Tag Archives: assertion

Zlatan Ibrahimovic"s goal was not greatest ever scored – Des Kelly

Ibrahimovic's goal was NOT the greatest ever scored

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UPDATED:

23:32 GMT, 16 November 2012

It certainly ranks among the most spectacular. It is undoubtedly one of the more acrobatic. But Zlatan Ibrahimovic's overhead kick isn't the 'greatest ever goal', not if we test it with any genuine measure of greatness.

No matter how loudly knees jerk on the underside of tables in the novelty of the moment, no matter how fast enthusiasts stampede on to social media websites to post their OMGs and little rows of exclamation marks, some perspective is always useful in these situations.

Which is why I was hugely surprised to see former England centre forward Alan Shearer and experienced commentator John Motson join the hysteria by committing themselves to the assertion that Ibrahimovic's goal deserved to be acclaimed as the No 1 international goal of all time.

Swede dreams: Zlatan's stunning 'propeller' kick heads goalwards during the friendly with England

Swede dreams: Zlatan's stunning 'propeller' kick heads goalwards during the friendly with England

More from Des Kelly…

Des Kelly: Just man up like Rod and let your teardrops explode
09/11/12

Des Kelly: No Chelsea player heard Terry abuse Ferdinand… now they're blessed with the hearing of a piano tuner
02/11/12

Des Kelly: The finger of blame will only point at you, Roberto
26/10/12

Des Kelly: Now it is time for football's three monkeys to wise up
19/10/12

Des Kelly: Really, what are these people who support Armstrong on
12/10/12

Des Kelly: Terry affair must not derail battle to defeat racism… so let's stop the schism
28/09/12

Des Kelly: Forget the badge… it might have been you on that tragic day at Hillsborough
14/09/12

Des Kelly: These real diamonds can shine brightly on any stage
08/09/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

These are two experienced football men. One has played at the highest level. The other has seen three-and-a-half decades of top-flight football at close quarters.

Yet they still chose to raise Ibrahimovic above all others — and said so in print. Obviously, the pair's opinions are entirely subjective and, in these circumstances, who can say whether their verdicts are right or wrong

Me. And I say they are both horribly wrong.

For starters, we suspect Shearer might not be telling the complete truth in his newspaper column when he claims: 'I was sat watching the match with friends up in Scotland and as soon as the goal went in we all stood up and applauded. I have never seen anything like it.’

Oh really We're supposed to believe Scots just clapped their hands when Ibrahimovic's fourth went in

I have seen friends in Scotland who will give the TV a standing ovation if an England player merely lets the ball bobble over the touchline to concede a throw.

When an opposition striker does something monumental like actually scoring against the Auld Enemy they don't so much offer a smattering of applause, as light beacons on the surrounding hills, smear themselves in woad and march south to point pale Caledonian buttocks in the general direction of the lions in Trafalgar Square.

Shearer goes on to add: 'Can you imagine what people would have been saying if Ibrahimovic had got it wrong'

Yes, let's imagine. I'd say the remarks would have been along the lines of:

'Who cares, the bloke's already scored a hat-trick.''It's the last minute of injury time and it’s only a friendly.' Or,'Ibrahimovic was being marked by Ryan Shawcross at the end. I'm surprised he didn't shoot every time he touched the ball.'

That is not to say Ibrahimovic's goal was anything other than wonderful. I was watching with my brother in the local pub when the Swedish striker's effort set off on its unerring arc into the net. We let out a yelp of astonishment and then laughed at the sheer audacity of it all.

But lest anyone persist with the tedious idea that we had all witnessed The Greatest Goal Ever Seen (copyright all newspapers), perhaps we might recall where the goalkeeper was when this drama unfolded.

I'll give you a clue. He wasn't too far from where I was standing on the night. He certainly wasn't where he should have been.

The goalkeeper was not keeping goal, as his job title might suggest. Joe Hart was standing outside the penalty area, looking foolish when the ball flew in. All Hart was 'keeping' was his defenders' company, having made a complete hash of a headed clearance. The fact that Ibrahimovic took advantage of this with such invention is to be commended, but it detracts from the 'greatness' somewhat.

Getting shirty: Ibrahimovic's goal was one to savour, but certainly not in the 'greatest ever' bracket

Getting shirty: Ibrahimovic's goal was one to savour, but certainly not in the 'greatest ever' bracket

Getting shirty: Ibrahimovic's goal was one to savour, but certainly not in the 'greatest ever' bracket

There is also a more important asterisk to add when people start throwing accolades around with the kind of reckless abandon usually reserved for Katie Price's wedding confetti.

Ibrahimovic's goal does not belong among the truly great goals for one obvious reason. It didn't really matter.

