With Antony currently out of the first-team fold at Manchester United, do you believe Jadon Sancho can step up and fill that void?
“Yes, I believe that’s possible. For over a year now, Jadon hasn’t been at his best and now it’s time for him to perform, regardless of whether he’s on good terms with his manager or not. He should want redemption on the field and I believe that he’s capable of achieving this. It’s not as if the team is playing great football and scoring lots of goals, so in a sense this should give Jadon the perfect platform to go out there and perform.”
Do you believe that Amad Diallo and Facundo Pellistri could also be potential deputies for Antony?
“The reason the club signed them both was to use them when they believed they were ready. They’re both talented players, and despite the fact that they don’t have the same level of experience that Jadon Sancho and Antony have got, they can play their part for Manchester United this season. Jadon’s currently surrounded by negative publicity, but I was very hopeful for him this season before the first game took place as I believe he looked fitter during pre-season. The whole situation between Jadon and Erik ten Hag is very strange and I’m sure both of them have regrets over the spat.”
Do you believe Jadon Sancho can rebuild his relationship with Erik ten Hag?
“Erik ten Hag has a strategy, a philosophy, his own set of rules and Jadon should respect that. I do believe Erik ten Hag should have kept his thoughts regarding Jadon’s training performances private, but the two of them can still mend their relationship as neither of them are egotistical. They’re both smart and they need to both think about the future of Manchester United, which is the most important thing. I believe a compromise is possible.”
After observing Manchester United’s start to the season, what do you believe is the real reason behind their unconvincing displays so far?
“I think there’s a lack of understanding about how they can create actual chances to score. However, sometimes teams need a bit of time to gel together, find their form and this could be the case for Manchester United. Teams like Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur, who have both had strong starts to the season, have the players to create an amazing dynamic. Let’s just hope that Manchester United find their form sooner rather than later.”
Are you still 100% certain that Erik ten Hag is the right man to take Manchester United back to the top? Do you have any reservations.regarding his management style?
“Yes, I believe he’s the right man. It’s always easy to judge people that are in the public and sometimes they do things you wouldn’t do yourself if you were in their position. Everybody can make mistakes from time to time and I believe Erik made one by making his feelings about Jadon Sancho’s performances in training public. Overall, he’s been top drawer for Manchester United and we shouldn’t forget how fantastic he’s been just because the first four games have been a bit unconvincing. Manchester United still has a great foundation, but it’s just not clicked yet. I have no doubt that Erik is the right man to take Manchester United forward.”
Since we last spoke to you, Manchester United have completed the season-long loan signing of Sofyan Amrabat. What are you expecting from Sofyan at Old Trafford? Do you expect him to be a success at Manchester United?
“Yes I do. I really like the profile of the player and we may look at Sofyan as just a defensive midfielder, but he’s capable of bombing forward, creating chances, recovering the ball and he can disrupt the oppositions attack as much as Casemiro can do. It will be interesting to see how the pair of them play together. The addition of Sofyan means that Manchester United can plug some of the gaps in their midfield and he will bring something special to the team, as well as his leadership credentials. I expected another one or two, but this signing is a great one for Manchester United.”
What are your early impressions of Rasmus Højlund as a Manchester United player? Were you impressed by what you saw of him?
“Yes, straight away. I was especially impressed by how he played when you consider that he’s short of match fitness and he’s not been given a long time to train with the team. The early signs suggest that he’s got good movement, great energy, technically gifted and he’s a big physical presence. His debut against Arsenal gave everybody an understanding about what he can bring to this Manchester United team. He combines his speed and strength with his technical quality and he doesn’t do stupid things when in possession of the ball. His link-up play was great to see and he showed some very positive signs of his quality against Arsenal.”
Do you believe Anthony Martial has a long-term future at Manchester United?
“For him, I hope so. Anthony’s a guy that’s sometimes misunderstood. When you have the amount of talent and technical quality that Anthony has then you have a duty to showcase it, otherwise the fans are going to be on your back. As Anthony had such a huge amount of potential, it’s a shame when you don’t see it develop. With the addition of Rasmus Højlund, Anthony is now going to be out of his comfort zone and I believe that’s very good for him because now he really needs to perform. He needs to digest the criticism surrounding him and step up. If people don’t see him fighting for his chance to play and he doesn’t step up, then more criticism is going to come his way.
“Nani had amazing potential and the fans and staff expected brilliant performances from him, but he wasn’t able to showcase his talents all the time, so it’s a bit similar to Anthony’s situation. If he can grab a goal or two in his next game, then it could give him the confidence to kick on this season and challenge Højlund for a place in the starting line-up. Everybody knows that Anthony’s good enough to do this.”
According to The Athletic, Manchester United are said to be prepared to go head-to-head with Bayern Munich in a bid to sign Fulham’s João Palhinha. How excited would you be by that signing?
