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Robin van Persie will ignore Arsenal boos – Sir Alex Ferguson

Boos won't bother Robin! Ferguson urges Van Persie to ignore dissenting Arsenal fans

By
Chris Wheeler

PUBLISHED:

11:53 GMT, 26 April 2013

|

UPDATED:

13:00 GMT, 26 April 2013

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Sir Alex Ferguson has told Robin van Persie to ignore the Arsenal boo boys on his first return to the Emirates this Sunday.

Arsene Wenger’s side will give Ferguson’s newly-crowned Premier League champions a guard of honour at the Emirates, but Van Persie is assured of a hot reception after leaving the Gunners for United in a 24million move last summer.

It has paid off with the Dutchman’s hat-trick against Aston Villa on Monday securing his first title winner’s medal, but the Arsenal fans will be less understanding.

Lending a hand: Former United player Bryan Robson was at United's training this morning

Lending a hand: Former United player Bryan Robson was at United's training this morning

WENGER'S TAKE

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger wants fans of the north London club to show respect for their former player Robin van Persie.

Click here to read Wenger's opinion

‘I don’t really bother about it and I don’t think Robin should bother about it either,’ said Ferguson.

‘There was a bit of booing when he
played against Arsenal at Old Trafford and you probably expect a portion
of the fans to do that. That’s the modern generation and modern
society, I’m afraid.

‘But I’m glad Arsene has done that
(guard of honour) because when they came to Old Trafford some years back
and Wiltord scored the only goal we did that, and that’s what great
clubs should do.’

Ferguson said that he understands why
Arsenal are so upset over losing one of their prize assets but believes
they have to look to the future now.

Back to business: Robin van Persie (left) and his team-mates were training after their title triumph

Back to business: Robin van Persie (left) and his team-mates were training after their title triumph

Man in the middle: Rio Ferdinand and Tom Cleverley (left) practise their ball skills

Man in the middle: Rio Ferdinand and Tom Cleverley (left) practise their ball skills

He added: ‘I know about the Tottenham derby but United have been Arsenal’s biggest rivals over the last 20 years.

‘It doesn’t sit well with their fans, and nor with Arsene for that matter, but it does happen and you just have to move on.

‘Arsenal have moved on now. They’re
challenging for a Champions League place and have every chance of doing
so, and they still play as attractive foot as anyone in the league.’

Antonio Valencia

Danny Welbeck

Relaxed Antonio Valencia and Danny Welbeck look calm after they helped clinch the title on Monday

David Moyes linked with Schalke manager"s job

Schalke wait to pounce for Moyes at end of season if talks over new deal at Everton falter

By
Chris Wheeler

PUBLISHED:

21:30 GMT, 4 April 2013

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UPDATED:

22:56 GMT, 4 April 2013

David Moyes is back at the top of Schalke’s wanted list as the German club prepare to appoint a new manager this summer — with Celtic’s Neil Lennon a strong candidate to replace the Scot if he leaves Everton.

It was thought Moyes had slipped behind Armin Veh in the Schalke running until the Eintracht Frankfurt coach signed a new deal last week.

Moyes, 49, has put off talks over a new deal until the end of the season and is keen to hear what Schalke have to offer.

In the frame: David Moyes is a Schalke target

In the frame: David Moyes is a Schalke target

Contender: Neil Lennon may replace Moyes at Everton

Contender: Neil Lennon may replace Moyes at Everton

The Bundesliga club are looking for a top European coach after installing Jens Keller on a short-term basis when they sacked Huub Stevens in December.

Former Chelsea boss Roberto Di Matteo is also in the frame.

Lennon is on the verge of securing his second successive SPL title with Celtic.

But there is a growing sense that he could quit Parkhead for a new challenge this summer.

With Rangers not due to return to
Scotland’s top league until 2015 at the earliest, Lennon knows football
north of the border will not be seriously competitive for his side.

Interim boss: Schalke installed Jens Keller on a short-term basis

Interim boss: Schalke installed Jens Keller on a short-term basis

In the mix: Eintracht Frankfurt manager Armin Veh

In the mix: Eintracht Frankfurt manager Armin Veh

Having the chance to take the next step in his management career at Everton may be too good an opportunity to turn down.

