Belfast Telegraph

After Oval party Queiroz targets Premiership glory

By Steven Beacom and Graham Luney

The fun is over. Now the serious stuff starts. That was the message today from Manchester United assistant manager Carlos Queiroz.

United start the defence of their Premiership title on Sunday at home to Reading, fresh from comfortable wins over Glentoran and Dunfermline last night.

Yes, that's big clubs for you nowadays. So strong, they can put two sides out and coast to victoriess.

United won 4-0 in Scotland thanks to goals from Chris Eagles, Ryan Giggs and Wayne Rooney (2) with Paul Scholes making a surprise and welcome return from injury.

And here in Northern Ireland, the Red Devils claimed a 3-0 success over Glentoran in a match celebrating the east Belfast club's 125th anniversary.

Cristiano Ronaldo wasn't in town to light up the Oval due to an ankle knock but it was another Portuguese starlet who stole the show.

Still only 20-years-old, Nani displayed the skill and sublime finishing which encouraged Sir Alex Ferguson to write a cheque for £14million to Sporting Lisbon. The dazzling winger captivated the crowd with a mesmerising strike and further first half goals from Patrice Evra and Fraizer Campbell sent the 14,000 crowd home happy.

United assistant boss Queiroz fielded a strong side including Evra, Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand, John O'Shea, Nani, Michael Carrick and Brazilian Anderson.

They all enjoyed the party atmosphere last night, but Queiroz says they are now ready to get down to business.

"We are ready," he said.

"There is no doubt we believe the boys are fully prepared.

"We realise it is a different ball game now. The Premier League is starting, it has a different atmosphere, different problems and there is a different intensity.

"But everybody is very excited by the challenge and ready to run this race."

And if his performance at the Oval is anything to go by, Nani could play a major part in that.

After his wonderful goal, he completed a trademark double somersault celebration.

It was just the kind of acrobatics Ferguson thought he had outlawed during United's recent Far East tour, when Nani found the net on both his appearances.

Yet, with Ferguson back home in Manchester completing a house move wife Cathy had ordered him to contribute to, Queiroz was left to both praise and admonish.

"Maybe it would be better not to celebrate like that," said Ferguson's assistant.

"He can get injured that way.

"But it is his way to celebrate and we hope he has a lot more moments to celebrate. That is what we expect from him. "

Ronaldo is expected to recover from the minor knock which kept him out of the Glentoran clash, but ahead of the Reading match, Nani has certainly given Fergie food for thought if there is any doubt about United's best player last season.

Republic of Ireland international John O'Shea was certainly impressed.

"Nani's goal went in very quickly – almost as quick as his goal celebration," said O'Shea.

"Hopefully that will come from him a lot this season – that's why the club invested a lot of money in him."

O'Shea knows a huge number of United fans regularly travel across the water to see their heroes and he was thrilled to return the favour.

"The attendance was fantastic and I'm sure the Oval hasn't seen a night like it in quite a while, " he said.

"It was a great atmosphere and good performance from us, particularly in the first half."

Glentoran improved as the game wore on with captain Paul Leeman producing a high class performance.

Glens boss Alan McDonald said: "I was happy with how my team did. People thought that United would score a lot more goals but we defended really well and in the second half could have scored. It was a great night for the club and to see the Oval packed like that was amazing."

While United face Reading on Sunday, the Glens host Armagh City in the CIS Cup on Saturday.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph