So you're a Manchester United fan...
For the moment, yeah.
How do you rate their season so far?
Ferguson was a legend. He’s been missed this year. I think Moyes is going to be allowed time to turn it around.
I don’t think Moyes is as motivational as Ferguson. He’s probably more astute tactically, in some areas, but in terms of man-management, I think we’re seeing a team that’s pretty low on confidence.
Maybe, there’s a few players who played under Ferguson who had the fear put into them and achieved that little bit more than they should have done.
Five, 10 years ago, some of the players wouldn’t have got close to the first XI. It’s not a great year.
But I think he will be allowed time to turn it around. I don’t think anyone expected the success to carry on straight away. There’s going to be a bit of building time to be done.
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4. Man City
7. Man Utd
How long would you give Moyes?
I think football’s really fickle, too fast-moving, and I think to be allowed to see a vision through you won’t see the seeds flowing for a bit yet. But at least until the end of next season, that’s the absolute minimum.
I worry that it might get to Christmas and it’s a similar story to this year, and I’d be worried that the axe might be close.
Hopefully we’ll start great next year and start to show progression.
Is top four too far away?
Yeah, I don’t think we’ll get top four. I think it’ll be a blessing in disguise if we don’t even qualify for the Europa League so we get a decent amount of rest time next season.
Although, the Europa League might not be a bad thing as it gives the likes of Smalling and Cleverley, who I don’t think should be starting for United, a bit more European experience and playing against teams who they should be rolling over, maybe similar to Olympiakos.
Do you think Van Persie will stay?
It doesn’t look like his head’s there at the moment. I’m worried he might start to regret his decision to leave Arsenal.
I think he might feel a little bit aggrieved about Ferguson buying for a season to win the league and then leaving. I think part of the reason why he left Arsenal was to work with Ferguson and win trophies. And Ferguson has gone and he’s had the rug pulled from under his feet at the moment.
Even though he’s the wrong side of 30, he’s not really the sort of player who relies on pace. It’s a bit like Sheringham did, you won’t see him diminish in his game, hopefully he’ll stay but he doesn’t look like the same player at the moment.
Are you pleased with Rooney’s new deal?
Not pleased with the amount of money he’s getting. It’s absolutely absurd that anyone on this planet, let alone even the president of the USA, should be getting anything like that sort of money, not that I’m a massive communist or anything, but I think we should we should see slightly fairer money being handed out.
Granted, these people are only getting what they are worth, and they are only worth what people are willing to pay them. United to keep a player like Rooney but the sort of figures are absolutely absurd.
Do you think that’s one of the best thing Moyes has done - get the best out of Rooney?
My main concern with Rooney is that his best football he’s played for us, apart from when he first moved to United when he was young and fearless, he kind of plays his best football when he’s trying to renegotiate his contract or like his time at the club is coming up.
It’s really hard to love that player. It’s not like it was 10-15 years ago when you felt you had a block of players who played together and were friends.
Moyes has done really well to get him back onside because it wasn’t looking great towards the end of last season.
We’ll see. The proof is in the pudding. There’s no doubt he’s a great talent but I’m not so sure he’ll be as motivated now he’s got all that money coming in.
How about Mata’s start at United, do you think Moyes knows where to play him?
I think naturally he’s play either behind the front one or two. A fair bit has been made of the fact that he’s not the best at tracking back and working for the team. But historically, I think United have always had one of those sorts of players.
I think the main worry is what’s behind Mata. At the moments it’s two pretty conservative players in Carrick and Cleverley. Carrick will do for the time being but Cleverley is a bit of a spirit level - just likes to go from side to side - rather than drop the shoulder, turn and go through on goal.
I think Mata will fit in fine. I don’t think he’ll be playing out wide. Historically, we play the percentages out wide with a lot more pace. That front four of Januzaj, Rooney, Mata and Van Persie is up there with the best in the world. That could be firing on all cylinders next season but that depends on us keeping our players.
Where do you think United need to strengthen the most?
They need a central midfielder who can retain possession and burst forward. Like at Olympiakos, it was just crying for a leader in the middle of the park.
Fellaini could be that guy but at the moment he’s looking like a bit of a damp squib of a signing.
I also think the defence needs a complete overhaul. You’ve got Jonny Evans, who is great if a little inconsistent. In some games he can look world class, when he’s got Nemanja Vidic next to him he looks 10 times the player.
Obviously, we’re losing Vidic, Ferdinand’s probably going to go. Evra has had one of his better seasons out of the last couple of years but I’m not sure how progressive it is to keep him in the team when we need to build for the future.
Hopefully, I’d say we’d be getting three new defenders - two new centre-backs and a left-back. Rafael still runs around a bit like a headless chicken but with a bit of experience he will come good. He looks exciting coming good.
After last summer’s transfer window, are you confident they will get it right this year?
Yeah, it was a complete overhaul in the boardroom and the management staff so they didn’t have a strategy implemented or the know-how to go about the business.
It’s a different thing conducting business for a team like Everton when you’re negotiating with teams with slightly lower aspirations. But when you’re in United and you’re trying to negotiate for the best players in the world I think you need to be more astute on that front.
I’m trailing off. Hmmm ... yeah, that sort of confidence is waning a lot with United fans because of what happened last season. I suppose we’re starting to feel what it’s like to be normal football fans.
We’ve got to get it right. There’s no two ways about it. It’s got to be a summer spending spree and they can’t afford to get it wrong. We can’t afford another season like this season.
Was Moyes the right appointment?
Yeah. I think it was. The infrastructure of United has always centred, in its best years, around a Scottish manager.
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I’m guessing you watched the Olympiakos defeat - was that the worst performance from United this season?
It’s probably the worst I’ve seen them play. It was absolutely dreadful. I used to have a season ticket a few years ago and I watch as many games on TV as I can. I’ve never seen something so aimless.
There’s only so much you can put down to the manager at that point. I suppose you’ve got to go and motivate the players to do a job. But when they are out on the field it’s their job to show at least some sort of desire. Things like being able to pass the ball and retain possession and they couldn’t even do that.
They couldn’t get the ball out of defence. The midfield wasn’t even there. Carrick and Cleverley were shot. It was a shame not to see Carrick show a little bit more gumption in the post-match interview and hold his hand up and say ‘we were appalling’.
Smalling was flying about on the field, skating like he was on a water park. You need to stand up and be a professional football.
This has been an off season but that night was particularly bad to watch.
Will they turn it around at Old Trafford?
I think they will. It’s not like Olympiakos are a great footballing side. They played really well the other night but United should be having them for breakfast.
I don’t think 2-0 is an insurmountable scoreline to come back from. As long as we are a little bit tighter at the back and a little bit wiser I’m confident we came.
It’s a similar thing to the Roma game a few years ago [April 2007]. We turned it around at Old Trafford [United won 7-1]. I’ve still got the faith we can put a fair few goals past anyone on our day.
In terms of the Premier League title, who’s your pick?
I think City are going to have a bit too much firepower for Chelsea.
Arsenal, they play some really nice stuff, but Ozil is starting to go missing at the wrong point. I think he’ll turn out to be Wenger’s Juan Sebastian Veron buy. I don’t think he’s cut out for the Premier League. He’s started out great but he’s such a confidence player. Even though you’re a fan of an opposing team, you welcome that sort of talent into the league, but he’s been really disappointing in the last couple of months. He's supposed to be a world-class player but he doesn’t look interested.
I really hope Liverpool don’t win anything [laughs]. They are so much fun to watch but I’d sooner rather see City win the league than Liverpool get back on level terms in terms of the 20 league titles.
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