Legendary goals illuminate major tournaments, like Diego Maradona's scintillating run against England at the 1986 World Cup, Marco van Basten's volley against the Soviet Union at the 1988 European Championship, Dennis Bergkamp's brilliance against Argentina at the 1998 World Cup and Carlos Alberto's strike for Brazil in 1970.

These weren't instances of hopeful showboating at the end of a kickabout friendly. They were not scored against an array of stand-ins and international wannabes. They were sublime acts of genius produced under intense pressure at the very highest level of competition.

If Roger Federer plays an outrageous service return through his legs at an exhibition match, he receives a round of applause for his daring. But he doesn't often try it during a Grand Slam final.

Equally, Kobe Bryant might elect to fire at the hoop from the halfway line in a regular season romp, but he won't often take the risk in an NBA finals clincher.

Greatest Bergkamp's strike against Argentina deserves to be considered as one the best ever

Greatest Bergkamp's strike against Argentina deserves to be considered as one the best ever

He might. True greats can produce that when it matters. But Ibrahimovic’s goal was scored in the luxury of knowing that whether or not he succeeded, it was going to be ornamental garnish on a ceremonial occasion.

So yes, it was good. Beautiful, even. But it was for show, not substance. And since we spend most of our time saying international friendlies are essentially meaningless affairs, it seems contradictory to now place great significance on what actually occurs during one.

That goal was only ‘The Greatest’ in the same way Simon Cowell would tell an X Factor dullard their Beatles cover was ‘the greatest’ he’d heard — in that series.

In fact we use the word ‘great’ so often we strip away it’s meaning. But it is still possible to enjoy Ibrahimovic’s magnificence without joining the clamour to declare it must be the very best.

Particularly as it clearly was not.

Frankel's getting juicy

What is the most expensive liquid in the world

It's not petrol, although it might feel that way every time you pull into the garage forecourt. It's not crude oil, either. The most exquisite perfume doesn’t even come close.

Many believe it is printer ink since a basic 10ml cartridge costs about 40, which works out at around 7,000 a gallon.

But then I heard that the stud fees of superhorse Frankel would be 125,000 a time. That is a seriously expensive fluid.

Hey, stud! Frankel's fortunes will be made off the track, not on it

Hey, stud! Frankel's fortunes will be made off the track, not on it

With 100 mares to 'cover' each year, the unbeaten thoroughbred's efforts should bring a return of more than 12million per annum.

On the grounds of good taste, I won't go into all of the calculations, but this means Frankel's contribution to the equine gene pool works out at approximately 5.6m per gallon.

I believe the figure is right, but I can't guarantee it as I began to feel somewhat queasy halfway through doing the maths.

RVP's motor mistake

When John Terry parked his Bentley in a disabled bay and headed off to a pizza restaurant, he was derided as an ignorant, inconsiderate, arrogant oaf and held up as epitomising all that was negative about the attitude of the modern footballer.

So Robin van Persie cannot escape similar criticism after he dumped his Audi in a blue badge bay at Manchester airport for two days.

We were told Van Persie had made a 'mistake'. Indeed he had, although it cannot have been an accidental one, since there were plenty of signs and yellow warning boxes surrounding the bays.

Van Persie could not have missed all the paraphernalia. Amazingly, RVP (Rude Vehicle Parked) wasn't given a ticket, clamped or towed like any other member of the public would undoubtedly have been. It's a badge of dishonour for the player and Manchester Airport.

Crazy Gang should revel in rise

In years past I spent a few formative years covering the Crazy Gang's mad exploits and still bear some of the scars. I'll save the worst tales for my autobiography.

So I understand the deep significance of the FA Cup grudge match between the Milton Keynes Dons 'franchise' and the AFC Wimbledon outfit that angry fans created to fill the void left by their displaced club.

On course for revenge: AFC Wimbledon face MK Dons in the FA Cup

On course for revenge: AFC Wimbledon face MK Dons in the FA Cup

They meet in a fortnight in the second round and already MK Dons chairman Pete Winkelman has said AFC don't have any right to the FA Cup Wimbledon won in 1988 — just to make the MK Dons appear more unpopular, perhaps.

Some AFC fans are considering a boycott to show their enduring disgust at the manner in which they were betrayed eight years ago. That would be foolish. Far better to revel in the rise of their reformed club. And who knows They might exact the sweetest revenge of all.

Meddling lawyer has made a right Herbert of himself

Did you see it fly over everyone’s head No, not that goal. I'm referring to the complaint made to the Metropolitan Police by Peter Herbert, chairman of the Society of Black Lawyers.

The Met kicked his protest out of the park. What a humiliation it was for Herbert, who is so keen to be taken seriously yet seems to leave an overwhelming impression that he is undermining his cause with frivolous meddling.

