Choccy’s Diary: Tough Times, Title Challenges and Being A Sweetie

United legend takes aim at Ince and reminds us all while Fergie was the greatest.
Brian McClair   |  5th February 2019

United’s good run – and fortune – continues.

Leicester is one of the toughest places to go and people forget that. It’s always going to be a huge fixture when you go anywhere as United. The same can be said of Liverpool and more recently Manchester City. Teams are always going to be up for it when certain clubs are in town.

Leicester will be disappointed for the full back to give the ball away then defenders caught cold for the forward who produces an emphatic finish. The head coaches had a good game plan and tactical thinking. Leicester actually played well and in another game Vardy scores, but he hits it straight at DDG. The ball very much seems to be attracted to De Gea at the minute! In the end it was a good win for United but perhaps not a good performance.

Tough games ahead

If you’re asking where to concentrate your efforts, there’s still enough games left to say United could finish top four, we should be able to put out a side that’s competitive enough against Fulham with one eye on next week’s Champions League. Fulham have lost a record number of games in London derbies which sums up the kind of season they’re having.

There’ll be consideration of the game on Tuesday night, when picking the eleven for Fulham but you’d expect United to have a strong enough squad.

Against PSG if you can play the way that Lyon played against them, you’ve got a chance, they’ve got a high intensity and you need to match it. The front three are excellent and playing exceptionally well together, Cavani, Mbappe and Di Maria, work hard and are always looking to score goals.

It’s looking like being a lot closer than it was a few weeks ago and it all comes down to the game on Tuesday. Don’t lose and you always fancy yourself for a one-off game.

Sir Alex Ferguson had a vast experience of these situations and he always made the players feel that whatever game they were playing in was as important as the next one. He’d say they wouldn’t play but it was because he needed them for a future game. He had the experience of doing it for a long time and knowing what to do and what to say. He’s the only man I know who could make you feel good about not being picked!

Ole?Ole?Ole?

When it comes to Ole and the run he’s got the team on, there has to be considerations as to what was wrong before, what’s changed? Why has that changed? There’s an understanding of ‘go out and play’, a freedom, an almost laissez-faire attitude and if there’s enjoyment you will perform.

If Ole’s going to be offered the job, long-term then you’ve got to consider the influences and what they do and that’s collective, the coaches and tactical logistics, there’ll be other people in mind too. It’s not guaranteed a good Champions League run gives him the job, there are clubs in England whose teams have got to Champion League finals and got rid of their coach quickly after that!

Ince causing a stir

From the beginning I’ve said that Mick Phelan coming back was a great idea, he’s got a huge amount of understanding on how to prepare, cajole and analyse so if Paul Ince had brought Phelan in they would have been on the front foot. There’s a hint of envy with Paul. Plenty of times he’s made it clear he’s disliked by United. Be humble and say “hasn’t he done well.”

Sometimes as you travel through life’s journey you have to say, well didn’t he do well. Ince once accused Mike Phelan of being after his job when he watched a game Ince was managing. Phelan is the last person to do that, those tricks that have been played and exploited by others. Mike Phelan is not that type of person.

Title races

I’m not surprised Liverpool have dropped points recently, it’s very difficult to win the Premier League. It’s now getting to the time where the consideration is that City are full of winners and that isn’t always by playing spectacular football. It’s by making sure you get the points. Liverpool only have one player in Milner who’s been there and done it. There’s been recent games where everyone will say six points for Liverpool and that’s not been the case. Coaches earn their money by cajoling their teams into winning the league that’s all that matters. Winning.

United could be highly influential in the title race, but you can’t discount Tottenham, they’ve got to play both teams above them.

Fergie’s knowhow

Sir Alex knew what to do in a title race, especially when you’d dropped points. He’s be reminding you every day to keep working hard, and that you can’t do anything about the last game. He’d say to you ‘remember this game that time’, he’d create a siege mentality and keep the spirits up. That’s what winning coaches do and something Klopp who’s won back to back titles in Germany may have to try more of it.

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It was a huge benefit to Gary Neville, Nicky Butt and the rest of the Class of 92 players that the 26-year wait for the title had gone by the time they came into the team. We’d had to suffer to end it, when we gained title challenging experience against Leeds. Of course it helps but the pain of losing something it was tough. It makes it easier when it’s happened before having that positive attitude, sometimes you’ve got to just dig it out. Have Liverpool got that attitude? We’ll soon find out.

It’s wide open, particular with City losing to Newcastle and Liverpool drawing.

It’s all sweet

Popped into the RedArmyBet offices to cause the usual chaos. Paul Robinson was there and he was looking for a sharpie. He seemed to be amazed that I had one in my bag. I’m always prepared! I was also told off for being responsible for reducing a hard-working office to zero productivity, by sending all the staff questions about their favourite band. Apparently they spent more time debating the answers than doing any actual work! This time I’ve also caused friction, because I brought in £5.77 worth of sweeties. There’s now been a fight over the Chewits. With my nickname they probably weren’t expecting sweets!

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