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Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Sun Football News - Ronaldo Out for 12 Weeks or Early Return ?

Ron's agony

CRISTIANO RONALDO has dealt Manchester United a savage blow with the news he could be out until mid-November.

United hoped their superstar winger would return by the start of October after an op on his right ankle on July 7.

But Ronaldo, 23, will not be back for another 12 WEEKS.

United boss Alex Ferguson said: “We are not putting anyone under pressure.

“You may as well wait the extra week or two to make sure that they don’t end up back in the physio room. That is important.”

Ronaldo played with pain-killing injections for the last three months of the season and through Portugal’s Euro 2008 campaign to delay any surgery.

But that made the initial problem worse and it now looks to have extended his rehabilitation period.

The winger began doing light work this week at United’s Carrington training camp.

Ferguson said: “Cristiano has been jogging all week. It is only jogging but I am quite pleased about that. The plan was to give him one month of rehab work.

“He is doing the aerobic work in the gym. He is one week into that. There is good progress.

“Being young it sometimes helps in terms of recovery and getting back quicker.

“The physios must do their job properly. There is no point rushing it.”

Ronaldo could miss 10 Premier League games plus four in the Champions League.

It is a bombshell for Fergie after persuading Ronaldo to stay and snub Real Madrid.

After 170 minutes this season, Rafa says Gerrard is tired

RAFA BENITEZ claims Steven Gerrard is TIRED just a week into the new campaign.

The Liverpool boss revealed a groin problem forced Gerro to miss a lot of pre-season training.

And Benitez says the midfielder, 28, is struggling to last the pace after playing just 170 minutes for the Reds and England.

The Spaniard said: “Steven Gerrard is a little bit tired.

“He did not train the day after the England game but he was back in training on Friday.

“He has had a problem before with his groin and he has picked up another one on the other leg.

“He has already missed 10-15 days of training.

“That is the reason he was not playing from the start against Standard Liege.

“It was clear that he could not be fully fit after that. He would be Superman, no?

“But we know that he will be better and better. At the moment our idea is to protect the player.”

Gerrard is expected to line up against Middlesbrough today.

He played only 23 minutes as a sub in the Champions League qualifier with Liege and 57 for England against the Czech Republic on Wednesday after going the distance at Sunderland last Saturday.

But Benitez insisted he had not been tempted to take Gerro out of the international friendly.

The Kop boss added: “We know how important it is for him to play for England but we are going to give him time.

“When you have players like Steven Gerrard with the qualities he has, it is important he is 100 per cent fit when you play against the top sides or in really, really massive games.

“For some other games, the quality of the player means maybe he could score three goals even if he was not 100 per cent fit.

“Hopefully we will see the best of him against Middlesbrough.”

Benitez tried to put a positive spin on his side’s unconvincing 1-0 victory over the Black Cats on the opening weekend.

He said: “A lot of games last season when we were playing well, we only won 1-0 or we dropped points.

“If you play bad and win it shows you have the mentality to be contenders and to win trophies.

“I will be happiest playing well and winning. But the three points is all that matters.

“In Spain, some managers talk rubbish and say if we play well and don’t win it doesn’t matter. Forget that! Forget it!”

Benitez admitted to having clear-the-air talks with chief executive Rick Parry after acrimony over the proposed transfer of Aston Villa midfielder Gareth Barry.

The Anfield manager said: “We had a very positive meeting. Now we want to improve the squad, working together.”

You don't worry me, Chelsea

ARSENE WENGER takes his Arsenal side to Craven Cottage tonight insisting he is not worried by the mob at the other end of the Fulham Road.

Chelsea’s 4-0 thumping of Portsmouth on the opening weekend prompted a flurry of predictions that the title was heading to Stamford Bridge.

Arsenal scraped a 1-0 win over West Brom but Gunners boss Wenger warned: “Instant judgments can change in two weeks.

“We know how we want to play football, we know how we want to behave and we believe in our quality.

“I must say Chelsea were impressive but Portsmouth were really not at their best, especially in the first half.

“They had a bad day at the office and that can happen to anybody.

“You cannot assess Chelsea on one game. Let people talk, that’s all I can say.

“Chelsea will be one of the super candidates to fight for the title but I feel we have enough to fight with them.

“We have just started the season and everybody has discounted us.