Herbert's decision to report an allegation that referee Mark Clattenburg racially abused a Chelsea player, even though he hadn't been present, heard nothing and possessed no additional information, was dismissed as expected.

Scotland Yard announced 'no action would be taken — because no victims came forward'.

Herbert took his slapdown with a notable lack of grace. 'It would appear that there is a cosy little agreement between Chelsea FC and the FA,' he said.

No case to answer: Police have dropped the investigation into Clattenburg

No case to answer: Police have dropped the investigation into Clattenburg

That will be the same 'cosy little agreement' that saw the FA punish the Chelsea captain for his racist remarks, when a courtroom full of highly paid lawyers couldn't make any charge stick.

Herbert went on to insist the FA were 'institutionally racist' and said he would go crying to the sports minister, Hugh Robertson, instead.

With crashing understatement, FA chairman David Bernstein responded by calling Herbert's comments 'ill-informed and unhelpful'.

Quite. Perhaps the FA could establish whether Herbert might be sued for that 'racist' smear, as well as the suggestion of a cover-up Clattenburg could also have reason to pursue some action, with possible charges relating to the filing of a malicious allegation to consider.

Herbert appears very keen to keep the lawyers busy. It might not be quite as he envisaged, but it seems he could get his wish.

Leave it out, Lance

Lance Armstrong posed provocatively for a photo sprawled out beneath seven yellow Tour de France winners' jerseys, the symbols of his victories now struck from the record books.

The drug cheat tweeted a caption with it that said: 'Just layin' around'. 'Just lying,' would have covered it.

Just lyin' around: Armstrong with six of his seven Yellow Jerseys

Just lyin' around: Armstrong with six of his seven Yellow Jerseys

Phil Jagielka hits back at Steven Gerrard for comparing Everton to Stoke

Jagielka hits back at Gerrard: Everton may play long balls but at least we don't just pass short for the sake of it!

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UPDATED:

01:46 GMT, 31 October 2012

Phil Jagielka has hit back at Steven Gerrard’s assertion that Everton are 'just like Stoke' with his own barbed comments about Liverpool’s style of play.

Everton were incensed by Gerrard’s comments following Sunday’s 2-2 draw at Goodison Park, particularly as stats for the game showed they made more passes (448 to 314) and enjoyed more possession (56 per cent to 44 per cent) than Liverpool.

While Jagielka was happy to admit Everton could be direct when they want to be, to utilise the strength and aerial prowess of Marouane Fellaini, he suggested that Liverpool’s methods of always wanting to play on the ground are flawed.

Standing up for his club: Phil Jagielka has hit back at Steven Gerrard

Standing up for his club: Phil Jagielka has hit back at Steven Gerrard

'If Stevie says we are a long ball team then I’m not going to deny the fact that we play long balls,’ said Jagielka. ‘Do we play them for the full 90 minutes No. But we play quite direct.

'Who wouldn’t when you have someone in form like Marouane Fellaini, who can bring the ball down for fun and we start creating things from there Why wouldn’t you do that We don’t believe in passing it around for half an hour for the sake of it.

'If we can put the ball forward and cause them trouble then let’s cause them as much trouble as possible. We won’t change the way we play. We won’t start to look to put in a thousand passes a game.

'If we need to play forward to Felli to create chances, or to Nikica Jelavic or to Victor Anichebe, then guess what That’s what we’ll do.’

Hitting out: Gerrard compared Everton to Stoke

Hitting out: Gerrard compared Everton to Stoke

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers, though, is not someone who will change his philosophy and he has added further spice to the fallout by backing up his captain’s claim that Liverpool have to play in a certain, attractive manner.

He did, however, acknowledge that Everton do have a number of skilful players who have made significant contributions this season.

'I believe there were two different styles,’ said Rodgers. ‘This is a club brought up with a certain way of playing. Its history has been defined by the many great managers who have been here. You have to win games but you have to win games by playing in a certain style.

'It’s the beauty of the Premier League – there are so many diverse ways of working and playing. We play a certain way. If you look at Everton and a number of other teams, they are a bit more direct and then play off the front players.

Focal point: But Everton were not guilty of long-balls to Marouane Fellaini

Focal point: But Everton were not guilty of long-balls to Marouane Fellaini

'But they have players with finesse like Leighton Baines and Leon Osman, who are terrific footballers. For us here at Liverpool, there’s a way in which we play and want to win games. the supporters and the history of the club dictates that.’

There is a feeling amongst Evertonians that Gerrard’s comments have shown that David Moyes’ squad have started to get under Liverpool’s skin. Everton are six points ahead of their neighbours and aim to finish above them in the table for the second successive year.

'I suppose it’s a backhanded compliment,’ said Jagielka. ‘Stevie must have thought Liverpool were in a game to come out which such comments. It makes you chuckle, but if Stevie is saying things like that, there must be a reason behind it which must be that we are doing something well.'

