Tag Archives: scholes

Dowie emerges as leading contender for vacant Oldham job after Scholes link is dismissed

Dowie emerges as leading contender for vacant Oldham job after Scholes link is dismissed

By
Aidan Mccartney

PUBLISHED:

01:15 GMT, 5 February 2013

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UPDATED:

02:02 GMT, 5 February 2013

Iain Dowie is leading the race to become the next Oldham Athletic manager, despite bookmakers installing Oldham fan Paul Scholes as shock favourite.

Latics chairman Simon Corney is eager to install a new boss before the club’s FA Cup fifth-round clash against Everton next Saturday.

Surprisingly the 38-year-old midfielder was labelled as a front-runner but Corney has denied any suggestions that the Old Trafford legend would be taking the post.

Out of work: Dowie's last managerial job was in 2010 he unsuccessfully tried to keep Hull City in the Premier League

Out of work: Dowie's last managerial job was in 2010 when he unsuccessfully tried to keep Hull City in the Premier League

‘If Paul Scholes was to so much as express a desire to come here, it would refresh the whole club and of course I would be interested,’ Corney said.

‘But is it going to happen No, it isn't and there has been no contact between ourselves and Paul Scholes.

‘For one thing, I cannot see him wanting to go from earning 60,000-a-week at Manchester United to 600-a-week at Oldham!

Despite engineering their famous victory over Liverpool, Paul Dickov resigned on Sunday after a run of poor form in League One which left the Boundary Park side just outside the relegation zone.

Relaxed: Scholes at United's Doha training camp

Favourite: Scholes, seen here relaxing at United's Doha training camp, has emerged as the bookies choice for the Oldham job

Dowie has previous experience of managing Oldham after taking the club to the League One play-offs in 2002-03 and

Corney confirmed that he has been in contact with the former QPR manager.

‘Iain and I are good friends and we speak on a regular basis, but the club has time to make the right appointment,’ added Corney.

‘I would certainly expect a manager to be in place in time for the FA Cup tie against Everton next week and hopefully the issue may be resolved before the game against MK Dons this weekend.’

Rio Ferdinand tells Manchester United to give him a new contract like Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes

Ferdinand calls for new United deal and says he can keep going just like Giggs and Scholes

By
Thom Drake

PUBLISHED:

11:11 GMT, 2 February 2013

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UPDATED:

11:44 GMT, 2 February 2013

Rio Ferdinand has expressed his desire to extend his contract at Manchester United past the end of the season but is not worried that discussions are yet to take place.

Back and knee injuries have plagued the centre-back over the past few seasons, but Ferdinand has managed to reassert himself in the United first-team and wants to carry on going for several more years.

'Manchester United is a great club, the No1, and you would never want to play anywhere else if you can still play for them.'

Rio Ferdinand is sure he can continue for many more years

Longevity: Rio Ferdinand is sure he can continue for many more years

'People were writing me off when I was
out injured and saying my career was coming to an end but I know my body
and was confident I could get through,' he told the Sun.

'United will always be in my blood now.'

A consistent injury-free run
in the Premier League has given Ferdinand the chance to prove to all
his doubters that even at 34, he is worth a new contract.

He missed the 2010 World Cup due to injury, and with the arrival of Chris Smalling and Phil Jones over the past few seasons he was being pushed further down the pecking order.

Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic have struggled to play together

United: Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic have struggled to play together

But Ferdinand has managed to regain both
fitness and form, and has forced himself back into Alex Ferguson's
plans. With his contract finishing in the summer, the England
centre-back is sure that he deserves a new deal.

'I want to be able to contribute properly and be a player they actually need. You can tell if you're not really needed at a club any more. You just know.'

Ferdinand knew that he had more to
offer, and when Nemanja Vidic and Chris Smalling got long-term injuries,
he was given his chance again.

'I don't expect to be treated any different to the other older players like Giggsy or Scholesy, who normally sign on again at the end of the season.'

Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs have prolonged their careers

Still there: Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs have prolonged their careers

If United beat Fulham on Saturday they can stretch their lead to 10 points over rivals Manchester City, who have to get three points against an in-form Liverpool to keep up with the pace.

Ferdinand's presence will also be vital as United come across Real Madrid in the second round of the Champions League, and as they continue their challenge in the latter stages of the FA Cup.

Wesley Sneijder transfer latest: Liverpool make 9.5m bid

Liverpool make first move for Sneijder with 9.5m bid for United and Spurs target

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UPDATED:

11:23 GMT, 30 December 2012

Liverpool have reportedly offered 9.5million for out-of-favour Wesley Sneijder while Manchester United and Spurs remain on high alert.

The Inter Milan ace has been left feeling isolated at the San Siro after snubbing a suggested annual pay cut of 1.6m.

