Barthez blasts bust-up reports

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FABIEN BARTHEZ has reiterated his desire to stay at Manchester United and blamed the media for fuelling rumours of a bust-up with team-mate Ricardo.

The colourful Frenchman had speculatively been tipped for the Old Trafford exit door after United signed Spanish shot-stopper Ricardo prior to August's transfer deadline.

The pair then engaged in a war of words with Ricardo claiming Barthez was 'nothing special' and the Red Devils number one adamant he did not feel threatened by the summer arrival.

But Barthez has claimed his only concern was a thigh injury which plagued him during the early weeks of the campaign and insists stories of a feud with Ricardo were fabricated.

"The only thing that disturbed me was the injury I got against Denmark in the World Cup," said Barthez. "At a certain time, we seriously thought about surgery.

"That's when Alex Ferguson decided to hire another keeper. All the rest is just invention from the English press who even invented all the bust-up pieces.

"I know exactly what is happening inside the club, and everything is fine. I am really happy in Manchester. I am under contract here until 2006, I am working in good conditions and we are playing major roles."

Barthez had been pilloried last season for a string of catastrophic blunders which dented United's quest for glory, but in recent weeks the former Monaco ace has been back to his flamboyant best.

In the excellent 2-0 victory over champions Arsenal, Barthez again produced crucial saves and praised the team's display in conquering The Gunners.

He added to L'Equipe: "We missed five or six first team members but anyway, all the team had a good behaviour.

"We respected the instructions and we showed a great stability in our concentration, exactly like at Liverpool. There is continuity in our performances."

Barthez also turned his attentions to the international set-up and admitted he was unperturbed by Lyon keeper Gregory Coupet's presence as his understudy for France.

"His presence doesn't motivate me at all, neither does the presence of anyone else. There is no competition.

"I have only been in competition with myself for the past 11 years. I never paid attention to people around me. I only look at my performances."