Lewis Hamilton determined to push self-destruct button

Hamilton appears determined to push the self-destruct button after Twitter gaffe

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UPDATED:

21:00 GMT, 8 October 2012

Lewis Hamilton's latest Twitter gaffe exposed the full extent of his breakdown in relations with his McLaren team-mate Jenson Button.

Hamilton was forced into yet another public climb-down on the social networking site after expressing his dismay that Button was no longer following him on Twitter.

‘After 3 years as teammates, I thought we respected one another but clearly he doesn’t,’ posted Hamilton in response to the perceived snub by Button. ‘Funny thing is, we are STILL teammates!’ he then added.

Gaffe: The relationship between Hamilton (right) and Button (left) has become increasingly strained

Gaffe: The relationship between Hamilton (right) and Button (left) has become increasingly strained

Farewell: Hamilton will join Mercedes next year

Farewell: Hamilton will join Mercedes next year

Informed that Button had never actually followed him, Hamilton was soon reversing faster than his Formula One car accelerates. ‘My bad, just found out Jenson never followed me,’ he tweeted. ‘Don’t blame him! Need to be on Twitter more!’

Hamilton’s eagerness to castigate Button in public speaks volumes about his deteriorating relationship with his teammate. Button is known to have been furious at Hamilton’s previous Twitter blunder during the Belgian Grand Prix.

Upset at being unable to match Button’s pace in qualifying after opting to run an older spec rear wing, Hamilton posted sensitive team telemetry information comparing his performance around Spa with that of his team-mate before being ordered to take it down.

However, the tension between the pair stretches further back than that, with Button having been angered by Hamilton’s earlier assertion that set-up information was not shared between the two sides of the McLaren garage.

Questioned about Hamilton’s declaration that he does not expect to win a single race in his first season with Mercedes next year, let alone challenge for the championship, Button wore a look of quiet satisfaction when stating he fully expects to be a contender next year. ‘I do sleep soundly in my bed at night,’ he said.

Lewis Hamilton ignores discussion over future to take pole in Singapore

McLaren help Hamilton to third pole in four races as talk of split focuses minds

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UPDATED:

19:06 GMT, 22 September 2012

Lewis Hamilton's conviction that he
retains the unwavering support of McLaren in his bid to land a second
Formula One world championship stood up to scrutiny in Singapore as he
blitzed the Marina Bay street circuit to take his third pole in four
races.

The real possibility that Hamilton
could be on his way to Mercedes has led to suggestions that McLaren
might not be too happy for the 27-year-old to take the drivers' title to
a rival team.

However, Hamilton's assertion that he
has '1,000 per cent confidence' in McLaren seemed well judged, as he
saw off his nearest challenger for pole, Pastor Maldonado of Williams,
by almost half a second.

On top: But Lewis Hamilton is not satisfied

On top: But Lewis Hamilton is not satisfied

Hamilton's stunning qualifying
display – his fifth pole of the season and the 24th of his career –
earned generous praise from McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh.

'Lewis has been strong here all
weekend,' said Whitmarsh. 'He has just driven perfectly. It is a circuit
where you have got to be millimetre perfect … and he did a great job.
He realises the championship is winnable. He is in a really good place
and it is quite possible all the chat has caused him to put the barriers
up and focus on driving.'

Even so, such performances from
Hamilton are seemingly not enough for McLaren to loosen the purse
strings in an effort to fend off Mercedes.

McLaren are understood to have
offered a small sweetener in an effort to get Hamilton to put pen to
paper, but nothing close to matching the potential 60million over three
years he could earn at Mercedes.

Flying: Lewis Hamilton qualified in pole position

Flying: Lewis Hamilton qualified in pole position

It is becoming increasingly clear
that the financial picture is not going to change significantly and
Hamilton now faces a straight choice between sticking by a team with a
proven history of success, or switching to one which has offered him
assurances that they will continue to invest until they are a match for
F1's front-runners.

Jenson Button will be hopeful of capitalising on any first-lap mishaps from fourth on the grid.

Now that his personal title tilt is
all but over, Button's focus has firmly switched to helping McLaren win
their first constructors' title for 14 years.

'If you feel like a team player and you feel a team are around you, then the constructors means a lot,' said Button.

Rangers deny SFA claim over CAS

Rangers row rumbles on as club rejects SFA claim over potential CAS involvement

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UPDATED:

17:29 GMT, 4 June 2012

The row between Rangers and the Scottish Football Association shows no sign of abating after the Ibrox club refuted the SFA's claim that the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) could have ruled in the Gers' disrepute charge that has brought the game to the edge of the abyss.

