Manchester United’s pre-season tour is now well underway. The players have that all-important first game under their belts, with matches now set to come thick and fast for the tour’s remainder.
There are some big opponents just on the horizon, but it doesn’t get much better than a game against the old enemy, Leeds United. With that in mind, we’ve an extra-special ‘A View From The Enemy’ for you today, with added emphasis placed on the word enemy!
The man answering our questions today is Liam Tunney (@ismiseliam) from the excellent site, The Scratching Shed (@TSSLUFC). Amongst the topic of discussion was United’s summer signing Daniel James missing out on a move to Leeds in January, David de Gea in the famous all-white strip (gross, I know) and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s start as United gaffer.
Anyway, let’s dive right in!
Jordan @ Old Trafford Faithful: First and foremost, tell us a bit about yourself and what you do for the Scratching Shed?
Liam Tunney @ The Scratching Shed: My name is Liam Tunney and I’m an Irish Leeds supporter from Co. Antrim. I contribute blog posts and articles to The Scratching Shed – previews and reflections on matches, some historical pieces and some more general Leeds-related articles. I try to stay level headed and cut through a lot of the noise that goes along with being a football fan!
Jordan @ OTF: Heh, that’s easier said than done! We have to start with the Leeds United and Manchester United rivalry. Although we’re in different divisions, there’s still no love lost between the two sides even though it’s a pre-season game, right?
Liam @ TSS: No matter how long our exodus has lasted, the rivalry hasn’t really dipped. We’ve only met twice competitively since we left the Premier League with one win apiece, but what sticks out for me was the Man City FA Cup match in 2013. The entire stadium had their shoes in the air to a chorus of ‘Stand Up if You Hate Man U’. A straight-up case of your enemy’s enemy being your friend!
Jordan @ OTF: Yeah, them blues will jump on any bandwagon to be fair! What’s your best moment against the Reds that you can remember?
Liam @ TSS: Obviously, the Beckford goal at the Stretford End is the most recent, but for me the 1-0 win back in 2002 sticks out. Things hadn’t quite begun to unravel financially for us yet but it was Rio Ferdinand’s Elland Road return and Harry Kewell headed in a second-half winner, with Paul Robinson having a stormer to keep your attack – led by Olé Gunnar Solskjaer incidentally – at bay.
Jordan @ OTF: Had a feeling you’d go for the Beckford one… And the worst?
Liam @ TSS: The 3-0 spanking in the 2011 League Cup smarted at the time; a stark reminder of how far we’d fallen, but the worst feeling for me was the sale of Alan Smith in 2004. It was the proverbial insult to the injury of relegation and the poor lad bore the brunt of all our hurt and frustration. To have him cross the Pennines as we slipped into the second division hurt like hell.
Jordan @ OTF: Ah we all love Smudgey! What did you make of the Daniel James non-signing in January? How do you feel about it now he’s joined the Reds?
Liam @ TSS: If we had signed James we’d have been promoted. Huw Jenkins showed a total lack of professionalism and common courtesy on that deadline day and I honestly felt sorry for Daniel, sat up in Elland Road with all the media stuff completed and then having to head back to training in Swansea. His form from January on was electric and greatly increased the fee you had to pay – you can thank us for doing your scouting for you! It’ll raise a grumble seeing him in red, but it’s done now, good luck to him.
Jordan @ OTF: Blimey, I didn’t realise it went that far! Marcelo Bielsa’s the man! Surely you’re feeling confident about promotion this season?
Liam @ TSS: I wrote an article back in January musing on whether we were assured or apprehensive. Most opted for the latter and were duly proved right in the most heartbreaking fashion.
We’ve grown accustomed to false dawns but something about Marcelo feels genuinely different. He has lifted the spirit of the entire club and totally altered the footballing culture – much like the great Don Revie. It’s heartening, but come back to me in May!
Jordan @ OTF: Thoughts on Solskjaer and United at this point in time?
Liam @ TSS: I was very cynical about the timing of Solskjaer’s appointment as the club were approaching what on paper looked to be a very winnable run. It was smart work as it allowed him to build up a head of steam and that was probably enough to mitigate the grumbles that emerged towards the end of the season. I think he needs a good start this time out – the honeymoon period has ended for the Baby-Faced Assassin.
Jordan @ OTF: It’s not often I agree with a Leeds fan! If you could sign one United player for Leeds (no restrictions), who would you go for?
Liam @ TSS: Daniel James…
Seriously though – David De Gea. A world-class goalkeeper to fill a position that has often been our Achilles heel in the last few seasons.
Jordan @ OTF: On the flip side, if there’s one Leeds player who would succeed at United, who would you go for?
Liam @ TSS: Well, if I can’t interest you in Lauren De Bock, Kalvin Phillips is our most influential player and would give you what Michael Carrick consistently brought to your midfield for all his years – but you’re not having Kalvin!
Jordan @ OTF: We’ll keep an eye out for him tomorrow! Finally, a score prediction for Wednesday?
Liam @ TSS: Tough to predict pre-season friendlies but one thing Bielsa’s Leeds do is create countless chances. We looked sharp midweek against York and Guiseley, but with much of the squad back at Thorp Arch for extra fitness sessions, we’ll settle for a 2-2 draw!
Jordan @ OTF: Agreed they’re unpredictable. We’ll go for a 3-1 win. Thanks and enjoy the game!