Manchester United Goalkeeper Edwin Van Der Sar Undecided Over Retirement

Manchester United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar has refused to confirm whether he will retire at the end of the season, saying that he will only make his decision in December.

The 38-year-old, who has yet to feature this season due to a broken thumb, admitted that while he felt as fit as ever, the inevitable end of his career was nearing.

“I've said for a few years that it sometimes may be my last season,” Van der Sar said, according to The Daily Mail.

“Six months before my contract with Manchester United ended in December 2006, we extended for one year and so far it has been the same every time.

“I wait each season to see where I stand, if everyone is happy and if I can still get motivated. But I know, because I always get older, it is increasingly likely that this will be my last season.

“In December, it will be clear how it goes. By then, I'll have clarity. It is a horrible dilemma. On the one hand I do not oversleep, I feel as good as a few years ago.”

United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has said previously that he did not expect the Dutch 'keeper to continue beyond 2010 - but he may be hoping to be proven wrong, given Ben Foster's recent efforts between the sticks.

Rio Ferdinand concern for Manchester United and England's World Cup plans

Rio Ferdinand, the Manchester United defender, is becoming an increasing worry for manager Sir Alex Ferguson as the club bids to claim a fourth successive Premier League crown.

Rio Ferdinand is concern for Manchester United and England's World Cup plans

And Ferguson's fears will no doubt be shared by England as Fabio Capello shapes up his squad before the World Cup finals next summer in South Africa.

Ferdinand, 30, was an unused substitute in Manchester United's 1-0 win over Wolves in the Carling Cup on Wednesday night, but of more concern is the England defender's long term back injury, which caused him to miss the first four games of the season.

His lack of first-team football this season was perhaps to blame for his mistake in the Manchester derby at the weekend, which allowed City striker Craig Bellamy to equalise before Michael Owen’s injury time strike spared the defender's blushes.

Ferdinand missed United's win against Besiktas before the Manchester derby and Ferguson is concerned that the club's key figurehead has started only two successive league games twice since April.

Meanwhile off the pitch Ferdinand is hoping to transfer his talent to the kitchen as a silent partner in a new restaurant venture.

Called Rosso, Italian for red, the eatery will be located in the centre of Manchester.

Chelsea, Manchester United, Tottenham all advance in Carling Cup

LONDON — Chelsea and Tottenham advanced to the last 16 of the Carling Cup with victories over second-tier opposition, while defending champion Manchester United eliminated Premier League rival Wolverhampton on Wednesday.

Salomon Kalou scored at the start of the second half to clinch Chelsea's 1-0 win over west London neighbor Queens Park Rangers, while Peter Crouch scored a hat trick as Tottenham routed Preston 5-1.

The Red Devils played for an hour with 10 men but Danny Welbeck's second-half strike secured a 1-0 win over Wolves.

Manchester City required captain Kolo Toure's extra time header to oust Fulham 2-1.

At Stamford Bridge, Chelsea's 23rd consecutive unbeaten match equaled a club record as Joe Cole captained the side on his return from nine months out with a knee injury.

Cole set up the winner, slipping the ball through to Kalou in the 52nd minute and the Ivory Coast forward cut inside Mikele Leigertwood on the left clipped in off the post.

"I'm very pleased - I helped to make the goal and I should have scored myself," Cole said. "I'm delighted I wasn't off the pace and I was among the action, but I'm not getting beyond myself. This is a steppingstone for me. I'll keep working hard."

Yuri Zhirkov, who arrived injured from CSKA Moscow in the off-season, made his debut as Carlo Ancelotti made 10 changes from the side that beat Tottenham 3-0 on Sunday.

Tottenham, which beat Chelsea in the 2008 final and reached Wembley Stadium again last season, comfortably dispatched Preston.

Crouch volleyed home Gareth Bale's cross for a 14th-minute opener and Defoe headed in a second in the 37th after Preston goalkeeper Andy Lonergan saved his initial shot.

Crouch found the target again in the 77th after connecting with Aaron Lennon's cross. Chris Brown pulled one back for Preston soon after, but Tom Huddlestone surged forward to set up Robbie Keane's goal and Crouch back-heeled in a fifth.

It was a rare night in Manchester with both United and City playing at home.

United, which beat Tottenham in the March final, had Fabio Da Silva sent off on the half hour when the Brazilian defender bundled over Michael Kightly.

"You can't argue with the red card, but Fabio is only 18 and this experience will help him grow," United manager Sir Alex Ferguson said. "Even before we went down to 10 men, Wolves were a threat on the counterattack, but for the last hour we kept our discipline and that was very pleasing.

"That never-say-die attitude runs through this club and the goal was of magnificent quality."

Welbeck broke the deadlock in the 66th, finishing off a flowing move and tucking his shot comfortably past Marcus Hahnemann.

Despite facing a second-string Fulham, Manchester City manager Mark Hughes named a strong lineup, with just one change from the team that lost 4-3 to United on Sunday.

But Zoltan Gera put Fulham in control of the third-round match in the 34th, picking up a loose ball 30 yards out and hammering a half-volley beyond goalkeeper Shay Given.

City leveled after the break when Gareth Barry headed in Craig Bellamy's corner to send the match into extra time, and Toure met Martin Petrov's inswinging corner to send City through to the competition it last won in 1976.

Everton raced into a 3-0 lead inside 24 minutes at Hull with Ayegbeni Yakubu, making his first start since last November, Jo and Dan Gosling all finding the net. Leon Osman tapped in a fourth from close range in the 57th.

Aston Villa secured its progression past Cardiff after just three minutes when Gabriel Agbonlahor scored for a fourth successive match.

welbeck gives holders victory

At a time when English clubs' recruitment of overseas youngsters is attracting the disapproving attention of FIFA, one of Manchester United's true home-grown talents sent their 10 men into the Carling Cup fourth round with a 1-0 win over Wolves.

Born in Longsight, a long stone's throw from Old Trafford, England Under-21 international Danny Welbeck calmly ensured Wolves were not able to profit from the dismissal of Fabio after just half an hour.

Welbeck finished in fine style after running on to Michael Owen's precise return pass, ensuring the holders' progress to the last 16 was smooth after a largely one-sided contest in which the loss of a player had barely any impact.

As expected, Ferguson changed his entire starting line-up from Sunday's dramatic derby draw with City.

Yet there were still opportunities for Michael Carrick and Nani, who both missed out at the weekend, plus Owen and Tomasz Kuszczak who, in their own individual way, had something to prove.

Owen has now shown his goalscoring instinct remains. Yet, as a 90-minute player he remains a bit of an unknown.

In fairness to the veteran forward, the presence of Federico Macheda and Welbeck alongside him meant he had to do more tracking back than he would normally expect and it was only after United's numbers were reduced that he really came into his own.

Kuszczak must have sensed a Premier League start at Stoke would follow an eye-catching display given Ben Foster's pitiful experience against the Blues, when he was directly responsible for one goal and hardly covered himself in glory with the last.

The Pole benefited from Fabio's departure too, producing a fine fingertip save to deny former United midfielder David Jones with the resultant free-kick.

All in all then, with the contest turning into a keenly-fought affair instead of the sterile stalemate that had gone before, the sending-off was no bad thing, except for poor Fabio, who cut a dejected figure as he made his way off the field.

