Apr 27, 2011

Neuer: United move never on

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In the wake of his impressive performance in Schalke's 2-0 defeat to Manchester United on Tuesday night, Manuel Neuer says that moving to Old Trafford was "never an option" for him.

Only an excellent display from the Schalke goalkeeper kept the scoreline respectable in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final as Neuer underlined just why he is rated as one of Europe's best in his position.

The Germany international has already announced that he will leave Schalke at the end of the season with reports suggesting that a move to Bayern Munich has been agreed.

Bayern president Uli Hoeness confirmed on Wednesday that the club would soon start negotiations for Neuer, whose contract runs out next year, but insisted they would not pay through the nose.

"We have up till now not had any negotiations,'' Hoeness told TZ. "That will now be addressed. We want Manuel, and where there's a will there's a way. But Schalke cannot now demand an astronomical price.''

Sir Alex Ferguson, who said Neuer's performance was one of the best he had witnessed against United in 21 years at the club, has also expressed his belief that the goalkeeper is poised to move to the Allianz Arena.

While it is believed United were also interested in Neuer, the player himself says a move to the Premier League was never a realistic possibility.

"Manchester United was never an option for me. I will focus now on my performances and my team, all the other things don't matter at the moment," Neuer told Sky Germany.

In an interview with Schalke's official website, Neuer also reacted to Ferguson's praise. He said: "Of course it's nice to hear things like that. But we have lost 2-0 and that irritates me very much."

Regarding Schalke's performance, Neuer regretted his side's failure to replicate their remarkable win over reigning champions Inter in the quarter-finals.

"We played with too much respect in the beginning," Neuer said. "We knew of course that Manchester [United] are a big team but Inter were too. Today we wasn't as strong as the quarter-final. We weren't compact enough.

"The fans know we've done a big thing in reaching the semis. But this doesn't count in such a match, you want to win there. Maybe it would have been better to have an away match first."

Schalke forward Raul, scorer of a record 71 Champions League goals, has not entirely abandoned hope ahead of the second leg.

"In the return leg, everything is possible. We do not know what will happen, a penalty to us, a sending off for them. Nothing is impossible in football," Raul said.

"We expected a different result, another outcome to the game but we are still happy because we played to our level. The problem was that Manchester [United] played at another level.

"The only regrets we have are that we did not create enough scoring chances and that we conceded two goals in two minutes. Reaching the semi-finals for this club has given the supporters a great sense of pride. We tried everything, the fans realise this, and we were warmly applauded after the game."



Ireland's season ended by injury

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Ireland has been restricted to just two appearances due to injury Newcastle United have confirmed midfielder Stephen Ireland will miss the remainder of the Premier League season with an ankle injury.

The 24-year-old has made only two substitute appearances since his January loan move from Aston Villa.

Ireland, a former Republic of Ireland international, arrived at St James' Park with a knee injury that delayed his debut for the club.

He then suffered a thigh injury on his return to training in March.

Since joining Aston Villa as part of the undisclosed deal that saw James Milner move to Manchester City in August, Ireland has endured a difficult campaign punctuated by loss of form and injury.

His debut for Villa, coincidentally a 6-0 defeat by Newcastle in August, was one of only 12 outings under then-boss Kevin MacDonald and his successor Gerard Houllier, five of which came as a substitute.

Continue reading the main story Manchester City: 2005-2010 - 276 games, 23 goalsAston Villa: 2010-present - 14 games, 0 goalsNewcastle United: 2010 (Loan) - 2 games, 0 goals

Houllier had initially insisted the Cork-born player would remain at Villa Park after the January transfer window, but then changed his mind when Ireland requested to leave the Midlands in December.

Newcastle were successful in completing a deal until the end of current campaign during the January transfer window, despite concerns regarding his fitness.

However injuries continued to plague Ireland, who was also forced to apologise for being photographed at a nightclub the evening before March's 4-0 defeat by Stoke City.

His recent substitute appearances suggested the playmaker could make an impression on Tyneside, but this latest setback could have ended hopes of a permanent move to Newcastle during the summer.



Real Madrid Boss Jose Mourinho Promises Not To Buy Chelsea Striker Didier Drogba

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Former Chelsea manager will raid the Stamford Bridge playing squad.

Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho says he will not try to entice Chelsea striker Didier Drogba away from Stamford Bridge.

Mourinho insists he would not try to take Drogba away from Chelsea.

“I do not want Drogba, Real Madrid do not need to go for him,” said Mourinho.

“Everyone knows the relationship I have with Drogba.

“But everybody also knows the relationship that I have with [Chelsea owner] owner Roman) Abramovich and Chelsea.

“Therefore if it were true that Chelsea wants to sell him I would be one of the first to know because we have got a very direct, friendly relationship and they have told me nothing.”

“So I think that Didier is going to stay where he has to stay, where he has made history.”

Despite a bout of malaria that severely affected his form, and Fernando Torres finally breaking his duck, Didier Drogba has clearly been the best Chelsea striker this season.

However, if Torres continues to gradually take his place in the team, perhaps he will consider moving on.

Then, perhaps, Mourinho will be waiting.



Fergie - Giggs is amazing

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Giggs: Praised by Ferguson after helping to inspire United to a 2-0 semi-final first-leg win over Schalke

Sir Alex Ferguson has labelled Ryan Giggs as 'amazing' after hailing Manchester United's 2-0 win away to Schalke as one of their best performances in Europe.

United took a giant stride towards reaching next month's UEFA Champions League final at Wembley after second-half goals from Giggs and Wayne Rooney secured a comfortable success in Gelsenkirchen.

Giggs was pulling the strings from a central midfield role and the 37-year-old could easily have scored a hat-trick before breaking the deadlock midway through the second half.

The Welshman has agreed a contract to play on for the Red Devils next season and Ferguson is amazed by Giggs' longevity at the highest level.

"It is strange because Ryan's peak years seem to have lasted so long," said Ferguson.

"You would think, at 37, he would be showing signs of waning. I don't see any evidence of that.

"We look after him in terms of rest before games but when he gets that freshness he doesn't show any sign of fatiguing at all. He is an amazing man."

"We look after him in terms of rest before games but when he gets that freshness he doesn't show any sign of fatiguing at all. He is an amazing man."
Sir Alex Ferguson on Ryan Giggs Quotes of the week

Only Schalke goalkeeper Manuel Neuer prevented United from building an even more commanding first-leg advantage, while the clean sheet ensured Ferguson's side have not conceded a goal away from home in Europe this season.

With a final showdown against Barcelona or Real Madrid now seemingly on the horizon, Ferguson ranked the display against Schalke on a par with his team's best in the Champions League.

The United boss added: "Overall I was delighted. It was a top performance.

"We have had some fantastic performances in Europe during my time.

"Juventus in Juventus in 1999 obviously will always be high on the list but this certainly ranks as one of the best."