'My reaction was silly. I've apologised to the manager'

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The Independent Football

Francis Jeffers apologised to his Arsenal team-mates for the "silly reaction" which got him sent off during Manchester United's Community Shield victory yesterday.

Jeffers, a second-half substitute for Dennis Bergkamp, petulantly kicked out at Phil Neville after a strong 74th-minute challenge from the United full-back. The referee, Steve Bennett, had no option but to show him the red card and afterwards the former Everton striker acknowledged his guilt.

"It was a foul initiated by Phil Neville. My reaction was silly and I've apologised to the manager and my team-mates," said Jeffers. Ashley Cole and Sol Campbell might also have found themselves in trouble on another day, after lashing out at Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Eric Djemba-Djemba respectively. Wenger's reaction? "The incidents were on the other side of the pitch."

Mikael Silvestre, who won the man-of-the-match award for a commanding performance at centre half, said United's defence had faith in their new goalkeeper, Tim Howard.

"We were confident in him and he was really good on his line," Silvestre said. The Frenchman felt Howard had looked the more impressive of the two new keepers on show, adding: "We may have had an advantage there today."

The United manager Sir Alex Ferguson concurred, saying: "Tim's temperament is fine. It is never a problem. He enjoyed facing those penalty kicks."

Asked if United were missing David Beckham and Juan Sebastian Veron, Silvestre said: "Seba and Becks were very good on free-kicks and now we will have to work on those."

Wenger declared himself reasonably satisfied. "It was a good workout and I'm quite happy and confident for the future," he said. "We were solid and, as long as we had the legs, we were quite strong."

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