In truth, the Brazilian could have no complaints.

Put in trouble by Jonny Evans' failure to win an aerial duel with the robust Stefan Maierhofer and Wes Brown over-running the loose ball which momentarily escaped his vision, Fabio looked like getting back to challenge Kightly.

Unluckily, he slipped just at the wrong moment, so in sticking out a despairing arm to prevent Kightly charging clear into the box, he brought the Wolves man down for what was ruled a professional foul.

Owen had United's best chance before the interval but could only turn a header straight at Marcus Hahnemann, who experienced his own Foster moment just before the break when his attempted clearance was charged down by Welbeck.

Fortunately for the veteran American, it bounced to safety.

A surging Welbeck run created an opportunity Darron Gibson should have done more with, and only Nani's poor cross prevented him setting up Carrick after Gary Neville had sent the Portugal wide-man racing forward.

The goal, when it eventually came, just emphasised the gulf in class.

Wolves thought they had the situation under control when Gibson rolled a sideways pass to Carrick 30 yards out.

But within an instant, the England midfielder had created space for Welbeck, whose first time pass was returned in equally promising manner by Owen, who succeeded in providing his young team-mate with an opportunity to run onto the ball, clear of the Wolves defence.

The finish was first-time too. Straight into the bottom corner, as befits a player currently making the graduation from England Under-19 to Under-21 duty and surely destined for even higher honours one day.

Welbeck departed to a standing ovation from United's lowest crowd for four years - which still exceeded 50,000 - for another teenager, Norwegian Joshua King, of whom very big things are expected.

With a bit more composure and a little bit of luck, King might have marked his debut with a goal too, although ultimately one proved to be enough.

  • Fergie wants family tie in draw Sir Alex Ferguson wants a Carling Cup last 16 meeting with son Darren, manager of Championship side Peterborough. "Peterborough at home," he said. "All the family should be happy with that." "It was a fantastic goal," purred Ferguson over Welbeck's winner. "There was some quality passing involved in the move and he took it really well. It was obviously a difficult job for him, playing with 10 men for so long, but the goal told you everything about the boy's quality. He earned it." Ferguson had no complaints over Fabio's dismissal for hauling down Michael Kightly after the youngster had slipped as he attempted to make a tackle. The Scot was delighted with his side's discipline in possession, which left Wolves chasing shadows for long periods under Kevin Doyle brought a bit of spark late on. But, having changed his entire starting line-up from Sunday's breathtaking win over Manchester City, Ferguson felt vindicated in his selection policy which allowed him to introduce 17-year-old Norwegian Joshua King for his debut, another promising striker to emerge at Old Trafford. "The boy has a really good future," said Ferguson. In fact, with Welbeck, Federico Macheda and Joshua King we have some really good young strikers. It is a long time since we had a group as good as that coming through the club." Wolves boss Mick McCarthy accused his side of showing a lack of belief when they were facing 10 men. "I preferred it when they had 11," said McCarthy. "Manchester United have done it many times before, against clubs who have been in the Premier League far longer than us. "They pick teams off and get to the other end of the pitch by playing through you. We were in the game more before they had a man sent off. But the result was more about us, our confidence and our belief in beating a team with 10 men." Yet McCarthy refused to castigate a team for whom Kightly and former United striker Sylvan Ebanks-Blake were returning after extended periods on the sidelines. "We have been in the Premier League for three months," he said. "That doesn't make us a Premier League team. We are a football club that has got itself into the Premier League and for most of the time we have competed. "Manchester United are arguably the best team in Europe. Liverpool have a similar set-up, and Arsenal. We are snotty-nosed kids coming up from the Championship. "Is it a case of us coming up here and having our bellies tickled and for them to say, 'thanks for coming'? I don't like that. But it is part of the learning process."

  • Man Man Utd See Off Wolves 1 - 0 In League Cup

    LONDON (Reuters) - Holders Manchester United overcame the 29th-minute sending-off of Brazilian defender Fabio Da Silva to beat Wolverhampton Wanderers 1-0 in the third round of the League Cup on Wednesday.

    United fielded an entirely changed team from that which beat Manchester City 4-3 on Sunday but the stand-ins proved up to the job and won with a neatly-made goal by Danny Welbeck after 66 minutes.

    League leaders Chelsea made it eight wins out of eight in competitive games with a 1-0 win over west London neighbours Queens Park Rangers, Peter Crouch bagged a hat-trick as Tottenham Hotspur won 5-1 at Preston North End and Everton put Phil Brown's future in jeopardy by thrashing Hull City 4-0 away.

    Aston Villa beat Cardiff City 1-0 while Manchester City against Fulham went into extra time after they finished level at 1-1.

    Manchester United and Chelsea move into Carling Cup fourth round

    Danny Welbeck scored the only goal as a 10-man Manchester United kept their Carling Cup defence alive with a 1-0 third round win over Wolverhampton at Old Trafford.

    United manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who made 11 changes to the team that defeated Manchester City on Sunday, saw Brazilian defender Fabio Da Silva sent off for a professional foul in the first half at Old Trafford.

    Fabio, making only his fifth appearance, slipped as he tried to catch Michael Kightly in the 28th minute and only managed to drag the Wolves winger to the turf as he sprinted clear.

    But Michael Owen turned provider with a pass to Welbeck that allowed the young forward to break Wolves' stubborn resistance in the 66th minute.

    Ferguson said: "Fabio was unlucky, He slipped and tried to recover and as he tried to recover he brought him down.

    "Wolves were a threat on the counter-attack, but for the last hour we kept our discipline and that was very pleasing.

    "That never-say-die attitude runs through this club and the goal was magnificent.''

    Chelsea extended their winning run under new manager Carlo Ancelotti to eight matches in all competitions as Salomon Kalou's goal earned the Blues a 1-0 win over west London neighbours QPR.

    The Blues have triumphed in every game since the Italian took charge and, after a tight first half at the Stamford Bridge, the Premier League leaders took the lead in the 52nd minute when Kalou beat QPR's offside trap and fired past Tom Heaton.

    Peter Crouch scored a hat-trick as Tottenham's bid to reach a third successive League Cup final stayed on track with a 5-1 win against Championship promotion chasers Preston.

    It was Crouch who opened the scoring in the 14th minute. Then Jermain Defoe increased their advantage in the 37th minute and Crouch notched his second in the 77th minute.

    Chris Brown got one back for Preston in the 83rd minute but there was still time for Robbie Keane to add Tottenham's fourth goal three minutes from full-time before Crouch claimed his hat-trick in stoppage time.

    Manchester City bounced back from their derby despair with a 2-1 win over Fulham after extra time at Eastlands.

    Mark Hughes's team were beaten 4-3 at Manchester United on Sunday and fell behind to Fulham after 34 minutes when Zoltan Gera hit a spectacular half-volley from long range.

    But City levelled through England midfielder Gareth Barry, who headed in after a mistake from Fulham goalkeeper David Stockdale, and Kolo Toure nodded the winner in the 111th minute.

    Socceroo Lucas Neill has made his debut for Everton in his side's 4-0 thrashing of Hull City by coming off the bench midway through the second half.

