We caught up with former United defender and prominent media pundit Danny Higginbotham to talk about the recent events at Manchester United, the transfers that were made before the deadline. This week Danny was outspoken on Twitter defending the club’s moves.
There’s been a lot of talk about United ‘abandoning’ their identity this week. You’ve been one strongly against that idea – why?
Too many people in my opinion have jumped on the band wagon of saying United have lost their identity in terms of bringing youth through. Let’s get things straight – there will never be another class of ’92 they were a one off exceptional group of talent that had so much talent but also the timing was right because so many first team players were coming to the end of their United careers.
If you look over recent times you can name Evans and Fletcher who have played hundreds of games for the first team… add to that Welbeck and Cleverley, who although gone with Welbeck permanent and Cleverley on loan, they still came through the system but van Gaal decided they were not up to his standard. Over the last year we have seen Januzaj, Blackett, Michael Keane, Reece James, James Wilson, Tom Lawrence, Saidy Janko and more make their debut. United have and always will give youngsters the opportunity then it’s up to them. If they’re not good enough, like I wasn’t, in the long run then you leave. That’s not United’s fault, that’s down to the individual. It’s complete and utter nonsense to suggest that youth won’t gets its chance. People going on about Falcao coming who will be a hit, let’s not forget I think the reason behind Hernandez and Welbeck leaving was to allow the youngster James Wilson to come through. Unfortunately to many people forget that though and instead try and look at it negatively.
As a former youth player how do you think the existing kids will see the new signings?
The youngsters at the club will see it as one of two things. Either it will be ‘well that’s me done I’m going to have to move’ or the positive one is to learn from these great players. Make yourself a better player and try and get involved in the squad. As a youngster at any top club you are always on show whether that be to impress your manager or to impress a possible future manager when you get to play in any games whether that be under 21 level or first team level. I think the best thing to do is embrace it. If you’re good enough you will get through.
United have such a strong tradition of bringing kids in… As harsh as it is do you think sentiment has to come second when there is an urgency to get us back into the Champions League?
To a certain extent but I’m sure if the manager thought the youngsters were ready they would be playing. The simple fact is that they are not ready. Some will be eventually but some never will.
And of course the other thing is that it’s okay saying kids should get their chance but too many of our current crop simply haven’t been good enough… from what you’ve said, that’s something you agree with?
100%. If you’re good enough it doesn’t matter about your age. Look at James Wilson last season. He started of scoring in the under 18s and by the end of the season he had scored two for the first team on his debut. Youngsters have to look at themselves which I’m sure they do.
Away from the kids and on to the players we’ve bought. Di Maria and Falcao – two amazing signings, world class players. People have argued saying they weren’t what we needed on the pitch but symbolically maybe do you think it was far more important? Falcao is arguably the best number 9 in the world and Di Maria is one of the top players, Real Madrid didn’t want to lose him… in the absence of Champions League football, do you think that in fact, they are two of the most necessary signings we needed to make?
People going in about United not needing these players is madness. Every club wants great players and these two are world class. Say for example, van Gaal said ‘I’m building from the back’. By the time he had got to the positions of di Maria and Falcao they would have been long gone. It’s a statement of intent. No disrespect but is Man United a more attractive proposition for possible signings in the future with Moyes in charge having just bought Fellaini, or with van Gaal in charge having just got di Maria and Falcao? No contest and I don’t mean that in any way to be disrespectful it’s just the truth.
Results haven’t been great on the pitch. But that embarrassment at MK Dons means that we’ll generally be having full weeks of preparation for games… now talk of the title may be premature and it’s not ideal for us to have lost, but making the best out of the situation moving forward, with such a long time to prepare for specific situations, this could be the perfect long term preparation for systems and specific game plans…
First of all the United performance against MK Dons was the worst I have seen in years bar none but later on in the week I looked at it from a different angle especially after the window shut. The first team players that did start, barring Evans who was coming back from injury, and De Gea, were all available to leave. It was a chance for them to put themselves in the shop window or even try and change the managers mind. None of them did that so it was no suprise other than possibly Welbeck to see the majority leave.
I say Welbeck because I was an advocate for him to stay because he gave United something they didn’t have up top which was pace but Falcao came and he has the pace and the goals so that along with the emergence of Wilson is the reason I think Welbeck was allowed to leave. Look at the first team players that evening, the senior ones. Hernandez gone. Welbeck gone. Kagawa gone, and Anderson was available by the sounds of things as well.
Are you confident that Falcao and Di Maria will be hits?
Yes definitely. I think the manager will go to either 433 or 4231 which will suit them. They both have pace and that’s something that is needed in the modern game.
Thanks to Danny for his time.