Ask the Opposition

Ask the Opposition 43: Manchester United (EFL Cup)

It’s derby day… again! We’re only a couple of months into the season and already set for Pep vs. Jose part two, with United and City set to lock horns in the EFL Cup tomorrow night at Old Trafford. Both teams are not in the best of form and will be looking for a morale-boosting victory.

Ahead of the derby, we spoke to Paul, co-host of the United Rantcast and Manchester United Correspondent for Bleacher Report UK, to get a United point of view on tomorrow’s game.

Hi Paul, thanks for joining us. First of all, what have you made of United’s overall start to the season, and have recent poor results altered your targets for the upcoming year?

Yeah, sadly they have. I thought we looked set up for a proper run at your lot, but we’ve been all over the place since the derby. From the ridiculous to the sublime and back again.

Do you believe that Jose Mourinho is the right man to take Manchester United back to the top, or have the losses to City, Watford and Chelsea dented your confidence in him?

I don’t know, I really don’t. My overriding thought about the whole thing is if not him then who? Guardiola and Klopp are at City and Liverpool and there aren’t too many huge larger than life winner types in the game, which I guess is what we need for now. I always had mixed feelings about him, you know, because of the occasional horrendous terrible behaviour and misogyny and anti football. But I did think he’d inject a dose of belief, which seems missing for now.

United were lauded for their transfer business during the summer window, but it’s fair to say that a couple of their signings haven’t quite hit the ground running. What are your thoughts on the starts of Paul Pogba, Henrik Mkhitaryan, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Eric Bailly in Manchester?

Pogba – is awesome, will obviously come good, carrying too much pressure on his shoulders, trying to do too much.

Mkhitaryan – something’s going on and its weird. Was so looking forward to seeing him in a red shirt.

Zlatan – great start, has cooled off, will presumably improve again.

Bailly – what a player! Everyone thought he was bought as one for the future but he’s been by far the most consistent.

September’s Manchester derby was billed as the clash of two managerial titans, as Pep Guardiola faced his long term nemesis, Jose Mourinho. However, both have endured a poor couple of weeks by their high standards. Does Wednesday’s tie feel less about the managers and more about the two teams?

Honestly Wednesday’s tie feels like an odd sideshow because it’s the League Cup fourth round so it’s hard to care too much!

How important is a win for Manchester United on Wednesday? Will you place great significance on the result of an EFL Cup game if United fail to progress?

No, not really. A battering would be really, really bad and a win would be great for morale, but it’s only the League Cup. Neither Mourinho nor Guardiola will be defined by whether or not they win that!

If you could have one current City player in United’s squad, who would it be and why?

My default answer for this for five years has been Yaya. What a player, what a man. But obviously his time at the top has passed now. Probably De Bruyne, although Jose’d only sell him to the Bundesliga again. He’s great, isn’t he?

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