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NO HANDSHAKES

The Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez has claimed that his Manchester United counterpart Sir Alex Ferguson avoided the pre-match handshake. The two have a history of clashing together even when the Spaniard was at Liverpool. The tension has now surfaced once again after the arrival of Benitez at Chelsea. This is the first time Benitez has been in England since leaving Liverpool several years ago. It was also the first time he was up against Manchester United as a Chelsea manager. Even though Ferguson avoided a handshake with him, Benitez had the last laugh after his team managed a 2-2 draw.

Benitez has revealed that even though there was tension between the pair, he was ready to shake the hands. He has taken a dig at Ferguson by saying that he is educated. Even though there was animosity previously as the managers of two rival clubs, the relationship between Benitez and Ferguson broke down when Liverpool were involved in a title race with Manchester United. Benitez and Ferguson made several comments over the course of the 2009 campaign that increased the rift between the two. Benitez and Ferguson did not shake hands with each other even after the end of the match.

This is not the first incident when a manager has refused to shake the hands of his counterpart. I was waiting for him at the beginning, so you should ask him. I have education. I was ready. I know a lot of people were watching and I knew what to do. It’s up to him. I was in the way waiting. If you are brave enough, ask him. I was with my players, celebrating,” said Benitez. The Spaniard helped Chelsea get a 2-2 draw from the match, which looked unlikely after 11 min. Chelsea were two goals down after just 11 min on the clock.

BEST SO FAR

Manchester United have clearly been the best team in the Premier league in the first half of the season, and they currently have a five point advantage over the second-placed Manchester city. The lead for United could have been significantly higher had they not dropped two points in the recent match against Tottenham. Despite this, the Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson believes that it is not a cause for concern because he is sure that other teams will drop points in the title race from now till the end of the season.

United have a lot to owe to the striker Robin van Persie after his 18 goals in the league has helped them take a commanding lead in the table. They would have been closer to a mid-table position had not been for his goals. Even the City manager Roberto Mancini acknowledged that van Persie is proving to be the difference between United winning and losing the title this season. Ferguson is confident that clubs like Arsenal, Chelsea, and City will drop points over the remaining four months of the season. Even though United will also drop points, Ferguson wants his players to fight till the end in every match due to the fact that all matches are difficult.

“Teams will drop points in the title race. Not just us but Manchester City will drop points, absolutely, it’s a certainty Chelsea and Arsenal will drop points. We’ll probably drop two or three ourselves but the important thing is accepting the challenge that every game is just as difficult as the rest,” said Ferguson. United will be taking on Southampton in the Premier league during the weekday fixture list. Ferguson has said that he does not knowing anything about the new Southampton manager Mauricio Pochettino , who was appointed as a replacement for Nigel Adkins.

FERGIE SLAMS PARDEW

The Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has hit back at the Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew by saying that he is managing one of the biggest clubs in the world and he expects the eyes of the people on him. Sir Alex Ferguson and Alan Pardew had a huge confrontation during recent match between the two clubs. The Newcastle manager questioned the attitude and conduct of Ferguson when it comes to treating the referees. It has brought out the anger in the United manager, who has said that he does not manage a small club in the north-east of England.

Rather, he is the manager of Manchester United – the biggest club in the world – and he expects to be criticised by a lot of people. Rather than focus on him harassing the referee, Pardew is trying to focus the attention on him according to the Scotsman. The 4-3 victory for Manchester United against Newcastle on Boxing Day drew a lot of criticism from Pardew, who said that Ferguson was constantly in the ears of the referee trying to influence the outcome of the decisions. Ferguson has said that he does not push and shove referees like Pardew. Ferguson was denoting to the incident on the first day of the season when he pushed a linesman.

“Alan Pardew has come out and criticised me … Alan Pardew is the worst at haranguing referees, his whole staff, every game. He was at it the whole game on Wednesday. He shoved the [assistant] referee and makes a joke of it and he’s got the cheek to criticise me. It’s unbelievable. He forgets the help I gave him. The press have had a good field day out of it. They’ve addressed every possible avenue,” said Ferguson, whose team lead the Premier league table.

DEFENSIVE CRISIS

Manchester United have been no strangers to defensive crisis in the last few seasons. This has been due to the presence of many injury prone defenders like Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, who have spent large chunk of the season on the sidelines. This has translated into the Manchester United defence being the most leaky in recent seasons. As a result, the manager Sir Alex Ferguson has made it a priority to sign defender in the January transfer window. He has already had success in the form of signing defenders in January transfer windows, as the likes of Patrice Evra and Nemanja Vidic were both brought to the club during this period.

