Wondering what Manchester United fans think of Newcastle United and Steve McClaren?

Our thanks to stretford-end.com for filling in the gaps…

How is Steve McClaren regarded by your fans and do you rate him as a manager?

I think he massively overachieved with the England job and was quite fortunate to get the (Man) United assistant manager job. Brian Kidd had departed the season before for Blackburn Rovers and Ferguson recruited him at the start of the 1998/99 season. Of course, (Man) United went onto win the treble, so his stock rose through the roof. He has done a decent job since the humiliating failure of not qualifying for Euro 2008, but he isn’t held in a high regard by (Man) United fans.

Are you happy with your current squad or do you still need to bring in players?

I still think (Man) United need to bring in more quality if there is any chance of a trophy this season. Louis van Gaal has bought well, but the club needs to get some quality up top to replace Robin van Persie and I still think, despite Chris Smalling’s excellent early form this season, there needs to be a top class centre half brought in.

Losing Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra in one go last season meant there was lack of experience and leadership throughout the side and with over 1,000 appearances between them – (Man) United struggled.

(Man) United fans will be disappointed at Pedro going to Chelsea and Otamendi to Manchester City, but I do still feel van Gaal will bring new faces in. The impending transfer of David De Gea to Real Madrid is a massive issue, but I hope we keep him for one more season – even if he does leave on a free next season. Madrid can’t roll (Man) United over whenever  they want and not letting him go on the cheap will be a small battle won.

Is qualifying for the Champions League now counted as success for Manchester United?

No, not at all. (Man) United fans still want the club to challenge for the title – but realise that since Sir Alex Ferguson retired, expectations need to be lowered. Ferguson was a genius. An absolute winner who was ruthless when he had to be and many fans were spoilt. (Man) United need to be in the Champions League – but fans want to see the side at least compete for the title. The home win over Manchester City (4-2) last season was a step in the right direction.

How would you assess your opening three fixtures?

Tottenham at home was very flat and what you’d expect from an opening fixture. Aston Villa was a bit better, but there are concerns with Rooney’s form and lack of fire power up top – but the defence was well organised and nullified any potential Villa attack. Club Brugge was a good game – it was exciting to watch and it was great to be back in the European Cup. Memphis Depay was excellent and will be a big player for the club. He scored two great goals and United have one foot in the group stage.

Matteo Darmian has also impressed in all three games and is becoming a fan favourite.

manchester united fans

Have the signings Newcastle have made registered on your radar and what do you think of them?

I don’t know much at all about your new lad Thauvin, but Wijnaldum (pictured above) should be a good signing. There was a lot of talk about Mitrovic, but he looks slightly mad. Newcastle are the biggest spenders (net) so far this summer, so the pressure will be on for the signings to deliver.

Where do you see the two clubs finishing in the Premier League this season?

As much as I’d love to say (Man) United will challenge for the league title – realistically, I’d go for third. Newcastle will do better than last season, that is for sure. I’d pluck for 11th.

Where do you think Newcastle need to strengthen?

Newcastle were a shambles last season and were lucky not to get relegated. I’ve only seen the goals against Southampton and Swansea – so I can’t really comment on early season weaknesses.

If Sky, Premier League and Champions League hadn’t came along, do you think it would have massively impacted on your success in the ‘Sky Era’?

Obviously, the money played a big part in English football overall; obtaining visibility on the world stage. As mentioned, (Man) United had Ferguson – who is simply the greatest manager there has ever been – so to combine that with the money was obviously going to have an impact. I don’t think you can ever really look at situations like that though as change always happens in football – whether it be from scrapping the maximum wage in the 1960s – which allowed richer clubs to purchase the best players – or a change in the rules, like when the back pass was outlawed at the start of the 90s – which was beneficial for forwards.

The money did help but of course, United have a rich history of brining top quality youngsters through and the likes of Scholes and Giggs were priceless.

manchester united fans

If the above changes hadn’t happened, do you think it would have been better for English football in general, if not Manchester United?

Again, I don’t know if you can look at this way – but if the suggestion is that there would be a more equal playing field, then I guess it would make it more exciting with many teams competing for the league title but dominance has always been a part of English football at one point or another. Liverpool won three league titles on the bounce in the  early 1980s, whilst (Man) United and Wolves dominated in the 1950s.

I know English teams have struggled in the Champions League for the past couple of seasons, but from 2005 to 2009 English clubs dominated the final of the tournament – so I don’t think it has hindered progress.

When your success is built on and funded by a majority of fans who have never even been to Manchester and simply choose the team because they are successful, does it dilute the enjoyment/pride in your trophy wins?

No, not at all. Manchester United is one of the greatest football clubs in the world and has a very rich history. Any idiot can own a football shirt and eulogise about the fact they are the “best fan in the world” – but you’ll get those types at any football club.

Are Manchester City now seen as a long-term threat who aren’t going to go away?

They are a threat and will not go away any time soon. But the competition is healthy for (Man) United, Chelsea and Arsenal.

Would you take defeat to Newcastle in return for a guarantee of getting through the Club Brugge tie?

No. I think Louis van Gaal will field a strong side and still have the quality to beat the Belgians. If it is to win one and lose the other – Champions League qualification is the priority – so I would take a defeat to ensure progress to the group stages.

Do you want Obertan back?

No, but thanks for the offer!