Former United goalkeeper Kevin Pilkington gives 7Cantonas his thoughts on the stunning victory against Arsenal, in a chat with Yolkie.
What a fantastic game and result – much has been made of Arsenal’s current troubles but focussing on United, we had 3 of the defenders who started the Champions League final missing, as well as Rafael. The entire midfield was different, too. Do you think it was more about us doing well, or Arsenal playing bad?
Kevin : You can make all the excuses you want but at the end of the day you can only beat what’s put in front of you! I keep hearing Arsenal are a young team? United’s average age was younger. Injuries? United had 6 or 7 missing! I do think Arsenal were poor – maybe naive – but United scored some great goals and played some great football as well.
Sir Alex showed compassion saying that United could have scored more but he didn’t want them to; where do you stand on that as a professional? Do you as a player have the urge to ease up or do you want to rack up as big a score as possible?
Kevin : I can see where Sir Alex was coming from. He has been in the game a long time and I’m sure he felt for Wenger but as a player I would like to score as many as possible and I think you saw that with United’s performance. They never took their foot off the pedal.
De Gea showed signs of improvement again; perhaps he could have done better with Walcott’s goal but it was the sort of thing that we would see Edwin do. More impressive for me was the double save just after the stunning penalty save; are you convinced by him yet?
Kevin : His penalty save and the double save came at crucial times in the game and I’m sure they gave him a lot of confidence. He will be disappointed with the first goal but overall he is settling in nicely. It was nice to see the reactions of all the players after he saved the penalty as well and that will give him a big boost.
We talked so many times last season about Wayne Rooney and the form he was in, but this season he has had almost the exact opposite start to the season. He scored his 150th goal for the club against Arsenal, and although his hat-trick was fantastic, what stood out for me was the way he controlled the play in a manner I’ve not seen a forward do for United since Eric. The most special moment of the afternoon was that chip that hit the post; incredible genius that you would have expected from Cantona. Having trained and played with Eric, how would you compare Rooney at the moment?
Kevin : Rooney’s form at the moment is superb! I think it’s the best I have seen him play. Goals, assists, and what I really like about him is his work rate and desire to win. I think they (Rooney and Cantona) are two very different players but both are or were very important to the team.
13 goals in 3 games and a brand of play that is, at times, breathtaking. Speaking on a general term – do you think the football being played can be even better? That’s what Neville said directly after the game, but it’s frightening to think it could be true…