Andrei Kanchelskis played 456 games in his long career spanning three decades, including 123 for Manchester United. With his former club searching for their next permanent manager, today Andrei shares his thoughts on United’s future, both this weekend against Chelsea and next season.
Manchester United are playing Chelsea this weekend. What are your expectations for this game, particularly with Chelsea only conceding 4 goals so far in the Premier League.
“Sadly, I do expect that Manchester United will lose the game. Chelsea are in great form, have been achieving great results and they have fantastic players. They beat Juventus 4-0 and made it look so easy, which is extremely impressive. Looking ahead to this game, I can’t predict anything other than a Chelsea win.
What do you think has been the main recent issues at Manchester United, and is it fair to put all the blame on Ole Gunnar Solskjær?
“It’s certainly been a very difficult period for Manchester United. In one way or another problems have existed ever since Sir Alex Ferguson left. Manchester United have tried several coaches, various big names and then Ole Gunnar Solskjær – a club legend.
“Solskjær ultimately had problems getting results. Man Utd’s fans and board need great results, it’s a club that needs to win trophies, win the Premier League. Solskjær worked for 3 years and did not manage to win a trophy. Ultimately he had to go.”
What did you make of Manchester United’s victory against Villareal?
“It was an excellent game and Man Utd played very well, especially in the second half. In the first half they were nervous, but perhaps that’s understandable with a new coach, and distractions with the dismissal of Solskjær and the weight of expectation from the fans. After they scored the first goal, they settled down and played well and got the second goal. I hope the way they played in the second half against Villarreal, is repeated at Stamford Bridge this weekend.”
Do you think Michael Carrick may stay in charge until the end of the season? Would that be a good idea?
“I think it’s better that Michael Carrick stays until the end of the season. If a new coach comes in, it will take him time to adapt and familiarise himself with all the new players and I’m not sure it’s best to do that mid season if you do not have to. If Carrick is to stay on, until the end of the season, then his focus has to be that Man Utd finish in the top four because playing in the Champions League next season is so important.”
“I think it’ll be best for the club if Carrick stays until the end of the season and stabilises the club and then United can bring in a new manager ahead of next season.”
“If a new coach comes in now in the middle of the season there’s a danger he doesn’t understand the situation at the club. It would be better in my opinion if he comes after this season, before the start of the preseason. A new manager would need to speak to all at the club to understand what is going on in the minds of everybody; who would like to stay at the club, who doesn’t like it there. And he should also be involved in the transfers of new players.”
Manchester United are looking to bring on Ralf Rangnick to be interim manager until the end of the season. What are your thoughts on this?
“I know Rangwick has built a good reputation through his career – he has been an inspiration to the likes of Klopp, Tuchel and Nagelsmann with his pressing style of play. The impressive reputation he has in Germany has seemingly led the United board to consider his appointment, in many ways if it transpires then it appears a logical appointment – a step for stability.”
“Here in Russia, at Locomotiv Moscow, he has not done a huge amount to change their current situation in his role as director of football – which I’d describe as a little complex to say the least. They need to look at a different approach to have some success. We haven’t seen a huge impact in the six months he’s had but he’s not been here a long time in the role. It’s hard to make such an impact in that time.”
“I wish him all the best in this role at United if it is confirmed. I wonder if it will go beyond six months for him with the club, perhaps he will have a role in the hierarchy at the club following the end of the season and that may be useful given his experience.”
“I did feel Carrick should have stayed in the role until the end of the season, but it seems like that is not to be and hopefully this is the start of a return to form for the team and an upcoming period of stability.”
Who do you think will be the best possible long term replacement for Ole Gunnar Solskjær?
“I would like to see an Italian coach come to Man Utd. Italian coaches give good coaching and are often masters of motivation – something this team needs at the moment. An Italian coach coming to Man Utd, for me, would be a good decision.”
“Everybody is talking about Pochettino and I can understand that he’s been linked, after all, he has worked at Tottenham and worked at Southampton and understands the English game. It is a decision for the chairman and the board of directors to take. If you ask me, an Italian coach will be better.”
“Conte is at Tottenham and every Italian coach is working for a club. But why not Rino (Gennaro) Gattuso? He did great work at AC Milan, great work at Napoli, winning the Coppa Italia. He is ambitious, he is young. For me, he would be a great candidate.”
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Do you believe Paul Pogba should stay at the club or is it potentially time he looked to move on?
“Pogba is a great player but he’s never far away from uncertainty on his future at Manchester United. Whenever Manchester United plays badly, he seems to always be in the new, not only getting criticism from the press but also rumours that he’s unhappy at the club. I don’t know the situation, but if he’s not happy, then I think it would be best for him to move, despite his undoubted huge talent.”
“If you come to Manchester United then you have to play at 100 percent. You play for the club, for the fans. Manchester United is a big club, a great team with the biggest supporters in the world. Everyone supports the club and watches how you play.”
“If there are a few problems and you have your head turned, then the situation can become difficult. If you are not happy then it’s probably best for all parties that you move to another club. I’m sure he won’t be short of offers if he decides to do so.”
Harry Maguire is getting a lot of criticism at the moment. What do you think of him and his performances so far this season?
“In the last game against Watford, he played terribly. It looks to me that he’s playing with some nerves at the moment and not entirely comfortably. There’s no question that he’s a good player but he’s been a very noticeable part of a team playing poorly, but he’s certainly not the only one not playing to his full potential at the moment. At the moment the focus appears to be on Maguire.”
