Moore: Crucial week coming up

AC Milan have rejected rumours linking Robinho with a move away

from the San Siro in January.

Reports have suggested Robinho’s former club Santos are keen to

bring the forward back to Brazil when the transfer window reopens

next month.

However, Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani insists they want

to keep the former Manchester City man.

“Robinho? Our intention is to keep him, then we will see,” he

told Sky Italia.

Galliani also rubbished rumours linking Milan with a move for

Brazilian sensation Neymar.

Galliani is a fan of Neymar and rates him as the best young

player in the world, alongside Milan’s Stephan El Shaarawy.

“No-one said that we want or that we could sign him,” added

Galliani. “I have only said, considering I see the world’s

football, that him and El Shaarawy are the strongest players aged

20. Nothing else.”

Galliani also revealed that they are unlikely to do any business

in January unless someone leaves as they need to sell to buy any

new players.

“There are 32 players in the squad, and if nobody leaves then

nobody will come in,” noted Galliani.

“We’ll have to sell first and then buy, otherwise we’ll stay as

we are.”

Brass, 37, followed former Scunthorpe manager Alan Knill to the

club in March 2011 having worked as his number two at Bury. Knill

was sacked in October and replaced by Brian Laws, who brought Russ

Wilcox with him to work as one of his assistants.

“United can confirm that Chris Brass has left the club with

immediate effect,” read a short statement on the club’s official

website.

“The difficult decision was taken to reduce costs going forward

as the club cannot sustain two assistant managers long term.

“The club would like to place on record its appreciation for all

the hard work Chris has put in during his time with the club and

wish him well for the future.”

Brass made his name as a defender during an eight-year spell

with Burnley and later went on to make over 150 appearances for

York before ending his league playing career at Bury.

Ferguson appeared to dash hopes of Nemanja Vidic returning to

lend a hand when he ruled the Serbian out of Wednesday’s Champions

League encounter with CFR Cluj at Old Trafford.

United need some sort of assistance, though. In conceding 32

goals so far this season, including three in quite awful fashion at

Reading on Saturday, Ferguson said he could not remember a time

when his side’s defence had been so leaky this side of

Christmas.

It was actually 2001-02, when United conceded 39 goals in their

first 23 games, and 41 before Santa made his way down the

chimney.

Clearly, though, it is no laughing matter for Ferguson,

especially when he considers what is lying in wait on the other

side of town this weekend.

“It is a worry,” said Ferguson.

“If we perform like that on Sunday then God knows what’s going

to happen to us.

“We’ve lost 32 goals already – I can’t remember us losing so

many goals before Christmas.

“Saturday was like Cartoon Cavalcade and when you see City have

Balotelli, Dzeko – really tall players – it’s going to be a big

challenge.

“It’s a concern. But that’s on Sunday. It’s five days away but

at this moment in time it feels like five months.”

Ferguson’s reasoning is that there are so many issues to resolve

by then, focusing on a game which is not right in front of him is

pointless.

Yet, history suggests the United boss is not beyond clouding the

issue himself in order to suit his own ends.

So, whilst Ferguson’s words on Vidic’s readiness to play after

September knee surgery were clear enough, until the Serbian

actually fails to make the United squad, either tomorrow or at the

weekend, they will be greeted with some degree of scepticism.

“I don’t think Nemanja will play (tomorrow),” said Ferguson.

“He feels he needs another few days’ training so he won’t be

available.

“He’s not far away. He’s training well now but I think another

few days will bring him on better.

“But if he doesn’t play tomorrow there’s no chance he’ll play in

the derby game, although I wasn’t considering Nemanja for Sunday

anyway.”

There is something contradictory about the last statement,

especially as the United boss also raised the potential for Shinji

Kagawa returning after two months out this weekend, even though

Vidic trained with the main group at Carrington this morning and

the Japan international did not.

“Kagawa started running today and may make the bench [against

City],” said Ferguson.

“The injury has taken longer than we thought but he’s much

better now.”

The Red Devils are resigned to wide men Nani and Antonio

Valencia missing out, though, which is why Ferguson is likely to

use three strikers tomorrow, including Wayne Rooney.

More than once this season, Ferguson has raised the issue of

Rooney’s fitness after injury lay-offs.

And even though the England man’s most recent absence with

tonsillitis only amounted to two games in the middle of last month,

Ferguson is not intending the 27-year-old to be one of the star men

who gets a rest tomorrow.

“Wayne needs to play a lot of games to get his match-fitness

up,” he said.

“He’s a strongly built lad and when he misses two games it takes

him three games to come back.

“It’s the way he’s always been.

“He’ll play tomorrow night and hopefully that brings him on

further because Saturday was his best performance of the season so

far.”

The early-season pacesetters still hold first place, but only by

virtue of a superior goal difference to in-form Doncaster having

taken two points from the past nine on offer ahead of this

weekend’s trip to Sheffield United.

Medial ligament damage means captain James Wallace has joined

forward Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro and winger Abdulai Bell-Baggie on the

sidelines, while a host of key players, including Andy Robinson and

Joe Thompson, have only recently resumed first-team duties.

“We’ve been fantastic for the most of the early part of the

season,” said Moore. “Where we are is a tribute to everybody.

“The players have been fantastic. If somebody had said to us at

the start of the season ‘that’s where you’re going to be’, no one

would have believed it with the budget that we’re on and what we

have to work with.

“But they’ve been fantastic so there’s no pressure on us. We’re

not expected to be there, that’s the main thing.

“I think we’ve surprised nearly everybody this season, in our

league especially.

“Everywhere you go people are talking about Tranmere Rovers and

how well they’re doing.

“When you pick up your injuries that’s when it gets tough

because you don’t have the depth. You haven’t got the wages to pay

to be able to have the depth.

“It’s going to hurt you when you pick up your knocks and that’s

what’s happened to us, unfortunately. We know this is a crucial

week for us.”