    Fellow Australian Tim Cahill was an unused substitute for David Moyes' men, who won through thanks to goals from Ayegbeni Yakubu, Jo, Dan Gosling and Leon Osman.

    Yakubu was making his first start since November 2008 as the Nigerian continues his comeback from a snapped Achilles and he took just 11 minutes to make his mark, taking Diniyar Bilyaletdinov's pass and curling home.

    Jo struck in the 20th minute and Dan Gosling added a third goal four minutes later before Leon Osman's second half strike completed Hull's misery.

    Gabriel Agbonlahor's early goal was enough for Aston Villa to see off Cardiff 1-0 at Villa Park.

    Villa took the lead in the third minute when Agbonlahor met John Carew's cross with a fine finish.

    Which the young Mancunian was clearly pleased with

    Michael Owen was instrumental in Welbeck's goal just after the hour mark.

    Fabio's sending off after half an hour made it difficult for United

    Danny Welbeck celebrates his winner against Wolves

    Another young striker, Joshua King, 17, impressed on his debut

    Manchester United 1 - 0 Wolverhampton Wanderers

    A superb goal from Danny Welbeck took United through to the fourth round of the Carling Cup, but the reigning holders were made to work for their progress after surviving the first-half dismissal of Fabio.

    Ben Foster's place in Manchester United goal threatened by Tomasz Kuszczak recall

    Ben Foster's place in Manchester United goal threatened by Tomasz Kuszczak recall
    With United facing a difficult trip to Stoke on Saturday, Ferguson is expected to make 11 changes to the team that started Sunday’s 4-3 victory over Manchester City at Old Trafford.

    Foster, who has played every game this season because of Edwin van der Sar’s thumb injury, was always likely to be rested against Wolves, but his shaky performance against City has now placed his Premier League position in jeopardy.

    Ferguson unusually criticised Foster in his programme notes on Sunday for failing to deal with Andrei Arshavin’s goal in last month’s 2-1 victory over Arsenal and, with two goals at the weekend down to the England goalkeeper’s indecision, Kuszczak could dislodge the 26 year-old at Stoke if he impresses against Wolves.

    Van der Sar is two weeks from returning and former United goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel expects the 38 year-old Dutchman to reclaim his starting place.

    Schmeichel said: “Ben Foster has done well this season and he certainly looks to be a very good goalkeeper, but I’m sure Edwin will be back in when he’s fit. The manager knows he’s the right guy for the team at the moment.”

    Teenage forwards Federico Macheda and Danny Welbeck are vying for the right to partner Michael Owen this evening and, after being billed during pre-season as first-team contenders by Ferguson, the United manager has urged the pair to focus on their club football.

    He said: “I just think that they are away that much with the [international] youth squads they have forgotten where their real place is. I have also made them aware that you have to work to be successful.

    “Welbeck has been called away so much with every single England squad I don’t know if he is our player or their player.

    “Macheda has been away with Italy youth teams all the time. He has hardly been with us.”

    Owen Hargreaves returns to United on Wednesday to step up his recovery from double knee surgery following months of rehabilitation in the United States.

    League Cup Preview: Manchester United - Wolverhampton Wanderers

    Big Wins Abound

    Manchester United welcome Wolverhampton Wanderers to Old Trafford in this midweek Carling Cup tie. Both United and Wolves enjoyed wins at the weekend, boosting both squads for this encounter that could provide some excitement.

    Manchester United overcame cross-town rivals Manchester City 4-3 courtesy of a late, late winner by Michael Owen. The super-sub’s first goal at Old Trafford won’t soon be forgotten, in what many are calling one of the greatest Manchester derby’s of all time. Sir Alex Ferguson was noticeably pleased when Owen scored the winner nearly seven minutes into stoppage time, but the Scot will be hoping the same won’t be required when Wolves come scratching at the door.

    Mick McCarthy’s side enjoyed a considerable win over Fulham at the weekend, bringing victory to the Molineux for the first time in the Premier League this season. Several key figures returned to the squad from injury including last season’s leading scorer Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, while Kevin Doyle looks to build off an impressive performance against Fulham.


    Manchester United

    Wigan 0-5 Manchester United (EPL)

    Manchester United 2-1 Arsenal (EPL)

    Tottenham 1-3 Manchester United (EPL)

    Besiktas 0-1 Manchester United (CL)

    Manchester United 4-3 Manchester City (EPL)


    Manchester City 1-0 Wolverhampton (EPL)

    Wolverhampton 0-0 (6-5 pens) Swindon Town (League Cup)

    Wolverhampton 1-1 Hull City (EPL)

    Blackburn 3-1 Wolverhampton (EPL)

    Wolverhampton 3-1 Fulham (EPL)


    Manchester United

    Sir Alex Ferguson is expected to name a modified squad from the one that lined-up against Manchester City.

    The likes of Danny Welbeck and Darron Gibson are likely to get a chance to impress against Wolverhampton.

    Michael Owen could also receive a starting birth after coming on to win the Manchester derby through his late heroics.

    Squad: Foster, Kuszczak, Neville, O'Shea, Brown, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evans, Evra, Fabio, Valencia, Anderson, Carrick, Fletcher, Gibson, Giggs, Nani, Rooney, Berbatov, Owen, Welbeck.

    Wolverhampton Wanderers

    Richard Stearman and Andrew Surman are injury doubts ahead of Wolves encounter with United at Old Trafford.

    Stearman has sustained an ankle injury in training.

    Similarly, Surman is waiting on news from a knee injury he picked up in training.

    Squad: Hennessey, Hahnemann, Ikeme, Foley, Berra, Stearman, Zubar, Craddock, Elokobi, Hill, Kightly, Halford, Surman, Henry, Milijas, Castillo, Jones, Edwards, Jarvis, Ebanks-Blake, Maierhofer, Keogh, Vokes, Doyle.


    Manchester United

    While many Manchester United players shined in the Manchester derby, Rio Ferdinand suffered through a forgettable performance that saw him at fault for at least one of Manchester City’s goals. After just recently returning from injury, it will be interesting to see how long it takes the England international to find his form again.


    Striker Kevin Doyle looks to finally get his Wolverhampton career going after leading Wolves to a win over Fulham at the weekend. The former Reading striker looked to be struggling for form under Mick McCarthy, but Wolves fans will be hoping the Fulham win is a sign of good things to come.


    As Manchester City found out last weekend, it is never easy to play at Old Trafford, even when the visiting team is able to score three goals.

    Mick McCarthy’s side are more than capable of pulling out an upset, and it must be noted that United have already fallen this season to Premier League newcomers Burnley. While Wolves are capable, the fact that United have won the League Cup two out of the last four seasons might dent their chances of securing an upset.

    Even though Ferguson is expected to name a slightly younger side, it is hard to bet on the reigning Premier League champions being dumped out of the League Cup at this stage in the competition at home.

    McCarthy’s priority this season is undoubtedly to keep Wolves in the Premier League, meaning a second-string side could be produced for the trip to Old Trafford, giving United an unquestionable advantage in this encounter.