“There is more to come from my team. We have a structure and a way of playing that is very efficient and that we have mastered well so I do not see why we should not set ourselves high targets.”

New boy Mikael Silvestre is a doubt to face Fulham but Emmanuel Adebayor will start after signing a new four-year, £80,000-a-week deal on Monday.

The striker received jeers from some Gunners fans last week after speculation he wanted a move.

But Wenger insisted: “I believe it was linked with results and goalscoring.

“It was an edgy, nervous game because when you are one up your fans want to be reassured with another goal.

“He had a few opportunities to score the second goal and didn’t do it. Give him time and watch him score.

“I cannot understand their disappointment with him — his heart is with the club.

“I believe he has been unfairly treated. Why? Because when I met him many times in the summer, he had a lot of interest from many big clubs.

“But he always told me his preference was to stay.

“Maybe there was a misunderstanding at a Press conference in Austria but I know what he told me. He made sacrifices to stay.”

Robinho will be Plan B

BIG PHIL SCOLARI admits he is desperate to land Robinho — as the Brazilian would give Chelsea a Plan B.

Blues boss Scolari has tabled a bid of £28.3million for the Real Madrid strike ace and been told he can have the player for £32m.

The transfer has moved closer with Robinho admitting he wants to go to Stamford Bridge.

And Spanish giants Real last night insisted they will not stand in his way.

A club statement read: “Real Madrid would never want to retain a player against his wishes. As a result, they have no alternative but to accept his decision to rescind his contract.”

Scolari said: “I have never coached Robinho but he is different and we need a player like that — a player on the pitch who makes a difference.

“If we have only one system of play, it will be easy for our opponents. If we need to change the system, we need a different player and Robinho’s style is what we want.

“At the moment, I don’t know the situation. Real have a player and they put a price on him. I have a good squad but if I have one more player, that would be good.”

Robinho, 24, said: “It’s not my objective to continue at Real.

“I highly respect the club, players and fans who have always treated me well. But I have an offer from Chelsea which is good for me and the club.

"I dream of playing in the English league. Chelsea have a great squad and a great team. My objective is to play there.

“I’ve got nothing against Real but I hope to resolve this situation as soon as possible. It’s not about money, I simply want to leave.

“I want to be the best player in the world and that isn’t possible at Real Madrid.

“I’ve come to an end of a cycle. I’ve played three seasons at Real Madrid, I’ve given my all. I’ve scored goals, I’ve won two leagues.

“I think my time here has now come to an end.”

Scolari, preparing for Sunday’s trip to Wigan, has urged the Chelsea board to refuse AC Milan’s approach for Andriy Shevchenko.

The move now looks unlikely as Blues are demanding a fee — and Milan want him only on loan.

Scolari said: “Shevchenko has been in Milan for negotiations but I want him to stay. He is a good player.”

Scolari also advised Frank Lampard to forget the England jeers by spending some of his new £151,000- a-week wages.

The Blues boss joked: “I told him ‘You need to think about spending money’. I asked him if he was worried and he said ‘no, no’.”

Shinawatra: I'll quit City

THAKSIN SHINAWATRA has offered to quit as chairman at Manchester City.

The Eastlands owner fled Thailand where he is supposed to be facing corruption charges from his time as the country’s Prime Minister.

It has put his position in jeopardy under the Premier League’s Fit and Proper Persons Act.

Shinawatra denies all the charges but fears the controversy is affecting City and has offered to quit.

But the club’s new executive chairman Gary Cook has talked him out of it, believing they can ride the storm.

Cook said: “Dr Thaksin is embarrassed about the indignity brought on all the entities — the club, the Premier League — he never intended this.

“I didn’t realise the impact this situation would have.

“I feel it’s a little embarrassing and the owner thinks it’s embarrassing.

“Dr Thaksin has been really open about this.

“He has said to me, ‘if you need me to resign from the football club as a director, because it would serve the needs of the Premier League, then I’m fine with that as long as that doesn’t change any other thing.’

“I think there is a very loose term about what is ‘fit and proper.’ It is almost a tongue-in-cheek term that you would use for Premier League football over the last 10 years. There are plenty of unfit and improper individuals.

“But what I want to do is make sure we get it cleared up. We are restructuring the board.

“I would like to bring in some non-executive members from industry — captains of industry, who can help the football club move to its long-term vision.”