Liverpool are first out of the blocks, according to Gazzetta dello Sport's front page, while their Premier League rivals are confident little more than 11m will secure a deal.

Italian job: United and Spurs are in the hunt for Sneijder

Italian job: United and Spurs are in the hunt for Sneijder

The 28-year old was furious with the
club's proposed salary cut and demanded a move, pressurising the Serie A
outfit to sell him for virtually the same 15m euro fee they paid Real
Madrid in 2009.

'Clearly it's best for everyone concerned that in January I am transferred,' he said defiantly.

'If that doesn't happen then I will stay. I have a contract with Inter until 2015.'

Manager Andrea Stramaccioni has since dropped Sneijder from the squad over the bitter dispute.

His wage bill is currently 200,000
per week and Inter will be relieved to offload the financial burden.
Liverpool's coffers, however, are unlikely to be able to stretch to such
levels.

Talk of a move to Tottenham Hotspur
for the Holland international cooled when his agent told Dutch paper
Algemeen Dagblad: 'There is nothing, absolutely nothing true about
that.'

He has previously been tipped as Sir
Alex Ferguson’s dream replacement for Paul Scholes but Inter’s inflated
demands of 40m plus his phenomenal 10m-a-year wage was an immovable
obstacle for Manchester United.

Make that move: Liverpool are reported to have made a bid for Sneijder

Make that move: Liverpool are reported to have made a bid for Sneijder

Sign him up: Spurs fans would love to see Sneijder at White Hart Lane

Sign him up: Spurs fans would love to see Sneijder at White Hart Lane

Manchester United 4 Newcastle 3 match report: Javier Hernandez winner

Manchester United 4 Newcastle 3: Hernandez nets late winner to settle thriller after Fergie rages at officials again

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UPDATED:

17:37 GMT, 26 December 2012

In the final minute of a thrilling encounter Javier Hernandez netted his 10th goal of the season and sent Manchester United seven points clear at the top of the table.

Three times Newcastle led in the search for their first Old Trafford win since 1972 and three times they were pegged back.

Their pain at defeat, Sir Alex Ferguson's altercation with the officials and a serious looking injury to Vurnon Anita were the only sad aspects of a staggering day that showed off all that is so alluring about English football.

Decider: Javier Hernandez struck the late winner in typically clinical fashion

Decider: Javier Hernandez struck the late winner in typically clinical fashion

Seeing red: Sir Ferguson was furious with referee Mike Dean and the officials after Newcastle's second goal

Seeing red: Sir Ferguson was furious with referee Mike Dean and the officials after Newcastle's second goal

Match facts

Man United: De Gea, Smalling, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra, Valencia, Carrick, Scholes (Cleverley 69), Giggs, Van Persie, Hernandez (Fletcher 90).

Subs not used: Lindegaard, Vidic, Buttner, Wootton, Tunnicliffe.

Booked: Evans, Valencia, Hernandez.

Goals: Evans 25, Evra 58, Van Persie 71, Hernandez 90.

Newcastle: Krul, Simpson, Williamson, Coloccini, Santon, Anita, Perch, Bigirimana (Obertan 65), Cisse (Sammy Ameobi 79), Ba (Shola Ameobi 71), Marveaux.

Subs not used: Elliot, Ferguson, Tavernier, Campbell.

Booked: Simpson, Williamson, Cisse.

Goals: Perch 4, Evans 28 og, Cisse 68.

Att: 75,596

Ref: Mike Dean (Wirral)

Latest Premier League table and results

After stumbling at Swansea, the last thing Ferguson wanted was a nosedive against Newcastle.

Yet the worries began when the teams were announced.

With Wayne Rooney and Ashley Young
injured and Danny Welbeck out through illness, Ferguson was short of
attacking options beyond Hernandez and Robin van Persie.

Even more concerning was the presence
of Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes in the same starting line-up for the
first time since September.

With a combined age of 77, a sizeable
number of Red Devils followers now believe it is time one of the pair –
or both – should be pensioned off.

It is a harsh judgement given what
Giggs and Scholes have done down the years, but with Michael Carrick
also present it was clear Newcastle were not going to be over-run down
the middle of the pitch.

For all this, it was in defence where the hosts were found so badly wanting.

The conditions were against him, but
after Carrick gifted the visitors' possession to the visitors cheaply
inside his own half, David De Gea should have done much better than
meekly parry Demba Ba's skimmer straight to James Perch.

For a player who had never previously
scored for Newcastle, Perch could hardly have hoped for an easier
opportunity to break his duck.

Opener: James Perch celebrates his goal

Opener: James Perch celebrates his goal

Good Evans: The United defender scored just three minutes before putting the ball in his own net

Good Evans: The United defender scored just three minutes before putting the ball in his own net

Good Evans: The United defender scored just three minutes before putting the ball in his own net

Behind once more, United's attempts to force their way back were not convincing.

