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bet365 exclusive interview with Jaap Stam

After an impressive run of form, Manchester United look like a team on the ascendency. The team at bet365 sat down with Manchester United’s former centre-back, Jaap Stam to discuss recent changes in the squad, Erik ten Hag, how he would defend against Erling Haaland, Top 4 predictions and his potential return to management.

Original article published 7 September 2022

What have you made of United’s time under ten Hag so far?

They're doing well now aren't they! In the beginning it was difficult as you could see the manager and team were trying to find their way. As a manager, in the beginning of the season you're always working on your squad and that's what you see, you're trying to find the right partnerships on the pitch and using the right players on the pitch to get to a certain level that is OK and gets results, but you're still building towards your ultimate philosophy.

The first couple of games were tough, they made a few changes and now they're quite consistent in what they're doing. They're defending as a unit and as a team, not giving away too many opportunities to the opposition and they're now scoring goals, especially from the transition - that's their main threat, defending well, winning the ball and going forward with pace.

The manager is trying to create an environment of winning, and from these wins build the confidence of the team and continue building towards his ultimate way of playing. We all know Erik from his time in Holland, he wants to play dominant football, that's what he's been trying to do, you can see it certain spells, such as the first 10 or so minutes against Arsenal, Leicester in the first half, but they need to be doing this for longer periods so they can dominate for longer.

For now, very consistent, that's giving everyone a boost.

What would be a good first season for the manager?

Well, I always said it for him to come in a good season will be to secure a place in the top 4 and be playing the Champions League next season. It's not going to be easy, they've still got a long way to go, many games and disruptions throughout the season such as injuries and suspensions but a good season for me is United securing a spot in the top 4.

As they've spent a lot of money bringing players in, you never know what's going to happen in the next window, but it'll be interesting to see if they further strengthen in January and their statement of intent.

Lisandro Martinez has come in from Ajax and is popular with the fans already. What do you see in him as a former central defender?

He's a good player. I knew as soon as he arrived people in the U.K. would talk about his height. That can be issue as a centre-back, not being so tall, but he's shown his quality over here in the National team and in the Champions League. As a player he's very comfortable on the ball, you can see he's trying to find these passes in between lines.

Defensively, he's very aggressive, sometimes he needs to be a little bit more aware of his opposition, not get caught or be too aggressive but that's the thing you learn in the Premier League and what you learn playing against the big teams, better players than what he was used to in Holland and that's what he's picking up. You can see his improvements already and how he's altered his approach. He's working well with Varane and Malacia on his left side.

Fans like his determination, and his quality that we've seen in Holland.

How impressed have you been by Man Utd's turnaround?

It's been very impressive. After the start they had, it’s good for the manager and very important for the team to make that change. Losing the first two games, not getting the results they wanted, it’s very important to turn things around as quickly as they have done.

We're now seeing how the manager wants them to play and the philosophy so it's not always easy, he's done well to turn it around and make changes within the team. We've also seen slight changes in the style of play and personnel, and they've seen the benefits of that in getting results.

For any manager looking to implement their philosophy, confidence is very important for the players. How do you get confidence and get players thinking quicker in your philosophy? By winning games and getting results. In doing so, confidence climbs higher, and players play easier, the ideas are implemented easier, so they pick it up quicker and eventually you end up with an overall better team, playing better football.

By winning these games and having this turnaround is a boost for everyone: the players, the manager, the fans and everyone who loves the club.

Could the Red Devils have an outside chance of finishing in the top four?

There's still a long way to go, the most important thing for now is to maintain that level and be consistent as we get towards the end of the season. The Champions League is very important for Man United, everyone is aiming for that within the club but there's still a long way to go and this is a good start, but they'll have to deal with injuries, suspensions, squad rotation and developing, learning how to play the way the manager wants them to and becoming familiar with each other.

Following the defeat to Brentford you stated that United may need to drop Martinez if they wish to concede more goals. They have conceded just twice from their next four games. What's changed for Martinez?

Him and Varane have been doing well. After the Brentford game, they've been playing together and there's a connection between the two, they feel what the other one is doing. So automatically, things are now a lot simpler than how it was before.

I know Martinez from over in Holland, of course the first starts he made and I know his mentality in what he's trying to do. You can see the player is making a change too in how to approach a game, how to go into the battles, the one v one's and what he needs to bring to game, which is a very positive thing.

