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Conflicting Reports Cast Cloud Over Fergie-Ronaldo “Meeting”

Everyone has been going on about Fergie holding talks with Ronaldo over the past few hours. The Guardian, for example, report that Fergie held talks with Ronaldo on Monday as he flew to Lisbon.

Here, let me quote:

Sir Alex Ferguson has met Cristiano Ronaldo for the first time in six weeks in an attempt to persuade the winger to forgo his “dream” move to Real Madrid and remain at Manchester United.

It is understood the United manager flew to Lisbon for talks with the 23-year-old on Monday, the first face-to-face encounter between the pair since a party at Old Trafford in the days after the club’s Champions League final triumph over Chelsea in May.

Now on the surface, if you are speed reading this on your way to your morning coffee, you would have your spirits up. But consider this report on the very same Monday that Fergie was said to have his meeting with Ronaldo, reported by Times Online:

Sir Alex Ferguson once famously rode pillion on a motorcycle journey across Paris to persuade Eric Cantona not to retire, but it seems that there will be no mercy dash to try to talk some sense into Cristiano Ronaldo. Ferguson had planned to fly to Lisbon today in an attempt to clear the air with the Portugal forward, but instead the Manchester United manager will stay at home to focus on his attempt to sign Dimitar Berbatov from Tottenham Hotspur, raising further doubts about Ronaldo’s future at Old Trafford.

Ok, now both sources acknowledge that there was a plan to hold a meeting with Ronaldo on Monday. But again, both articles seem dubious with very little by way of quotes to give us anything. Consider the first story on the Guardian: if Fergie was to go to Lisbon to meet Ronaldo and Ronaldo was in Los Angeles for the past couple of days (for the ESPYs), and if Fergie was to leave on Thursday to South Africa, it makes Monday a rather narrow window for Fergie to hold talks. There is certainly time for him to hold talks but it still sounds a little far fetched that the Gaffer would have gone all the way to Lisbon and back and gone unnoticed till today. Also it’s written by Daniel Taylor — not one of my favourite journalists.

Similarly Oliver Kay ran the Times Online story. Again, I’ve found his reportage a little dodgy over the last few months. But I could understand that Fergie may have cancelled the meeting, if there was any scheduled, because he may have wanted to concentrate fully on pre-season as well as getting ready for South Africa. It also could be because Ferguson is 100% certain that Ronaldo is not going anywhere and that he alone holds the cards.

I find both stories conflicting and I don’t really buy the Guardian‘s version at all.

Update: Fergie did in fact meet Ronaldo. He says it was done last week — I suppose that makes more sense than Monday.

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Meanwhile The Sun reports that Ferguson has stated his interest in Berbatov and that it will be sorted out in time. I am slightly concerned now that, amid the climate of Real publicly pursuing Ronaldo, Fergie has started actually naming his transfer target.

“We have made Tottenham an offer on Berbatov and we have good expectations that this deal will go through. Berbatov has been impressive during a long time and would be a great addition to our attack. I think time will work for us more than against us. We will not stress this situation. We are hoping to have a constructive conversation with Tottenham in the near future.”

Whatever happened to carrying out business discreetly?

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United have left for South Africa for pre-season and will play the Kaizer Chiefs on Saturday. Here’s the full squad for the Africa tour:

Tomasz Kuszczak, Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand, John O’Shea, Ryan Giggs, Michael Carrick, Wesley Brown, Paul Scholes, Owen Hargreaves, Carlos Tevez, Wayne Rooney, Mikael Silvestre, Gary Neville, Darren Fletcher, Ben Foster, Daniel Simpson, Lee Martin, Fraizer Campbell, Darron Gibson, Jonathan Evans, Ben Amos, Christopher Eagles, Michael Clegg, Andrew Caveney, Gary Walker.

Oh, and don’t rub your eyes in disbelief if you don’t see Owen Hargreaves in there. He’s out doing an impersonation of Louis Saha (desperately knocks on wood) — his problem, a recurrence of tendinitis. Well, I just have one thing to say to Owen about that: Mate, get as injured as you want during the summer, but get your arse as fit as you can for the first game because you are our right winger against Newcastle.