A 12-month transfer embargo was imposed on Rangers over their non-payment of tax last season, but that was overturned in the Court of Session last Tuesday, with the issue sent back to the SFA's Appellate Tribunal.

However, Lord Glennie's ruling appears to have been something of a pyrrhic victory for the Ibrox club.

On and on: The row between Rangers and the SFA continues

On and on: The row between Rangers and the SFA continues

Rangers, who currently owe more than 21million in tax, face ejection from the Scottish Cup or suspension or expulsion from the game altogether unless the maximum 100,000 fine is found to be sufficient punishment – an extremely unlikely scenario.

On Sunday, Charles Green, who is leading the consortium in place to buy Rangers, had the punitive sanctions in mind when he spoke about possible 'disaster' for the club and Scottish football, but claimed he had little option but to go to the civil courts because the 'Court of Arbitration in Sport was not open to the club.'

The SFA responded by denying the route
to CAS was closed off with a statement which concluded: 'Indeed, no
representation was made by the club to the Scottish FA to discuss the
possibility or the process of seeking arbitration via the Court of
Arbitration for Sport before Judicial Review was actioned.'

To back up their argument, the SFA will cite 62.2 (m) of their Articles of Association which refer to the powers of the board – 'it may submit or refer claims by or against the Scottish FA to arbitration.'

However, that assertion was today rejected by Rangers with a spokesman saying: 'The Court of Session accepted Rangers' position that it had no alternative route of appeal. The judgement from Lord Glennie made it crystal clear. CAS would not have heard the case

'We repeat, we would like to see an outcome where common sense prevails and there is no damage to other clubs in Scottish football.

No entry: Rangers are already out of Europe next season

No entry: Rangers are already out of Europe next season

'Rangers fully accept that there should be a sanction but it ought to be proportionate given the circumstances the club was in ie. it was the victim of misdeeds of individuals who are no longer at the club.'

Green, whose offer to creditors will be put to the voted on June 14, is considering his options and could appeal to the Court of Session to move the case back to the first stage of the SFA`s disciplinary process.

Regardless of which body hears the case, the possible sanctions remain clear and potentially catastrophic for the Govan club.

There is no scope for 'deals' to be done between Rangers and the SFA.

Only accepting the original transfer embargo would prevent the case going back to independent tribunal.

However, Green would have difficulty in selling that idea to those Rangers fans who believe the SFA are antagonistic towards the Ibrox club, and who have celebrated Lord Glennie`s decision accordingly in the past week.

Andrew Strauss again fails to silence his critics as pressure mounts on England skipper

Strauss again fails to silence his critics as pressure mounts on England skipper

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UPDATED:

19:22 GMT, 21 April 2012

Andrew Strauss says he hates his
players having to come out and defend him over his position in the
England side and his right to lead it.

After his second failure in two LV
Championship innings against Durham at Lord's yesterday, he might be in
for a little more displeasure yet.

No one is seriously saying that
Strauss, winner of Ashes series at home and away and driving force
behind the transformation that culminated in England reaching the No1
world ranking, will not be back here on May 17 shaking hands with his
West Indies counterpart Darren Sammy.

Bad run of form: Andrew Strauss is bowled by Graham Onions

Bad run of form: Andrew Strauss is bowled by Graham Onions

It is just that, after the winter he has suffered with the bat, everyone is concerned that he finds the form that would render any assertion to the contrary as absurd as he and England, and the vast majority of supporters and observers, believe it should be.

His duck on the opening day of his season was bad enough. But facing just two balls from Graham Onions before hearing the rattle behind him were nothing by which to judge his current state.

His effort made even more uncomfortable viewing, however, as his six runs took 25 balls, of which only a handful located any part of the bat and only a couple the middle of it.

Tearing it up: Graham Onions in action

Tearing it up: Graham Onions in action

His first contact with the ball steered it towards Callum Thorp in the gully and had the Durham man held it Strauss would be starting a fortnight's gap in Midddlesex' fixture list with a pair to his name.

Onions, who finished with six for 45 as Middlesex's first innings collapsed, demonstrated how lucky England are to have him in the wings. But Strauss, by his own admission, needs runs before the Test summer starts.

Weight of the world: Andrew Strauss has plenty on his mind

Weight of the world: Andrew Strauss has plenty on his mind

With no cricket between now and May 3 for him to play and a maximum of four more innings every knock that goes by without them from now on will only serve to turn largely imagined pressure into the real thing.

Elsewhere, while Kevin Pietersen's 64-ball IPL century may have been what 'dreams are made of', Ravi Bopara will be hoping that his four and three-quarter hour 117 against Yorkshire is the beginning of the end of his England nightmare.

Supporters of the Essex batting all-rounder will not need reminding nearly five years have passed since his Test debut, against Sri Lanka in Kandy, nor that he has played a total of just 12 Tests.

