Fergie makes Newcastle apology

Celtic defender Mikael Lustig believes the January lay-off will

rejuvenate Neil Lennon’s squad as they battle on four fronts this

season.

All the top clubs in Scotland are enjoying a two-week break

which Lustig welcomes, as the 25-year-old has had little more than

six weeks respite in the past two years.

The Sweden international reckons the lack of rest was a

hindrance during his settling in period at Celtic Park following

his arrival from Rosenborg last January.

“The last year I struggled a bit with my body, and it is

probably down to that,” Lustig said.

“I don’t think the human body is supposed to play as many games.

Now the break is going to be really nice.

“I haven’t played most in the team this year but I have been a

little bit tired in my legs the last couple of weeks, so for me

it’s perfect.

“I think the two-week break can make a big difference,

especially mentally. I can go home and not focus on football.”

Liam Feeney’s strike just before the half-hour mark proved to be

the difference between the two teams at the New Den on

Saturday.

The Lilywhites pushed for an equaliser after the break, with the

best chance falling to Stuart Beavon, whose eight-yard shot flashed

just wide.

Westley was left to rue what might have been, saying: “We feel

we put in a good enough display to get the goal that would earn us

the replay but things are as they are unfortunately.

“When you go in one-nil down at half-time you’re always trying

to look to make a difference to the game and if you can get a grip

in midfield, which we did second half, then you have a platform to

build on.

“We mixed the midfield around which gave us some impetus going

forward.

“We try to look at the team performance rather than individuals,

and from our point of view it was never going to be easy to come to

their patch as they’re flying high at the moment.

“But the key is for us to look at the improvements we need to

make that will make the difference between the results we’re

posting and the ones we want.”

However, because Rangers are under a transfer embargo following

financial problems at the Ibrox club, Ryan is bidding to earn a

move to Glasgow in September when the embargo is due to end.

Ryan is due in Glasgow on Monday to spend 10 days training with

the Third Division club.

The 20-year-old, who has played for Australia in East Asian Cup

qualifying games, is set to link up with Rangers after Mariners

football manager Lawrie McKinna arranged the move with Rangers boss

Ally McCoist.

“I was in Scotland over Christmas and spoke with Ally McCoist

about Mathew Ryan,” said McKinna.

“It is a credit to Mat and to our club that Ally was well aware

of Mat’s ability and potential and immediately offered for him to

join Rangers for a training spell.

“Mat is eager to take up the opportunity and we are sure he will

learn a lot from the experience.”

Ryan has three months remaining on his current contract with

Central Coast.

Manchester United boss Ferguson caused outrage among the Toon

Army when he described Newcastle as a “wee club in the North-East”

during his recent spat with Magpies boss Alan Pardew.

But he told the Mail on Sunday: “It was never my intention to

belittle Newcastle fans.

“I want to clear up any misunderstanding that may have arisen

over what I said. I have nothing but the highest regard for

Newcastle fans and I always have had.

“They are up there with the best supporters in the game.

“Their passion, commitment and fervour have never wavered, even

though they have had little to celebrate.

“They have turned up in numbers to get behind their team

wherever and whenever the games have been played. When I take a

team to St James’ Park, I have stressed to the players that not

only have they got to beat the opposition on the field, just as

important is coping with the atmosphere created by the fans.

“Sadly, results have not matched their loyalty. If Newcastle’s

achievements had matched the support of the people who pay to watch

them play, the club would be among the game’s giants. It’s tragic

that they haven’t been able to win a league title for over eighty

years.”

Ferguson also said that he had received messages from Newcastle

fans who were unhappy with they way their team is being run.

“Among the criticism there were also messages from people who

feel they have been let down by the club and that it has not

matched their own ambitions for success,” he added.

Ferguson got into an argument with Pardew on the subject of

pressuring referees after the Newcastle boss was unhappy with

Ferguson’s behaviour in United’s recent victory over the

Magpies.

The Red Devils boss said: “The problem for me and Manchester

United is that the profile of the club is huge. I’m the manager of

the biggest club in the world. I’m not like Newcastle, a wee club

in the North-East.”