But when Van Persie drilled a free-kick into the Newcastle box, Hernandez pounced on the loose ball.

The Mexican's shot was blocked by Tim Krul, only for Jonny Evans to slide into the empty net.

It was the start of a hectic period
for the Northern Irishman, who was booked for handball after becoming
the third player this season – following Rooney and Gareth Bale – to
score at both ends.

Fury: Ferguson told Mike Dean exactly what he thought

Fury: Ferguson told Mike Dean exactly what he thought

Fury: Ferguson told Mike Dean exactly what he thought

That hardly tells the whole story
though, as the debate over what now constitutes offside erupted after
Evans turned a shot from United old-boy Danny Simpson past De Gea.

As Graham Poll quickly confirmed on Twitter
referee Mike Dean had got it right; it can only be assumed Papiss Cisse
remained 'non-active' despite pressurising Evans from an offside
position.

Ferguson was not similarly convinced.

As Dean made his way onto the pitch
for the start of the second-half, Ferguson confronted the referee to
make his feelings known.

Fourth official Neil Swarbrick also
got it in the neck before the United manager rounded on assistant
referee Jake Collin, who had initially raised his flag, believing Cisse
had got the final touch.

Back in it: Patrice Evra made it 2-2 just before the hour mark

Back in it: Patrice Evra made it 2-2 just before the hour mark

Three and easy: Papiss Cisse thought he'd won it for Newcastle

Three and easy: Papiss Cisse thought he'd won it for Newcastle

Thankfully, Dean had the good sense to speak to his fellow official at the time, ensuring justice was done.

For United, the spin-off was that the
hairdryer treatment sparked a marked improvement and just before the
hour Evra hauled them level for a second time when his low shot beat
Krul to the bottom corner.

Yet the cruise to victory never materialised.

Instead came more of the Kamikaze defending that has characterised United's season.

Three but not easy: Robin van Persie struck United's third equaliser of the game

Three but not easy: Robin van Persie struck United's third equaliser of the game

Red Devils old-boy Gabriel Obertan streaked down the wing and delivered a perfect cross for Cisse to smash home.

Newcastle held this lead for three
minutes before Van Persie drove in his 16th goal of the season after
Krul had saved his initial shot.

Now Ferguson and Alan Pardew could
only stand on the touchline and watch as this breathless, chaotic game
headed for its conclusion.

United fury at a handball claim
against Fabricio Coloccini that went unheeded was replaced by anguish as
both Van Persie and Hernandez went close.

At the death: Javier Hernandez wheels away after scoring the final goal of the game

At the death: Javier Hernandez wheels away after scoring the final goal of the game

De Gea got away with a near-calamitous
misjudgement when he allowed Sammy Ameobi's shot to roll past him,
thinking it was going wide, only for it to hit a post and rebound
straight back.

Hernandez was denied by Krul at the other end before Van Persie headed over as injury-time approached.

Like two heavyweights slugging it out,
swinging for all they were worth, their reliance on instinct total,
there was one punch left.

And with it Hernandez knocked Newcastle out.

Sir Alex Ferguson forgets dangerous tackles

Is Williams kicking the ball at Van Persie's head really the most dangerous, Fergie

PUBLISHED:

22:54 GMT, 23 December 2012

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UPDATED:

22:56 GMT, 23 December 2012

Sir Alex Ferguson described the Robin van Persie incident as ‘the most dangerous thing I’ve seen on a football field for many years’.

But the United boss seems to have forgotten a few cases involving his own club.

APRIL 2001: Roy Keane on Alf-Inge Haaland

After being accused of feigning injury by Haaland when he had ruptured ligaments, Keane took his revenge with a horror lunge on the Norwegian. He later admitted in his book: ‘I’d waited long enough. I f****** hit him hard.’

Roy Keane (red) has his revenge on Alf-Inge Haaland

Roy Keane (red) has his revenge on Alf-Inge Haaland in 2001

JANUARY 1995: Eric Cantona on spectator Matthew Simmons

Sent off for kicking Crystal Palace defender Richard Shaw, Cantona was abused by the home crowd as he left the pitch before launching a kung-fu kick at Palace fan Simmons.

The Frenchman was banned for nine months.

Moments after Eric Cantona (foreground) launched an astonishing two-foot drop kick on Crystal Palace supporter Matthew Simmons

Moments after Eric Cantona (foreground) launched an astonishing two-foot drop kick on Crystal Palace supporter Matthew Simmons in 1995

APRIL 2011: Paul Scholes on Pablo Zabaleta

There are plenty of Scholes tackles to choose from, but his rake on Zabaleta in the 2011 FA Cup semi-final left the Argentinian with a horrible gash on his thigh.

