To conclude our (pretty extensive!) coverage of the derby Kevin Pilkington joined us for a chat. We talked about the game; Rooney’s goal, and Smalling’s outstanding performance among other things…
Yolkie : We have to start with speaking of THAT goal. Fergie hinted it was the best goal ever scored at Old Trafford, what do you think?
Kevin : It certainly was a special goal not only the execution of it but also the occasion. It is hard to say if it was the best goal ever at Old Trafford because there have been that many special goals. It is certainly right up there!
Yolkie : It should be a once in a lifetime thing; but we’ve seen Berba and Rooney score similar goals this season – United weren’t at their best again, but as I wrote in a blog, outstanding performances and moments might be just as worthy of winning a title as great team performances. With Vidic, Park and in particular, Nani, all having made brilliant match turning performances in games that we haven’t necessarily played well in, is that something you would agree with?
Kevin : I do agree with that. Sometimes you need someone to spark the team and recently it has been individual performances that has helped United through big games. But that is what you expect from a United player. There have been so many times over the years that an individual has done that something special from the likes of Cantona, Keane,and Schmeichel to now with the likes of Rooney, Berbatov and Nani.
Yolkie : A word for Chris Smalling – when players join United there is an unfair expectancy that they fill the shoes of players; they’re always the “new” someone or other… With Smalling, he’s tipped to succeed Rio and Rio is nowhere near finished yet! However, his performance in the derby suggests he is already capable, and just as important, confident enough to play in these kind of games. After the Blackpool game you refused to blame Smalling for goals conceded, and you said he’d done very well when standing in for Rio. How do you rate his performance yesterday?
Kevin : I think that Sir Alex has seen in Chris Smalling the kind of temperament that you need to play on the biggest stage. He has come into the team when needed and not been fazed at all. Like you said especially to step into Rio’s boots is a hard task but he has done it quite comfortably. In the derby to play that well shows what a very good player he is and will only get better.
Yolkie : Communication is key; as a goalkeeper, what goes through your mind when playing with a young, inexperienced defender?
Kevin : Communication is massive in football as a whole but especially in the defence. When I am playing with younger pros I just try and give them as much encouragement as possible and talk them through the game not scream and shout at them.
Yolkie : We chatted after the Birmingham game and you said Rooney just needed a goal to get on a streak; he did get two against Villa but was poor against Wolves… however, the goal against City, and his celebration, suggested a huge weight has been lifted… do you think that now, finally, with the goal scored in that style, he’ll finally play with the confidence of old?
Kevin : I hope so. He is a very talented player and we haven’t seen the best of him since he got injured last season. You saw on Saturday what special things he can do even when not playing well but hopefully it will spark his season because every one loves watching him when playing well.
Yolkie : Who will be getting your PFA Player of the Year vote?
Kevin : There has been some very good level of performances from a lot of the top players… Berbatov, Fabregas, Nasri but personally, I would vote for Vidic. I think he has been immense at the heart of the United defence and he has thrived on being the United captain.
Yolkie : Our win was matched by Arsenal; it’s looking like a two horse race. Is that how it seems to be for you, or do you think City or Chelsea still have enough time to claw themselves back into it?
Kevin : I do see it as a two horse race especially after Chelsea’s result last night. I just think that they have too much to do to catch United and Arsenal. I would like to say it’s a one horse race!
Kevin also answered a couple of questions from our Twitter followers…
Do you know Jesper Olsen? (Don’t ask…!!)
Sorry but I don’t know Jesper Olsen. Very good player mind.
Do you see Lindegaard as Edwin’s long term successor, or someone else?
I think I answered this question on twitter the other day but I would say Stekelenburg. I think he was the stand out keeper in the world cup and would have the right temperament for United. Would be funny if United signed Reina though!