    Manchester United 2-0 Wolverhampton

    Mark Hughes insists he will not tone down Manchester City's livewires

    Craig Bellamy gers into an altercation with a Manchester United fan after yesterday's derby

    Manchester City's Craig Bellamy gets into a altercation with a fan after the final whistleFull length Photograph: Neal Simpson/EMPICS Sport

    Mark Hughes has insisted he has no intention of demanding restraint from Manchester City's volatile players after Craig Bellamy, along with Gary Neville and Manchester United, escaped with a warning from the Football Association for his contribution to Sunday's explosive derby at Old Trafford.

    Bellamy had been under threat of a three-match ban for striking a pitch invader towards the end of United's controversial 4-3 victory, and Neville also risked an improper conduct charge for goading City supporters following Michael Owen's 96th-minute winner. Both, however, received warnings as to their future conduct instead.

    "In relation to Craig Bellamy the match referee has confirmed that he would not have sent the player off had he seen the incident with the fan at the time," confirmed the FA. "Craig Bellamy will be contacted by the FA and warned as to his future conduct. Gary Neville has been reminded of his responsibilities following his actions after Manchester United's final goal deep into injury time."

    Neville's slap on the wrist comes despite the United club captain receiving a £5,000 fine and an identical warning for taunting Liverpool fans in 2006. United also escaped a charge of failing to control their supporters after the City substitute Javier Garrido was struck on the head by a coin as he headed down the tunnel at half-time. The FA statement added: "The FA fully expects the club to use all available means to identify and deal with the culprit appropriately and, along with the fan who entered the field of play, look to issue bans on attending future matches."

    The FA's decision on Bellamy represents a major relief to Hughes, who last week lost Emmanuel Adebayor to a three-match ban for violent conduct against a former Arsenal colleague, Robin van Persie. Despite the successive incidents, however, the City manager sees no reason to order his players to improve their behaviour.

    "You can't take emotion out of football or any sport for that matter because that is fundamental to what you are trying to create," insisted Hughes. "That passion from the players' point of view is fundamental to how they develop as a top player. Every player who plays for Manchester City has passion but there will be varying degrees of it, because all players and personalities are different. You have to have it."

    Hughes also issued a staunch defence of Bellamy's actions in the Manchester derby and believes the FA had to take the pitch invasion into account. "The guy should not have been on the pitch," he added. "Craig went over to tell him to get off the pitch as quickly as he could, the guy made an aggressive move towards him and Craig has instinctively put his hand up in a defensive manner and pushed the lad away. That is the top and bottom of it and I think people will see that for what it is."

    The City manager would not elaborate on Neville's provocative celebrations in front of the City supporters, despite accusing his former team-mate of behaving "like a lunatic" immediately after the derby. He will, however, demand a similar punishment for Adebayor after the Togo international was charged with improper conduct for running at Arsenal supporters following his goal at Eastlands on 12 September. "There is a lot of hysteria surrounding everything we do at the moment," Hughes said. "All we ask is that if we have to answer to the FA [regarding Adebayor's celebrations] then we will be looking for that balance."

    Hughes was content with Sir Alex Ferguson's post-match description of City as a "noisy neighbour" or, to be more precise, the idea that the United manager is more venomous in his criticism of his local rivals now that he perceives them as a genuine threat.

    "In terms of the amount of noise our fans made on Sunday you could possibly say we are a noisy neighbour, although I don't think we made as much noise as is being made out," added the City manager. "If that is people's perception [of Ferguson's agenda] then yes, we are quite comfortable with that. After our performance against Arsenal and the character we showed at Old Trafford, they know we are not going to go away. We are going to have an influence on who wins the Premier League in the seasons to come."

    Brown still upbeat as he starts out again for Manchester United

    Wes Brown refuses to get downhearted at the way his injury curse returned just as he was starting to fulfil his enormous potential.

    Sir Alex Ferguson has always viewed Brown as one of the most natural defenders he has worked with at Manchester United.

    Yet, on too many occasions, the 29-year-old's progress has been halted. Cruciate operations on both knees, a broken ankle and a host of muscular problems have kept Brown on the sidelines for extended periods.

    His hopes of hitting the ground running this term were wrecked by a thigh problem suffered during a pre-season game in Munich, condemning the likeable Mancunian to spend the start of this term warming the bench.

    Although the defender has made three appearances, his only starts came against Burnley and Arsenal last month and he did not even make the bench for Sunday's amazing derby clash with City at Old Trafford.

    So once more, Brown has a sense of making up for lost time when he features in tonight’s Carling Cup tie with Wolves.

    “It was frustrating not to be able to build on where I was at the end of 2008,” he said.

    “Getting injured for most of last season was not very pleasant but I am used to it I suppose.

    “There is no point thinking 'Why me?' I just get on with it and try to be confident. I am fit at the moment. That is the main thing.”

    Brown will not be the only United player eager to make an impression against Mick McCarthy's men with Tomasz Kuszczak, Darron Gibson and Michael Owen all likely to get starting roles.

    Brown still upbeat as he starts out again for Manchester United

    Wes Brown refuses to get downhearted at the way his injury curse returned just as he was starting to fulfil his enormous potential.

    Sir Alex Ferguson has always viewed Brown as one of the most natural defenders he has worked with at Manchester United.

    Yet, on too many occasions, the 29-year-old's progress has been halted. Cruciate operations on both knees, a broken ankle and a host of muscular problems have kept Brown on the sidelines for extended periods.

    His hopes of hitting the ground running this term were wrecked by a thigh problem suffered during a pre-season game in Munich, condemning the likeable Mancunian to spend the start of this term warming the bench.

    Although the defender has made three appearances, his only starts came against Burnley and Arsenal last month and he did not even make the bench for Sunday's amazing derby clash with City at Old Trafford.

    So once more, Brown has a sense of making up for lost time when he features in tonight’s Carling Cup tie with Wolves.

    “It was frustrating not to be able to build on where I was at the end of 2008,” he said.

    “Getting injured for most of last season was not very pleasant but I am used to it I suppose.

    “There is no point thinking 'Why me?' I just get on with it and try to be confident. I am fit at the moment. That is the main thing.”

    Brown will not be the only United player eager to make an impression against Mick McCarthy's men with Tomasz Kuszczak, Darron Gibson and Michael Owen all likely to get starting roles.

    Sir Alex Ferguson is into flora: Agent claims Manchester United bought flowers for Paul Pogba's mum

    Paul Pogba's agent has backed Manchester United’s claims they did not offer the French teenager and his parents a financial inducement to move to Old Trafford, claiming they merely sent his mother flowers and his father a book about the club’s history.

    United have threatened Le Havre with legal action after their president Jean-Pierre Louvel alleged that Pogba’s parents were given £85,000 each and a house in Manchester to lure the 17-year-old.

    However, agent Gael Mahe said: ‘The flowers cost just £20, and the mother felt trust. Paul got a shirt with his name on. It is a symbol, but they felt United respected them.

    ‘Of course, it is a nice contract but not only money makes a young player and his parents change their country.’

    Pogba’s mother, Yeo, also rubbished claims they were given a house.

    She said: ‘That story made people laugh in the hotel. Why would we be in a hotel, if we had been given a house? I can assure you Manchester United didn’t give us anything.’

    Alex Ferguson warns Manchester United's young strikers

    Sir Alex Ferguson has long used the Carling Cup as a testing ground for his budding young talents and two, in particular, will be under scrutiny as Manchester United begin their defence of the trophy at Old Trafford this evening.

