Ian Ladyman on De Gea’s contract, Falcao and Man Utd’s transfer ambitions

by Sam Peoples

We had a chat with the Daily Mail’s Ian Ladyman this week to talk about Manchester United.

From looking at Jorge Mendes’ influence at the club to summer transfer targets, Ian offers us some great insight.

Hi Ian, thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. Firstly could you introduce yourself.

I am Ian Ladyman, Northern Football Correspondent of the Daily Mail. I have worked for the Mail for 15 years and am the paper’s longest-serving football writer. Previously I worked in the midlands and London for the Mail before moving back north in 2001. I live in Manchester.

So another transfer window passes and other than Victor Valdes on a free transfer and the surprising signing of the football genius that is Andy Kellett, United remained relatively inactive. Are you surprised we didn’t sign a more substantial name?

No I am not surprised. January is a difficult month to buy big players. Selling clubs know you are desperate and that pushes the price up. United have succeeded before at this time of year – with players like Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra – but on the whole its best to stick with who you have got. United need to develop a long-term strategy rather than spend money wildly to address short-term needs. Ed Woodward is trying to establish this as a pattern and I think that’s right.

“I also expect them [Man United] to spend heavily on a centre forward.”

Moving onto summer, last season saw United spend an unprecedented £150m. Can you see us spending a similar amount and who do you think we will sign? Strootman injured again will clearly cause a rethink perhaps?

Yes there will be big money spent at United this summer. The Strootman thing was a definite until the injury. I think they will go in big for Marquinhos, the centre half at PSG who they have been trying to buy for a while. Centre-halves of genuine quality are the hardest players to find in Europe at the moment.

I also expect them to spend heavily on a centre forward. I can’t see Falcao staying and that only leaves Van Persie – past his best – Wilson – still young – and. Rooney, who Van Gaal does not see as a centre forward anymore. United need someone in the class of Costa or Aguero if they are to re-establish themselves as a genuine force anytime soon.

Louis van Gaal retains the support of the vast majority of United fans. Do you think he will see out his three year contract and can you see United winning trophies under his leadership?

It’s impossible to say. He is Woodward’s man and they will give him time – more than they gave Moyes – to get things right. That said, he really must qualify for the Champions League this season. The club spent heavily last summer. If – for the sake of argument – he didn’t qualify then really would have to start next season very well indeed if the knives weren’t to come out.

“I think Man United are being messed about by Mendes, who is beginning to have far too much influence at the club.”

De Gea. The situation is starting to really concern United fans. What’s your view on the contract impasse?

I think United are being messed about by Mendes, who is beginning to have far too much influence at the club. The situation is peculiar as it is one of the few topics that United’s hierarchy will just not talk about. De Gea is tempted hugely by a move to Madrid but is not unhappy in Manchester. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him sign a new deal – with a heavy pay rise – which will protect his value and enable him to be sold – rather than lost for free – the summer after this one. But that is only speculation on my part.

Your work as a football journalist will have seen you travel to various destinations both home and abroad. Which is your favourite city and why?

Probably Cape Town. Good weather, great food and wine and it has a mountain!! My parents are from Cumbria so I am partial to a big hill.

Clearly different football clubs will look after the Press in different ways. Which club serves the best food for the Press?

Man City took the lead in that department a few years ago but Chelsea have since shot by them on the rails. Not wise to linger in either press room if you are someone who likes to count calories. You will need a calculator. On a more serious note, I am not a journalist who thinks the press have a right to be fed at every match. We are there to work, after all. Having said that, it is nice that we are looked after by most.

Away from football, I know you are a keen Wigan Warriors Rugby League fan. How did you get into Rugby League and are there any other sports you love?

I was born near Wigan but grew up obsessed with football and cricket. My mum and dad started to go to the rugby about 12 years ago and I started going occasionally out of interest. I am a season ticket holder now and go to as many away matches as possible. I don’t claim to know that much about the technical or tactical sides of the game but I love it because its honest and free of the fakery that has infiltrated football at so many levels. Above all, it’s a release for me. Its sport for sport’s sake, rather than work which is inevitably what football has become.

Finally where do you think United will finish this season? Do you think we will win the FA Cup?

Fourth. No.

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