1. How difficult did you find it breaking into sports journalism given that it’s not the job that’s highest in demand and there are plenty already out there?
I was pretty lucky in that my dad spotted an ad in the local paper for trainee sports journalist. I wasn’t looking at the time and had only just left college, so it was nothing more than good fortune really.
But that was over 20 years ago and the industry has changed an awful lot in that time, so I don’t think that route is open any more.
I can imagine it being really difficult now due to the thousands of people on media courses, all looking to get one of the handful of jobs available.
It really can be about nothing more than good luck and timing.
2. What inspired you to take this career path, nonetheless?
Always had an interest in football and, when it became clear that I wasn’t going to earn a living by playing, writing about it seemed the next best thing.
It’s not just about writing match reports and getting in free to games, though. People are often surprised when they discover the hours we work and the demands placed on reporters.
3. Do you think Manchester United are serious title contenders now following their recruitment drive?
In a word, no. Having spent almost £300m in two years, you would think United would be right in the mix, but I’m not convinced by the quality or balance of the squad.
Without a commanding centre-half, prolific striker and committed goalkeeper, you have no chance. Every top team needs at least one of those boxes ticked and I don’t think United have any of them.
4. What do you make of the David de Gea saga? Are United right to let him go come the end of next season just to have him on the books for one more term?
As above, I don’t think it’s healthy to have a goalkeeper whose mind is elsewhere.
United should cash in now and look for a quality replacement. The word is that Jasper Cillessen, at Ajax, is van Gaal’s chosen replacement. Not sure he is the one many would have expected.
5. Can Sergio Romero fill his boots (or gloves, even)?
He couldn’t even get a game at Sampdoria last season, so I think he’s nothing more than experienced cover.
6. The Sergio Ramos’ deal may be off of the cards – or so it seems – but given the option, who do you think would have better suited United’s backline; the man himself or Otamendi?
People at United have made it pretty clear all summer that Nicolas Otamendi is a red herring and a player they have no interest in, so I’d be surprised if he arrived before the transfer deadline.
As for Ramos, yes, United need a leader and experienced centre-half at the back, so he would have been a good addition.
He isn’t the best footballer in the world, but leadership qualities are lacking in defence, so he would have been a good signing.
What United really need is to unearth another Vidic or Stam, but that is much harder than it used to be.
7. Speaking of the defence, do you believe United yet need to set their sights on a new centre-back or will the current options at their disposal suffice? Additionally, would Daley Blind fit in at the heart of defence or should he stick to what he knows in midfield?
I do think United need a new centre-half. Daley Blind lacks the pace to play there, but that could be overcome if he had a quick, experienced defender next to him.
But as in the previous answer, where do you find a Rio Ferdinand or Gary Pallister nowadays?
8. Do you believe Wayne Rooney can hit the 15+ goals expected of him, with van Gaal stating he will be the sole striker this upcoming campaign?
If he gets the service and avoids injury, Rooney should get 20 goals, but we are talking about a team who couldn’t serve van Persie and Falcao last season, so the lack of creativity could ultimately be Rooney’s biggest problem.
9. Do you agree that Robin van Persie’s time at United was up?
I would have given him another year, simply because he is a proven Premier League goalscorer and United are lacking those.
I do agree that his contribution and sharpness has declined over the past 18 months, but if the option is van Persie or James Wilson for this coming season, it would be van Persie every time, regardless of Wilson’s potential.
10. Where would you utilise Memphis Depay?
His best position appears to be on the left of a front three, where he can cut inside and shoot on his right.
That will bring goals, but may starve Rooney of crosses from the left, so it is a role that needs looking at as the season progresses.
11. The midfield will no doubt given the manager a selection headache on match days, but who would you pick if you were in his shoes for the middle of the park?
I think Schneiderlin has to be the first choice because of his age and ability to shield the defence and provide the platform for those in front of him.
Carrick and Schweinsteiger, great players that they are, cannot be relied upon to be fit enough to play 30-plus games, so the midfield has to be built around Schneiderlin.
I’m not sure where Herrera or Fellaini will fit in this season, but at least van Gaal has reasonable options now.
12. With his exit seemingly imminent, should ‘missing’ Angel Di Maria have been given another season at United to redeem himself? When he first arrived at Old Trafford he somewhat of a world beater, perhaps he could have returned to this form, given time.
I think Di Maria had made his mind up long ago that he would move this summer, so it’s right to let him go. I would move on De Gea too, for the same reason.
13. What exactly would you put his hindered his form at United down to?
He didn’t like van Gaal, so that’s probably the main reason, but he always struck me as a player who didn’t really want to sign for United in the first place.
Maybe the city, the Premier League, van Gaal’s demands all combined to make him want to leave as quickly as possible.
14. How do you think United will get on back in the Champions League this season?
Ask me after that Play-Off draw because that could be a very tricky obstacle to clear!
15. Finally, if you had to pick a member of United’s squad thus far as the one to watch this season, who would you put your money on?
Andreas Pereira. He had a great pre-season tour, can score goals and create. It just needs van Gaal to give him a real chance now.