    Ferguson has high hopes for Danny Welbeck and Federico Macheda, but the United manager has warned that the 18-year-old strikers need to get their priorities right as they prepare for their first run-outs of the season in the third-round tie against Wolverhampton Wanderers.

    Macheda burst on to the scene at a vital stage last season, the Italian coming off the substitutes’ bench to score a decisive late goal on his debut in United’s 3-2 victory at home to Aston Villa in April and following that up with another winning strike away to Sunderland.

    The Manchester-born Welbeck also impressed, scoring three times in eight starts in all competitions last season, including a powerful 30-yard strike on his league debut in the 5-0 thrashing of Stoke City at Old Trafford in November.

    However, while Ferguson denied that the plaudits had gone to the heads of either player, the manager suggested that Macheda and Welbeck had lost some of their focus after regular call-ups to the Italy and England Under-21 squads respectively.

    “Welbeck has been called away so much with every single England squad [the Under-19s and Under-21s] that I don’t know if he is our player or their player,” Ferguson said. “Macheda has been away with the Italy youth teams all the time and has hardly been with us, either. They are away that much with the youth squads, they have forgotten where their real place is.”

    Michael Owen, fresh from his stoppage-time winning goal in the 4-3 victory at home to Manchester City on Sunday, is likely to start up front against Wolves with Macheda alongside him and Welbeck expected to offer support from the left wing.

    Tomasz Kuszczak is expected to start in goal, with Ben Foster rested and Edwin van der Sar still recovering from a broken finger.

    Edwin van der Sar still Manchester United's No 1, says Peter Schmeichel

    Manchester United great Peter Schmeichel claims Ben Foster faces a return to the bench at Old Trafford as soon as Edwin van der Sar overcomes the thumb injury that has sidelined him since pre-season.

    England keeper Foster, 26, is under the spotlight after an unconvincing display during United's 4-3 victory against Manchester City on Sunday.

    The former Stoke and Watford keeper was at fault for Gareth Barry's opener for City and some critics have also questioned his positioning for Craig Bellamy's 90th minute equaliser.

    Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has also unusually publicly criticised Foster for his failure to keep out Andrey Arshavin's long-range strike during the 2-1 win against Arsenal last month.

    With Dutch veteran Van der Sar set to be out for another month, Ferguson has given Foster the nod ahead of Polish stopper Tomasz Kuszczak so far this season.

    But Old Trafford legend Schmeichel, who won every major honour bar the Uefa Cup during his eight-year stint at United in the 1990s, believes that Ferguson will recall Van der Sar as soon as the 38-year-old returns to full fitness.

    Speaking to United Review, Schmeichel said: "Ben Foster has done well this season and he certainly looks to be a very good goalkeeper.

    "He's getting a run of games now, but I'm sure Edwin will be back in when he's fit because the manager knows he's the right guy for the team at the moment.

    "I think Edwin can keep playing for a few more years yet. He's fit, he's strong and he's motivated.

    "I think he wants more silverware and, when you want more, you can go on. I was offered another year before I retired at 40 and, physically, I was pretty sure I could have done it, but I just didn't want to.

    "Physically, it shouldn't be a problem for Edwin to carry on and if he wants to, then I'm sure he'll take that opportunity."

    United have been linked with Schalke goalkeeper Marcus Neuer and CSKA Moscow's Igor Akinfeev this season. Barcelona stopper Victor Valdes has also emerged as a possible target.

    Ferguson is set to hand Kuszczak his first start of the season on Wednesday, however, when United begin their defence of the Carling Cup against Wolves at Old Trafford.

    And despite his recent poor form, Foster is unlikely to lose his place for Saturday's Premier League clash with former club Stoke at the Britannia Stadium.

    Mark Hughes chooses the Blues and the boos over Manchester United

    David O’Leary played a record 722 matches for Arsenal over 19 years, and yet the last time I saw him at Highbury he could not leave the away dugout without thousands of home supporters hurling abuse. He could scarcely ha

    ve been less popular if he had been wearing a Tottenham Hotspur hat and scarf.

    The Gooners had noted his constant carping at Arsène Wenger, the endless babble of criticism when O’Leary was Leeds United manager and let him know, loudly, that he had been banished from their affections. His mouth had carried him across an invisible line.

    I bring this up in the light of Mark Hughes’s battle with Sir Alex Ferguson, a managerial duel that appears to have escalated every time one of them has spoken in the past few weeks.

    On Sunday, during the unforgettable Manchester derby, the effects became strikingly evident. Having walked to the touchline to shout at the referee, Hughes glanced up at some United fans behind the dugout on his return to his seat.

    By words and by gesture, they let Hughes know, as forcibly and crudely as they could, that he was now the enemy. And the way that the United-City rivalry is being re-stoked, those 50 fans might be 500 the next time the clubs meet. How long before they become 50,000?

    How long, in short, before one of the most revered players ever to pull on a United shirt becomes every bit as reviled at Old Trafford as Arsène Wenger or Rafael Benítez? Before the player once ranked the ninth greatest United legend, above Denis Law, in a poll by the official club magazine, is demonised?

    It is a question for United fans to consider. After all, if Hughes is a success at City, would they not then be wanting him back?

    In the case of Hughes, an impressive man who is showing indications of being a pretty impressive manager, abusing him cannot come easy.

    Hughes was such an icon as a player, so brave and so wholehearted that he used to look like he had been mud-wrestling rather than playing football. Booing O’Leary probably came easy — remember the placard from Aston Villa fans that once read: “We’re not fickle. We just don’t like you.” Hughes, for sound reasons, is widely admired.

    Some United diehards believe that Hughes has brought it on himself by denigrating his former club, that he has fuelled the enmity.

    And while the neutrals would point to Ferguson doing more than his share of the stirring, including the deliberately incendiary stuff about “we could have won 7-0” on Sunday, it has been notable how Hughes has sought to distance himself from his former club, to be his own man.

    Perhaps it indicates that he is now working with a renewed certainty at City, having survived the threat of José Mourinho last season and gained solid backing from his wealthy Arab bosses.

    Hughes speaks these days with a striking self-belief for someone not given to boasts. “I have been a Premier League manager for five years and a manager for more than ten,” he said recently. “I am comfortable in what I do and I back my judgment, and my staff, against anybody in the Premier League.”

    Despite reservations from the City board, Hughes stuck firmly to his judgment in driving through the purchase of Craig Bellamy last season. How inspired that looked on Sunday as Robinho, either unfit or fitful, sat in the stands.

    Perhaps Hughes has simply decided that City can provide everything for him, that he does not need to yearn to be United manager. He is certainly acting as though prepared for his popularity at Old Trafford to be a casualty of the escalating tension.

    Former colleagues at Old Trafford are taken aback, not only by his success (they never had the introverted forward down as a manager) but by his apparent willingness to set himself up as an outsider — but, after the past few days, they had better get used to it.

    How ironic it will be if the best of the young managers to have played and learnt under Ferguson, his potential heir, was the one most indifferent about going back.

    The glory of Sir Bobby – something we can all agree on

    In an industry where ten minutes of a monosyllabic player’s time is something for which we are meant to be grateful, Sir Bobby Robson stood out like the magnificent Durham Cathedral, where his life was fondly remembered yesterday.

