Norwegian Adventures, Paul Pogba & United v Arsenal: Choccy’s Diary

United legend and RedArmyBet ambassador gives his views on Mourinho, Pogba and the Arsenal game.
Brian McClair   |  5th December 2018

Norwegian adventures.

I’ve just got back from Norway, where I traveled over with a friend, we had a very amusing time, we were having a quiet drink, when a guy comes into the bar wearing a City scarf, his dad had started the first ever City supporter’s club over there. He was meeting a guy from Timperley who was also City fan.

For whatever reason he seemed to take offence when my friend correctly told him this weekend against Southampton would be the first game this season he wouldn’t be attending. I then told him I once went 11 years only missing one United game, he wasn’t having it, until he found out it was because I used to play for United!

Part of my Norweigan adventure consisted of travelling from Oslo to Halden,  it was roughly an hour and three quarters from Oslo.

When I arrived, I was excited to see there was a hill with a fort that had never been conquered, but it was by me on Saturday on my own with my boots on.

The Swedes obviously failed to conquer it 400 years ago because they had the wrong footwear!

The Norweigans are great, they’re fervent, extremely knowledgeable and very welcoming.

I have travelled to Scandinavia before quite recently, the local lad who organised the Q and A I took part in was asking when could we come back. Great to hear that people were enjoying themselves and it was entertaining for them.

There could be another trip in the New Year, I’m told the town has a pub and an airport, so that will be another adventure!

Before the game, I said how Southampton hadn’t won at home, but I had this hunch to have a bet on Southampton to score, I thought they’d score but didn’t think they’d score two goals before we did! They were somewhat fortunate in their goals and I thought we’d go on to win the game, it looked like it had been a blow, United were on the front foot, then it just seemed to stop.

Pogba had an overhead back pass to the goalkeeper, I suppose it was an attempt on target.

The momentum stopped, and the appetite seems to have been lacking. It’s a shame Rashford got a knock, he was causing them problems.

I saw Lukaku getting some grief on social media for how he went down after standing on the ball, he looked like he could’ve done himself a serious knee injury, yes that can happen and you’d expect him not to do that. Clearly it’s about being confident, it can be difficult when you get left out in different games.

You have to look at Marcus Rashford’s influence on the game, he looked a lot more positive than he has done in previous games. You need players who are creating things, Marcus certainly did that.

Jose Mourinho and injuries

Rashford needs to keep playing, Jose said others players wouldn’t play with that injury. It’s great that Marcus knows he better be properly injured if he’s not going to make himself available not just have a twisted sock!

Pain is your guide, people have different pain thresholds, people know themselves what they can go through. I played with shingles and it was agony when I was resting but when I was playing I didn’t notice it.

You can only trust when players say they’re not fit enough to play, anyone can say they’ve got a bad back. The medical staff, may be able to tell with some players. There’s some players who’ll be back quicker than others.

For Alex Ferguson you might as well as been invisible if you were injured, he would focus on the team that was playing, he wouldn’t rotate. If you’re not fit then someone comes in and does a good job they would often keep their place.

Jose Mourinho and Paul Pogba

It’s not encouraging the stories regarding Jose Mourinho and Paul Pogba from some so-called ‘reliable sources’. So many times Sir Alex lost the dressing room on a weekend but you were ready to go to war for him on a Monday, that was a huge part of why he was successful.

When it comes to managing Paul, you should use all different ways to get the best out of him, you’re always going to be told the same thing as a player, so as a coach you repeat the same messages, positive ones, then occasionally the negative ones. You can get away with certain actions if you play well – including putting the same photograph on a picture frame side by side!

Paul’s not getting enough out of himself, he has an awful lot of attributes that are the same as World Class players in the history of football, yet he doesn’t seem totally mentally in tune with what’s happening. Against Southampton he slipped, managed to control the ball then seemed to think “oh that’s amazing, I’ll try and do something else” sometimes the thought may well be “that will look good on social media or whatever”, I’m not saying it is with him but you can imagine players thinking that, he then loses it by mis-hitting the ball.

He should be the player that is putting in the performances that Roy Keane did, driving and influencing the team.

Paul Pogba to score against Arsenal and United to win was 4.25 now 4.50. 

It wasn’t much of a  surprise that my old team mate Mark Hughes lost his job, I had a hunch that he would go. When you look at Claudio Ranieri’s influence at Fulham it may encourage owners to take action, that’s part of football, that’s what happens. It’s crucial for clubs to try and maintain their Premier League status, Southampton’s plan was to do what Leicester have done and win the Premier League and being in the bottom three was not in their plan.

38 year-old grudge. 

I saw the recent interview with Jim Leighton where he spoke about Sir Alex Ferguson and how he wouldn’t shake his hand after never forgiving him for dropping him for the 1990 FA Cup final replay. I can understand it but Ferguson picked him for several games at Aberdeen then brought him to United.

When it happened all the players were surprised that Ferguson dropped Leighton for Les Sealey.

The replay was on the Thursday and on the Wednesday night we arrived at the hotel, the manager was fairly consistent about team talks and naming the team, there would always be a team meeting. That time though, ahead of the replay, it felt different, Ferguson came in and named the team and when he said who was goalkeeper we were all thinking “did he just say that” Jim didn’t know beforehand, none of the players knew. It suddenly became the topic of conversation, I felt for Jim who stayed in his room and didn’t really speak to anyone.

Facing an Arsenal.

United have played better in games against the other teams that are favourites for Champions League slots, Arsenal are in form, scoring goals, playing fast, Emery’s done a remarkable job, they haven’t won at Old Trafford for a while. There’s got to be a chance they can score.

My prediction for tomorrow is 2-1. to United!

Do I think Jose Mourinho could be sacked? Everything will hinge on whether we qualify for the Champions League, that’s what United will budget for.

United to win against Arsenal 2-0, 2-1 or 3-1 was 4.00 now 4.50 with RedArmyBet

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