worked for some very good football clubs. The last one I was at, Everton, was fantastic with great people and I enjoyed it, but then you come to this level and you have to step up again. It really is an exceptional place to work.
What has impressed you most about the players and their work ethic?
I think players in general are now realising that in order to keep themselves in top physical condition they have to go the extra mile every day. There are no short-cuts. You’ve got to do the work. I’ve been very impressed by the United lads’ professionalism to make sure they’re in top physical condition by doing that extra work. The senior players are vital to the squad - they set the benchmark and are the ones everyone wants to emulate. And the senior lads lead by example. The likes of Ryan Giggs, Rio Ferdinand, Robin van Persie, Michael Carrick, Patrice Evra…all the senior players I’ve worked with so far set the standard and that filters through to the young lads.
How much of a benefit is it to have Ryan and Phil Neville on the coaching staff?
It’s fantastic. I’ve worked with Phil for a long time, both at Everton and for England so I know him very well. He’s a great addition to the squad. He has great enthusiasm and he wants to progress in his coaching career – he’s pestering me every single day for ideas and information! His work ethic is infectious and he’s a great guy to have around. To have Ryan as a player/coach is terrific. Somebody asked me the other day who is the best footballer I’ve ever worked with and coached… I’ve been lucky to work with some fantastic players in world football, but my immediate answer was Ryan Giggs and I’ve only worked with him for a few weeks! He’s arguably the best Premier League player there has ever been, coupled with others like Paul Scholes, but working so closely with Ryan makes you realise even more what a top footballer he is. From the other perspective having him on the staff is going to be vital when it comes to being able to confide in him and ask for his opinion on things because he has that experience of the United way and what it takes to win here. We’re getting the best of both worlds having him as a player and a coach.
We’re obviously away for a while on tour, but presumably this period is a great opportunity for you to get to know the players on and off the pitch?
Absolutely. It’s provided all of the coaches with a chance to get to know the