scored the winner in Portugal,  struck yet again when he doubled his side’s lead with a 50th minute opening goal that ignited an astonishing duel with his outstanding Swedish counterpart.

Ibrahimovic responded with a stunning quickfire double in the 68th and 72 minutes that made it 2-2 on aggregate. The stage was set for a pulsating final half an hour in the battle for that precious place in the greatest football show on earth and Swedish fans sensed home advantage was destined to give them the edge.

But then came an even more spectacular double from Ronaldo to spark wild scenes of Portuguese celebration. Two goals in the space of three minutes delivered the knockout blow.

It meant the Portugal skipper had scored all four of his country’s goals in an epic shoot out. And with the statesman-like dignity so lacking in president Blatter, Ronaldo insisted his celebrations were not aimed at FIFA’s dictatorial leader who made it clear Messi gets his vote when he  spoke at the Oxford Union last month.

Ronaldo, who clearly believes he is now the undisputed No.1, said this after his match-winnning display against Sweden:: “I do not live my life obsessed with titles and do not have to show anything to anyone, because I have shown my worth, I’ve done 40/50 goals every season and it is not within the reach of anyone. I know what I am.”

In my humble opinion, not since the great Diego Maradona dragged Argentina to victory in the 1986 World Cup Final in Mexico has there been a footballing superhero so indispensable  to his national team.

Just as Ronaldo dragged Portugal into the 2012 European Championships and then all the way to the semi-finals, the golden boy has done it again by leading his countrymen all the way  to Brazil.

While Barcelona’s adopted Argentinian Lionel Messi has never quite reproduced his majestic artistry for his country, no such criticism can be aimed at  Madrid’s hero who has matched his Barca rival in La Liga. At club level there is little to choose between Messi and Ronaldo.

But on the world stage Ronaldo has surely done enough to claim the top prize.

On a night of high drama, lovers of the beautiful game will be thrilled to see France joining Portugal in the finals after their own sensational comeback from 2 goals down in the first leg against Ukraine with a thrilling 3-0 victory in Paris.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic: “A world cup without me is not worth waiting for.”


Spending millions in transfer market not only way: Belgian wonderkid Adnan Januzaj destined to become global superstar

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creating the same kind of buzz as Cristiano Ronaldo did at Theatre of Dreams

Januzaj: creating the same kind of buzz as Cristiano Ronaldo did in his early days at Theatre of Dreams


When we look back in years to come David Moyes’ first ever win at Old Trafford will be remembered for launching teenage sensation Adnan Januzaj on the road to superstardom.

The record books will show that Robin van Persie scored from the penalty spot to convert a debatable penalty and Wayne Rooney, his injured forehead protected by a padded scrumcap, completed a 2-0 win with a superb free-kick on the day £27 million signing Marouane Fellaini made his debut as a second half substitute.

But it was United’s other Belgian, wonderkid Januzaj who got the pulses racing when he came off the bench and made the kind of impact not seen at Old Trafford since Cristiano Ronaldo created similar excitement at the start of his United career.

Just 18 years old and one of the jewels in the legacy left by Sir Alex Ferguson, Januzaj displayed the full repertoire of his dazzling skills, quick feet and tireless running that have already made him a crowd favourite at Old Trafford.

Legendary United talent spotter Eric Harrison, one of the architects of United’s famous class of 1992 that launched the careers of David Beckham, Nicky Butt, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and the Neville brothers, has already gone on record to predict  Januzay could be the next Ronaldo.

Harrison told the Manchester Evening News: ‘Januzaj is outstanding and I think he is similar to Cristiano Ronaldo. He can beat people and with Wilfried Zaha, I think there is some outstanding quality there.’

Comparisons with the Portuguese superstar have been evoked by an outstanding pre-season that included a sparkling display in the Rio Ferdinand testimonial. And today’s showing against Palace in front of a global television audience has created a real buzz.

Things in common with Ronaldo don’t end on the pitch. The pair also share the same birthday – February 5 – with Barcelona’s Neymar also born on that day. Another remarkable stat is that Januzaj’s Premier League debut comes 50 years to the date since George Best made his first appearance at Old Trafford on 14 September 1963 against West Brom.

There have been may young stars to grace the Theatre of Dreams and not every hot prospect lives up to all the hype and potential. But Januzaj looks like the real deal and the reality is that new Manchester United boss – unfairly targeted by the prophets of doom in the media who would love him to fail –  is a man with an embarrassment of riches.

Marouane Fellaini is going to be huge presence in midfield

Touch of steel: Marouane Fellaini is going to be huge presence in midfield

Wilfried Zaha is another kid capable of  becoming a world star alongside established youngsters like Rafael and Phil Jones. With the return of a re-invigorated Nani also on the cards, Rooney looking like a man on a mission in the countdown to the end of season World Cup and van Persie maturing into one of the best players on the planet the future looks as bright as ever at Manchester United.

And just for the record, I am also predicting that mop haired Fellaini is going to be the huge success that Moyes wants him to be. United have never found a player to fill the boots of Roy Keane and the new boy from Everton is a different animal. But once again the Red Devils boast a midfield general with a touch of steel who will frighten the life out of opponents – and he has bags of goals in his locker.

