Choccy’s Diary: Festive football, new challenges for United and the return of some familiar faces

The United legend takes a look at Mourinho's departure and the return of some familiar faces in his final diary entry of 2018.
Brian McClair  |  27th December 2018

Festive Football

As the festive season takes ahold, it’s been a quiet one at Chez Choccy. With Christmas always being a busy time when I was playing football, I’m used to training and a strict schedule around December so it’s nice nowadays to be able to relax.

However, I have a busy start to the New Year as I head to the SSE Hydro in Glasgow for the FansBet Star Sixes competition.

It will be an exciting weekend of football that sees ex-footballers representing Scotland, England, Wales, the Rest of the World, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland competing over four days.

It will be great to see Scotland coming against an England side, and with the tournament being in Scotland there is bound to be a great atmosphere.

Boxing Day was a great day for the football for many reasons. I watched an exciting game between Aberdeen and Celtic which saw the Hoops claim a 4-3 victory thanks to a Scott Sinclair hattrick. Across the border in Manchester it was a great result for the Reds and it seems like the mood has been improved.

United to win and BOTH City and Liverpool to lose or draw – WAS 11.00 NOW 12.50*

Mourinho’s departure

Mourinho’s departure did surprise me. I personally didn’t expect anything dramatic until our time in the Champions League had come to and end, however judging from the last two results it was the right decision.

It will be interesting to see if he has some time out now, or if he jumps straight back into a managerial role. There has been talk of a return to Real Madrid, which has left their captain Sergio Ramos threatening to walk from the club – luckily this is why the captain isn’t allowed to appoint the coach!

It would be comforting for Mourinho if a club of their calibre were interested – and one thing’s for sure, if Mourinho did get the job we can rest assured that Pogba would not be travelling to the Spanish capital anytime soon!

I believe that if people are happy and content they tend to perform well and you can tell that the squad are playing with a lot more freedom now, as if a weight has been lifted. You can see that they are now a much happier group of players, which gives the impression that there hasn’t been much joy recently.

One example is Pogba. I always thought that he had a lot going on in his head and now he seems to be free to play as he wants, and it does show.

Will he stay? I think that just depends on how happy a player is – he wants to win things and although we are not challenging for titles just yet, it will depend on the players and manager around him.

Pogba to score a header v Bournemouth – WAS 12.00 NOW 14.00*

Return of Solskjær and Phelan

The appointment of Ole Gunnar Solskjær has already been a great success with two great results and United finally scoring five goals since Sir Alex’s departure.

I thought that Mike Phelan could have been appointed as caretaker due to his experience, but I am happy to see him back at Old Trafford.

Micky will make a huge difference due to his experience.

It’s a shame that when David Moyes took over he did not keep him, I know that Sir Alex recommended not to change the backroom staff and Micky is one person I definitely would have kept. He’s a great guy and I always remember his moustache, his great sense of humour and the great goal he scored for Norwich against us.

Choccy and Mike Phelan both played under Sir Alex at United.

New year, new challenges

The festive period has been kind to United, however we face some big challenges in the new year.

This weekend I think it will be another win for the Reds, however it will be tougher than the trip to Cardiff and hosting Huddersfield. A clean sheet would be good so I’m going with a 2-0 victory with goals from Jesse Lingard and Paul Pogba.

Our first game of the new year will be away to Newcastle which will be an interesting game. St James’ Park is always a tough place to go, but with it being an evening kick-off the atmosphere will be great. I think if we can stop Newcastle form scoring within the first 25 minutes, we will take home a win.

*all odds are subject to change

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