EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEWS

20/07/2012 09:05, Report by Nick Coppack
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Bailey: Reds are massive in SA

of that friendly. To go away from home and play a decent side after a long trip from England isn't easy, so I think United did well.

What was the appetite like for United in South Africa when you were playing?
Well, when I was playing South Africans could only watch one game on TV a year and that was the FA Cup final. So they saw me play in 1979, 1983 and 1985. That helped fire the imagination of people. Here was an English lad, brought up in South Africa, playing for Manchester United. Of course, there was also Bruce Grobbelaar, who's from nearby Zimbabwe, at Liverpool, so what you find when you meet the older football fans is that they're either United or Liverpool supporters. In the modern era, when we get every game in every competition, people have a lot more exposure to other teams so you see a few different shirts around the place. Even a few Manchester City fans have come out of the woodwork!

What was pre-season like when you played with United?
All we did was run, run, run. We'd run up big hills and then back down again - the last person back would have to do it again. Looking back, it seems so antiquated. Why were we not learning from other countries who had already embraced sports science? The Italians were ahead of us and America was way ahead - they had masseurs and sports psychologists even then. We just turned up at pre-season and were told to run. And as a goalkeeper, that didn't do me an awful lot of good.

Did you have a specialist goalkeeper coach?
I did when I first arrived. Harry Gregg helped me out because I'd always had one in South Africa. Then when Ron Atkinson arrived he didn't want one. That was a problem for me because goalkeepers play in a specialist position and we have a lot of unique needs. We also have a lot of psychological issues! When goals go in and your players, your fans and your manager hate you, sometimes you need a bit of support. Generally, the goalkeeper coach is a good person to sit down with and talk things through. They help to put things into perspective.

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