“Maguire made three or four mistakes in the game, culminating in his sending off and he now needs some time to regain his concentration. Man Utd are going into the next round of Champions League and the club needs to concentrate on the league until European competition returns in February. He is an important player for Man Utd and needs a little bit of time to get back to his best – I do believe he will – we saw in the summer for England what a fantastic player he is.”
Cristiano Ronaldo has never scored against Chelsea in the Premier League! Could this be where he finally gets a Premier League goal against Chelsea?
“Please score against Chelsea, Ronaldo! It is a difficult game no question about it. Chelsea are looking so strong, although Manchester City did very well against them recently. I want to see a United side showing determination and fight trying to get a positive result.
“At the moment, a draw against Chelsea will be a good result for Man Utd, given how strong this Chelsea side are.
“20 years ago, everybody was scared of Man Utd, no matter if they played Chelsea, Blackburn, Newcastle, Arsenal, Man City. That’s not the case now. Chelsea, Liverpool and Man City seem to be on a slightly higher level.
“I hope Ronaldo scores this weekend and Man Utd win against Chelsea. You feel that if they are to have a chance they’ll need Ronaldo to find the net. I hope my expectation that they will be defeated is proved wrong’.
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Does a managerial change motivate players who have been left out the side of the previous manager? Do you think Donny van de Beek and Jadon Sancho be even more motivated now, how do you assess both players and how they’ve done in their United careers so far?
“They both played really good games in the last game (against Villareal).”
“They have had to be patient and wait for an opportunity and it may now come with Michael Carrick and a change of coach for the rest of the season. Being part of the win in Spain will be good for them both. Sancho getting that goal will hopefully give him a lot of confidence – it was a smart finish. It’s far too early to write either of them off – they can both have a big impact between now and the end of the season.’
Kieran Trippier has been linked to a move back to the Premier League to Old Trafford. Is that a transfer you would like to see?
“Yes, of course I think he’d really add to the squad. He’s a terrific crosser of the ball and excellent on set pieces. He would provide a more direct approach perhaps for Manchester United going forward than Wan Bissau’s – who I also think highly of.
“Trippier has proven himself in the Premier League and for England too. There was a time when United focused heavily on crosses into the box, that was always a focus for me, Giggsy and Beckham – perhaps less so now.”
What have you made of the job Rafa Benitez has done so far with Everton?
“I have to be honest, I felt at the outset that his appointment was a bad decision, because of his history working with Liverpool. To me it almost feels like the decision makers at that club don’t understand the fans, of which many were angry with the appointment. He is clearly a great coach, but he worked at Liverpool, which obviously is a big rival for the club.”
“Watching them this season and I think they can expect a top half finish, perhaps seventh at best – but I don’t see them finishing higher than that.
“They have been inconsistent and they have just one draw from their past five games – they need to get back into form and quickly. Some of the games they are playing at a good level, but there is no consistency in the way they play. That’s their problem.
How much have they missed Dominic Calvert Lewin – do you think his long term future will be at Everton?
“He is a great striker. I really like him. We’ve seen it before with Everton losing their best attacking talent though over the years, going back to Wayne Rooney, who moved to Manchester United and they could not keep hold of Lukaku who also moved to Manchester United.”
“Every player wants to move to the big clubs. I love Everton and they have a great history and in the 70s and 80s they were dominating but it is not like that anymore. Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool are at a higher level, and Everton are at risk of losing their best players if one of those sides comes in.
“I’d love to see Calvert Lewin stay at the club for many years to come. I certainly hope he stays for a few more seasons and then you can perhaps understand if he gets an offer he can’t turn down in the coming years. Certainly, I hope he will score a lot more goals for Everton before he considers leaving!”
Giovanni van Bronckhorst has been appointed as the new manager of your former club, Rangers. Do you think he is the right man to take over from Steven Gerrard? Are you backing Rangers to win the title this season?
“Yes I would say he is a great appointment. I played together with him. He was a great player throughout his career for club and country. He played well when he was at Rangers and I remember him as a great man. He did great work as a manager when he was at Feyenoord also.”
“In my opinion it’s very important that the fans love him, which they do, because the fans remember him from his playing days. I think it’s a great signing for him and the club. I think he’s going to be a really good coach in Glasgow. He should be able to get good results, but we might have to wait for them to come, like with Gerrard. I still expect Rangers to win the title this season.”
“Steven Gerrard can hold his head up high with the job he did at Rangers.”
Zenit are playing Chelsea in the next round of the Champions League. What do you expect from that game, and have you been disappointed with the 4 points they currently have?
“Chelsea are obviously the favourites in this one. Chelsea are such a good team and they play some good football.”
“When they come to St. Petersburg, which is a great city with a great stadium, Chelsea should definitely be looking to win this game. Zenit is not in great form at the moment. Looking at their last game against Malmö, a 1-1 draw in which Zenit scored a last minute penalty, they will have a hard time playing against Chelsea.”
“It’s the same with Zenit every season. The directors and fans always say they need some good results in the Champions League. Domestically there is no real competition currently. It’s all about Zenit winning the league. Everybody around the club is always waiting for the Champions League, and they all want to see Zenit move through to the next round.”
“In recent seasons, they have only finished at best 3rd in the Champions League Group Stages, and nobody is happy with this. There has been a lot of money spent, buying a lot of good players from both Brazil and Argentina and there has been no results in Europe to show from it.”
“Domestically it’s not a problem, because they keep winning titles, but it has been a string of bad results in Europe. The fans are not happy with that, they want to see their team do well, and reach at least the quarter finals in the Champions League.”
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