Pablo Zabaleta limps off after the thigh-high challenge from Paul Scholes

Pablo Zabaleta limps off after the thigh-high challenge from Paul Scholes in the 2011 FA Cup semi-final

Swansea 1 Manchester United 1 – Match report

Swansea 1 Manchester United 1: Reds frustrated as Michu's goal gives Swans share of the points

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UPDATED:

16:13 GMT, 23 December 2012

Manchester United missed the chance to extend their lead in the title race to six points as Michu came out on top in the battle of the Barclays Premier League's top scorers at the Liberty Stadium.

Patrice Evra had given United the lead in the 16th minute as he headed home from a Robin van Persie corner.

But Swansea continued their good record against the top-flight big guns as Michu finished from close range to move clear of Van Persie with his 13th league goal of the season.

Flat out: Michu makes it 1-1 as goalkeeper David de Gea lies on the ground

Flat out: Michu makes it 1-1 as goalkeeper David de Gea lies on the ground

Match facts:

Swansea: Vorm, Tiendalli, Chico, Williams, Davies, Dyer, Britton (Ki 62), Agustien (Shechter 88), De Guzman (Moore 71), Routledge, Michu.

Subs not used: Tremmel, Graham, Monk, Richards.

Goal: Michu 29

Booked: De Guzman, Williams

Man Utd: De Gea, Jones, Evans, Vidic, Evra, Valencia (Hernandez 62), Carrick, Cleverley (Scholes 86), Young, Rooney (Giggs 78), van Persie.

Subs not used: Lindegaard, Welbeck, Fletcher, Buttner.

Goal: Evra 16

Booked: Jones, Rooney, Van Persie, Scholes

Referee: Michael Oliver

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United will hold a four-point lead over Manchester City at Christmas but will be left to rue a series of missed chances during the final half hour when they piled the pressure on their hosts.

Swansea felt they had shown United too much respect during this fixture last season but, after a slow start, they showed little sign of being overawed as they took the game to the visitors.

Dwight Tiendalli flashed a threatening ball across the six-yard box before Kemy Agustien freed Michu with a superb long ball, but the Spaniard sliced high and wide.
David De Gea easily saved weak efforts from Wayne Routledge and Michu, but United halted the hosts' building momentum as they took the lead.

Wayne Rooney had already warmed Michel Vorm's hands with a stinging drive before Evra put the visitors ahead, arriving to glance a header in off the far post from a Van Persie corner.

But Swansea recovered well from the blow and Jonathan de Guzman had the ball in the net two minutes later, but the effort was ruled out for Michu blocking off Jonny Evans as the midfielder advanced.

All square: Michu scores the equiliser for Swansea

All square: Michu scores the equiliser for Swansea

Levelling up: Michu celebrates making it 1-1 just before the half hour mark

Levelling up: Michu celebrates making it 1-1 just before the half hour mark

The Liberty Stadium faithful were further angered when Phil Jones was given only a yellow card for a clumsy lunge on Ben Davies, although replays suggested referee Michael Oliver had got the decision right.

But it was United who felt they had been victims of an injustice as Michu levelled on the half hour mark.
Evra was caught out by De Guzman's clever run and when De Gea could only parry the Dutchman's angled shot, Michu was on hand to tap in.

Not going to plan: Wayne Rooney , Robin van Persie and Michael Carrick look on after Swansea level the scores

Not going to plan: Wayne Rooney , Robin van Persie and Michael Carrick look on after Swansea level the scores

Sir Alex Ferguson was visibly angered that Van Persie was not awarded a free-kick after he and Chico Flores went to ground following the Spaniard's challenge seconds before the equaliser, and the United boss made his feelings known to referee Oliver at the break.

The goal added an extra bite to Swansea's play and they had the better of the remainder of the opening half.
De Guzman and Routledge were becoming increasingly influential for the hosts and the former should have done better after working his way into the United box on the byline, only to shoot straight at De Gea with several team-mates well placed.

High riser: Patrice Evra heads United into the lead

High riser: Patrice Evra heads United into the lead

Head boy: Patrice Evra watches his header go in the back of the net

Head boy: Patrice Evra watches his header go in the back of the net

Goal rush: Evra celebrates scoring his third goal of the season

Goal rush: Evra celebrates scoring his third goal of the season

But United offered a remainder of their quality in first half stoppage time when Evra easily got past Nathan Dyer and intelligently pulled the ball back to Rooney, but the England forward fired directly at Vorm.

The second half started at a furious pace and there were chances for both sides.

Michu again headed over and De Gea had to stand firm to repel Routledge's close-range strike.

