Since my last diary it has been a busy few weeks. I was able to see Scotland’s international games at Hampden Park, including their meeting with Belgium, which I almost missed thanks to a ticket error!
As I arrived at the ground with two tickets, one for my seat and one for the entry to a tearoom where refreshments are served, I noticed that both instructed me to exit and enter through door 17. Seems pretty simple, surely?
The only issue was that door 17 simply did not exist.
As we got closer to kick-off nobody could seem to point me in the right direction – even the stewards struggled to find my seat, but luckily with two minutes to spare I managed to get seated in time to watch their 4-0 defeat – in hindsight maybe I should have taken the ticket problem as a sign!
Last weekend was a special one for me as I travelled to Wexford in Ireland to take part in a charity football game. We were raising funds for a hospice that will hopefully be opened soon in the area, I think they raised around £70,000 that weekend which was a marvellous effort.
One of the best things about the weekend was being able to meet up with so many retired players.
Stiliyan Petrov, Lubo Moravcik and Tom Boyd were representing Celtic, there was John Wark, Ronnie Whelan and Alan Kennedy for Liverpool and then myself, Clayton Blackmore and Keith Gillespie for United.
It was a cracking weekend with great hospitality. Getting the chance to talk to the likes of Whelan and Kennedy in particular was really enjoyable. Back in my playing days you never really got the chance to speak to people when you were playing against them so it was a brilliant opportunity to share some stories.
Pogba will always have critics
It was great to see Paul get a goal and score a penalty against Young Boys. I think the Frenchman will always have to deal with speculation just because of the type of player he is, the things he says and how he is perceived. People will always be talking about where Paul will be playing his football, but the best way to dampen the speculation is to continue playing well, which is exactly what he has done.
There has been a lot of talk about the criticism he has faced from Graeme Souness, and I think you have to just dismiss it.
In football there some players that no matter what, you’re just not a big fan of. Maybe Souness criticises Paul for controversy, as it sells and is always pointed out.
For me, I don’t think his views mirrors how Paul has been playing, but so long as the midfielder pleases the manager, he needn’t worry about the likes of Souness.
I recently saw a YouTube video criticising United for using the train, and in the background, you can see Paul dancing away to himself, which for me showed that he’s in a good place and he’s happy, and if a player is happy they tend to perform so let’s hope that his form continues.
Martial must do more
Although Martial found the back of the net on Wednesday, for me he has to do more. I don’t know what he does in training, but from what I can see on the pitch he isn’t working hard enough.
United fans can accept a player not performing to the best of their ability if they can see that the effort is there but I don’t think Martial is giving 100%.
As a player you may not have total control over your form, your teammates or your opponents – the only thing you do have control over is effort and he needs to focus on that. Martial has no more excuses, he is well and truly settled at the club and fans will want to see him putting a shift in.
The only way you can get away with scoring one goal is if it’s consistent. Take Zlatan Ibrahimovic for example. In the two games that I saw him play live, Ibra didn’t necessarily move around a lot, but he got the goals, whereas Martial not only isn’t putting the work in, but he isn’t even getting goals every game like Ibra did.
I can’t see him starting against Wolves, it depends who is available but I would expect Alexis Sanchez to come back into the team.
Wolves will be a tactical battle
A lot of people pre-season were tipping Wolves to have a successful campaign after getting automatic promotion from the Championship. So far they have performed well, getting important results from the likes of City and Everton, so they will want to continue their run of form tomorrow at Old Trafford.
Their head coach is someone with vast experience and Nuno has a good idea of what he wants to do at the club and exactly how he wants to achieve it. So far this season I have been impressed with Wolves.
Due to the nature of both managers, it will be a tactical battle on Saturday with Mourinho and Nuno trying to guess what each other will be thinking, how they will line-up, which tactical decisions they will go for. However, I am still confident that United will win. I am going for a 2-0 victory with Sanchez getting one of the goals.
*all odds are subject to change