Louis van Gaal hailed Cristiano Ronaldo as a ”fantastic player” after admitting he is in the hunt for a marquee signing to boost Manchester United’s chances of challenging for the Champions League. Van Gaal is hoping to mount a serious challenge for domestic and European silverware in the coming year after qualifying for the Champions League in his first term in charge. Despite spending more than £225million since taking over, Van Gaal still thinks his squad lacks speed and creativity in attack. Press Association Van Gaal has been linked with a move for the two-time Ballon d’Or winner recently. The Dutchman initially refused to discuss the idea of the Portuguese coming back to Old Trafford. ”I cannot answer this question. You can put it in another way and I shall say it the same,” he said. ”We cannot show our strategy in buying or selling players. When we shall buy a player and he has signed then we shall say it but not in the process, not in the strategy.” But when pressed on the matter, Van Gaal dropped his guard. ”Now, I make an exception for Ronaldo,” the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach said with a smile. ”He is a fantastic, fantastic player but he knows that. I like him.” Unless Ronaldo asks to leave Madrid, United would find it hard to sign the 30-year-old Portuguese star. A more likely signing for Van Gaal would be Barcelona forward Pedro or Thomas Muller, although Bayern Munich insist they will not sell the World Cup winning striker. Other than Javier Hernandez, who was loaned to Madrid last year, and 20-year-old James Wilson, the only senior central striker Van Gaal has in his squad is Wayne Rooney. The Dutchman has already told the captain he will be his main striker this season, but he is demanding a lot from the 29-year-old. When asked whether Rooney has to score 20-25 goals in the upcoming year, Van Gaal said: “Of course, because (Sergio) Aguero is making that amount of goals (for Manchester City).” Despite playing Rooney in midfield for much of last season, Van Gaal has little reason to doubt the former Everton man will deliver, however. “He is our striker. Probably he has to prove it. I have fully confidence that he shall do that,” Van Gaal said. “He is also the captain of the team so he shall play a lot of times in the striker’s position. “Normally we shall have a lot of matches so Chicharito (Hernandez) can also play in that position. “We have still Wilson. (Adnan Januzaj) played in the striker’s position. He did it very well so we have enough choices to make.” The Dutchman is therefore on the lookout for a talismanic forward who will help to put United on a par with their domestic and European rivals. ”We need still more speed in front and also more creativity,” the 63-year-old said in an interview with the British media on United’s pre-season tour of the United States. ”That is why I hope (Angel) Di Maria shall stay. But we don’t know that (he will).” When asked what kind of player he needs to make United true competitors in the coming year, Van Gaal added: ”I can give examples of champions, Bayern Munich have (Franck) Ribery and (Arjen) Robben, Chelsea have (Eden) Hazard and Willian, Real Madrid – Ronaldo and (Gareth) Bale, Barcelona have Neymar and (Lionel) Messi. ”Manchester United fans want us to compete with these teams. ”(Ashley) Young and (Juan) Mata had fantastic seasons (last year), with assists and goals, but to win the Champions League you need speed also. ”That is why I think, maybe, we still have to buy a player with speed and creativity.” Ronaldo has maintained his status as one of the most destructive players in the world since leaving United in 2009 following six successful years at the club.
Vitto Brown averaged only 7.1 points since Greg Gard took over head coaching duties of the Wisconsin men’s basketball team (15-9 overall, 7-4 Big Ten) in December. That was, until, Wednesday’s 72-61 win over Nebraska (13-12 overall, 5-7 Big Ten).A sluggish start for the Badgers saw numerous traveling violations, Ethan Happ’s inability to score and the team shying away from playing inside the paint. But the only player who seemed unaffected by all of this, aside from Nigel Hayes who had 10 points of his own during the half, was Brown.Men’s basketball breakdown: Badgers ride three-point shot en route to downing CornhuskersFor the second game in a row, the Wisconsin men’s basketball team let it fly from behind the arc, and Read…Brown, a junior forward, knocked down two three-pointers and finished the first half with 12 points to lead both teams. It was an uncharacteristic game, as of late, for Brown, who had only his second 10-plus point outing since December, but one very much welcomed by his teammates.“It was about time,” Nigel Hayes said jokingly. “But seriously, that’s what we expect from [Vitto]; we know he can play like that. I told him at the beginning of the year that’s what we expect from him, and he knows he can play like that. He just has to keep playing with confidence.”As the halftime buzzer sounded, only four points separated the Badgers from the Cornhuskers, thanks to Brown’s efforts. But as the teams came back out to the floor to start the second half, Wisconsin found the energy they’d been lacking for much of the half to make up for Hayes and Brown having to shoulder the effort.Six Badgers more than doubled their point totals by the end of the game.Nebraska’s zone defense was finally brought to its knees as Wisconsin began to make extra passes that opened up the corners for three-pointers. The Badgers had success from the same spots against Ohio State in their last game (13 three-pointers), and nearly duplicated the performance against Nebraska (11).“I didn’t hit any corner shots in the beginning because I wasn’t [positioned] there at the beginning,” Brown said. “[After making an effort to reposition] that’s where the opening was this game, so I just tried to be ready to shoot.”Brown would add only one more three from that spot in the second half, but that didn’t stop other Badgers from taking advantage of the Cornhuskers’ lax perimeter defense.Six of Wisconsin’s three-pointers came from the sides of the basket during the second half, with another from Bronson Koenig from the middle of the court to cap the Badgers at seven for the half.Albeit sloppy for much of its duration, the win showed a tougher side to Wisconsin, who are grinding out their last stretch of Big Ten play before road games against No. 2 Maryland and No. 8 Michigan State.“Not every game is going to be perfect,” Gard said. “For us to be able to rally and surround each other was a sign in the right direction of having different guys step up and help each other out as we continue to grow together as a team.”The Badgers, fighting desperately to preserve a 17-year NCAA tournament streak, may just need to endure more games of the sort as the season winds down.