Joining former United forward Alex Notman on Press Red this week is media personality and famous United supporter Terry Christian, as well as Norwich City legend Darren Eadie, to give us their thoughts on the weekends game, Fergie moving upstairs, United’s wingers and much more…
Alex; you’ve been away on holiday while the United/Liverpool row was playing out… what did you make of the non-handshake and the way it all ended?
AN : I think Suarez was a disgrace to himself and his club, I couldn’t actually believe what I was seeing. He should have been grateful that Evra was even going to shake his hand. Evra probably shouldn’t have done what he did at the end of the game, but I can totally understand after what had happened. Hopefully this will be the end of it now and we can get back to talking about football!
Terry, your thoughts?
TC : Basically it was a storm in a tea cup but the way Liverpool handled it and Luis Suarez’s unbelievable arrogance caused the storm. It’s ended up unfairly smearing Liverpool as a club and their fans, and for someone like Suarez to act as if he’s some sort of martyr and as if he’s bigger than Liverpool FC, well I know what Bill Shankly would have done , and he’d be on his bike by now to some shady Russian team!
DE: I thought it was really disappointing from both sides. Although – there should never be handshakes before a game anyway. I know it is to promote fair play, but it always looks so false and you are just about to do battle with them, Why would you want to shake hands? Save that for after the game.
Back to Alex – we take on another of your former teams this weekend, Norwich City. I know you still live in the area and since joining Twitter have enjoyed banter with some of your former colleagues. How’s that been for you?
AN : Yeah I’ve been here for nearly twelve years now and made some great friends. There are a lot of ex players who have stayed in the area after they have finished their playing career. I’ve found Twitter really good, it’s a good way to stay in touch and like you say have a bit of banter. Just a pity some of the lads on there haven’t got any!
Norwich have had a great season haven’t they? Surely definitely safe now – Darren, you said to me in September that he wouldn’t be surprised to see them finish mid table, but Lambert says there is still the fear of relegation driving them forward. What’s your opinion on how well they’ve done this year?
DE : Surpassed I think everybody’s expectations. I think they already have enough points to stay up without a doubt. There are some poor teams down the bottom of the league this year. The desire to prove themselves as Premier League players drives them on too. Sometimes as a player you do not get many chances to play in the best league in the world if you are used to plying your trade in the lower leagues as many of this Norwich players have done. So they really have that desire to stay and play at the highest level of club football. Also team spirit is bit of a cliché but it helps a massive amount at any level you play at.
AN : I think they have more than surpassed everyone’s expectations what Lambert has done there is nothing short of incredible. They were being tipped to come straight back down and I thought that they would struggle as well. The main aim at the start of the season would of been to stay up and I think they have all but achieved that now I don’t think there is any chance of them going down now.
TC : I’ve been surprised at how well they’ve done. Often newly promoted teams fall into 3 categories, those that huff and puff and stick around for a year or two like a bad smell, those that struggle but valiantly fail and those that sort of say ‘It’s ok I’ll keep my coat on, I’m not stopping long’. Norwich are playing decent football and they’re well motivated, but then I don’t think the Premier League is as strong all round this year…
You’re heading to the game Alex, are you looking forward to it? How do you think both teams will do?
AN : Yeah I am really looking forward to it – these are the games as a player that you look forward to the most (from a Norwich point of view)! Obviously everyone is expecting a United victory but Norwich are pretty tough to beat so it won’t be an easy game for United. I personally think United will be to strong and win the game but Norwich should be going out there playing with no fear as no one expects them to get a result anyway.
DE : It’s always a massive occasion when you boys come to town. As I am sure you are aware you left empty handed the last time you came to Carrow Road 2-0. I remember Rooney was on the bench, perhaps shades of thinking you could rest a few! I bet that won’t happen again. It’s now into a really important part of the season for both sides… What a way for Norwich to really secure Premier league safety.
TC : I think United will win and quite comfortably, although I always hated Norwich, a sort of hang-over from our second division days and Ted MacDougal and Phil Boyer and that wurzel John Bond – although to be fair, John Bond is the man who took Man City from being a top 6 club having the odd bad season to being a yo yo team. Worst managerial appointment at City ever and showed a lack of ambition.
Sir Alex said this week that he would like a role upstairs when he eventually retires. Is that a good idea? It didn’t work when Busby ended his first role as manager… and who would you think will replace Fergie anyway?