Lennon’s stock has grown considerably this season, despite the lack of competition on the domestic front, thanks to Celtic’s run to the Champions League knock-out stages — which included that euphoric win over Barcelona.

Moyes' 11-year spell in charge at Goodison Park makes him the third longest-serving manager in the Premier League, but he has put off talks over a new deal until the end of the season and will wait to hear what Schalke have to offer.

The Bundesliga club are looking for a top European coach after installing Jens Keller on a short-term basis when they sacked Huub Stevens in December.

Alex Ferguson denies FA charge over rant at Tottenham linesman

Fergie DENIES charge over blast at linesman who turned down Rooney penalty claim at Spurs

By
Chris Wheeler

PUBLISHED:

17:13 GMT, 1 February 2013

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UPDATED:

17:56 GMT, 1 February 2013

Sir Alex Ferguson has today decided to contest an FA charge of misconduct.

It relates to comments the Manchester United manager made following the draw with Tottenham at White Hart Lane last month.

It is alleged that Ferguson breached FA Rule E3 in that he implied that the match official was motivated by bias.

Fuming: Ferguson was furious with Beck for missing Caulker's trip on Rooney

Fuming: Ferguson was furious with Beck for missing Caulker's trip on Rooney

Fuming: Ferguson was furious with Beck for missing Caulker's trip on Rooney

Hot water: The United boss has been summoned before the FA

Hot water: The United boss has been summoned before the FA

His case is now set to be heard
before an independent commission. If found guilty, he is expected to be
fined but could feasibly face a touchline ban.

The United boss has decided not to request a personal hearing but the club will submit a file arguing his case.

Ferguson’s comments were aimed at
referee’s assistant Simon Beck after he refused to flag for a penalty
when Wayne Rooney went down under a challenge from Steven Caulker.

By claiming that United ‘were never
going to get a decision’ from Beck and ‘he gave them everything else’,
the FA believe that Ferguson – who also brought up a previous
controversy involving the same official when United played Chelsea in
2010 – questioned his integrity.

He said: ‘The stand-side linesman
never gave us a thing all day,’ said Ferguson. ‘I think he had a
shocking game today. I'm disappointed in his performance, I really am.

Late twist: Ferguson was even more unhappy after Clint Dempsey (left) scored Tottenham's added-time leveller

Late twist: Ferguson was even more unhappy after Clint Dempsey (left) scored Tottenham's added-time leveller

‘We’ve got that history with him. He
never gave offside with (Didier) Drogba at Old Trafford when he was
three yards offside. Everyone remembers that. I certainly do.’

The decision not to award what
Ferguson described as ‘a clear penalty’ proved costly for United when
Clint Dempsey struck in injury-time to cancel out Robin van Persie’s
first-half header.

Yesterday, United defender Rio
Ferdinand backed his manager saying: ‘It was a 100 per cent penalty. I
cannot believe he didn’t give it. The linesman didn’t really help us on
the near touchline at all in the second half especially.

‘He maybe wasn’t going to put his flag up but I’m disappointed that the referee didn’t give what was a stonewall penalty.’

Ferguson has been banned from the
touchline on five occasions in the past, most recently in 2011 when he
was found guilty of questioning the integrity of referee Martin
Atkinson.

Mario Balotelli on his way out of Manchester City after fee agreed with AC Milan

Goodbye and good riddance: City agree 17m deal with Milan to sell 'Super' Mario

By
Chris Wheeler

PUBLISHED:

15:32 GMT, 29 January 2013

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UPDATED:

17:49 GMT, 29 January 2013

Mario Balotelli will become an AC Milan player after Manchester City agreed terms with the Italian club this afternoon.

Juventus were also in contention to take the controversial striker back to Italy, but City have accepted an offer from Milan understood to be in the region of 17million plus 2.5m in add-ons. He is scheduled to have a medical tomorrow and sign a four-and-a-half year deal.

Balotelli has also helped the deal to go through by agreeing a pay-cut of nearly 1m so he could join his boyhood club on a 3m-a-year deal. He is now set to pull out of the City squad for tonight’s game at QPR and fly to Milan to complete the move.

