Recently I had a big adventure over in Brest, Belarus to talk to some coaches from clubs in the area about my experiences as a coach and my philosophies. It was an interesting experience as I had a translator, who was great but got confused with the word “sunbed”.
I was telling a story about Sir Alex Ferguson and how he felt that players from sunnier climates needed to have more sun exposure, so he had a solarium built in the dressing rooms. The translator had to stop and try to translate the word, but we got there in the end!
It took two flights and six hours in a car from Warsaw to get across the border. I think the officers at the border were confused as to what I was doing there, so I explained that I was a former Manchester United player.
He said he had never heard of me, but luckily I had some photographs in my bag as proof and he allowed us to pass. I even signed one of the photos and gave it to him!
End of season backlash
I think the backlash certain players received at the end of the season, especially Pogba, is not surprising. As a footballer you play and win trophies because you love it, as do the people who watch it.
At the end of the day fans are paying good money to watch these players and they can praise or criticise, that’s how it will always be. As a fan you want to see players giving their all and even if you can’t play a good game every week, you should still be able to influence a game.
Sir Alex would always tell us that so long as we can look in the mirror and know that we all did our best and gave everything to a game that’s all that matters, and I don’t think that United’s squad can do that right now.
For me I think Ole warning players of punishment if they’re not fit by pre-season is a little harsh. Physically and mentally you need four weeks at least of nothing but relaxation and in those periods, you allow a certain level of indulging.
On the last day of the season you get weighed and I think that as a footballer pride should keep you within correct parameters, and a few pounds here on there is fine. Pre-season is designed to get you back into your peak of physical fitness so to expect players to already be at that level is a little unfair.
However, making threats is nothing new at Old Trafford, Ferguson always made sure that his teams were all extremely fit – but fitness doesn’t change the question of can these players give everything in every game?
As the transfer window takes hold, I think United have to recruit young players. For me, the likes of Gareth Bale is not an option.
Bale, who will turn 30 this year, for me is not the best investment due to his injuries and inability to play for a full season. For United we need young players who could play 10-years at Old Trafford, that would be a lot more worthwhile.
It was great to see Scotland make an appointment for the national team since my last diary. Steve Clarke has great experience with Kilmarnock and has given them such a successful season putting the team in third position with European qualification.
Scotland have upcoming games against the likes of Cyprus which won’t be easy and Clarke’s selection will of course depend on who is fit, but it would be nice to see some young players in the squad.
The new managerial appointment will hopefully persuade some players to come back to the national team, however Clarke’s job now is to assemble a good team with enough players both experienced and young.
Some countries don’t always prove a lot but feel they have a right to be in big competitions, and this is now Scotland’s chance to earn a place in big competitions and to succeed and I wish Clarke all the best.