Last updated : 09 August 2004 By Editor


"This is the worst start we've ever had to a season. No doubt about that."

"It was just a bonus that we didn't pick up any more injuries, to be honest. This game on Wednesday is a killer for us and we're suffering for that in the sense that we haven't been able to give the players the rest they need. The Nevilles and (Mikaël) Silvestre have had five days training, that's all.

"It's got a lot to do with summer football, though it's not down to the European Championships. You wonder why the Copa America can't be played at the same time. That harmony in the calendar is never quite right, from Africa to America to Europe. Something should be done about that, but they've been talking about the problems for yonks. It seems perfectly simple to me - it clearly isn't."

"So what's the point of me taking them back? (Ronaldo, Heinze - Olympic duty). Really, I've just got to tell the boys to have a rest. We've never seen Heinze, never even met the guy. When he turns up he'll have a beard."

About Smith - "He's doing his job really well for us. I'm really pleased with the lad. He's got a wonderful attitude. He's got a persistence to him that defenders don't like. He's busy and wants the ball, he's got movement. It's about getting space in the last third of the field."


"I am pleased because it was good preparation. We looked focused and coordinated in our game.

"There was passion and commitment from both sides so it was a good match."

About Vieira: "My intention is clear, for him to stay and us to keep him - but if he chooses not to stay, then we have to find different solutions. I am positive that we can do well.

"If Patrick is focused to leave there will be an open door.

"I am not resigned to let that story go on. I think it will be sorted out before the start of the season.

"As I have said, my intention is to keep him. He has given eight fantastic years for the club.

"He has proved something that is fantastic and I want him to be part of the future of this team, but I want him to be clear in his mind, whether his heart is with us or not.

"Our intention is very clear. Only he can come out and clarify the situation now, and he needs to do that very quickly."