Body on the line: Ashley Williams gets across to block Wayne Rooney's shot

Body on the line: Ashley Williams gets across to block Wayne Rooney's shot

At the other end Ashley Williams made two superb blocks to stop goalbound efforts from Rooney and Ashley Young after Swansea twice surrendered possession cheaply.

United were finally exerting some authority and Van Persie came close to putting them back in front as he cleverly diverted a Rooney cross goalwards, only to see his effort cannon away off the bar.

Substitute Javier Hernandez wasted another presentable chance as he failed to control Van Persie's astute pass and Vorm gratefully held the Mexican's deflected strike.

Looking for his man: Ashley Young prepares to cross the ball

Looking for his man: Ashley Young prepares to cross the ball

Off target: Williams again gets in the way, this time to stop Van Persie

Off target: Williams again gets in the way, this time to stop Van Persie

Protecting the ball: Nathan Dyer fends off the challenge of Evra

Protecting the ball: Nathan Dyer fends off the challenge of Evra

Worse was to follow for United when Rooney dispossessed Chico Flores but allowed the defender to get back and intercept a slack pass which should have given Hernandez an easy finish, much to the fury of his manager.

Tempers flared as United frustrations grew. Van Persie was struck on the head by a Williams clearance after being brought down on the edge of the box leading to some pushing and shoving and a booking apiece for the central protagonists.

Head case: Williams lashes the ball against the neck of floored United striker Van Persie

Head case: Williams lashes the ball against the neck of floored United striker Van Persie

Pulled apart: Williams and Van Persie had to be separated by their team-mates

Pulled apart: Williams and Van Persie had to be separated by their team-mates

Ref rage: An angry Sir Alex Ferguson complains to fourth official Lee Probert after the incident

Ref rage: An angry Sir Alex Ferguson complains to fourth official Lee Probert after the incident

Swansea were by now under incessant pressure.

Vorm tipped a Carrick header against the bar while Van Persie and Young were denied by blocks from Williams and Davies, although there was a suspicion of handball about the latter, as Swansea held out.

Steven Gerrard, Ryan Giggs and now Lionel Messi: Sportsmail tribute to one-club men

As Messi and Xavi join Gerrard, Giggs, Armfield and Le Tissier, we pay tribute to football's one-club men

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UPDATED:

15:46 GMT, 18 December 2012

Barcelona stars Lionel Messi, Xavi and Carles Puyol have signed contract extensions that will keep them at the Nou Camp for the rest of their glittering careers.

They are the ultimate one-club men, having progressed from Barca’s fabled La Masia Academy.

Barcelona boy: Lionel Messi has signed a new deal with the Catalans - Xavi and Carles Puyol are also staying

Barcelona boy: Lionel Messi has signed a new deal with the Catalans – Xavi and Carles Puyol are also staying

Messi, Xavi and Puyol, though, are not alone in dedicating their careers to a single team.

Here Sportsmail pays tribute to 10 men who epitomise football loyalty.

TONY ADAMS (Arsenal 1983 – 2002)

How Arsenal could do with someone like him now. A no-nonsense defender, who inspired all around him, Adams became club captain in his early 20s and led the Gunners through one of the greatest periods in their history. In total he played 668 games and collected 13 major honours.

Top Gunner: Tony Adams will always be a legend to the Arsenal supporters

Top Gunner: Tony Adams will always be a legend to the Arsenal supporters

RYAN GIGGS (Manchester United 1991 – present)

Some day in the future, Giggs will call time on the most remarkable career and when he goes, the Barclays Premier League will have a gap that cannot be filled. He has made 921 appearances, scored 165 goals and won all there is to win twice over. The moniker ‘legend’ fits easily alongside him.

PAUL SCHOLES (Manchester United 1995 – present)

He
has been described by many, including Xavi, as the finest English
midfielder of the last two decades and it is hard to pick holes in that
argument. Blessed with wonderful passing and a keen eye for goal,
Scholes has eschewed the trappings of fame. All he has wanted to do is
play for United.

Old heads: Ryan Giggs (left) and Paul Scholes are still turning it on for Manchester United

Old heads: Ryan Giggs (left) and Paul Scholes are still turning it on for Manchester United

MATTHEW LE TISSIER (Southampton 1986 – 2002)

If
ever there was a talent who did not get his full rewards, it was Le
Tissier. A mercurial playmaker, who scored phenomenal goals and barely
missed a penalty, he kept Southampton in the Premier League almost
single-handedly at times. But he never won a major honour and was only
capped eight times by England.

A real Saint: Matt Le Tissier spent his entire playing career with Southampton

A real Saint: Matt Le Tissier spent his entire playing career with Southampton

JAMIE CARRAGHER (Liverpool 1997 – present)

It wasn’t easy for Carragher when he first broke into Liverpool’s team as a teenager but, through sheer force of will and talent, he has had an outstanding career. You don’t play for Liverpool 716 times if you haven’t got something special and the defender has earned every accolade.