But Cook admits if the Premier League find Shinawatra is not fit and proper they will have to take him off the board.

He said: “That is one of the reasons why we would look to maybe take him off the board as a director. We’re talking about a lot of different things right now.”

Shinawatra may then have to transfer his stake in the club. Shinawatra took over a year ago for £81.6million.

Since then City have invested nearly £80m on players, although only a quarter of that has been paid.

The club are looking for extra investment as Shinawatra has had £800m of his assets frozen in Thailand and that is restricting his investment.

Cook said: “His lawyers are working through everything. We have talked about selling part of his stake to an equity partner who would come in and take a little bit of the pressure away from him so the Premier League would get more comfort out of the restructuring of the board.

“We’ve talked about so many different options. But one thing we are adamant about is not to give up the majority stakeholding.

“Dr Thaksin is in a political situation and a case that affects his assets, so that’s well documented. So that’s a hurdle.

“So the hurdle is, is there never going to be any more money? The challenge is, ‘Dr Thaksin, what are we going to do?’ He says, ‘Well here’s what we are going to do and here’s how we are going to do it, because this will all resolve itself. But I need some time. OK, great’.

“If I was to say to him, ‘is it true we haven’t got any money’, he’d fire me on the spot.

“The truth of it is this club is not going to go out of business. This club is not bankrupt. We’re moving forward.”

Shinawatra feels so bad about what has happened that he is avoiding Eastlands — including tomorrow, when Mark Hughes’ side clash with West Ham.

He fears the City fans would turn against him and there are real concerns about his safety as there have been attempts on his life before back in Thailand.

Cook said: “He wants to be at this ground on Sunday but he is hearing advice about being in a public space.

“People may want to come and show their support from his country but he doesn’t want to use this as a political platform. And he doesn’t want to ostracise the fans.”

Boss Hughes, meanwhile, paraded £5m signing Vincent Kompany and then promised fans: There’s more to follow.

Defender Kompany, 22, signed a four-year deal at Eastlands after completing his move from German side Hamburg.

And Hughes said: “There are more signings to come. We’re looking to bring good players in but whether we’ll do it during this window only time will tell.”

Hughes discussed plans with Shinawatra over dinner earlier this week.

He added: “It was extremely enjoyable and very positive.”

Cristiano Ronaldo CR7 Craze

CRISTIANO RONALDO has spent £150,000 on an essential item for football icons – a number plate for his motor.
It’s nice to know Premier League footballers are feeling the pinch of the credit crunch just like the rest of us.

The Man United star coughed up the huge sum for the registration CR7 – his initials and shirt number at Old Trafford.

Sadly, I was outbid for the reg I was trying to buy him to welcome him back to Britain after his summer away – P3 NIS.

The new number plate takes his spending with luxury car firm Liquid 45 to a whopping £490,000 in the past month.

A couple of weeks ago he placed an order for a black Rolls Royce Phantom – which costs a jaw-dropping £340,000.

But the number plate won’t go on the new car – it is destined for his runaround, a silver £140,000 Bentley convertible.

A source said: “Cristiano is developing an obsession with CR7. It has to be on everything he owns – cars included.

“He has been after the number plate for ages and finally got his hands on it.”

At least the new number will help ease confusion in the Carrington training ground car park. There are a lot of Bentleys lined up there after all.

The personalised reg is a “must have” item for a footballer along with a pretty-but-dim WAG, diamond earring, garish jeans, a diamond-encrusted mobile phone and a fancy car.

Ron has gone down the same road as his forerunner DAVID BECKHAM with his fascination with the famous United shirt number.

Becks has a VII tattoo, a DB7 clothing line for Marks & Spencer and would even queue at till No7 in supermarkets.

Ronaldo has his logo inscribed on a cupboard, sofa and bed cushions – matching his seven-shaped table and jewellery in his Cheshire mansion.

His swimming pool even has the No7 in a tiled mosaic.

The last time I had initials on anything I owned was at primary school, when my shirt, tie, trousers and PE kit were tagged – worth a grand total of about £60.

So is Ronaldo set for Early October return or late Mid Novemeber ? Conflicting reports coming out and if Ronaldo return in late Mid November it might all but over for Man U by then.

Ng Ghim Pheng True Blue Chelsea Fan