Sir Bobby Charlton spent a little time this afternoon answering some questions exclusively for 7Cantonas.com. The United legend attended an event for the Urban Stars project at Manchester United’s former training venue at the Cliff and was kind enough to answer a few questions about the season so far and who he thinks will be the biggest challengers to United this season.
Speaking the evening after Manchester City beat Premier League new boys Swansea convincingly, many pundits are already taken by the new Argentinian in blue, Sergio “Kun” Aguero. Asking Sir Bobby if he caught the game, he was diplomatic in trademark fashion. “I watch all the football and the new lad played well, he’ll be a hero… He’s a class act. We shall see – it’s getting exciting.”
Such natural enthusiasm for the game, whatever the game, whenever he speaks is par for the course and almost what you’ve come to expect; City’s big scoreline was expected and they moved above United in the league on an opening weekend where Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea all failed to win – the first time this century this has failed to happen. Putting Sir Bobby on the spot, he was unashamedly optimistic about our chances this season while respectful of the opposition. “The media think that City (will challenge). I think Arsenal will be ok… Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool are all capable of going on runs,” said Sir Bobby. “We’re in the driving seat at the moment and all we need to be is free of injuries and suspensions.”
There IS cause for optimism though. United have been busy in pre-season with many incomings and outgoings while some supporters craved a centre midfielder. That is, of course, until Tom Cleverley made his first team bow in the Community Shield and turned the game around. It wasn’t just Cleverley; Smalling’s performance at right back and Danny Welbeck’s display encouraged so many people to quote and refer to United’s average age, which at times was well under 25. “I think Alex surprised a lot of people with being able to field a team like he did initially – but he’s always right”, said Charlton.
Despite the win at West Brom the injuries suffered gave cause for a few nerves among some United supporters. Sir Bobby agreed that it was a tough test, “We’re always glad to win the first one away and we had a hard match against West Brom but we came through it. Alex has got a couple of injuries in central defence but fortunately we’ve got a large enough squad that it shouldn’t make too much a difference.”
And on our next challenge after such a busy summer? “Every year (there’s a different change of coaches and player and he’s just fantastic we’re there again ready for the twentieth.”
It’s an ethos that sums up the club; always striving for the next challenge rather than merely basking in an historic triumph.
Thanks to Sir Bobby Charlton for his time, and to Charlotte Duncker (follow her on Twitter) for her excellent work securing this for 7Cantonas.com. Charlotte asked Sir Bobby about his thoughts on the riots last week and they can be found here, and check that website tomorrow for some thoughts about David De Gea.