TC : In my mind, when I think about United and what they are and what they need in a manager I can’t – and have never – thought beyond Martin O’Neill, Mourinho, no thanks, too tainted, O’Neill is the man for me and I’d have said that even before his Sunderland gig.
AN : Yeah I think, for as long as the gaffer wants to be involved with the club I think they should do everything they can to keep him there in whatever capacity that is. I think it will be difficult for anyone to come in to try and emulate what the gaffer has done. Personally I would love to see Mourinho take over, I think he would be the perfect manager to take United forward.
DE : United have to keep him involved. If I was the new manager I would appreciate having him around to bend his ear every now and again. He knows everything about the club and that could only be beneficial to the club as a whole. Comparisons will always be made whether he is around or not.
Fergie’s long time adversary Arsene Wenger’s having a rough time of it at Arsenal. Do you think he’s taken the club as far as he can?
AN : Yeah I think so – he seems to have lost his way there now. There is no doubt he is a top class manager but not winning anything for 6 years is a long time especially for a club as big as Arsenal. Unfortunately the way the game has gone if you want the best players you have to spend money and he seems very reluctant to do that. I think they need a younger guy in there someone with fresh ideas.
DE : Arsene Wenger is a top manager and who would you get to replace him? I think it is more of a case of lots of his players have let him down this season. In my view they have not been the same team since they left Highbury. That was such a classic traditional stadium, very enclosed, and i think the players thrived on that, and it gave them an edge.
TC : Possibly, he’s in a no win situation. Arsenal have got no money to spend and are in debt because of building that new stadium, although for every Thierry Henry, Fabregas he bought there was a Rosicky, Arshavin, Wiltord, Reyes… so his dabblings in the transfer market haven’t been that clever. Question is who will Arsenal replace him with and will he do any better? Chelsea have tried everyone with a really strong squad too and yet still seem to struggle which is a really big surprise to me.
Former United keeper Kevin Pilkington who writes for the website was pretty vocal at the start of the season saying he thought we should have signed Stekelenburg and not De Gea but he seems to have warmed to the Spaniard after his recent heroics. Sam on our podcast has led the opinion that he believes the injury to Lindegaard could be the making of De Gea as it’s forced us to play him in a consecutive run of games to get his consistency level up and it seems to be working. Have you gotten more convinced with De Gea’s recent form?
TC : I’ve never really panicked about him like some. He’s so young and Schmeichel had a nightmare first six months at Old Trafford and even in his heyday made the odd howler. De Gea’s going to be great.
AN : Yeah he has been playing really well and the more game time he has the more confident he will become. He made a few mistakes at the start of the season and unfortunately when he made them the team got punished and that probably affected his confidence. He is still very young and with a run of games I’m sure he will be United’s number 1 for years to come.
DE : You will never have another Schmeichel, enough said, legend. Best keeper I have ever seen by a country mile.
United’s wingers have had differing seasons… Valencia, when fit, has been brilliant, Nani has been inconsistent and after a bright start Ashley Young has faded and flattered to deceive… who for you is the pick of the bunch, and where do you stand on Nani in particular? Seems to frustrate more often than not…
AN : Yeah he is very inconsistent… when he is on his game he can be world class, but he obviously needs to start showing that week in week out as I’m sure the gaffer won’t put up with it for much longer. For me I think Ashley Young is the best of them all – he started the season really well but like you say, has faded. He has been unlucky with his injury too but I think if he can get a run of games he will recapture that early season form as I think he is a top class player.
TC : Nani has a match winning ability but he does seem to dive every time he’s tackled and then get up and foul the opponent, but he’s got the magic factor and United have to have a player like him, that’s what you buy your ticket for. Valencia is fantastic and getting better and better. I still stand by that pairing though – Nani left, Valencia on the right, although I think Park brings a lot to the team. As for Ashley Young, the jury is still out, he’s had a difficult season, but playing for United the opposition are up for every game and you can’t afford to not be at your competitive best every match as Berbatov and others must have realised.
DE : Giggs is my all time hero, so I can never really look past him. I do agree with the majority about Nani. Great on his day but not enough of them. Again comparisons are always going to be made with Ronaldo, how can you live up to that! He seems to over complicate things at times. I do believe Ashley Young will become a United favourite. As I know full well injuries really upset your form and make it a bit stop start. Keep him fit and he will really be an asset to United.
Thanks to the Darren and Terry for their time. You can follow Terry on Twitter, and also check out Sellebrity, Darren Eadie’s celebrity auction charity – the link is on the side of this page.