New name: AC Milan's official website was quick to offer fans the chance to buy a Balotelli shirt

New name: AC Milan's official website was quick to offer fans the chance to buy a Balotelli shirt

Thanks for the memories: Mario Balotelli (pictured in training on Monday) is on his way to Milan

Thanks for the memories: Mario Balotelli (pictured in training on Monday) is on his way to Milan

On Monday, Balotelli was seen carrying some belongings from the club's HQ before he joined his team-mates in London for Tuesday's game against QPR at Loftus Road.

Earlier, coach Brian Kidd asked the striker for an autograph after training, which some interpreted as a sign the Italian's time in Manchester was coming to an end.

Samir Nasri also stopped and talked to Balotelli through the window of his camouflaged Bentley as he left the Carrington complex.

And he's off: Balotelli seemed to say his goodbyes at City's Carrington training base on Monday

And he's off: Balotelli seemed to say his goodbyes at City's Carrington training base on Monday

And he's off: Balotelli seemed to say his goodbyes at City's Carrington training base on Monday

Happy to be leaving This old image of Balotelli just about summed up his time in England

Happy to be leaving This old image of Balotelli just about summed up his time in England

Sportsmail revealled the City striker’s personal lawyer Vittorio Rigo, who works closely with his agent Mino Raiola, flew into Manchester over the weekend in readiness to try and negotiate a deal.

In a bid to help force the move through, Balotelli has taken a drop in wages from 4.3m per year, to 3.4m.

Only yesterday, first-team coach David Platt played down speculation about the striker's future.

'I saw that speculation yesterday but I've not heard anything,' he said. 'As far as we are concerned I think he is still a Manchester City player. I don't think there is anything is going to happen.

Balotelli moved to the Etihad in 2010, following boss Roberto Mancini from Inter Milan.

Alex Ferguson says his priority is Europe, not the FA Cup

Keeping it Real: Fergie wants the FA Cup but Europe remains the priority

By
Chris Wheeler

PUBLISHED:

22:43 GMT, 4 January 2013

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UPDATED:

23:48 GMT, 4 January 2013

For all Manchester United’s desire to lift a trophy they last won nine years ago, the simple fact is that the fifth and sixth rounds of this season’s FA Cup fall in the same week as the Champions League.

‘Let’s be honest,’ said Sir Alex Ferguson on Friday. ‘Would you rather be at West Ham or Real Madrid’

He did not expect an answer.

Priorities: Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson will be trying his hardest to win the FA Cup, but the reality is that the Champions League tie with Real Madrid falls between the fifth and sixth rounds of the competition

Priorities: Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson will be trying his hardest to win the FA Cup, but the reality is that the Champions League tie with Real Madrid falls between the fifth and sixth rounds of the competition

It’s traditional at this time of year to talk up the old competition and the romance of the third round.

But even if he can navigate a difficult trip to Upton Park today and then the fourth round, it’s clear the United manager will have to dig deep into his reserves to successfully take the next two steps on the road to Wembley with Jose Mourinho’s Madrid providing a sizeable distraction.

The Spaniards apart, though, Ferguson is sincere in his ambition to win the FA Cup for the first time since beating Millwall in 2004.

Drought: United have not won the FA Cup since beating Millwall 3-0 in 2004

Drought: United have not won the FA Cup since beating Millwall 3-0 in 2004

His fondness for the competition was clear in the press conference as he recalled the two Cup final defeats by Arsenal and Chelsea since then, and went even further back to 1996 when United met Liverpool’s Spice Boys in their creamy white suits.

‘That horrible final,’ said Ferguson. ‘One of the worst in the history of mankind. I saw Roy Evans’ face, looking around at the bakers’ XI. Roy was mortified. I thought it was a 1-0 victory for us straightaway!’

Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs played in that one. But along with Darren Fletcher, who played in the win over Millwall in Cardiff, and Robin van Persie, who scored in Arsenal’s penalty shootout victory over United in 2005, they are the only members of the current squad with winner’s medals.