STEVEN GERRARD (Liverpool 1998 – present)

Though it is true Gerrard twice came close to leaving Liverpool, his commitment to the club and efforts through three decades are indisputable. He has just passed 600 appearances at Anfield and boasts a trophy cabinet in keeping with his standing as one of the best midfielders of his generation.

Conquering Europe: Jamie Carragher (left) and Steven Gerrard won the Champions League in 2005

Conquering Europe: Jamie Carragher (left) and Steven Gerrard won the Champions League in 2005

LEON OSMAN (Everton 2002 – present)

Osman might not have a burgeoning trophy cabinet nor is he a name that will be discussed frequently up and down the land but he represents old-fashioned values and Everton are all the better for it. He, along with Tony Hibbert, fought his way through the youth ranks and kept trying to force his way into David Moyes’ team. A decade’s efforts were rewarded last month when he was capped by England.

Sticking with the Toffees: Leon Osman has worked his way through the ranks at Goodison Park

Sticking with the Toffees: Leon Osman has worked his way through the ranks at Goodison Park

DEREK FAZACKERLEY (Blackburn Rovers 1969 – 1987)

If his coaching career has been nomadic – see spells at Newcastle, Manchester City, Birmingham, Huddersfield and England, amongst others – Fazackerley’s playing days were spent solely at Ewood Park. He made a record-breaking 671 appearances for Blackburn and that total will never be passed.

JIMMY ARMFIELD (Blackpool 1954 – 1971)

To many he will be the softly-spoken expert analyst on Radio Five Live but as a player Armfield was the archetypal one-club man. Loyal, professional, conscientious and talented, Armfield was a classy right-back who made 627 appearances for Blackpool. He also won the World Cup in 1966.

I do like to be beside the seaside: Jimmy Armfield is Blackpool through and through

I do like to be beside the seaside: Jimmy Armfield is Blackpool through and through

And one from abroad we can't ignore… PAOLO MALDINI (AC Milan 1985 – 2009)

From the moment Maldini made his debut as a 16-year-old against Udinese,
he was destined for greatness. His name will stand the test of time, a
defender who oozed class, skill and dedication. His 902 appearances for Il
Rossoneri and five Champions League winners’ medals are extraordinary
statistics.

Milan man: Paolo Maldini (right) won the European Cup five times with the Italian giants

Milan man: Paolo Maldini (right) won the European Cup five times with the Italian giants

Manchester United"s academy fifth best in the world behind Rennes

United's academy in world's top five… but not as good as Rennes!

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UPDATED:

23:00 GMT, 14 December 2012

Manchester United produce more first-team players for Europe’s five big leagues than any other club in England – but not as many as French side Rennes.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s academy is the fifth best in the world behind those at La Liga giants Barcelona and Real Madrid as well as Ligue 1’s Lyon and Rennes, according to research by Sporting Intelligence.

Twenty players who spent their formative years at Old Trafford are currently appearing in either the Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga 1 or Ligue 1. For Rennes it is 21.

Stalwarts: Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes both came from Manchester United's academy

Stalwarts: Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes both came from Manchester United's academy

Highly rated midfielder Yann M'Vila came from the Rennes academy and is still at the club

Highly rated midfielder Yann M'Vila came from the Rennes academy and is still at the club

The top 10 academies in the world:

Leading-producers-of-Big-5-talent.jpg

Click here for the full table

Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs, Darren Fletcher, Jonny Evans, Tom Cleverley and Danny Welbeck are some of the home-grown players still in the squad.

Stoke’s Ryan Shawcross, Sunderland’s Phil Bardsley and Everton’s Phil Neville are other Premier League performers to have left, while Paul Pogba and goalkeeper Ron-Robert Zieler went further afield, to Juventus and Hannover 96 respectively.

Players to come out of Rennes include QPR midfielder Stephane Mbia, former Milan forward Yoann Gourcuff, and French international Yann M’Vila, who is still at the club.

A club is deemed to have primarily produced a player if they spent three or more years there between the ages of 15-21.

The figures were provided by CIES Football Observatory in Switzerland, who studied 2,286 players at the 98 clubs in Europe’s top five divisions.

Unsurprisingly Barcelona came top, producing 36 players, with Lyon second on 31. Real Madrid were third with 27.

In England, Aston Villa came second behind United with 15 players, Arsenal have 14, while Tottenham and West Ham each produced 13.