Importantly for him and also the whole squad was that they changed their setup. Instead of using the one holding defender, they now use two with McTominay and Eriksen playing next to each other, and Bruno as a Number 10, which is very important for when they lose the ball, but also when they go into a block, defensively having two players to shield you works better.

The work rate of the team is better than before and you can see players running back, tracking back and they're very compact now. You can see that the opposition find it very difficult to pass through the lines to create opportunities. Arsenal did it a couple of times, but in the end, they didn't manage to make the final pass to score.

So, in general the team are doing quite well defensively, but there will always be teams who have the quality to play through it. Sometimes it will go wrong, but that's part and parcel of being a manager and planning for it.

Can Harry Maguire find a way back into this team?

You never know. Harry had his opportunities in the beginning of the season, but the manager made a big decision early on to take him out of the playing squad so now he needs to find his place within the squad again and get his confidence back. I'd assume he's lacking quite a bit of that at the moment. 

Harry needs to take full advantage of the minutes he gets and when he needs to step in due to an injury, suspension or formation change, he needs to show himself and what he can do for the team again.

Harry is a player who can step up and I'm confident he can step up. It's difficult for him now though as the back four are doing well, they're defending well and there's unity within the back line and the players in front.

So, it's not going to be easy for him, but for a manager that's what you want: quality players fighting for positions. If you don't have players fighting for spots or willing to fight for spots, it's not going to be the right environment for a winning team. Players at top clubs need to be kept on their toes and must show their quality at training sessions and on matchdays.

What have you made of Harry Maguire's criticism? Is it fair?

It's because of the amount of money they paid for him. When you bring in a player for that amount of money people expect you to produce and lead. Fans and people all over the world expect him to deliver a certain level of football and defending. For him, it hasn't been so easy. For a centre-back, the players around you need to provide as well, there are other teams in the league who are struggling with players not up to the levels they were used to, so that's how it goes in football.

Harry can do better. He can improve as a player, but there's a lot of competition with the United squad for these positions now and the manager is looking for a certain standard of play in what he's expecting from his squad and if individuals are not delivering on that, then you need to make changes and that's what the manager has done.

It's not about giving players infinite time; it's a results business and you need results quickly. Results are the best medicine to get to a higher level of play and where you want to go as a manager. Harry needs to start from zero, work hard, take the minutes to show himself and what he's capable of and fight his way back into the team.

It is now six games without a goal for Cristiano Ronaldo. What sort of role do you see him having at United this season?

I don't know if he will become a problem, I think Cristiano is a fantastic player. He's still a quality player, great goal scorer. He came in after pre-season not being fit enough and the manager's making decisions, using players who are fit and ready to start. Also, in terms of how he wants to play and the intensity of player, but Ronaldo is a player who wants to play every game.

I don't think he's the type of player who has his quality and has achieved what he has on the pitch to be happy sitting on the bench, so he's going to show himself and push the others to perform.

Having someone like him around is great for the squad and the manager. I was at the game against Arsenal and from the side-lines it looks like Ronaldo is having a positive influence on the players from the bench, before the game, during it, more or less now he's settled with his role and how the team are doing.

I can't believe he's agreeing with the role he has now and is happy with it. A player of his stature and how he is as a man, he'll be knocking on the managers door. He's a great professional so eventually he'll get his goals for the team.

Do you think it was a typical Dutch straightforward move? He didn't seem to shirk from the idea of dropping such big players, where other managers have held back.

I think as a manager you go into the club, and you had several conversations with the club about what you want to achieve. Even though you have big players, it's not about the players as individuals, it's about bringing the club to a level again, so people can think we're proud of it again, we're winning again and we're starting to compete for the trophies.

In doing so, you need to make decisions, even with a very good player, the player needs to deliver as well, and the player needs to be honest with himself too. That's difficult, because players are hardly going to say "yeah I'm not playing well" or "I'm not feeling well" or whatever - because everyone is acting in their own interest normally.

As a manager as a club, you need to make big decisions. You're also there for yourself, to produce. The manager needs the win as well. You can't be friends with everybody and say "yeah okay I like him" or "he's doing well" or "maybe eventually he's going to get there" - because then after a couple of games you're losing, and then after a couple of games you get the sack and you're out of the team!

So the manager is there for himself too, with his staff to produce as well. To get these results. You need to try to find a way to make changes that have an impact, so that at least for now we can get the results, and eventually we can grow to a certain level. That's what he's doing, and he's in his right to do so, and he's been doing well.

Malacia, you worked with him at Feyenoord, what do you make of him?