'That horrible final': Ferguson remembers the 1996 final, in which Eric Cantona (right) scored the only goal of the game, none too fondly

'That horrible final': Ferguson remembers the 1996 final, in which Eric Cantona (right) scored the only goal of the game, none too fondly

Rio Ferdinand, a United player for more than 10 years, is still waiting.

‘It’s amazing, we’ll have to do something about it,’ said Ferguson.

Missing: The FA Cup remains the only club honour missing from Rio Ferdinand's (pictured) collection

Missing: The FA Cup remains the only club honour missing from Rio Ferdinand's (pictured) collection

‘Rio mentioned it in the dressing room before we went out against Liverpool last year so it means a lot to him and will do to someone who has been in the game for that length of time.

‘The Champions League, without doubt, is the bigger challenge. You have all the big clubs in there now and we are playing Real Madrid.

'It’s a fact of life, but the FA Cup is still the best domestic cup in the world.

‘It still holds the romance about it when you are waiting for the draw. West Ham away is a particularly hard one.

'We’ll play a strong team and hopefully we can get through.’

Wayne Rooney will play no part after he was ruled out for another two weeks with his knee injury.

Ferdinand could also be rested, but Ferguson insisted the veteran is coping with his back problem better than in recent years, and is confident he will sign a new deal even though he is free to speak to foreign clubs.

‘I don’t think Rio wants to leave and I don’t think he is panicking about that,’ said Ferguson. ‘We’re comfortable with it.’

Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney hit it off in Cluj

Dynamic duo! Fergie excited after RVP and Rooney hit it off from the start in Cluj win

|

UPDATED:

22:38 GMT, 2 October 2012

Cluj 1 Manchester United 2

Click here to read Chris Wheeler's match report from Transylvania

Robin van Persie struck twice to
rescue Manchester United as Sir Alex
Ferguson’s side came from behind to
beat Cluj in Romania.

As Chelsea and Celtic also enjoyed Champions
League away wins, Wayne Rooney — starting
with Van Persie for the first time — set up both
United goals.

The Dutchman described his stunning
second as ‘my best goal’ since joining the club, after finishing wonderfully with the outside of his left foot from a brilliant chipped Rooney pass.

Dream team: Wayne Rooney (right) and Robin van Persie (centre) celebrate Manchester United's win at Cluj

Dream team: Wayne Rooney (right) and Robin van Persie (centre) celebrate Manchester United's win at Cluj

‘It was my best goal,’ said Van Persie. ‘But credit to Wayne, everything starts with a good pass and I knew he could see that pass.

‘I have seven goals now but I’ve only made one assist and I need more.’

Ferguson was delighted with how the partnership paid off after United again went behind early on.

‘Everyone thought it was going to be a miracle combination,’ said the United boss. ‘The best thing is they can both turn a game.

‘It doesn’t matter if they have a personal combination, it’s their ability to finish moves off. Losing the goal away from home is never easy, and we had to dig deep. We were a bit lucky with the first goal because it came off Van Persie’s shoulder but the second goal was absolutely fantastic.

Poacher: Van Persie's double in Romania helped United to six points out of six in their Champions League group

Poacher: Van Persie's double in Romania helped United to six points out of six in their Champions League group

‘It was a good ball from Wayne. I thought he hit it too far in front of him but his speed to get to the ball and deftness of touch was fantastic.’

One concern for Ferguson is the fitness of Jonny Evans, who was taken off near the end struggling with the thigh injury he picked up against Tottenham at the weekend.

With Nemanja Vidic, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones already sidelined, Ferguson hopes Evans will recover for Sunday’s trip to Newcastle.

Nice finish: United's 24m marksman flicks in his second goal of the night following Rooney's superb pass

Nice finish: United's 24m marksman flicks in his second goal of the night following Rooney's superb pass

Lucky boy: Van Persie's first came off his shoulder

Lucky boy: Van Persie's first came off his shoulder

‘Jonny got injured on Saturday with a dead leg,’ he added. ‘He’s got five days to recover and hopefully he’ll be OK.’

Ferguson was far from impressed with the nature of Pantelis Kapetanos' opener for Cluj. He told ITV1: 'If you look at the way they kept going to the end, they're good crossers of the ball.

'They kept us under pressure the whole time and kept us on edge.

