A Red Devils point of view
Zae - from Vital Manyoo answers some questions ahead of the Pompey v Manyoo game this weekend.
Fairly early days I know, but are you happy with how your season is going so far?
It could be worse but could be much better. Being five points behind Chelsea at this point is not a disaster, considering that we would have deserved at least a point at Stamford Bridge but the overall performance level is not good enough. The team looks a bit blunt, there is not enough focus and concentration...
What is it like without 'the winker' playing for you now - are you better or worse without him?
I think the squad needs strengthening because though it's got a lot of long term potential in its current state it's weaker than Chelsea's and isn't ready for another assault on Europe. And, though Ronaldo was a hate figure for other teams' fans, he was also quite a character. He made the Premier League and United more exciting, more colourful - his arrogance was really entertaining sometimes! That is something I miss a lot, that feeling of having the best and possibly most arrogant and self-confident player in the world in our team. And I also miss the fear that was apparent on many defenders faces when they were confronted with Ronaldo in full flow.
Are the club treating the fans well, or are they fleecing you?
The current Manchester United is a corporate monster. Ticket prices are steadily rising, the stewards at the stadium are a little... too efficient, in a way. And I don't think that any fan of any Premier League club can escape the feeling that they are just pawns of respective the merchandising departments...
Not that you made many really, but who do you think has been your best summer signing and why?
Not much of a choice, really? Antonio Valencia lived up to my expectations so far: he's quick, he's direct and he started scoring goals. Looking forward to further improvement from him but he's the best signing of the three. Albertan has shown promise and Owen won us the derby - I'll be grateful to him for that moment, though it seems he won't do much else here...
Could you have done with more arrivals - if so in which areas and maybe even who?
Oh, yes. Central midfield depends on Anderson's improvement and Hargreaves's fitness: if both perform to their true abilities we are well-covered in that area. On the flanks... Nani is stagnating, Tosic seems to have no chance, Park is an honest, useful but limited player, Obertan is a dark horse and Giggs is 36 - so we have plenty of players there but little real quality. Adem Ljajic, due to arrive in January, could be one for the future but right now I'd sell Nani and Tosic and get a quality wide man. Up front we are desperately thin as Macheda and Welbeck are still far away from first-team quality while Michael Owen offers very little. A bit of a defensive cover would be useful, too, with the constant rumours about Vidic and with Rio's persistent injury problems.
What were your expectations, or hopes before the season kicked-off? Have they changed since?
Hopes? I hoped we would be able to win the league for an unprecedented fourth time in a row. I'm still hoping. Expectations? Top three finish, Champions League quarter-finals and possibly a domestic cup. These haven't changed as they are entirely realistic I think.
What about Pompey, what do you think we should expect or hope for now?
No offence meant but the current bunch is not good enough for survival. If you'll have money to spend in January you can stay up as Avram Grant is actually quite a good manager who suffered at Chelsea for not being Mourinho even though he got closer to winning the Champions League than either Mourinho or Guus Hiddink. Wolves, Hull, Rovers and even Burnley: these teams are not exactly unbeatable, they can be overtaken if you stay in touching distance till January.
What is more important to you - the league, champions league, FA cup or league cup?
The league, then the league, the league and the league. But of course the league is also very important. But seriously: the league title is always the number one aim for me, even if Fergie might not agree, with his obsession with the European Cup. But winning the league is something that never gets boring, that never loses its gloss for me, it's just fantastic. To do it for the fourth time in a row? I would be ecstatic.
Who is the real Manyoo danger man that Pompey need to watch?
Must be careful here or I'll jinx our men. I'll suggest Valencia: he's desperate to prove himself and seems to be improving all the time. Cue him having a stinker tomorrow!
If you could take any Pompey player and put him in your squad who would it be and why? Clearly you would want to do this, bare in mind you can ONLY have one though!
Erm, well, if I can only pick one: I have a soft spot for Jamie O'Hara though I would not pick him ahead of Darren Fletcher. But he's a lad with a bright future.
Is there anyone that you would like to send Pompey's way?
If we get a proper winger you can have Nani: he's got fantastic skills but very little brain. Still, a change of scenery might bring the best out of him...
Go on, it is a forgone conclusion that you will lose, but who do you think will win at the weekend?
Well, a new manager always lifts a team but I think our experience and quality will see us through. 2-0 United, with goals from Rooney and Valencia.
Questions answered by Zae from Vital Manyoo.
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