    Again and again, those providing tributes referred to the generosity of Robson’s spirit, the time he would give not only to those he knew but to strangers — even to those newspapermen who were not always his greatest admirers. I was one of the many thousands who benefited from that warm nature when researching a book about Diego Maradona. He promised a quick chat but was still talking more than two hours later about “that little rascal”.

    Robson would not let his ire over the “Hand of God” diminish his appreciation of Maradona the player. So, unsure that I had fully appreciated an important point about Maradona’s ability to take the ball on the half-turn, Robson came out from behind the restaurant table and performed some phantom moves. The waitresses, like everyone else, were spellbound as Robson fox-trotted across the floor. He was more than 70 at the time.

    Those couple of hours were among the most enjoyable ever spent in this job for the reason captured yesterday by the Bishop of Newcastle. “When you walked away, a little of his sparkle clung to you,” he said. Inside Durham Cathedral hundreds of heads nodded, notable ones, too, such as Sir Alex Ferguson, perhaps the greatest of managers.

    “It is one of the privileges of my life to have met Bobby and been enthused by him,” he said in an address delivered without notes and straight from the heart.

    Ferguson spoke movingly of how, as an awe-struck young Aberdeen manager preparing to face Robson’s mighty Ipswich Town, he came south on a scouting trip and was stunned when his rival invited him to watch training, to spy on the enemy.

    “That was one of his fundamental truths about football,” Ferguson noted. “No secrets. Impart your knowledge. His generosity opened your eyes.”

    There will be managers who win more (although not many) but it is very unlikely that any of them will ever be as giving as Robson. He thought nothing of sharing his knowledge, his enthusiasm.

    Poll Results: Manchester United Coach Alex Ferguson The World's Best

    11 English Premier League trophies, five FA Cup wins, three Scottish Premier Division medals, and two Champions League final wins.

    It doesn't get much more impressive than that. The haul was certainly enough to convince the majority of voters to select Sir Alex Ferguson (he's been knighted too, of course) as the best coach in the world.

    The Manchester United tactician has won everything put before him at the club level, and has kept a stranglehold on the EPL, winning more than half since the inception of the Premier League and the last three on the trot.

    1999 will probably be remembered as the Scot's greatest year, when Manchester United won the EPL, the FA Cup, and the Champions League in an all-conquering treble.

    The man who has won the one trophy Ferguson hasn't came in at fourth, sandwiched between England national team coach Fabio Capello and Barcelona's Pep Guardiola. Marcello Lippi is the only one of the bunch to have won the World Cup, but that honor couldn't earn him more than his 8% of the vote.

    Sliding in at second was Inter coach Jose Mourinho. Besides being good for a quote with his fiery antics and antagonistic mind games, the “Special One” has won a multitude of trophies in his short career. With Porto in his native Portugal he won the domestic title and the Champions League. At Chelsea he conquered England. Now with Inter, he's already won a Scudetto in his first season in charge.

    Time means nothing at Manchester United

    What's the difference between an Owen goal and an own goal?

    An Owen goal is the one scored by striker Michael Owen in the sixth minute of injury time to give Manchester United a 4-3 victory at its Old Trafford home over rival Manchester City in a dramatic and controversial English Premier League game.

    An own goal is the one allowed by referee Martin Atkinson, who ignored the minimum four minutes of injury time that had been signaled by his assistant and allowed play to continue for more than 5 1/2 minutes or, as one commentator put it, until Manchester United won.

    Manchester City Coach Mark Hughes, a former United player, said his team had been "robbed."

    Manchester United Coach Alex Ferguson rubbed salt in the wound by saying, "We have a neighbor and sometimes neighbors are noisy, but what can you do?"

    British bookmakers claimed to have lost a million or more on Owen's last-gasp game-winner. As one said, somewhat ruefully: "We can only suppose that time passes more slowly at Old Trafford than anywhere else in the universe."

    Ballack: Only Chelsea and United are in title race

    Chelsea's Michael Ballack has boldly claimed the Premier League is already looking like being a two-horse race between the west Londoners and champions Manchester United.

    Chelsea opened up a three-point lead at the top of the table with their sixth successive win, 3-0 over Tottenham, while United's amazing 4-3 victory over Manchester City puts them second, three points ahead of Liverpool in third.

    Ballack said: "It looks a little bit like a two-horse race but we don't underestimate anybody. Man City did well until now. Tottenham, Arsenal and Liverpool are all teams that can have a run any time of the season. But United have a lot of good years behind them with the Champions League win and three title wins in the Premier League, which will give them a lot of confidence.

    "That helps them in the tight games like you saw against Man City and they always come back, they always believe they can score in the last minute. We've won every game and we want to keep going like this. The team is confident and settled."

    The Tottenham manager, Harry Redknapp, shares Ballack's opinion after watching his side lose to both Chelsea and United in the space of in eight days. Redknapp said: "The title will be decided between Chelsea and Manchester United for sure. It is definitely going to be won by one of them."

    The Tottenham defender Sébastien Bassong has been cleared to return to action following what had appeared to be a serious head injury in Sunday's 3-0 defeat to Chelsea.

    Bassong left the pitch on a stretcher but checks in hospital revealed no serious problem and he is expected to resume full training today. Ledley King, however, is out for up to three weeks with a hamstring strain, leaving Redknapp desperately short in defence. The club said Michael Dawson is close to full fitness following an Achilles injury, and he could play some part in Spurs' Carling Cup tie at Preston tomorrow. But there is still no imminent return for England's Jonathan Woodgate, who underwent surgery in Germany on a persistent groin injury six weeks ago. The former Real Madrid and Newcastle centre-half has yet to return to training, prompting fears it may be several weeks before he is back.

    In emergency, Redknapp could move either Tom Huddlestone or Vedran Corluka into the centre of defence for Saturday's home match with Burnley or call up the young Frenchman Dorian Dervite.

    Kenyon: Chelsea broke Man United-Arsenal cartel

    ZURICH — Outgoing Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon said Monday that the best achievement of his six years at the club was breaking Manchester United and Arsenal's grip on the Premier League.

    Speaking about Chelsea's titles in 2005 and 2006 -- the London club's first in 50 years -- Kenyon said: "We broke that cartel."

    "We became a respected domestic club, we became a respected European club," Kenyon told football industry executives at a conference in Switzerland.

    "We're now seen as a very serious European football club. We've got a squad that is as good as any, and better than most, in Europe."

    Kenyon, who joined Chelsea in 2003 when Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich bought the club, regretted that Chelsea had not yet won the Champions League, despite reaching the final in 2008.

    But he said the club was on target to fulfill his aim of being an internationally recognized brand within 10 years.

    "To do that you have got to ultimately, at some point in that period of time, win a Champions League because that elevates you to one of the very small group of clubs who have ever done that."

    Chelsea announced last week that Kenyon, who previously worked at Man United, will relinquish his role next month.

    One of his last official duties was to address the International Football Arena gathering Monday where UEFA-backed proposals for controlling the high spending of Europe's top clubs was prominent on the agenda.

    Kenyon warned football not to turn away wealthy benefactors and praised Chelsea's Russian owner for backing the club.

