Interview with Alex Shaw discussing Van Gaal, Falcao, Herrera’s importance and signing Diego Godin

by Sam Peoples

Here at The Peoples Person we’ll be bringing you lots of original content in the coming months.

To kick start this particular series, ESPN’s Alex Shaw kindly took the time out to chat with us about Manchester United’s season. Louis van Gaal, how important Ander Herrera is to the team and what targets United should be looking at in the upcoming transfer windows.

If you have a suggestion for somebody you’d like us to talk to, leave a name in the comment.

Hi Alex. Thanks for talking to us. Introduce yourself to the readers.

I’m Alex Shaw, currently General Editor at ESPN and previously, I was sports news editor at The Sunday People. I once put 50p on 15 teams for £6,000 return and 14 came in. The 15th drew; I needed them to win and they conceded a last minute penalty to draw. As you can see, I’m fully over it now.

A 3-0 victory over Hull City was arguably Manchester United’s most comfortable win of the season. What do you think made the difference?

Easy: Ander Herrera. I can understand why he was left out of the side recently – the injury curse means players need to get protected – following his broken rib but he really needs to be selected week in, week out now. It’s rather weird to see a midfielder (remember them?) so commanding in possession; always wanting the ball and always seeking it back. He helped United tick along against feeble opposition and is comfortably the club’s most accomplished central midfielder. He’s an absolute beauty.

Ander Herrera made a real impact coming back into the team. Is he a player you would start every week when fit?

I’ve answered this above, really. A resounding yes.

Speaking of players being fit, do you see Radamel Falcao having a long term future at Manchester United or will his injuries stop a permanent deal from happening?

He is effectively on trial until April, then a decision will be made. It’s impossible to know whether he will be injury free for the rest of his career but considering United’s heinous situation with injuries, you could be forgiven for being pessimistic regarding his prospects. Falcao’s looked decent when he has played – good hold up work – but his finishing has been pretty poor, weirdly. He was snatching at all and sundry against Everton before his goal.

He needs a run in the team to see if he can get back among the goals but ultimately, his move to United so far has been a disappointment. Plenty of time for that to change, though.

Louis van Gaal originally said he felt 3 months would be enough for his philosophy to start falling into place at United. How do you think they are starting to shape up?

Average, but small signs of progression. Some of the football earlier in the season was actually worse than Moyes Ball. The abject draws against Burnley and Sunderland were alarming in particular, before United went on the spending spree. It’s clear there are signs of progress – the win at Arsenal was classic, counter attacking United at times – but the poor results against weak opposition at the start has hampered progress.

Van Gaal is a wonderful coach and he will probably have a decent career at United. At the moment, though, it’s 6/10 stuff but you can forgive that as he has had to rip up United and start again following the awful mess Moyes left behind.

Manchester United have now had 41 separate injuries this season. What do you see as the primary cause of the continued problems?

Ask Dutch Ray, he has an answer for everything.

Bad luck, mainly. Luke Shaw’s injury was a perfect example of just being unlucky. The training ground injuries are a concern: either Phil Jones has been kicking people again or the players are struggling with a new, gruelling schedule.

Manchester United spent a record £150 million in the summer. Which signing do you feel will have the most impact on United’s season?

Herrera and Daley Blind. Central midfielders! Delicious central midfielders. Sir Alex Ferguson is football royalty but it should never be forgotten that he neglected midfield during the final years of his tenure. He deserves blame for the midfield malaise.

Speaking of transfers, Manchester United are expected to be busy over the next couple of windows. If Louis van Gaal asked you who he should buy, what player(s) would you suggest?

I appreciate it may not be realistic but Diego Godin is a good suggestion, if I do say so myself. Juan Cuadrado would do a better job in the role Antonio Valencia does too. I’m really not sold on Ron Vlaar at all, but appreciate the argument others put forward for him. He’s attainable if United are to push forward for him in January, which they may well do.

Kevin Strootman is an obvious choice too. I think he’ll eventually end up at United but not in January.

In that same vein, what players should Manchester United get rid of?

A few weeks ago I would have said Ashley Young but he’s playing well again and probably warrants a squad place. I see little use, however, for Darren Fletcher, Antonio Valencia, Anderson and Javier Hernandez.

To finish off with, what are your expectations for the rest of United’s season?

No higher than third. The injuries really are unprecedented and it makes me think fourth will be a struggle. How can you expect the side to gel together when so many players are missing? It shows no sign of abating.

Fans would love an FA Cup win and I reckon United could go pretty far this time, if they treat it with the respect the competition deserves.

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