'I'm really pleased that the possession was really good tonight and apart from their goal I think we defended really well.

'David (De Gea) made a good save towards the end.

'Coming out here is never easy and as I said before the game, they've got a good home record.'

If Van Persie's first goal had a touch of fortune about it, there was no denying the quality of his second.

And Van Persie was quick to praise Rooney for his vision, telling ITV1: 'Wayne gave me the good pass so I have to thank him. Not many players can give a pass like that. When the ball came to him I knew that he could see the pass and give it to me exactly the way I wanted.

'I think I'm on the way, I'd like to make more assists. For me, as I've said many times, it's not about goals – it's about winning. I'm on a good run but it can always be better.'

Rooney was as gracious in acknowledging his team-mate's praise as he was in commending Cluj for their never-say-die spirit.

'It was obviously a nice finish by Robin,' he told ITV1. 'It was a tough game tonight, a tough pitch, so we had to make sure we were concentrating fully with our first touches.

What a catch: Sir Alex Ferguson is happy with the growing partnership between Rooney and summer buy Van Persie

What a catch: Sir Alex Ferguson is happy with the partnership between Rooney and summer buy Van Persie

'It's difficult in the Champions League, we know it was a silly goal to give away but thankfully we managed to get back in the game and win.

'It's great to get a first 90 minutes
and I'm feeling good and looking forward to getting a run in the team.
Hopefully that will happen.

'Maybe
we should have done more with the possession but sometimes you need to
take the heat out of the game which we managed to do in the end. But
they put us under a lot of pressure and thankfully we hung on.

'We're
going to take one game at a time and we're at home next (against
Braga). Hopefully we'll get three points and be in a good position in
the group.'

Pass master: Van Persie hailed Rooney's vision and execution in setting up his second goal

Pass master: Van Persie hailed Rooney's vision and execution in setting up his second goal

The Saturday debate: Is John Terry"s punishment of a four-game ban and 220,000 fine right?

The Saturday debate: Is John Terry's punishment of a four-game ban and 220,000 fine right

|

UPDATED:

21:47 GMT, 28 September 2012

After Chelsea captain John Terry was found guilty by the FA of making racist comments to QPR's Anton Ferdinand he was banned for four games and fined 220,000, Sportsmail asks its panel of experts if it was the correct punishment.

MARK BRIGHT (Former Sheffield Wednesday striker)

We can all say John Terry has previous but in this particular case was there enough evidence I don’t think there was. Regardless what went on in the past, if someone’s been found not guilty in court, I don’t think there’s enough evidence.

CYRILLE REGIS ( Former West Brom striker)

A panel of knowledgeable people have gone through the due process and we have to trust they got it right. People are making comparisons with Luis Suarez, but he used the term negro seven times, whereas Terry was found guilty of using racist language once. I know he had already appeared in a court of law but this was a different charge. It was simply use of racist language and, having been found guilty, a four-game ban is about right.

Fined and banned: John Terry has had his punishment from The FA

Fined and banned: John Terry has had his punishment from The FA

NEIL ASHTON (Football news correspondent)

Four games is irrelevant. If it is confirmed in the FA’s judgment that John Terry was wrong to accuse Anton Ferdinand of inventing a racist allegation at Loftus Road last October, the biggest punishment for Terry is that he will have to live with that. It would be seen as an immoral tool that Terry used to try to wriggle out of the charges.

CHRIS WHEELER (Football reporter)

/09/28/article-2210270-13FE72BD000005DC-821_468x286.jpg” width=”468″ height=”286″ alt=”Flashpoint: The moment when Terry was accused of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand last season” class=”blkBorder” />

Flashpoint: The moment when Terry was accused of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand last season

SHAKA HISLOP (Former Newcastle keeper)

The FA are weak, biased and xenophobic. I have lost all faith in them. There are a number of ways you can abuse someone over their skin colour and John Terry went to one extreme. From now on, is it OK to shout racist abuse at someone, provided it finishes with a question mark Absolutely not. The FA are showing they are quite happy to stamp out racism, as long as it is not committed by an Anglo-Saxon English captain of the national team.