Now, United have been linked with as much as five players in the January transfer window with the PSV midfielder Kevin Strootman one of the key. The Dutch international, though, has said that he is not interested in securing a move away from the Dutch club at least in January. The 22-year-old has made a great start to life in the Eredivisie with PSV, which has subjected him to interest from a number of Premier league and Italian clubs. However, he will not be moving to another club in January because it does not provide him with enough time to acclimatise to the new surroundings.

“A move abroad in the winter transfer window is by no means ideal. That would only give you two weeks to adapt to your new surroundings. If a club really wants me, they will return in the summer. And it’s not like I want to leave PSV at all costs in the summer. We will hopefully play in the Champions League again next season. Of course, I have ambition and I occasionally discuss certain clubs with my agent Chiel Dekker,” said the player.

RVP EXCITES WHITESIDE

Norman Whiteside has said that he is extremely excited at the prospect of seeing both Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney playing the same team. The former Manchester United striker recently said that he is delighted with the decision taken by Sir Alex Ferguson to play both of them in the same team. So far, he has resisted the opportunity to use both of them in the same team either due to the poor form of Wayne Rooney or due to the excellent form of the recent signing Robin van Persie. However, after spending a month out of action, the England international Wayne Rooney has returned to first team by announcing himself in the most impressive fashion.

He has played a starring role in the recent victories over Newcastle and CFR Cluj. The Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson even admitted after the Newcastle match that he is extremely delighted with the performance of the 26-year-old. He has even altered the formation of the club in order to accommodate both the strikers. Norman Whiteside has said that he does not see a reason why both players cannot play with each other because they are world-class players. It has been 23 years since Norman Whiteside left Old Trafford, but he is still regarded as a legend.

“I thought bringing van Persie in was a great piece of business from Sir Alex. When Van Persie was signed, with respect to Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez, I was really looking forward to seeing him alongside Rooney and thankfully now after Wayne’s injury we are starting to see what they can do together. There is a good feeling around the club because the two of them are playing together and looking good,” said Whiteside. Manchester United are currently second in the Premier league table.

FLETCHER MAKES SQUAD

The Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has included the Scottish midfielder Darren Fletcher in the Champions League squad for the group stages. Fletcher has not played for Manchester United for more than a year now due to the chronic bowel condition he has been suffering from. It is not known whether he will return from his problems to play for Manchester United again, although the club officials have been extremely confident about his return. He was initially expected to return to first-team action in September, and Manchester United have raised the hopes of getting the star midfielder back by including him in the squad for the Champions League group stages.

Sir Alex Ferguson has also included Darren Fletcher in the squad for the Premier league up until January, while other long-term absentees like Stilian Petrov for Aston Villa has also been included. The Aston Villa captain has been suffering from leukaemia, but it is thought that he is winning his battle against the disease. Manchester United will be able to make only 25 names for the Premier league squad until January, while there can be any number of under 21 players. Rather than leave Darren Fletcher out of the squad until January, Ferguson has included him in the squad prompting suggestions that he could return to first-team action sooner rather than later.

Manchester United have included the latest summer signing Nick Powell in the squad. The 18-year-old striker was signed from League one in the summer for around £ 4 million. He will be competing for a spot against the likes of Wayne Rooney, Robin van Persie, Danny Welbeck, and Hernandez. However, the £ 7 million signing Bebe, who has raised a lot of controversy, has not been included in the squad for the Premier league or the Champions League.

BIG MISTAKE

The former Arsenal striker, Eduardo, has said that Arsene Wenger has made a big mistake by selling Robin Van Persie and Alex Song this summer. Eduardo said that Persie and Song were the vital players of the Arsenal side and he is not sure if Arsenal would be able to perform well in the absence of these two players. Arsenal’s performance in the last season was very good and the team finished at no. 3 in the Premier League. Persie and Song played a major role in Arsenal’s brilliant performance in the last season. Persie scored 37 goals and assisted in 13 goals, while, Song assisted in 16 goals. But, both these players have left the club this summer. Persie has been sold to Manchester United, while, Song has joined Barcelona.

Eduardo himself had played for Arsenal for three years between 2007 and 2010. He took transfer to Shakhtar Donetsk 2 years ago. In the three seasons that he played for Arsenal, Eduardo featured in 67 games and scored 22 goals. He also had to struggle with severe leg injury during his tenure at Arsenal. Eduardo has also denied the rumors of his transfer to Fulham. Eduardo made it clear that he has no plans in his mind to leave the Ukrainian club, Shakhtar Donetsk, this summer. His contract would get finished after two years and after that, he would decide about his future.

However, Eduardo said that the other teams should not take Arsenal lightly in Persie’s absence. Arsenal still has some very good players in its squad and it is still a decent team. As per Eduardo, when Fabregas and Nasri had left Arsenal last year, many experts had said that Arsenal would not be able to finish in top 4 in the Premier League. But, the team proved its critics wrong by finishing at no. 3. So, the other teams should be careful against Arsenal in the upcoming season.


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