Alex Ferguson getting pranked and Marcus Rashford’s chances : Choccy’s Diary

United legend Brian McClair gives his thoughts on the week's football and recalls the time he messed with Sir Alex. Again.
Brian McClair   |  23rd November 2018

Nations League – always thought it was a great idea.

During the international break Scotland had a wonderful two games, where they conquered Albania 4-0 in Albania, although I saw a quote from someone who was at the game, who said ‘Dunbar United would beat Albania’. So it wasn’t a surprise that Scotland overcame them.

I was at the Israel game which was a great result, that takes Scotland through in this complicated system, they’ve moved on a level, although Scotland were hanging on at the end, McGregor kept them in it with a great save.

My impression of the Nations League is it’s to make a competition out of these games which would normally be friendlies. I think the benefit to the SFA was a million pounds so that makes a huge difference to their coffers. It gives the fans something to enjoy, and a reason to travel. I spoke to one lad who said visiting Albania and Finland was on his bucket list, so he can cross one of them off as Finland’s at home. It’s just a bit complicated but it’s a vast improvement. Majority of managers benefit from it too as players who wouldn’t always be available for friendlies become so.

O’Neill shows his class.

The departure from the Republic of Ireland job of Martin O’Neill and my old team mate Roy Keane is one that all comes down to results, not long ago they were beating big teams, most notably beating Italy, with Robbie Brady the ex-United graduate scoring. There’s been several stories which have had a negative effect, maybe being a product of social media. I liked the humility in Martin O’Neil’s statement, he was very humble full of thanks saying he was proud of giving a number of young players their first cap for their country.

Hands off Marcus.

When it comes to the debate around Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard playing better for their country than their club, I think a lot is to do with it’s a different type of football, there’s mention of Real Madrid being interested in Marcus, let’s hope that doesn’t come to fruition.

When you get signed to a club for big money, it’s always the case that graduates have to fight hard to get anywhere near parity. You don’t want to lose players that have come through the academy and they know exactly what it means to play for United at different levels. I used to always say they could play as badly as any other players. Rashford would be of interest to several of the top Premier League clubs and those in Europe too.

Rashford hasn’t put himself in a situation for whatever reason where Jose can’t leave him out of the team, so whether that’s down to performances in training or in the game I don’t know. I think it’s really unfair to give him half a game as a centre forward, then take him off considering Romelu Lukaku was given the run he was given before he was rested, or even Sanchez before that.

Daft as a brush.

When I was watching the television before I went to the Scotland Israel game, I saw players getting off the coach they all had expensive wash bags. It just reminded me that one prominent player who went on to manage at the highest level, travelled occasionally with a toothbrush but sometimes without a toothbrush. Maybe the players coming off the coach they just had toothbrush in their washbag and the kitman brings the toothpaste , maybe they had just spare headphones in their bag.

When I was playing there were two players who used my toothbrush they didn’t ask, so there wasn’t much you could do about it.

During my period of time playing at United, I don’t know whether it was the manager getting his own back on me, thinking it was funny, or whether he trusted me to be able to handle the situation but I roomed with the foreign lads. It started when we had a Chilean boy on trial so I got him as a room mate for a for a couple of days, I roomed with a few non-English speaking players, I got Kanchelskis and Poborsky who couldn’t speak a word of English. Van de Gouw could speak English and asked me: “you no wear PJs?” no roommates I’d roomed with had ever had pyjamas, let lone the stripey ones Raimond was wearing! I wouldn’t put it past the manager making me suffer – good news is I got to watch what I wanted on the telly.

Choccy’s treble pick: Fulham, Chelsea and Everton to win. Was 9.00 now 10.00 with RedArmyBet

I thought I would have a quiet, understated, reserved introduction to international rugby union, so I went to Ireland for the all blacks at the Aviva stadium. It was pretty impressive both on and off the pitch. I got in early enough to watch the warm up, the All Blacks, warm up like they were playing, no wonder they have to go off, I must’ve had it wrong when I was a player because I never used to warm up. It was interesting and I’ve never been to international rugby game before.

I won tickets when I was at school, tickets to the Scotland v England game at Murrayfield but there was no one to take me so I couldn’t go so. That’s my sob story!

I heard a commentator say about the game: “The All Blacks never know they’re beaten until the final whistle or in the shower after the game.” I thought it was only football commentators that said daft things, when I heard that I nearly spilled my pint of Guinness.

As part of my adventure, I went to Eden Derry, did a Q and A and had a good evening. They asked you if you wanted another drink, I said I was okay then another drink appears anyway, it was ghastly!

The next day I was about 45 mins drive from Dublin, I was keen to get back to Dublin but I couldn’t get in touch with anyone, so I walked to the next village and got the bus – still waiting to hear from them as to how I’m getting back.

Thank you to Tommy “High tower” for looking after me in Darndale.

Jose Mourinho has it right

 
I’ve read the furore surrounding Jose’s recent comment about the younger players. The word ‘character’ has been used, although it’s still not clear if that’s the word he actually meant. Character is something that gets built as you go along by making mistakes and learning from them, when Jose was translating for Bobby Robson earlier in his career did he have the character that he has now? You can pick any flaws in players, there’s very few perfect players out there.

For example Manchester United’s record appearance holder, as a young man there was time when he decided to go to Blackpool for Easter Monday instead of resting along with his mate who used to get caught all the time – Sharpey.

There’s a school of thought around several renowned coaches that they’re not going not to get consistency until they’re 24/25 and they’ve settled down off the field as well as on the field. The players who are picked regularly in the top teams are the ones that even when they’re having a bad game they still do something that’s beneficial to the team.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with pointing out as a manager when you’re not happy with someone, Alex Ferguson did it to me on a daily basis. So I decided to put a welcome message on his phone that said: “Choccy is brilliant” – he didn’t know how to change it!

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