ALAN PARDEW (Newcastle manager)

You want to see consistency in the number of games and the fine and that needs to be looked at going forward because the fine should be heavy if he is guilty. I am not in possession of all the facts but I think the FA should explain why they have come to those decisions.

Favorite one-club players: Sportsmail"s verdict

The Saturday debate: Who are the greatest one-club players

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UPDATED:

22:18 GMT, 14 September 2012

With Paul Scholes about to clock up 700 games for Manchester United, Sportsmail asked a selection of its writers for their favourite one-club player.

Derek Lawrenson

Golf Correspondent

STEVEN GERRARD (Liverpool, 1998- )

Gerrard has played all his career for one club during an era where money rules and nearly all the best players gravitate to the few clubs with the wherewithal to win the Premier League. Given all his gifts and all the offers to move, his is a singular act of loyalty.

Leader: Steven Gerrard has been at Liverpool his whole carrer

Leader: Steven Gerrard has been at Liverpool his whole carrer

Laura Williamson

Football Writer

JOHN McDERMOTT (Grimsby Town, 1987-2007)

'Macca' spent 21 seasons at right back, playing 754 games. Through the highs of two Wembley wins in 1998 and the lows of tumbling down the divisions he seemed like the one constant: nippy, keen to get forward and dependable. I just enjoyed watching him.

Ian Ladyman

Northern Football Correspondent

CARLES PUYOL (Barcelona, 1999- )

If your daughter brought him home for tea your instinct might be to throw him out. Puyol looks like trouble. If he played for your team, though, you would fall in love with him. Versatile, ruthless and loyal, the 34-year-old defender has played more than 500 times for Barca over the last 13 years.

Barca boy: Carles Puyol has been at Barcelona through their recent glory period

Barca boy: Carles Puyol has been at Barcelona through their recent glory period

RALPH ELLIS

Football Writer

TONY ADAMS (Arsenal, 1983-2002)

The big, imposing centre half was at the heart of football’s meanest defence under George Graham, when ‘1-0 to the Arsenal’ was a Highbury anthem. He later blossomed into a footballing centre half under Arsene Wenger’s influence.

Chris Wheeler

Football Writer

MATT LE TISSIER (Southampton, 1986-2002)

Mercurial forward Le Tissier stayed loyal for 16 barren years when he could have picked up trophies, more money and more caps by moving. Chelsea and Tottenham both tried to sign him but ‘Le God’, as Southampton’s fans call him, kept faith with the Saints.

True Saint: Matt Le Tissier stayed loyal to Southampton

True Saint: Matt Le Tissier stayed loyal to Southampton

Colin Young

Football Writer

FRANCO BARESI (AC Milan, 1977-97)

Quite simply, Baresi was one of the greatest defenders ever. He glided round the pitch, made the brutal work of a defender look like art and was one of the coolest footballers ever. He played in some very good Milan and Italy teams and won the lot.

South Korea 0 Brazil 3 – London 2012 Olympics

South Korea 0 Brazil 3: Neymar stars as Samba Boys close in on elusive gold

By
Chris Wheeler

PUBLISHED:

21:54 GMT, 7 August 2012

|

UPDATED:

22:59 GMT, 7 August 2012

Brazil stayed on course for that elusive Olympic gold medal, ending South Korea' s brave challenge in front of a full house at Old Trafford to set up a Wembley final against Mexico on Saturday.

Two goals from Leandro Damiao helped a Neymar-inspired Brazil to keep up their impressive record of scoring three times in all five games at London 2012, but statistics will matter little to coach Mano Menezes and his players as they chase the only prize in football to elude their country.

The South Americans may have won the World Cup a record five times – at every age-group, outdoor, indoor and even on the beach – but until now Olympic gold has eluded them.

On target: Damiao scored a brace for Brazil in the 3-0 win over South Korea on Tuesday night

On target: Damiao scored a brace for Brazil in the 3-0 win over South Korea on Tuesday night

Match facts

South Korea: Lee Bum-young; Yun Suk-young,
Kim Young-gwon, Hwang Seok-ho, Oh Jae-suk; Koo Ja-cheol (Jung Woo-young 59),
Ki Sung-yueng, Kim Bo-kyung; Nam Tae-hee, Ji Dong-won (Baek Sung-dong 77),
Kim Hyun-sung (Park Chu-young 71).
Subs not used: Jung Sung-ryong, Kim Kee-hee, Park
Jong-woo, Kim Chang-soo.

