After a successful season at Under-21 level, Charni Ekangamene tells Inside United he is ready to give his 'maximum' to keep improving at United...
It was some start to the pre-season against Club Brugge recently...
It was a pretty good game but hard for us as well as the first one of pre-season against a Belgain side that I knew very well. At the start, it was a bit tough for us because we were chasing the ball but we settled ourselves down in the second half and played a good game.
The victory was impressive considering they were third in last year’s Belgian league...
They are a good, experienced side so it was a real test for us. I think we really enjoyed the game as well and it was good for our fitness levels as now we can start building up for the season.
How do you rate last season on a personal level?
If I remember it, the start of the season was pretty hard for me. I think we had two different teams and it was hard to settle myself down. Sometimes I was playing, sometimes not. I had a good talk with my coach, Warren Joyce, and, after Christmas, I just took my chance and played all the way up until the end of the season.
Is the holding midfield role a new one for you and do you view it as your best position now?
I see myself there now but, when I used to play back in Belgium at Royal Antwerp and other teams, I didn’t play holding midfielder but at left-back. So I came to United and they taught me how to play in there. Now it feels comfortable there and I feel good.
Although you have plenty of energy and aggression, you don’t seem to commit many fouls...
Yes – that is just what the coach asking from me. What I think he brings me is confidence as well to do my job right in there and builds the team around me so it feels good to be part of it. You have to be active all the time. It’s not a simple job as you’re always trying to sort the danger out, help your team-mates and offer yourself up for the ball. I’m enjoying it.
How pleasing was it to win all the silverware last season, especially the first-ever Under-21 title?
I think we started pretty badly against Tottenham and were 2-0 down at half-time but Warren just talked to us and said: ‘Come on, this is our last chance for the last 45 minutes. Just keep at it and, if we score one goal, let’s see how the game goes’. We scored the first one, then the second and then the third and I don’t know how we put on a performance like that. It was unbelievable, just to come back like