This week we are delighted to talk to Darren who owns the excellent TheUnitedPages.com, I also answered some questions on the upcoming clash over on his site so you can check that out if you fancy doing so.
Tell us a bit about yourself and the website?
I used to write and contribute (featured on the podcast alongside United legend Gordon Hill) to another United website but felt it was time to branch out and set up a site that would give me a bit more creative freedom. We've had some great feedback so far and we've been lucky to already have some great contributors on board even though the site is only a few months old. Onwards and upwards!
How is this season being viewed by the Old Trafford faithful?
Definitely very up and down! Pre-season we all got giddy because of the new players and the fact we'd actually signed a new midfielder, the first one for like 5 years. Then Swansea got us all depressed again by beating us on the opening day. Then we got all giddy again when we signed Di Maria and Falcao and some people even said we'd win the League. Leicester soon deflated that one though. Over Christmas we were a bit hit and miss even when we went on a great run. Then we got all giddy again with our wins over Liverpool and City and finally Everton ended that! I think most just wanted European football again. Us not being in the Champions League seemed very, very odd. We had to get back in that asap. It's vital.
Are the majority happy with Louis Van Gaal?
Yeh I'd say so. We understood that we needed a major investment after Sir Alex left and then David Moyes took us so far back that it only made a big job even bigger. What we like about Van Gaal is that he's been very honest with us all about the length of time it would take and the scale of the job. There was campaign in the press to unsettle him when he had a dodgy spell around West Ham away but it was only press talk. At Old Trafford we're right behind him. He's putting us on the main stage again and thats where we want to be. I know I'm biased but I think English football needs United to be strong. Instead of being backed by billionaires we've been robbed by them and yet still compete. We've had at least one youth team player in our first team squad for EVERY game since 1937. That's around 4,000 games now. Van Gaal understands United. Before he took over there was a great interview he gave to the press when they asked him what he knew about United and he laughed and said "I know they are the biggest club of the world". He romanced us, he still does.
How have recent performances been?
This is the best I've ever seen United in terms of possession football. We're learning to play a continental way which involves keeping the ball and probing for openings. You won't see the true fruition of this until we get a few better attacking options. I think everyone agrees that Fellaini, Young, Valencia etc simply aren't good enough to get us to where we want to be. Defensively we're a bit up and down but its our inability to score which has hurt us most this season. Take the recent Chelsea game, yes we lost but we absolutely bossed them and we're nowhere near the finished article.
From the outside it appears as if both Angel di Maria and Radamel Falcao have not performed so far for you guys, what is your take on this?
I feel for Falcao as, when I used to speak a lot to Gordon Hill, he told me how it feels to have an injury as bad as the one Falcao had. Gordon had the same thing happen to him and was never the same player. He carries that knee when he plays and has lost a bit of something. At 29 I'm not sure you ever get that back. I'd have loved it to have worked out for him but don't think it will. As for Angel Di Maria he started like a train and then has fallen away but I think you can put that down to being involved in the World Cup. I hope he stays and next season we could really see the best of him
Are you feeling confident ahead of the game against Arsenal?
Yeh but then I always am for most games. Its weird because I think United can beat anyone but also look at the fixture list and say 'they are a good side and them and them etc' all part of being a fan I guess. I think with it being our last home game we'll put on a bit of a show and really get into you.
Who is your form player and which players will cause Arsenal the most amount of threat?
Well our form players have been Rooney and Carrick mainly but both of them are out! Young and Fellaini have done well of late. The transformation in Fellaini since that FA Cup game against you is unbelievable. That game he was awful and looked like a competition winner out on the pitch. His height could cause you a lot of problems.
Are there any Arsenal players that you worry about before kick off?
Yeh its your pacey players like Welbeck, Walcott and Sanchez. Is Oxlade-Chamberlain injured? I think he's a good player but gets a lot of knocks. We need to get tight to you and stop players like Cazorla and Ozil being able to turn in the middle of the park and pick out those runners
What do United need to do to ensure a more successful season next time out?