This time last year, despite opting for the opportunity to press his claims with early season Championship runs ahead of a lucrative IPL contract, the place in England's Test XI vacated by Paul Collingwood went instead to Eoin Morgan, the Middlesex left-hander who had done the exact opposite.

But after missing the first Test against Sri Lanka in Galle with a side strain, his unbeaten 117 out of Essex's 199, with 18 fours, should have settled the issue, especially with Morgan, out of favour with England after his poor series against Pakistan in the UAE, marooned in India with a Kolkata Knight Riders franchise who have thus far chosen not to pick him.

Not only did Bopara produce the runs that England are looking for, the fact that he carried his bat from 24 for 2 in response to Yorkshire's 246 demonstrated the kind of application they have waited so long to see.

Alex Ferguson says Manchester City are "desperate" for bringing back Carlos Tevez

Let the mind games begin! Fergie sticks boot into rivals City and insists they are the ones who are 'desperate' after bringing back Tevez

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UPDATED:

11:36 GMT, 23 March 2012

Sir Alex Ferguson has launched an amazing attack on Manchester City and warned them he has “plenty of ammunition” if they want to engage in mind games.

Earlier this week, former Blues midfielder Patrick Vieira said the decision to bring Paul Scholes out of retirement smacked of desperation.

However, United have won nine Premier League games and drawn one with Scholes in the team, suggesting the move has worked.

Hitting out: Sir Alex Ferguson has launched an attack on rivals City

Hitting out: Sir Alex Ferguson has launched an attack on rivals City

It certainly has provided Ferguson
with the opportunity to hit back in a week when Carlos Tevez has made
his controversial return to the Manchester City fold.

'If it's desperation bringing the
best midfielder in Britain back for the last 20 years then I think we
can accept that,' said Ferguson.

'I think he (Vieira) was programmed
for that. Roberto had a wee dig a couple of weeks back. We're all going
to play our hand that way. There will be plenty of ammunition for that.

Back in favour: Carlos Tevez finally made his return for City against Chelsea

Back in favour: Carlos Tevez finally made his return for City against Chelsea

'If you talk about desperation, they
played a player the other night who refused to go on the pitch, the
manager said he'd never play again and he takes a five-month holiday in
Argentina. What is that Could that come under the description of
desperation'

Ferguson also rejected Vieira's
assertion that a further sign of United struggling was their inability
to keep hold of Ravel Morrison during the January transfer window and
their on-going battle to retain Paul Pogba.

'The point he made about Ravel
Morrison and losing our young players – we wanted to sell him (Morrison)
let's be clear about that, for obvious reasons.

Golden oldie: Paul Scholes was lured out of retirement by Ferguson

Golden oldie: Paul Scholes was lured out of retirement by Ferguson

'But we want Pogba to stay because we
think he's going to be a fantastic Manchester United player and
hopefully that's the case.'

Ferguson confirmed he expects to have a
strong squad available after Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Fabio, Tom
Cleverley and Pogba all came through a reserve-team outing against Aston
Villa on Thursday night.

'Phil Jones and Chris Smalling have
been in and out in particular in terms of illness and injuries over the
last couple of months,' said Ferguson.

'Tom Cleverley, Paul Pogba and Fabio all had a game. We took Paul off purely because he will be involved on Monday.

Prodigy: Paul Pogba is rated highly by Manchester United

Prodigy: Paul Pogba is rated highly by Manchester United

'It puts us in a position where we have quite a strong squad now. We are only waiting on Nani and Michael Owen. We expect both of them to restart training next week.'

United may be back in second spot by the time they face Fulham at Old Trafford on Monday, although victory will ensure they regain the leadership.

'Every game is must-win now,” said Ferguson. 'That is no issue for me. I have been used to that for years. Hopefully we can keep the momentum going.'

Ferguson has also hailed Jonny Evans' contribution to the United cause this season.

The Northern Ireland international has featured more often in central defence for United than any other player in this injury-ravaged campaign.

The 24-year-old even managed to score his first goal for the club in their five-goal hammering of Wolves at the weekend.

Making strides: Jonny Evans has impressed in Nemanja Vidic's absence

Making strides: Jonny Evans has impressed in Nemanja Vidic's absence

With Jones and Smalling available for Monday's Premier League encounter with Fulham at Old Trafford, Evans is facing renewed pressure for his first-team spot.

However, Ferguson seems certain to stick with Evans, whose ability helped make up United's mind to sell Gerard Pique to Barcelona in 2008.

'He's playing regularly and I think that helps,' said Ferguson. 'He is still a young player of course and when they get runs of games it helps with their consistency. His partnership with Rio has been very good.'

In fact, after Nemanja Vidic was ruled out for the remainder of the campaign with a knee injury, Ferguson believes Ferdinand has been a major influence on Evans.