Yes, I worked with him. He had a player in front of him at that time, who was a little more experienced, so Malacia was the second man after the left back position. When I left, Tyrell got his position in the first team, did very well and we know the whole story by now.

Even from a young age when I worked with him, you could see his quality. The ability to make certain steps. And of course, when you play first team football in Holland you get noticed. Whether that's being defensively aggressive, using your pace and going forward and delivering crosses. You can see he's adapting well so far at United.

He needs to produce throughout the full season and he's the type of guy who's very down to earth. He knows what to do, he's a hard worker. He knows he has to fight for everything, and I'm impressed with how he's playing.

Ronaldo coming off the bench for the fourth game in a row. Not happened since 2005, given all the drama over the summer about him wanting to leave, does he still have a place?

At the moment, when the team is producing and scoring goals, it's not going to be easy for him, especially when you are starting the season after missing several weeks of pre-season. You need to be fit to start and the manager has said he's not fit enough yet, so he's not going to start him.

The other players are producing, they're showing their quality, scoring goals and winning games. So, trying to force your way into that team is going to be difficult. For now, he looks as if he's adapting well to his new role. The quality of Ronaldo though and what he's done in his career, you can't forget that, and nobody is forgetting that. He knows that and it's why it’s so good to have a player of his calibre and professionalism within the squad, as I'm sure he'll be pushing the other ones as, well.

He'll pushing himself and the others in training sessions, during games and the minutes he's getting to produce and if they're not producing, then he's there to take a spot. That's what you need in top teams to do well: players who are competitive, who are willing to take positions if the current players aren't delivering.

Antony scored on his debut, a great performance overall. How important is it to hit the ground running at a new club like Manchester United?

Yes, very important to get the confidence as a player. It's also good of course that he started straight away. He's very eager to get on the ball, asking for the ball a lot, trying to create. You cannot expect the first game that you start to do and show everything that you want to.

But you can see he can score goals when he's presented with the opportunity. He got the ball, great clinical finish and from that it'll give him a boost in confidence and will help to blend in with the club and of course the fans.

Erling Haaland 10 goals within the first six weeks of his Premier League career. What do you make of his start?

I've seen Haaland play a lot, especially last season as a pundit in the German league. When I was a manager at Feyenoord, we played against him when he was at Red Bull. He scored against us straight away so after that I followed him and his progress.

You could see in Germany that he's a world class player already and when we heard he was signing for City, we all knew he was going to score a lot of goals. Of course, I'm not saying he was expected to score 10 goals straight away, but you know he's going to do well as he's joining a team who play great football, who are dominating and are looking to mix it up.

Playing in the Champions League, City will know they won't have it all their own way all the time and will need to drop deeper sometimes. You need that threat by making those runs in behind and Haaland is deadly in doing that. You can see everyone is looking at him when City has the ball, when is he going to make that run?

He's always occupying a couple of players, not one but a couple, so it also creates space for someone else.

When he does get his opportunity in the box, he's not linking up as much as some of the other players within the team, but he just needs to wait for the right moment and the pass that his teammates will provide him to finish it off with a goal.

I'm very impressed with him as a player.

How would you defend against Haaland? He doesn't take that many touches. What would you do?

You need to be very aggressive. When the opposition has the ball, you need to go on play in City's half, you need to make sure someone is always very tight on Haaland and trying to take him out of the game, especially when you lose the ball, he can't be allowed to get hold of it.

You need cover too, otherwise if you try and risk it to play against him one versus one, with a lot of space in your back, nine out of ten times, it's going to be a very difficult situation. So you need to be very aggressive against him.

Teams are changing how they setup defensively when he's playing because of his threat, people are saying we need to put a midfield player in front of him as well, to give them more time on the ball. But you need to make choices now as an opposition to defend against him.

Speaking personally, sometimes when you play higher up the pitch, one needs to be aggressive on him and the other needs to cover you.

Can anyone challenge City this year for the Premier League?

It's difficult to say even now that City will win the league. They've dropped points recently; they're trying to find their way and trying to make improvements to get their consistency and return to the top of the league.

In this League, you know other teams will come up eventually, and this early on, we don't know how Liverpool will look later on in the season, the same goes for Tottenham and Arsenal who are doing well at the minute. United are improving too, even Brighton are in with a shout given their performances of late. I'm not saying they'll go all the way, but you never know, look at Leicester City.

It's going to be interesting to see who's going to be competing to get into the top 4 and also winning the League. City are favourites, but you never know with Chelsea. They've brought in a lot of players in and have the talent to mount a challenge.