“João’s a player that I really like. I follow Fulham closely and last season he was one of their most important assets in the squad but regarding a move to Manchester United, I like his profile but it’s quite similar to Sofyan Amrabat’s and he’s only just signed for the club. There’s a long time to wait before next summer’s transfer window and it’s great for Fulham that he will remain there until January at least, because he’s such an important player for them.
“I can totally understand why Manchester United are interested in signing him because he’s a very impressive player.”
Manchester City are reportedly tracking Brighton’s Evan Ferguson ahead of a summer move. Do you believe Manchester United should be hijacking any move City make for Ferguson?
“Evan Ferguson is a very good player and all the top teams need a number of high quality forwards at their club if they’re going to challenge for the biggest honours. Regarding Manchester United ‘hijacking’ a move for Ferguson if Manchester City go for him in the summer, then I wouldn’t agree with this approach as they should only move for players that have a real desire to move to Old Trafford. The strategy for Manchester United should be to focus on players that they believe will fit into their system and not players that are being courted by their competitors. They need players that are really committed to their mission and hopefully this approach can be really successful for Manchester United.”
Do you believe Aaron Wan-Bissaka is deserving of a new long-term contract at Manchester United? In your opinion, is he Manchester United’s best right-back?
“I really like him and I believe he’s the one player that can still really improve because he’s so focused and he’s very hardworking. He’s got his head down, worked very hard and he’s beginning to have a better understanding with the players that are further up the field. Both Aaron and Diogo [Dalot] want to play regularly, but I believe that Aaron does deserve a new contract as he’s recovered from a bad period and he deserves all the credit he gets. He can certainly improve in the future.”
Do you expect Manchester United to beat Brighton this Saturday at Old Trafford and how do you believe they will fare against Bayern Munich away in their opening group game in the Champions League?
“I do expect them to beat Brighton, but they’re a very tough opposition to come up against. They punished Newcastle in their last Premier League fixture and their manager is very bright. Manchester United need to be very careful, remain focused and try to find this spark that is missing at the moment.
“Bayern Munich away in the Champions League is a massive game. I believe Manchester United have the squad to go far in the Champions League and a good start against Bayern Munich will prove that they’re capable of that.
“I believe Manchester United will beat Brighton 2-1 and I’d like to see Rasmus Højlund get his first goal for the club. Bayern away will be tough, but I believe they can secure a point with a 1-1 draw.”
Is Eddie Howe under pressure at Newcastle United?
“Yes, I do think he is and that’s only because of how well they did last season. With the club now back in the Champions League, they will want to kick on from last season and try and avoid going backwards. Eddie Howe is still a young manager but Newcastle’s ambitions have always been high and unrealistic in some way and I don’t believe their owners will jump on the bandwagon of sacking their manager after a couple of poor results.
“I believe they will stick together and gradually build up their confidence as the season progresses. I’m sure that they’ve been working over the international break to figure out what’s not working for them and it’s utter nonsense to question whether Eddie’s job is at risk. The only pressure on Eddie is to get things right over the next few games.”
Ange Postecoglou is doing an impressive job in the Tottenham Hotspur hotseat so far. Do you believe Tottenham have the potential to win trophies under Ange this season?
“Yes, because everything’s possible. They have a big squad, they’re playing very well and as we’ve seen Leicester City win the Premier League, I’m not going to say that Tottenham Hotspur can’t win the Premier League title this season.
“Tottenham have a lot of quality players and their manager is new to English football, but it’s brilliant to see that he’s managed in various other countries prior to Spurs. I hope that Tottenham can be consistent this season and push Manchester City, Arsenal, Manchester United and all the rest.
‘Tottenham needs to be wary because we’ve seen them start the season well before and then they’ve gone off the boil. We will get the real answers of just how good this current Tottenham team is when we get deeper into the fixture list. Spurs look as if they’ve found the right balance in their defence, their midfield has the strength that it was once missing and there’s so much speed up top. They look really hard to defend against. Ange Postecoglou has brought a clear identity to Tottenham and that’s something they’ve needed for a long time. It’s brilliant to see.”
Should Manchester United have signed James Maddison instead of Mason Mount this summer considering that James cost £20 million less than Mason?
“It’s unfair to make these comparisons because James Maddison is on fire and Mason Mount hasn’t started the season too well and is currently out injured. Mason Mount is a brilliant player and he knows that he needs to step up at Manchester United because of the pressure he’s under. He has a lot of competition for his place at both club and international level, but I have no doubt that he will be a success for Manchester United. James Maddison is a brilliant player too and sometimes things come naturally to a player when they make a move to a new club and sometimes players need to put in the hard work to ensure that they settle in. I believe that Manchester United made a good choice by signing Mason Mount.”