    "Roman Abramovich's investment has been fantastic for Chelsea. He's put money in and he's committed for the long term for the right reasons," he said.

    "We've got no external debt. We're not leveraged. We've got secured ownership with secured financing. We've never shied away from the amount of money we have invested in the club "

    Kenyon is a member of an influential panel which drew up the "financial fair play" policy, and will stay in UEFA president Michel Platini's inner circle despite stepping back from his club role.

    Platini wants clubs to break even on football-related business if they want to play in the Champions League after 2012, and build up debt only to invest in stadiums, training grounds or developing young players.

    Kenyon said Abramovich's infrastructure spending would "stand Chelsea in good stead for many years to come."

    He also pointed to Chelsea's trading successes during his six-year stint.

    "We've doubled turnover, we've increased our sponsorship revenues, we sell out now every game," Kenyon said.

    Owen goal is Ferguson answer to noisy neighbors

    LONDON — With Cristiano Ronaldo scoring freely for Real Madrid and Carlos Tevez embarrassing Manchester United's goalkeeper, the soccer world must have wondered whether Alex Ferguson had blundered by letting the two stars leave Old Trafford.

    But when Michael Owen scored the winner in the sixth minute of injury time in a 4-3 home victory over neighbor Manchester City on Sunday, Ferguson had his answer ready.

    No matter that he had sold the Portuguese star who contributed 66 goals to United's three Premier League titles. He had even sold Ronaldo to Real Madrid, one of the club's biggest rivals in the Champions League.

    Who cares that he let Argentina striker Tevez go to the ambitious and super-wealthy team from the other side of Manchester? Tevez dispossessed goalkeeper Ben Foster to set up City's first goal but Fergie needn't have worried.

    At the end of the game, the 67-year-old Scot was dancing a jig of delight after a victory which was typical of United and pure Ferguson.

    Although his team lost the lead three times in a thriller, a striker he signed for nothing struck the winner against a City side on which $194 million had been lavished during the offseason.

    While Ferguson hugged his players, Owen's goal had City manager Mark Hughes fuming at the amount of time the referee had added on.

    It was as if the winner was destined to come from Owen, someone who had lost his way after injuries and transfers, was repeatedly ignored by England coach Fabio Capello and was considered a major gamble by Ferguson.

    The fact that he scored such a dramatic late winner against City justified that gamble as far as the United fans were concerned. The goal represented yet another victory for the United manager who has led the club to 11 Premier League titles in 17 years and 25 trophies in his 23 years at Old Trafford.

    Ferguson has made plenty of mistakes, such as expensive signings who failed to deliver and selling stars who did little at Old Trafford but did well elsewhere. He famously fell out with the likes of David Beckham, Roy Keane, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Gordon Strachan and Jaap Stam who all left the club sooner than they expected.

    But he has a knack of getting under the skin of his rivals and Hughes, who played under Ferguson from 1988-95, follows a long line of managers who have been outthought by the cunning Scot.

    At the start of the season, when City was stockpiling stars and spending the huge wealth of its Abu Dhabi owner, Ferguson took some of the pressure off his own team by saying his neighbor was getting most of the attention.

    He effectively put more pressure on City by building the level of expectation at a club which has not won the league title since 1968.

    Before Sunday's game, Ferguson accused City of being cocky and arrogant in flaunting its capture of Tevez and, after the victory, he was crowing that his side had beaten its "noisy neighbor".

    "There has been a lot of expectation on Manchester City and with the spending they have done they have to win something," Ferguson said. "Sometimes you have a noisy neighbor and have to live with it.

    "You can't do anything about them if they keep on making noise but what we can do, as we showed today, is you can get on with your life, put your television on and turn it up a bit louder."

    As far as Man City is concerned, United has been its noisy neighbor for around 40 years and, with Ferguson in charge, shows no sign of turning down the volume.

    "As far as the players are concerned, they showed their playing power," Ferguson said. "And that's the best answer of all."

    Owen: Derby goal proves my United credentials

    Michael Owen believes he proved his dedication to Manchester United with his dramatic last-gasp winner against Manchester City at Old Trafford.

    Owen spent eight years playing for United's bitter rivals Liverpool but Sir Alex Ferguson signed him this summer - and the 29-year-old scored his second goal for the club to seal a 4-3 win deep in stoppage-time against City.

    When asked if that would confirm hero status with United fans, Owen told Sky Sports: "Yes, if there was any doubt before then maybe. It was always going to create noise when I joined but even if the fans didn't take to me you're never going to pass up an opportunity to play for team like this."

    City equalised three times before Owen struck.

    Wayne Rooney opened the scoring before Gareth Barry took advantage of Ben Foster's error. Darren Fletcher scored two headers, with Craig Bellamy levelling twice for the visitors.

    "We dominated and the lads played well for a lot of the game," Owen added. "There were individual mistakes but over the years before I was here the defence has been fantastic."

    Fletcher added: "It was an unbelievable match, we showed great character to come back. The goals were mistakes but we look at the positives - we showed character to the end."

    Manchester City will not discipline striker Craig Bellamy after an altercation with a fan in Sunday's 4-3 defeat at Manchester United.

    The police and the Football Association are both looking at the incident.

    Asked if the club would take any action against Bellamy, City's assistant boss Mark Bowen told BBC Radio 5 live: "No. I don't think there is any need to.

    "My take is that he thought the fella might spit in his face or something," added Bowen.

    "He came very close and moved towards him. Craig, with an open hand, just pushed the fella away."

    City manager Mark Hughes has also defended Wales captain Bellamy's actions, saying: "I did not see it but the guy should not have been on the pitch. That is not acceptable."

    Greater Manchester Police have charged the supporter for entering the playing area "without lawful authority".

    In a hotly-contested derby battle, the Blues came from behind on three occasions with Bellamy scoring two magnificent goals, including an equaliser to make it 3-3 in the 90th minute.

    "Brian Clough clipped someone's ear," added Hughes. "He was lauded a national hero. Maybe it'll be the same with Craig but I doubt it."

    Earlier, an FA spokesman said: "We are investigating the incident and we will be looking at the referee's match report."

    Disciplinary officials have already seen TV footage of the incident and the FA is likely to make a decision on whether to charge Bellamy later this week.

    Former Manchester United defender David May believes the emotions of the situation had an influence on Bellamy's reaction to the fan.

    Hughes demands explanation for added time

    He told BBC Radio 5 live: "It was silly but I suppose to a certain extent it was understandable.

    "When anyone comes on to the pitch it's worrying but maybe he shouldn't have slapped the fan, he should have walked away and let the steward get on with it.

    "Players have to be professional but I think the whole occasion got to him - he had got City back into it at 3-3 and his emotions were running high.

    "But you can't go round slapping fans. It's the wrong thing to do."

    City boss Hughes also confirmed substitute Javier Garrido was struck by a coin thrown from the home section of the stadium at half-time.

    It is likely that former United hero Carlos Tevez had been the target as he was standing near Garrido when the coin was thrown.

    The Argentine, who moved across to Eastlands in the summer, was booed throughout the match by some of the home supporters.

    Garrido was not hurt, but the Football Association could be called upon to pass judgement on the two incidents.

    "Something came from the crowd but he is OK," Hughes added.