What are your thoughts about Diogo Dalot’s start to the season? Has your opinion on him changed since last year?

I think he's a player with potential in what he can bring. He played more last season, there's always been this competition between him and Wan-Bissaka and he's seemed to win it.

He's a player that goes forward a lot and delivers good crosses. Sometimes, he needs to be a bit more careful in picking the cross at the right moment.

The only thing with Dalot is that sometimes in his defending he needs to be more aggressive and more sharp. You can get away with it sometimes, we saw in the Southampton game that he looks tight on his striker, but they still seem to get away from him or they can still deliver their crosses.

He needs to be aggressive at certain times and work on that. At this level as well, you don't won't to concede or give away too many opportunities. At certain times when he's defending, I think he can be little bit sharper, but I'm sure him and the staff are working on that.

But overall, he's going forwards, he's got the ability to go forward an attack and deliver these crosses, because the philosophy of Erik ten-Hag, he wants to work with fullbacks who attack.

I think United were in for Sergiño Dest, so I'm not sure if Dalot is the permanent choice or whether they're still looking for another player to come in, but he's doing a job for now, they're winning games but still a lot of progress to be made.

What sorts of improvements have you seen in Dalot since last season?

I think he's a little bit more solid in what he's doing. More consistent too. He's trying to be a bit more aggressive and that started against Liverpool. If you look at the games before, he played there, and they lost. That's why I said he needs to work on his sharpness, as if you're in possession and you're in the opposition’s half, you need to be careful on your passing; especially as a defender going forwards.

If you're not careful and you lose the ball, the opposition in transition can be very dangerous. That's what he needs to be aware of and what he's working on. It looks at times that Dalot and Malacia play from a deeper position instead of higher up. They get the game a little bit more in front of them and then they can come into certain areas to eventually be decisive.

Do you think Shaw will be able to get back in do you think he'll come back stronger, or do you think his future looks a bit bleak now?

Well I don't know the player himself, I don’t how he's training. But Tyrelle, he's been doing very well, he's a very aggressive player, he likes to go into 1v1 battles, in tackling, in winning his duals with the winger is what you see every game. He's doing that in general very well, when there's space he's goes forward, and that's why the manager picked him.

I know Tyrelle a little bit myself from the past, in my managerial career too, that he's got the intensity to go forward as well in his way of defending, and he's trying to keep that up throughout the whole game, and I think that's the difference if you look at him and you look at Shaw.

Shaw is a good player as well, I think he's got the right attributes, but it looks like he's holding back at times, and I think Tyrelle is not doing that, he's very decisive in what he's doing, and that's why the manager is picking him probably the start the games as well.

What do you see as United's most balanced front three at the moment?

For now, with Sancho, Elanga and Rashford as well, I think they're doing well. It's difficult to say what the best three is. When Martial comes back, he's a quality player that can play up front as well, he's having an impact when he plays, especially this season. I think the most important for Ten Hag and for the team is that the players he's putting out there have got the intensity and the pace. You can see in every game and when they score that their main threat is in transition coming out on the break, and then making these runs. With these players, Sancho can do it, Rashford is very good in doing so, Elanga has got the pace as well, he's a younger player and he still needs to learn but he's got that threat in behind him as well.

I think Martial is a little bit better on the ball, I think with Martial, Sancho and Rashford you've got a front three who are very dangerous, I like those three very much, but they need to be fit and ready to start. What Ten Hag is trying to bring to all these plays is that what they need to do when they're playing on the opposition’s half, and taking up the right position, but also in transition, making these runs. Especially when you've got players behind you like Bruno and Eriksen, who can deliver these passes in the spaces. So, they can score goals, and I'm quite impressed in how well they're doing in transition.

What do you make of the goalkeeping situation? A lot of people are saying De Gea's distribution is sweeping, and isn't up to the standard of Erik Ten Hag's team. Do you think De Gea can adapt?

I think De Gea without a doubt is the best goalkeeper. He's doing very well, I understand that you want to play out. You can see the switch that they've made from the beginning of the season till now, that De Gea is not taking these risks anymore, in playing midfield plays under pressure. He's a little bit more direct now, but eventually - when there is space to play out from the back - they're going to be doing it. You can see that in the game against Leicester in the first half, Leicester was pressing in a 4-4-2, that trying to find the midfield player and the back of the two strikers, he's played a couple of balls into them as well.