We need to get some new players in! I bet every side says that though, even yourselves. Hopefully De Gea will stay. We need a centre half who is really comfortable on the ball. A central midfield player that gives you what Big Ron would call a bit of humpty dumpty in the middle of the park (get up and down and make tackles basically). We're absolutely desperate for a World Class striker, again though isn't everyone! One really good winger wouldn't go down too badly either.
Van Gaal recently stated that he expects United legend Ryan Giggs to become the club’s next manager. Would you go along with that?
Its a funny situation, one that we've covered on our site before and in-depth. Giggs is way beyond being the fans choice, he's simply on another level as far as we are concerned. The problem is the Glazers are scared of the power the class of 92 (Giggs, Beckham, Scholes, both Nevilles, Butt) have. Could you ever imagine a scenario where they tried to sack Giggs? There would be riots. For a long time before Sir Alex retired he was telling all his trusted journalists that Giggs would take over from him and then suddenly Moyes came in from nowhere. The feeling is that the Glazers simply blocked that one. For example, any Arsenal fans coming to Old Trafford should check out the brand new Hotel Football built across the road and co-owned by the class of 92. United fought long and hard to stop them building that, which should tell you everything about how the situation is between them. Will Giggs get the job after Van Gaal? If it was up to us then definitely but its not so I'd say its 50/50
Highlight of the season?
Easy that. Beating Liverpool at Anfield. Nothing is ever sweeter for a United fan and I include hammering City in that. Still, next year might be their year.... It won't!
Moment you would rather forget?
Leicester. How can you be 3-1 up against a side struggling for survival and lose 5-3? MK Dons was awful too but as it was the League Cup its not considered too shocking. When we go down we really go down and that is a concern.
Player of the season?
Tough one that. There are a few players that have reached an 8/10 level I'd say but nobody on a 9/10. Rooney has had a good season but a lot of fans are still angry towards him for wanting to leave so nobody will vote for him. We still miss him more than anyone though when he doesn't play. Carrick has been superb in patches and again we miss him when he's not there. At a push I'd say De Gea. He's been the most consistent overall and earlier in the season he was making real wonder saves.
Villain of the season?
Another tough one this as I'm struggling to pick a stand out one. We've mostly been the architects of our own downfall this season. Every time I see that useless @&*% Moyes on the telly I still want to put my foot right through it. I still blame him for how bad we became and so our poor performances and the way he ruined certain players have carried over into this season. Yeh Moyes. I want to sack him again I do. Lead him out to a firing squad this time though, finish the job!
Thoughts on Danny Welbeck?
No doubt about it Danny seems like a nice lad but I can't help feeling that if you want to really compete at the top level then he just isn't good enough. When I asked you about him for our website feature you very much echoed what I feel about him in terms of his finishing being allover the place. You feel though that he will come good and I hope he does but sadly I just can't see it. I felt at United that he reached a level and then never progressed. I'm all for him proving me wrong though as I've nothing against him at all.
What about the Arsenal?
I've always had a soft spot for Arsenal as they are a proper club. By that I mean they have an established history and tradition. We had some great tussles in the 70's and 80's. I remember Big Norman Whiteside giving you a torrid time with his one-man wrecking ball impression. Obviously when you became successful under Wenger then the rivalry got a bit nasty and I probably did hate you then but that's because you were a threat to us so its a backhanded compliment. I miss Fergie and Wenger falling out and winding each other up, happy days!
It's funny because I always feel that since the invincibles side Arsenal have been a bit soft centred and easy to beat. If you flood the midfield and then go in a little hard then your lot seem to really struggle and latterly Fergie had really got a bit of an Indian sign over you. Especially at Old Trafford. I feel that we have to try and go back to that in this game. Last time out, in the FA Cup, we gave your pacy players a bit too much room to operate and you picked us off. We have to make this more of a battle, a slugfest
Don't forget today is the last day of the CampoRetro competition. You can win the classic 1994 Arsenal home shirt but answering this question
Question: Which invincible had a short stint at Aston Villa towards the end of his excellent career?
To enter just send a message via the contact page with your answer, all we require you to do is enter 'AVCAMPO' into the subject. Alternatively you can send a Tweet with the hashtag #AVCAMPO and the correct answer.
A winner will be selected this evening and announced on the blog tomorrow. Match preview and the usual match stuff later today.