'A lot of it has to do with Rio actually because he's really helped Jonny,' said Ferguson. Jonny's always had terrific ability and it's good to see he's in consistent form.'

Rangers in administration: Goian – We just don"t know our fate

We just don't know our fate, admits Rangers defender Goian

Dorin Goian admits that the players who arrived at Rangers last summer did so with their eyes open.

A few internet searches or phone
calls revealed that a huge tax bill was still hanging over the Ibrox
club, even as Craig Whyte spoke of a supposed bright new era.

Together we stand: McCoist rallies his troops

Together we stand: McCoist rallies his
troops

Yet surely none of them could have predicted the dire events of this week after Rangers were instead forced into administration over 9million in PAYE and VAT that has not been paid since Whyte's takeover last May.

All the talk from the Ibrox chairman of the major HM Revenue and Customs case – which he has claimed could total 75million – sending them down that road right now has proved to be yet another statement that simply does not add up.

Goian and the rest of the players are
now left to wait and wonder. Speaking to Romanian media, the
centre-back claimed Whyte had told them on Tuesday that they would be
paid as normal at the end of this month.

Given that the squad were also
informed at that meeting that administration was still 10 days away, it
is unlikely many will be taking Whyte's assertion to the bank.

Uncertain times: Rangers have been place into administration

Uncertain times: Rangers have been place into administration

'I knew there were problems at the
club,' said Goian. 'Of course, I knew there was a chance of us going
into administration and I asked a few people about it, but nobody really
could tell us what was happening.

'I spoke about it with my wife last
night and we agreed that you know a team has problems when the owner
comes into the dressing room to talk to the players.

'All I know is that we are in administration, but I do not know what will happen to us.

'The owner came and talked to us. The players asked him some questions and he told us our wages will be paid on time.

'They now have to decide whether or not to let any players go.'

Club in crisis: Paul Clarke and David Whitehouse from administrators Duff and Phelps hold a press conference at Ibrox

Club in crisis: Paul Clarke and David Whitehouse from administrators Duff and Phelps hold a press conference at Ibrox

The extent of the cuts will soon
become clear, but Goian is hoping those who remain at Ibrox will show
defiance in the weeks ahead.

A 10-point penalty for entering
administration has ended hope of a fourth successive title, with Celtic
now cruising towards the crown with a 14-point lead.

Goian, though, believes the squad left at Ally McCoist's disposal
cannot afford to simply go through the motions when they face Kilmarnock
at Ibrox on Saturday.

'I
don't know how this team will react on the pitch,' said Goian. 'Our
captain has told us we will meet with the PFA to see where we stand.

WHAT THEY SAID

As players, we need to go out and
perform and give the fans
something to be happy about. It’s a difficult situation for them but we need to go out there and give them something to look forward to.

CARLOS BOCANEGRA

Testing times for everyone at
RFC. Great people and fans at the
club in short time I’ve been there! Sure answers and clarity will
come..

SONE ALUKO ON TWITTER

I haven’t been told at all what is
happening and I am still trying to find out. No one at Rangers has told me what is going on. It’s a very worrying situation, especially as Rangers are still paying part of my
wages.

JUANMA ORTIZ

It’s a tragedy what has happened
at the moment. The fans are
looking for leadership and I hope
we get some leadership from
somewhere. It has all been
accelerated very quickly. I just
think it’s a huge blow.

FORMER RANGERS CAPTAIN RICHARD GOUGH

It’s very sad for Scottish football, and European football, to see such a big name (in trouble). As an ex-Rangers player, it’s very sad. It’s not the first club to get in a mess and all of Europe is a little bit like this at other clubs.

FORMER RANGERS STAR FRANK DE BOER

'We've lost 10 points in the league and I hope that will see a positive reaction from us.'

The Romanian international has formed a centre-back partnership this term with another summer arrival in Carlos Bocanegra. The former St Etienne and Fulham player echoed Goian's thoughts as he urged the players to deliver a weekend performance capable of lifting the spirits of their worried and angry fans.

'They give us excellent support and I hope that everyone still comes out to cheer us on,' said Bocanegra. 'As players, we need to go out and perform to give them something to be happy about.

'They need something at the weekend to raise the spirits, but they are all staying behind us and the support at this club has been fantastic since I've been here – and that's been a really cool experience.

'I don't see that going anywhere. The fans are pretty loyal and their roots are deep and tied in with this club.

'It's a difficult situation for them, but we need to go out there and give them something to look forward to.

'This is the time when everybody needs to stick together. There might be finger-pointing and apportioning of blame but, in the end, we are all in it together.

'We need to stick together and we'll pull through it. This club has been around for a long time and has a lot of history, so it'll be OK.