Booked: Ji Dong-won

Brazil: Gabriel; Rafael,
Thiago Silva, Alex Sandro, Marcelo (Hulk 76); Juan Jesus (Bruno Uvini
83), Sandro; Oscar, Romulo, Neymar; Leandro Damiao (Alexandre Pato 78).

Subs not used: Lucas, Danilo, Ganso, Neto.
Scorers: Romulo 38, Leandro Damiao 57, 64

Referee: Pavel Kralovec (Czech Republic).

Brazil's failure is all the more surprising considering the calibre of teams they have entered for the Olympics in the past; the list of star names who have tried and failed is long and illustrious.

Now the class of 2012 are just one game at the home of English football away from ending the wait, and what a class they are.

In Neymar, Lucas Moura and Oscar alone, they have three of the hottest young properties in world football. The rest help make up the bulk of Brazil's senior national team. No wonder Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini watched admiringly from the stands here.

For a while their place at Wembley looked under real threat. South Korea made by far the better start and Alex Sandro and Thiago Silva both had to clear the danger when goalkeeper Gabriel was beaten inside the opening quarter of an hour, while Sunderland striker Ji Dongwon sent a super effort inches over from 25 yards.

Samba beat: Brazil are one step closer to sealing Olympic gold after beating South Korea at Old Trafford

Samba beat: Brazil are one step closer to sealing Olympic gold after beating South Korea at Old Trafford

Lee Bumyoung, the second-choice goalkeeper who came off the bench to knock out Great Britain by saving Daniel Sturridge's effort in a penalty shootout, had little to do until a poor backpass forced him to rush out and save at the feet of Leandro in the 20th minute, picking up a knock in the process.

He certainly looked out of sorts when Brazil took the lead seven minutes before half-time.

Neymar started it off by winning the ball near halfway and surging forward. He slipped a pass to Chelsea's new 25milion signing Oscar who fed Romulo and the Spartak Moscow player was able to beat the Korean keeper all to easily at his near post.

Fancy seeing you here, Roberto: Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini watched from the stands at Old Trafford

Fancy seeing you here, Roberto: Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini watched from the stands at Old Trafford

Neymar was also involved in Leandro's two goals as Brazil killed off the contest after half-time. The Santos star invited a finish by pulling the ball back from the byline after 57 minutes and although Marcelo completely missed his attempt Leandro did not, drilling it home from 12 yards.

And when Neymar teased Korea with another mazy run across the box in the 64th minute, Oscar's pass was deflected to Leandro who somehow dug the ball out from under his feet and into the bottom corner.

In so doing, he became the top scorer in the tournament with six goals. By reaching the final, Brazil have now matched their achievement at Los Angeles 84 and Seoul 88. Their predecessors couldn't finish the job. It's hard to see this team falling short now.

Eddy Brown: Birmingham bard and thorn in Barcelona side

Eddy Brown: Birmingham bard, male model, versed in Latin and thorn in Barcelona's side

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UPDATED:

22:00 GMT, 17 April 2012

CHRIS WHEELER tells the story of the charismatic Lancastrian who abandoned his desire to become a priest and ended up inventing the goal celebration…

He was well known for quoting Shakespeare to his team-mates, opponents and even referees in the middle of a game and widely credited with inventing the goal celebration. He was also the first English player to score against Barcelona in European competition.

Eddy Brown. A man who in his early life wanted to join the priesthood but ended up becoming the Paul Gascoigne of his day; one of the most charismatic players English football has ever seen.

The man about town: Eddy Brown looking dapper while modelling with two long-legged female friends

The man about town: Eddy Brown looking dapper while modelling with two long-legged female friends

While Gazza was prone to somewhat more controversial celebrations, Brown entertained his audience after scoring by hugging policemen and shaking hands with the corner flag. On one occasion he went missing altogether, having disappeared into the crowd to share a soft drink with two supporters.