World leaders: Barcelona produced 36 players for Europe's big leagues

World leaders: Barcelona produced 36 players for Europe's big leagues

Michael Essien came from Lyon's academy before a big-money move to Chelsea

Michael Essien came from Lyon's academy before a big-money move to Chelsea

Nick Harris, Sporting Intelligence editor and Mail on Sunday writer, complied the numbers and found that some smaller clubs were punching well above their weight.

Conference team Luton have four academy players plying their trade in the top-flight, including Leon Barnett at Norwich and Matt Taylor at West Ham. League One Crewe, meanwhile, sold Nick Powell to United this summer, while David Vaughan is at Sunderland.

Boca Juniors are the highest ranked non-European side in the world list. They have produced 15 players currently competing in one of Europe’s big five leagues.

Xavi talks about his love of Bruce Springsteen and Diego Maradona

It's top secret: Barcelona superstar Xavi talks dinner with De Niro and Diego

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UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 7 December 2012

Barcelona's midfield maestro Xavi tells Sportsmail's Alex Kay about his sporting heroes, his unwavering loyalty to his club and his love of Robert De Niro, Bruce Springsteen and Argentina legend Diego Maradona.

Maestro: Xavi (centre) pulls the strings in Barcelona's midfield

Maestro: Xavi (centre) pulls the strings in Barcelona's midfield

Who is your sporting hero

I have said I think Paul Scholes is the best midfield player of the last 20 years. He is a great role model as well.

Of course, though, like most Barcelona central midfielders, my idol was Pep (Guardiola).

What would you be if you weren't a sportsman

Like so many of the players I started at La Masia at the age of 11. I can't ever imagine not playing for Barcelona, let alone not playing soccer for a career. I don't ever want to play anywhere else.

Hero: Xavi believes Paul Scholes is one of the best central midfielders in the past 20 years

Hero: Xavi believes Paul Scholes is one of the best central midfielders in the past 20 years

Career highlight

In terms of what the game means, how can you ever beat playing a World Cup final that you win You can't is the answer.

The best game I ever played in was when we beat Real Madrid 5-0. The feeling of total superiority was incredible. We just stood in the dressing room afterwards clapping ourselves. It was a surreal experience.

… and the worst moment

It was when we found out, as a team, about team-mate Eric Abidal's liver cancer. It put everything else into perspective. I remember thinking how strong he was and he was encouraging us as much as we were encouraging him.

In perspective: Xavi says being told about Eric Abidal's liver cancer was the worst moment of his career

In perspective: Xavi says being told about Eric Abidal's liver cancer was the worst moment of his career

If your house was burning down, what one possession would you save

Just the things that can't be replaced. There is no money in the world that can replace the jersey you were wearing when you lifted the World Cup.

What's your favourite song

Losing My Religion by REM. I love all of their stuff.

What's the programme you can't miss on TV

I don't actually watch many shows. I will either watch movies or football. I enjoy to watch games in the Premier League and will also watch movies a lot as well.

That is how I relax.

Last film you saw

The Lincoln Lawyer. It was really good.

If you could have dinner with three famous people, who would it be and why

People I admire in the things that I like. I would choose Robert De Niro, Bruce Springsteen, and Diego Maradona.

Born to run: Xavi idolises rock star Bruce Springsteen

Born to run: Xavi idolises rock star Bruce Springsteen

Can you cook

I am competent enough but I won't try anything tough. Probably just pasta, grilled chicken, and a little olive oil.

Your favourite holiday destination

Ibiza is a popular vacation place for a lot of the players in Spain. If you go in the summer there are some of the world's most famous movie and music stars so nobody cares about soccer players.

In a film of your life, who would you like to play you

I am not known for being a tall player so you would have to take that into account. Probably somebody like Matt Damon.

Tell us a secret…

We were playing at the Bernabeu when I was about 18 and things got a little heated between the players. Raul came up and gave me a cuff round the ear and said calm down. He is one of my great friends now – but what he was saying is: 'Know your place, kid, there is hierarchy.'

Best of enemies: Former Real Madrid star Raul clipped Xavi round the ear to put him in his place

Best of enemies: Former Real Madrid star Raul clipped Xavi round the ear to put him in his place

David Beckham on Manchester United, Paul Scholes and leaving LA Galaxy

Beckham has the last word: Former England skipper talks about retirement, United and his dream to own a clubScholes retired too early, I won’t do thatClubs flash cash but United have historyI want to own a team not manage one…

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UPDATED:

08:28 GMT, 1 December 2012

Standing in the midst of a group of reporters with his back against a wall at the Home Depot Center in Los Angeles, David Beckham suddenly seems struck by his longevity as a footballer.

‘It’s amazing isn’t it’ he laughed. ‘Twenty years we’ve all been doing this. But I’m just thankful I’m still playing.

‘You guys are the same. You’re still reporting on games. You are probably thinking: “Oh sh*t, not again”. But this game never gets old for me. I never get tired of it.’