Against Arsenal, you see that De Gea is switching the game to Malacia a little bit higher up the pitch at times as well. I think he's also learning how to play the game a little bit more with his feet, and learning to make up his own mind in terms of when to play out, and when to play that long ball and not risking too much - that's a very positive thing. With a manager like Ten Hag, you can see that he's giving him the freedom to do so. I can't imagine that they're not working on it, I think in sessions they're working on getting better and better at playing out from the back.

Do you think there are certain skills that Dean Henderson has that De Gea might not have?

Henderson is a great goalkeeper as well. But he needs to play minutes more and more to eventually get the opportunity. It's all about a manager, a culture as well and having a confidence in a certain goalkeeper to play him, and that's why Ten Hag probably made the decision to play De Gea in front of Henderson and make different decisions in keeping him more or letting him go.

But Henderson is a very promising goalkeeper and he's been doing very well. At the end of the day you can see in other teams as well as that certain managers want to play out from the back and they're always looking for potential and for certain qualities in a goalkeeper as well that they can make that change and eventually get to a certain level. De Gea for now is doing very well, and there's always discussions about whether he's got the attributes to do such a play, but for now he's doing very well.

Who do you see as the leading personalities in the United dressing room at the moment?

If you look at the team, it looks like Bruno is one of the leaders. You're still looking at Ronaldo too in terms of how he's acting - he's got a positive reaction when you see him on the pitch talking to players, giving confidence to players. With his quality, his experience and how people look at him, how players look at him, he's still a very important figure in the dressing room as well and being positive to the score and helping them out even when he's not playing. I think Bruno is trying to do so.

Even youngsters like our new players - like Martinez coming in, and talking to players, and trying to bring confidence to players, and Eriksen - I don't know if he's a natural leader as well, he's got the experience of course. If you look at potential leaders for now, I would say that Bruno and Ronaldo are the two who have got a lot of influence in the dressing room.

Which United defender do you see as the most similar to you, as a player and a personality?

I don't see one who's similar to me to be honest. Not in a negative way, but just looking at individuals, and how I was as a player and my qualities, for now I don't see one who's similar to myself. But maybe it's better to ask that question to someone else to be honest. It's not about me, or having the same type of players, it's about how they play together as a whole, as a back four, but also as a team. They need to perform as a team, because that's the most important thing, bringing qualities together to eventually produce and get these results, and that's what they're aiming for now. They get these results in a certain way of playing, probably they still need to work a lot to get to where the manager wants them to be, but having these wins, defending in a certain way, scoring goals in a certain way, is of course very positive for everybody now.

Has it been a bit sad to watch the decline of Manchester United in the last few years? When you where there they were the best team in Europe just about, and they've only been in the top seven in England in the last couple of years.

After when I left of course they had some good years, but yeah after that there was a decline and it was difficult for them to stay at the top. Of course, there was a lot of new managers coming in. When you look at games and you follow United, it's hard to see that they're struggling to stay in the top four, or to get a Championship.

People like myself are asking "how did it happen?", because when you look at when they're spending money - they're still spending money - but they don't seem to be able to get a team which can compete for the number one position. That's hard to see. Is it about people in recruitment? Is it about managers not making the right decisions, or managers not daring to make those decisions at times?

For me, and for you as well as outsiders, it's difficult to know the truth. You're always guessing a bit and using your experience as manager to ask yourself "what can it be?". It’s about getting the right players in, that are fit in a certain philosophy, and also getting a manager in who has got the qualities and the right plan to implement that, to make a change. For now, it seems like they're on the right track.

I still think they need to make changes, add quality to the squad, probably the manager knows that as well, he also wants to create a certain environment and a certain way of playing that people can be proud of, so they can compete for not only this season, but for years and years with a certain way of playing.

I know you mentioned in the summer that if the call ever came to go back onto the coaching staff at Manchester United, it would be something you'd take in a minute. Where there are conversations at all when Erik came in? And do you still feel that you'd love to go back in some capacity?

I've never spoken to United - nobody phoned me about anything. But that's also how it goes in football you know. When a new manager comes in, he's taking his own people with him, that he knows and that can give him confidence, and that might help him out in certain ways.

But like I said before, United is a club that I love, I've grown there as an individual, as a player it made me stronger, it made me what I am now in career. I made history with that club, which is very positive, so if they need me, or if I can help them out in anyway, I'm always willing to do so.

Are you looking to get back into management? Would a return to England be something that you'd think of?

I would love to work in the UK, because of my days of playing and working at Reading as a manager. I'd love to work in one of your competitions in one of the leagues in the UK. Going back into management? I want to do it eventually, but it needs to be the right fit as well.