    City striker Emmanuel Adebayor is already facing an FA improper conduct charge after running the length of the pitch to celebrate in front of Arsenal supporters after scoring against his former team.

    The Manchester United fan who came on to the pitch after Michael Owen's late goal is set to appear in court later this month.

    A Greater Manchester Police spokeswoman said: "A man has been charged following an incident at the end of the match between Manchester United and Manchester City at Old Trafford.

    "Jake Joseph Clarke, 21, is charged with going onto a playing area without lawful authority or excuse and will appear before Trafford Magistrates' Court on September 30."

    Alex Ferguson salutes GOal-Hero Michael Owen

    Alex Ferguson saluted Michael Owen after the Manchester United striker's stoppage-time goal gave the champions a sensational 4-3 win over Manchester City in one of the most dramatic derbies of all time.

    Owen has spent most of his time at United on the substitutes bench since joining from Newcastle in the close-season while he strives to reach peak form and fitness.

    But the former Liverpool star made himself a hero forever at Old Trafford on Sunday when he came on to break City hearts with a fine finish in the sixth minute of stoppage time to cap a clash Ferguson claimed was the arguably the best derby of all time.

    United had led three times through Wayne Rooney and two Darren Fletcher headers, but City hit back through Gareth Barry and two goals from Craig Bellamy, with the Wales striker's second coming in the 90th minute.

    "To be fair we noticed in the last two weeks Michael's adjusted to training and has been sharper," Ferguson told Sky Sports.

    "Even when he came on against Besiktas, he showed that sharpness.

    "We were saying that we were going to have to get him on and get him game time because he's been doing very well.

    "I felt the game would be in their box. There was no doubt about that in the last 20 minutes we sensed that and there is no one better than Michael Owen when that happens."

    Ferguson has seen more than his fair share of classic matches in his 23-year reign at United but the Scot admitted none had surpassed this encounter.

    "What can you say? We've given three goals to them," he said.

    "It could have been an embarrassment, 6-0 or 7-0, if we defended our proper way.

    "We could have won by a big score but by making mistakes, which was the essence of the game, we probably were in the best derby game of all time," he said.

    "What do you choose? Win the best derby game of all time or win 6-0? I'd probably pick 6-0."

    Rio Ferdinand made an error for Bellamy's second goal and Ferguson admitted the England defender will be relieved after Owen's winner.

    Soccer-Man United silence noisy neighbours

    "The fact that we made the mistakes probably made it the best derby game of all time and would we have rather won 6-0 or had the greatest derby game of all time? I'd rather have won 6-0."


    The grudging respect shown by Ferguson was warranted as Gareth Barry cancelled out Wayne Rooney's early opening goal before, in a stunning second half, Craig Bellamy twice equalised headed goals from Darren Fletcher.

    The second Bellamy strike came with five seconds left in normal time and the resulting celebrations enjoyed by the City players enjoyed and their fans in the 75,066 crowd were behind the reasons for the additional time added on.

    "The fourth official told me he added a minute-plus because of our celebration when we scored our third," said Hughes of referee Martin Atkinson's time keeping.

    "But we timed the amount of time from when we scored to when they kicked off and it was something like 45 seconds so he has got that wrong."

    However, while Hughes conceded he felt little apart from disappointment immediately after the game, there was also a real sense that City's title credentials are serious and the former United player took consolation from the way in which United celebrated victory.

    "They seemed quite excitable at the end which shows you what this win means to them," said Hughes. "It was reminiscent of some of the scenes with Brian Kidd and Alex Ferguson in days gone by and I saw Gary Neville running on the pitch like a lunatic!

    "It's a game we can take many positives out of and we are not going to go away."

    Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson wants his side to cut out the mistakes that played a key role in the champions' thrilling 4-3 derby victor

    United's jaw-dropping win on Sunday was sealed by Michael Owen's stoppage time goal and Ferguson immediately described it as one of the greatest derbies of all time, but the Scot was unhappy with the way his defence allowed City to come from behind three times.

    "It spoiled a really emphatic victory because we could have won by six or seven and the fact that we made the mistakes probably made it the best derby game of all time," Ferguson said.

    "Would we have rather won 6-0 or had the greatest derby game of all time? I'd rather have won 6-0."

    United took the lead in the second minute when Patrice Evra poked a pass to Wayne Rooney, who took a touch before stabbing his shot past Shay Given.

    But City striker Carlos Tevez, who received a predictably hostile reception from the Old Trafford crowd on his first return to United, had recovered from a knee injury in time to start and played a key role in his side's 16th minute equaliser.

    He refused to give Ben Foster time to kick downfield and, as the United goalkeeper dithered, Tevez stole possession before slipping a pass for Gareth Barry to shoot into the empty net.

    United regained the lead in the 49th minute when Darren Fletcher headed home a Ryan Giggs cross.

    Their advantage was short-lived as Craig Bellamy curled in a stunning long-range effort three minutes later.

    Fletcher struck again in the 80th minute with another header, this time from Giggs's free-kick.

    City looked to have stolen a point when Bellamy out-paced Rio Ferdinand and squeezed in a 90th minute equaliser.

    But Owen, on as a substitute, had the last word when he converted Giggs's pass in the sixth minute of stoppage time.

    There was more derby drama in London as Chelsea extended their 100-percent start to the season with a controversial 3-0 victory over Tottenham, while Liverpool lie in third place after Fernando Torres scored twice in a hard-fought 3-2 win at West Ham.

    At Stamford Bridge, Chelsea won their sixth consecutive league game under new boss Carlo Ancelotti but their derby triumph wasn't without controversy.

    Leading 1-0 through Ashley Cole's 32nd minute goal, Chelsea were fortunate not to concede a penalty when Robbie Keane tumbled under Ricardo Carvalho's late challenge.

    Chelsea took full advantage of that escape as Michael Ballack poked in Frank Lampard's pass in the 58th minute before Didier Drogba added a third goal five minutes later.

    Liverpool were never behind at Upton Park but were pegged back twice by West Ham.

    Alessandro Diamanti scoring a controversial penalty to cancel out Torres's solo opener and Carlton Cole nodding home after Dirk Kuyt had stabbed before Torres hit the winner.

    Thomas Vermaelen repaid another chunk of the ten million pounds it cost to buy him from Ajax with Arsenal's first two goals, taking the centreback's tally for his new employers to four after only eight matches, in his side's 4-0 win over Wigan at the Emirates Stadium.

    Aston Villa put the pre-match controversy over Nigel Reo-Coker's bust-up with manager Martin O'Neill to one side to claim a 2-0 win over Portsmouth, who became the first side to lose their first six matches since the launch of the Premier League in 1992-93.

    Everton defeated Blackburn 3-0 at Goodison Park to claim just their second win in five league games.

    Wolverhampton claimed their first home win of the season as Mick McCarthy's men beat Fulham 2-1.

    David Nugent marked his home debut for Burnley with a double as the Clarets notched up their third straight win at home with a 3-1 defeat of Sunderland.

    A late Matt Taylor penalty salvaged a point for Bolton after Dave Kitson had given Stoke the lead at the Reebok Stadium.

    Birmingham took all three points from their visit to Hull thanks to Scotland striker Garry O'Connor's near-post header from a Keith Fahey corner.