Choccy’s Diary

Season Starts, Pogba Dramas & Travel Soap Opera
Brian McClair   |  8th August 2018

And so it begins…

I think this season United will be as competitive as we were last year, however we’re entering a period of uncertainty both with players who could augment the squad and also surrounding those who could be moving on. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of reaction there will be to the fact the English transfer window is closing on Thursday and several other windows in Europe remain open until the end of the month. I can understand why the English clubs decided to have that scenario but it could leave United suffering.

Another day, another Paul Pogba story.

Paul had a very good World Cup campaign and is a very good player. I think the latest saga is going back to the difference in transfer windows, in that potentially you’re put in a situation where you’re really going to struggle to replace him. You’re not going to be able to pluck world class players like Pogba out of the air.

United have been offered a fee from Barcelona along with the offer of two makeweights and these are players that Barcelona are happy to let go.

Everton had agreed a transfer fee for one and the other player is in the wilderness and you have to ask are they players that are going to be useful to you?

I can sort of accept those ‘games’ that clubs are playing as I imagine if it was the other way round with the transfer window closing abroad first, English clubs would be doing the same thing, trying to tempt and tease players with the knowledge that they’ve got time on their side.

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Baby come back.

It’s never going to be the same for everyone, each club will have their own view of how long a player should have to rest in the summer. There is a guideline that has been supported by FifPro that is the collective of all the players unions throughout Europe on what they should be entitled to. Because of the expansion of football both domestically and international wise, there’s probably more pressure on players to be involved. I can understand that if you want to give yourself the best chance of success– you want to start with as close to a team that can be comparable to your rivals. I can understand Jose’s frustration and United have been beset with a couple of little things in that Martial’s missed a period of time and there’s obviously been the speculation over Pogba.

Some players have decided they were comfortable in coming back a few days early after being involved in World Cup duty, some players decided that they wouldn’t. It’s going to be quite intriguing on how Jose looks at that and who in his mind sacrificed and who didn’t. You have to take Pogba out of that because he played in the final. There seems to be some questions from the manager over the commitment of a lot of the other players. I’m looking forward to seeing how all that is addressed by the manager.

Sir Alex always wanted us to have four weeks off. Players would have known what was expected. If there were requests he would look at that, Jose said it would be good for us if you were back early, some players have done that, some haven’t.

Jose and Ed.

All the top coaches would have a view of which players they’re willing to transfer as long as they get the club secure with their own targets. In Italy you’d have a General Manager who would buy and sell players at the behest of the coach. He would be given a list of players that the coach would like to have. If you were looking for three players for example I don’t think you’d look to secure three who were ‘A’ players in the sense of at the very top but neither would you be happy with three players of much lower standard. I think there’s always going to be a mix where the coach is going to be ecstatic in some ways and maybe at least content in others and then get on to do what his job is to coach the team.

Those meetings between the coach and the General Manager would be in order in enough time for those deals to be done and the right players to be approached by the club. I don’t know what players in what positions Jose’s wanting but we’re running out of time.

I don’t think it’s fair for people to comment on the relationship between Ed Woodward and Jose because unless either of them say something about it, you won’t know what’s going on.

Marcus is my main man. 

I was asked who’d be the first name on my RedArmyBet fantasy football team sheet. For me it has to be Marcus Rashford, I think he’ll start a lot of games this season and get a lot of goals. He was unlucky not to play more games in the World Cup – I think the team sheet photo may have scuppered his chances of starting the next game – and I expect to see him do very well this season.

Another travel soap opera.

Couple of interesting things about travel which seems to be a recurring theme for me, I was flying from Edinburgh to Dublin on Saturday morning, there was a guy in front of me having a good bit of banter with his mates. He presented his boarding card and was asked for his identity. The man proceeded to hand over a driving licence and was then told that he couldn’t fly without a passport, which he did not have. He was left in a situation where he couldn’t go. His mates left him, using Edinburgh vernacular for why they thought their friend was very stupid. I don’t know whether he made it or not!

I had another interesting experience coming back on Sunday where a couple of guys in front of me were asking the airport staff where the nearest toilet was and they followed it up with that their friend was going to be sick. The guy had already expressed into one of the clear plastic bags that you use for 100mil liquids. I feared at that moment I was going to get projectile vomit all over me, he had already sprayed some on the floor and his mates were guiding passengers round it in case they slipped and cracked their head.

Maybe he’d had a Dublin Bay prawn or too much to drink I’m not quite sure!

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