Always when you go into talks with clubs, people say "we're going to do this and we're going to do that", but it doesn't always work like that. You're always waiting for the right moment, I'm not very picky, I'm open to everything, but we'll see how it goes.

For now, I'm enjoying doing a lot of television work. You're still involved, you get to see a lot of games, and a lot of players which is good too.

A question about a player who has just joined Leeds, Luis Sinisterra. You kind of rescued him a little bit when you were managing him. Can you tell me a bit about him and what you saw in him, and whether you think he'll be a success in England?

Myself as a manager and as a defender, I'm very much a fan of attacking football, offensive football. When I went to Feyenoord, I was looking for wingers as well, but at that time when I joined there wasn't a lot of money to spend, so I needed to have a look at what was in the squad already and what was in the academy.

Luis was there, he was one of these players. At Feyenoord, people were saying to me "I'm not sure about him" and "he can't keep it up after half an hour" or "he's tired and his legs are gone". But I spoke with him, and I spoke with my other coach that I brought in, and when I looked at him, I saw a player that was very interesting, and had a lot of potential. That's why I gave him the confidence when he was there to play for me as winger. Immediately you could see what he could bring to the game.

Using his pace, his 1v1s, his scoring ability, also in creating them for somebody else. He's a guy that's very willing to learn, he's got a very good mentality. But he's a player that needs to have confidence, and who is sensitive in a certain environment too.

If you bring a player that's overseas, and he comes over here, he doesn't speak Dutch or English, you put him into a room somewhere in an apartment and expect this player to produce straight away. It's going to be hard, it's going to be very difficult. We spoke to him, we arranged that his mother was coming over as well to get the player into a certain mode as a family guy. That way he could go to work with a good attitude, feeling happier, and eventually get to a certain level. Already when I was there he started showing quality, people were starting to talk about him and notice the change that he's made.

Then after I left and the other manager came in and kept playing him, he grew as a player, into one of the best players over there. Now he's made a very big transfer to Leeds, unfortunately he got injured but he's back and he's already scored two goals in two games.

I think Leeds is going to enjoy him. He's a world class player, he can only become better, and I'm very happy for him.

Who would you consider to be the best centre-back in the Premier League right now - or your top three?

Oh, that's rough. I find that a very difficult one. I can't give you the answer now and name one player who was the best centre-back.

I haven't seen all the teams play either. I've seen Liverpool play, so I could say now Van Dijk's maybe the best one. For now, he's not up to his best in terms of what he's doing, compared to other seasons, but he is of course one of the main contenders if you look at him.

You could say the same about Varane when he was at Real Madrid too, I always rated him very highly as a centre-back but due to injuries he's not been playing. There's the potential for City to do very well, but it's difficult to name one or three centre-backs that are going to be the best now in this season.

Who would be the current Premier League forward you'd be most afraid of if you were playing today?

For me I would say nobody I am “afraid” of, but I think we need to be fair to the players who are playing now. I'm not afraid of him, but I'm impressed by Haaland, because he's got different attributes in terms of making small runs in the box when there's not a lot of space, but still scoring and finding his position. And also of course using the space behind him too.

The one that I'm very impressed with is Jesus from Arsenal, even last week against United he's a very good player, very strong on the ball. He's very clever linking up with the midfield players from the build-up, and going forwards, I like him very much.

I'm impressed by Rashford in what he's doing now, and how he's using his pace. I've probably forgotten other players, but I think Harland is the one that is very interesting.

Who would you say has had the best summer transfer window, across the Premier League, or even Europe?

I find it hard to say who has the best right now, because we've only played for a couple of games. I think throughout the season, you can say eventually where the teams are going to go, you can say “this is the best”. If you look at it in terms of personnel they're producing, City is doing well, United is doing quite well for now using Eriksen, making a change in the midfield, with Martinez stepping up, and Malacia doing well too.

I thought Chelsea did well, they had a couple of good signings. But they're struggling to get the results, so it's hard to say. I think we need to look at that one again in a couple of months.

And finally, who do you think will win the Champions League this season?

I think Real Madrid are going to be close, I think Paris Saint-Germain are going to challenge this season a little bit more this season as well. If I could say who's going to be winning it, then I'd need to make a gamble, but it's tough to say.

Normally if you look at the Champions League, if you look at the teams who are going to be in there, there's always - from like a small pool of teams - certain teams who are competing to win or go for the first and second spot. And the likes of Real Madrid are always getting close to that.

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