'There is a lot of support around the world, but especially here with the fan base in Glasgow.

'For them, I know it is really frustrating because, as players, we come and go. But the fans have been here for a long time so, hopefully, it works out in the best possible scenario.'

Whatever anyone might say, blocking the events of this week from their minds is patently impossible for the players ahead of their return to on-field action.

Bocanegra, though, feels the fact the game against Kilmarnock is a situation they can influence will provide some comfort.

'As a competitor, any time you go on to the field, you want to win,' he told Rangers TV.

'Everything else is out of our hands and it might sound clichd to say it, but we can't do anything about it.'

Other players used Twitter to voice their feelings, with defender Kyle Bartley responding to speculation that his loan agreement will be cancelled, causing him to return to Arsenal.

'Being told by fans I'm moving back to London Lol,' he tweeted. 'Don't even know what's happening myself. The club's the most important thing.'

Winger Sone Aluko admitted the players were no clearer than the fans about what the way ahead might be for the 54-times Scottish champions.

'Testing times for everyone at RFC,' he tweeted. 'Great people and fans at the club in short time I've been there! Sure answers and clarity will come …'

Jamie Redknapp: Luis Suarez is on fire… let"s not drive him out

Weekend watch: Suarez is on fire… let”s not drive him out of Premier League

Luis Suarez has had some unflattering criticism recently. He has replaced Mario Balotelli as public enemy No 1 but he is the most exciting newcomer in the Barclays Premier League for many a year.

We don”t want to drive him out. He is the only striker who looks like he is in the same league as Robin van Persie at the moment.

Super Suarez: The Uruguay striker is bang on form for Liverpool

Super Suarez: The Uruguay striker is bang on form for Liverpool

Super stopper

I stand by my assertion last week that Scott Parker is the signing of the season – and Yohan Cabaye a close second – but another player who should have been included in the list of contenders is Swansea”s remarkable goalkeeper Michel Vorm.

Again on Saturday he was a match-saver for his team and that is seven clean sheets for a player few had heard of when he came from Utrecht.

Spot on: Vorm made a wonderful penalty save for Swansea

Spot on: Vorm made a wonderful penalty save for Swansea

Get him up front

People play in midfield because they are not quick enough or do not score enough goals. I should know! But playing Wayne Rooney there has affected his form.

A player as good as Rooney should not go eight Premier League games without a goal. He can go into midfield when he is getting on a bit. Not now. I expect him to hit a run of form now he has been restored to the front line.

Wayne

Wayne”s world: Rooney”s form has suffered from playing in a deeper role

Hitting the Ba

Demba Ba has been a revelation for Newcastle, with 11 of their 21 goals this season. Even in defeat against Norwich on Saturday he scored two. How they will miss him when he goes off to the Africa Cup of Nations in January.

There has been a lot of talk about losing their two centre backs, but when they lose their cutting edge, too, it may be a difficult start to 2012.

Big miss: Newcastle will really suffer from Ba

Big miss: Newcastle will really suffer from Ba”s absence

Volley good show

How long before Arsenal are building a statue of Robin van Persie, their remarkable goal machine

I love a volley and that execution against Everton, on the occasion of the club”s 125-year anniversary, was a brilliant way to win the game with so many Arsenal legends there to watch, including Thierry Henry and Ian Wright. Both would have been proud of that one.

Flying Dutchman: Van Persie

Flying Dutchman: Van Persie”s form has been sensational so far this term

Alex is on Song

Lots of talk about the art of volleying, but come on people! What about that pass from Alex Song The weight and execution of the delivery for RVP was stunning.

If Iniesta or Xavi had done it, we would be having a street party. And on the day Fabregas scored Barcelona”s clinching goal in Spain, Song showed he may have learned something from an old team-mate.

On Song: The Arsenal midfielder is starting to blossom in his role

On Song: The Arsenal midfielder is starting to blossom in his role

Roberto recovery

Owen Coyle”s dismal run of form as Bolton manager continues and he must hope his board are as patient as Wigan have been with Roberto Martinez.

Earlier in the season, when they could not buy a win, Wigan owner Dave Whelan could have panicked. He did not. Now Martinez and his team have delivered back-to-back away wins against relegation rivals.

Borrowed time Coyle

Borrowed time Coyle”s team have struggled badly this season

It”s super Seb

I was very critical of Seb Larsson for his shocking dive last week, but he came good for Sunderland yesterday. He is a wonderful striker of the ball and no doubt spends hours on the training ground mastering the art of the dipping free-kick.

It was harsh on Blackburn; Samba and Dann were impressive, but then the Martin O”Neill factor kicked in. This is the kickstart Sunderland needed.

Late stunner: Larsson

Late stunner: Larsson”s late free-kick made it a winning start for O”Neill