Still going strong: Beckham has made it clear that he wants to play on

Still going strong: Beckham has made it clear that he wants to play on

Still going strong: Beckham has made it clear that he wants to play on

Beckham

At 37, Beckham still hasn’t changed much. From Manchester to Madrid to Los Angeles (with a pit stop in Milan), Beckham’s career has been more eclectic than anybody would have imagined, but it’s clear the fire has not yet gone out.

He will play in the MLS Cup Final for LA Galaxy against Houston at lunchtime local time today – his final game for the club – and then quickly turn his head to stare down the next challenge.

Despite the aches and pains of an ageing athlete, retirement isn’t an option. Not yet. Events across the pond at Old Trafford in the first month of this year convinced him of that. ‘I saw what happened with Scholesy,’ he said, referring to Paul Scholes’s decision to reverse his retirement.

‘I plan to keep playing as long as I can because I know when Scholesy stepped away he came back and regretted stopping.

Old friends: Beckham in his United days with Scholes (centre) and Giggs (left)

Old friends: Beckham in his United days with Scholes (centre) and Giggs (left)

Old friends: Beckham in his United days with Scholes (centre) and Giggs (left)

‘You know when it’s time and obviously Scholesy realised it wasn’t his time at that moment and I’m the same. It’s not my time. It’s nice to see him and Giggsy still playing at Man U. They’ve had successful careers there and to see them playing like they do now is great. We grew up together and, like them, I want to play as long as my legs will take me.’

Thursday was pretty much ‘Beckham day’ at Galaxy training. A conditioning session in the Californian drizzle at 10am and then media commitments ahead of his final game after six seasons in the States. After all this time, he remains the MLS’s biggest media draw. They will miss him.

Beckham wasn’t due to speak to English journalists but, as usual, he found the extra time.

Although his plans were off limits, he did admit that he harbours ambitions to play in the Champions League again. ‘I think that because I always loved it,’ he said. ‘I still miss playing in it; they are the games you love playing in.

Centre of attention: Beckham took the time out to speak to English journalists

Centre of attention: Beckham took the time out to speak to English journalists

Beckham with a hat in training

‘We’ll see where I go next. If it’s a team that’s in the Champions League then it will be nice to be back. Wherever I’ve gone it’s been a big deal throughout my career. Whether it’s been going on loan to AC Milan or leaving Manchester United for Real Madrid or Real to here, it’s always been big news. This next move will be a move that is about the football. That has never been any different for me.

‘People say some of the moves have been about money but my answer is always the same, that my career has never been about money. I’m not money motivated, I just want to play for the best team and with the best players.’

It is remarkable to think it is almost a decade since Beckham left United.

‘I couldn’t have stayed, it wasn’t an option obviously,’ he said with a smile. Since that time, little has changed in England. United were top of the Premier League when he left and are top again ahead of this weekend’s games. ‘I’m not surprised by that, I don’t know why anybody is surprised by that,’ he said.

Up for the cup: Beckham will line up alongside Robbie Keane (right) for LA Galaxy for the last time

Up for the cup: Beckham will line up alongside Robbie Keane (right) for LA Galaxy for the last time

Up for the cup: Beckham will line up alongside Robbie Keane (right) for LA Galaxy for the last time

‘I’ve always said that money at football clubs is OK sometimes, but it doesn’t last forever. I think Manchester United are a club about history. Other clubs might have the money and might be able to pay players more but when Man United come calling it’s impossible to turn them down.

‘You see a player like Robin van Persie has spent the years he has at Arsenal but when Man United come knocking it’s impossible to say no. It doesn’t matter what other clubs are interested and what money is being thrown around.’

Beckham will one day take up an ambassadorial role at Old Trafford. ‘I’m sure that will happen in some way,’ he confirmed.

For now, though, he is looking forward to owning one of the MLS ‘development franchises’ (essentially one of the smaller, newer clubs) in the near future and keeping retirement at bay that little bit longer.

Mum's the word: Beckham did not discuss his future

Mum's the word: Beckham did not discuss his future

‘I wouldn’t say I’m scared of retiring,’ he said. ‘But I know I will miss it when I finish playing, of course. Every player and every professional person who walks away from a job misses it.

‘I’d like to be an owner because I don’t want to be a manager. Management has never interested me. I love playing and coaching but I would rather be an owner. In the MLS.’

Beckham is expected to spend Christmas in England. Indeed his wife Victoria and their four children have already left America for the UK.

It won’t be long before his next move becomes clear. Meanwhile he will have time to watch his best friend Gary Neville’s TV career blossoming.

‘He’s always loved to talk so it doesn’t surprise me,’ he laughed. ‘Sometimes he makes sense and sometimes you just have to ignore him.’