Valencia Woes, Ruining Snooker Careers and United v Liverpool: Choccy’s Diary

United legend takes a look at the Reds' recent loss and is the forthcoming trip to Anfield.
Brian McClair   |  13th December 2018

Snookering someone’s career.

Last weekend I went to see Ocean Colour Scene at the Hydro in Glasgow, I was coming back from the toilet, when I did a double take at a guy and he did a double take at me. It was the snooker player John Higgins so I was chatting away and he introduced his brother Jason, who blamed me for ruining his snooker career. I asked how did that happen and he said cos he started following Celtic because of you!

Visiting Manchester this morning I got on the tram from Piccadilly to Hotel Football and a man got on with a bag and starts talking to it like it’s a dog, telling it to sit and stay.

Got the tram back to town and he’s on the same tram, lying down sleeping, the bag was very well behaved, it was still sat there so it was definitely one of the most well-behaved bags I’ve ever come across on the tram, or the train or the bus!

Valencia frustrations.

You’re always looking as a coach, two games ahead, maybe three games ahead, particularly coming up to the festive period, and this week you’re hoping as a United fan that Liverpool don’t qualify and they go into the game downbeat but they got the result they needed.

You try and pick teams you think have a chance of winning, both against Liverpool and Valencia. It was underwhelming as a team performance. I have a lot of empathy with players when the team’s been put together and it’s difficult to become a team, when you’re put together for one particular game, it’s a real challenge. Ferguson was brilliant at that. You have a bit of a rally get a goal back from being two-nil down, we were getting out played and outfought, out-thought no one was expecting Young Boys to turn Juventus over. In the last group games when teams have qualified that’s the time to bet on these teams as they all throw up a second-string team. CSKA battered Madrid in Madrid, Plzen beat Roma at home, that’s probably the best time to bet in these games as they all play a second-string team.

When I was at United you had a manager who was able to tell someone that they weren’t playing but they were playing in the next game, because his planning was so good. He got most of those ones right.

The only thing you can be critical of is their application, did they run as hard and fast as they can, did they give their all. I was reading about Nuno Espirito Santo his philosophy is work hard everyday, and prepare for every game the same if you do that every day then you’ll end up with opportunities to win things.

Are they able to come off at the end of the game and say ‘I gave everything, I was still shit but I gave everything,’ his coaching staff will have a view on that.

Beating Liverpool.

You cannot win at Anfield unless all ten outfield players are working as hard as Liverpool are.

I’m always optimistic, we’re the underdog going into the game, they’re top of the league we’re several points behind. I’m buoyed by the number of good results they had when they were behind Sir Alex Ferguson’s teams they conjured up some good performances and good wins. I don’t think it will be nil-nil like last season there. The problem we’ve got is Liverpool score goals and don’t let them in. Maybe the injuries they’ve got will make a difference to Liverpool’s defence, I think we’ll score but I think Liverpool will score as well.

Marcus Rashford could make a difference. He needs to keep playing, he is in-form and he looks like a threat, for derby games against City, games against Liverpool, you want to have the players who live and breathe those games since they were babies, players like Rashford and Lingard.

Don’t think there’s any more or less pressure on Jose based one game, there’s only one factor that matters and that’s Champions League qualification. The season’s not about one game but what we want to see is passion and desire this weekend.

Sir Alex hated losing against Liverpool more than anything.

The manager said he always felt Liverpool were the team to beat – the preparation was different for Liverpool than it was for Everton. We never stayed over when we played Everton but we did for Liverpool. It’s always been the bigger fixture, for Liverpool fans and United fans.

When we lost at Anfield one season around 2000, Ferguson had been gracious enough to let me do my coaching badges. I walked through the training ground and it was a bit of a ghost town all the staff who worked there were getting the hairdryer from the manager. The kitchen staff, coaching staff, laundry staff, the lot! If I’d have walked down to where he was, I’d have got it even though I wasn’t employed at the time! When I went back there if we lost I stayed out of his way!

With Sir Alex, there was always going to be something that he’d pick up on, the chips were cold, or the cups had been left out. You couldn’t argue with it. He’d say standards are important and we can’t let them slip. We at United we do things differently, it was about standards. Don’t let it slip. There were little things that could make that difference and he was adamant about that especially after a loss to Liverpool!

Credit to Raheem.

It’s pretty poor that it’s taken an international footballer to speak out to highlight the problems that other players have had and when you look at the evidence, the media are guilty. It’s okay for David Beckham to go to Primark but it’s not okay for Raheem?

We can hope this will help to bring about change. Manchester has been the centre for lots of social change over the years and I can’t see how any media can have an argument that what’s been highlighted is not the case. We’ve listened to a few balloons say that’s not the way it is, who are white guys, well, pink.

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