Cristiano Ronaldo guaranteed hero’s welcome on return to Old Trafford but Manchester United fans know he must be stopped

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Lionel Messi has been voted FIFA’s world player of the year for the past four season. But there is no doubt in my mind that Cristiano Ronaldo is even more valuable to Real Madrid than the little Argentinian is to Barcelona. How Manchester United deal with their former idol will determine the outcome of Tuesday night’s Champions League decider at Old Trafford.

On the evidence of the first match in the Bernabeu, there is one man who stands head and shoulders above the rest of his team. And that tells you how good he is, because Real Madrid are one of the strongest sides on the planet.

The truth is that Ronaldo is an even better player now than he was when he left Manchester shortly after being recognised as the best player in the world when he received his one and only Ballon d’Or to date.

It is baffling that the Madrid fans have not always shown Portugal’s finest the love and respect he deserves, despite averaging more than a goal-a-game since he signed in 2009 for £80m. United fans would take him back in an instant and he is still adored in Manchester which makes his return to Old Trafford the most eagerly awaited football match at the Theatre of Dreams for many years.

Robin van Persie is the new talisman in Sir Alex Ferguson’s current squad and at times this season the inspirational summer signing from Arsenal has been out of this world. Many have billed this tie as a head-to-head between CR7 and RvP. There is every chance the Dutchman will deliver the magic that ends Jose Mourinho’s dream of making Madrid champions of Europe at Wembley in May. But there is a big difference in my mind between the pivotal roles of these opposing superstars.

Ronaldo is the one player in Madrid’s star studded team who could genuinely rip United to pieces almost single-handedly. He is that good and that important to the Spanish hopes of success in the biggest club competition in world football. Stop Ronaldo and United will fancy their chances of reaching the quarter-finals. That is why Mourinho left him out of the first half of  today’s La Liga clash with Barcelona.But Real still conquered Barca and Messi for the second time in five days. That tells you all you need to know about the challenge facing United.

Van Persie on the other hand is brilliant and has stepped up another level since he arrived in Manchester in the summer. But the strength of this United side is far greater than one man and it is the unity and dynamics of the team that makes Fergie’s side special. Wayne Rooney still has the ability to terrorise opposition. Michael Carrick is playing the best football of his career. Rafael is getting better with every game. While anyone who writes off Ryan Giggs had better beware. Giggsy is destined to make his 1,000 career appearance against Madrid.And wouldn’t it be just priceless if the Welsh wizard stole the limelight.

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Roy’s boys have restored English pride but brilliant Germans are outstanding team at Euro 2012 and Ronaldo looks best in world

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Hodgson is shattering the myth that managing England is an impossible job

Hodgson is shattering the myth that managing England is an impossible job


As I wrote a week before the tournament started: “There is little doubt in my mind that the new England boss is going to restore pride in the top job. And that is just as important (as success) this time around.”

Not only has Roy Hodgson shattered the myth that managing England in the modern era is an impossible job, he has turned around a team with no direction and no hope into a confident squad with no fear and a fresh belief that nothing is impossible.

To claim a quarter-finals showdown with Italy at Euro 2012, Roy’s boys have confounded the critics. Only all-conquering Germany won more points in the Group stages. And in skipper Steven Gerrard England have been inspired by one of the stand-out players of the tournament.

Giving Gerrard the captain’s armband and playing him in a role best suited to his world class qualities has been the master selection that has laid the foundations for Hodgson’s renaissance. With the courage to give youth a chance in the shape of Danny Welbeck and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, the coach has added an exciting blend of exuberance.

His tactical astuteness and ability to get his players to perform has made this England side unrecognisable from the bunch of strangers who looked out of their depth under Fabio Capello at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. With talisman Wayne Rooney restored to the side with his first tournament goal in eight years, there is an unmistakable sense of optimism in the England camp.

The reality is that England are still rank outsiders, with Germany lying in wait in the semi-finals if they do succeed in beating Italy on Sunday. Joachim Loew’s team have been  the outstanding team of Euro 2012 and on what we have seen so far look destined to win their first major tournament in 16 years.

Then of course, in the other half of the draw the favourites are the reigning World and European champions Spain. While my tip for the final is  Portugal, a highly under-rated  side led by  player of the tournament Cristiano Ronaldo, who looks hellbent on reclaiming the crown of world’s No.1 player from Lionel Messi.

For England to go all the way is still hard to imagine because let’s be honest Germany, Portugal and Spain all look like teams on a higher level. But one of the big attractions of the beautiful game is that anything is possible – as the Greeks proved in their Olympic year as recently as 2004.


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CLASSIC GOALS from Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City, Liverpool, Tottenham, Newcastle


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Barca heading for Wembley - but how good is this team?

Barca heading for Wembley - but how good is this team?


Barcelona deservedly made it to the final of the Champions League by seeing off Real Madrid – but let’s be honest Pep Guardiola’s team are certainly not unbeatable.

Barring a disaster in their semi-final second leg against Schalke, it’s going to be a repeat of the 2009 Final. And Manchester United are the one team with the strength of character to conquer the Catalans if they get their tactics right.

Two years ago in Rome, United were outclassed largely due to the fact Cristiano Ronaldo went missing and the Reds were effectively playing with 10 men.

But let’s wait and see what happens at Old Trafford against Schalke – a match that will be influenced by Sunday’s all important Premier League showdown with Chelsea because key players will be rested against the Germans in advance of the weekend crunch contest United can not afford to lose.

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