'Yes, I was eccentric,' Brown once said. 'Not crackers. Just eccentric.'

Gascoigne is also unlikely to break out into a rendition of 'Friends, Romans, countrymen…' on the pitch or tweak Shakespeare to suit his needs.

Among the mementoes of Brown's colourful career at his home in Preston are the handwritten notes he crafted from Julius Caesar, Antony and Cleopatra and The Merchant of Venice to praise his team-mate, Tom Finney, before, after and often during games. He would address match officials in much the same fashion.

The footballer: Brown challenges Manchester City keeper Bert Trautmann during the 1956 FA Cup final

The footballer: Brown challenges Manchester City keeper Bert Trautmann during the 1956 FA Cup
final

All smiles: Brown with Sir Harry Secombe

All smiles: Brown with Sir Harry Secombe

Sadly Brown no longer lives at the house. Like Sir Tom, the 86-year-old is in a Preston nursing home, where Sheila, his wife of 49 years, visits him three times a day. But his legend lives on at the clubs where he scored more than 200 goals in 450 games as a dashing centre forward in the Fifties and Sixties.

It was at Birmingham City where Brown really flourished. Many years later, on the day Eddy turned 70, Brummie comedian Jasper Carrott turned up at the front door singing Happy Birthday before realising he had got the wrong house.

Brown was voted the club's all-time top striker ahead of Trevor Francis and Bob Latchford for his role in helping Birmingham win promotion to Division One (he scored a hat-trick in a record 9-1 thrashing of Liverpool) in 1955 and finish sixth in 1956. It remains Birmingham's best performance in the top flight.

That year, Brown, a lightning fast striker with a devastating right foot, was their leading scorer on the way to the FA Cup final. Indeed, his header led to the fateful collision between Peter Murphy and Bert Trautmann that left the Manchester City goalkeeper with a broken neck.

Birmingham lost 3-1 and Brown would later say: 'The Queen came up to me afterwards and said that if I was playing the following year she wouldn't come. I was that bad.'

Game for a laugh: Brown with comedian Jasper Carrott, who visited on his 70th birthday

Game for a laugh: Brown with comedian Jasper Carrott, who visited on his 70th birthday

Ten days after that, Birmingham became the first English club to compete in a European competition when they began their Group B campaign in the new Inter-Cities Fairs Cup – a tournament that, bizarrely, took another two years to complete.

After qualifying ahead of Inter Milan and Zagreb, they met Barcelona in a two-legged semi-final and Brown's second-minute opener in a 4-3 win at St Andrew's meant he became the first Englishman to score against the mighty Catalan club.

Memories: A programme from Birmingham's European match against Barcelona in 1960

Memories: A programme from Birmingham's European match against Barcelona in 1960

Barcelona won the second leg 1-0 at their newly built Nou Camp, and with no away goals rule or penalty shoot-out to decide a winner, the teams agreed to play a third game in Basle, Switzerland, that ended with Barca prevailing 2-1.

During his time at St Andrew's, Brown also worked as a male model and taught part-time at a school in Wolverhampton.

One of a kind: Blues hero Brown

One of a kind: Blues hero Brown

He had set out to be a teaching brother in the Catholic church with a view to taking holy orders when he left home in Preston as a boy to study at De La Salle college in Guernsey. But, after being evacuated to the mainland during the war, he gave up his church training at the age of 19 to pursue a career in football.

'I walked out on God but I didn't fall out with him,' he said. 'I still go to church every Sunday.'

At Preston, Brown benefited from the wisdom of reserve-team captain Bill Shankly before moving on to Southampton, Coventry, Birmingham, Leyton Orient and Scarborough.

Fluent in French, well versed in Latin and passionate about Shakespeare and Dylan Thomas, he returned to teaching at the end of his playing career and worked at Preston Catholic College, where his pupils included a young Mark Lawrenson.

Until recently, the hugely popular father of two and grandfather of six was heavily involved in local football and continued to entertain audiences with his after-dinner speaking, still refusing to take himself too seriously.

'Football was very good to me, but life is for living,' he said. 'I am still getting a kick out of football and I've one foot in the grave and the other on a banana skin.'