Every word from Dalot's fans' conference
Diogo Dalot has become the second Manchester United player to take part in our specially arranged fans' press conference, fielding questions from our supporters ahead of Tuesday's Carabao Cup quarter-final against Charlton Athletic.
The Portugal defender followed Scott McTominay, who conducted a similar briefing prior to our win over Burnley in the previous round. Dalot met with supporters on Monday afternoon, answering questions on a range of topics, from his aspirations at United to the impact Casemiro, Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane have had on the Reds' dressing room.
Here's everything that our dynamic right-back had to say...
Keith Hodgkinson : Diogo, what's noticeable in the last dozen matches or so is the way the spirit has changed. What did you do as a group to get this team spirit and what are your realistic aspirations for this season?
"So, first of all, thank you for coming. I think this a good opportunity to speak with you [the supporters] a bit more. Speaking about the spirit, I think it really came - it was not something that was forced. It happened naturally for us. You can see, on the pitch, the connection that every player is getting and the connection with all the players who are on the bench as well. It is something that happened completely naturally and, when you win, it becomes easier. We build this relationship inside the group but I don't think it is something [where] we have to make the connection. It's natural between us, and I think that is positive, that we have to build on it and be even more connected, especially inside the pitch. But one of the things for me, that talking about experience and since I've arrived at the club, one of the things I was most impressed by was the connection that we have been having with the fans. Inside the stadium is something I've not seen [before]. It is something that we have been building on and there's still space for improvement, but obviously we are happy with it. My aspirations will always be [that] being at Manchester United you need to have big ambition. You need to win everything, every competition that you are in, but we also know that our reality is that we have to be cautious. We are making progress, we are in the right direction and [that is] the way that we have to approach, especially this season, because I think we have good positions to win something and, at the end, we want to be with the mindset of, 'this season, we did everything we could to win this season and playing finals and winning trophies."
Ian Stirling - Did the loan spell at Milan help and if so, how did it help for when you returned to United?
"I think it was probably the most important step of my career so far. I think it was the time for me to regain, first of all, match fitness because I was not playing when I was here. Then started to have this kind of routine again of playing every three days, having this schedule in my mind was good because I was not having [it] here, especially because I had injuries that stopped me for a while. But going to a different league, it brought me big experience playing with good players there [and it] is one of the things that made me a better player as well. Obviously, when you speak about Italian football, you always think of the defensive mindset, the tactical battle. They look very much into the details tactically and I think it brought me a little bit more knowledge about the game. I'm also a guy who wants to learn and ask about things. I had a good connection with the manager back then and I was always asking questions and trying to learn more things, so I think it was good for me to learn a bit more. But I think the main focus was to go and have a season playing regularly and come back with fitness."
Carl Nunnerley - It's great to see you in such great form. How influential has the manager been on your form?
"A lot, as you can imagine. Since I arrived in pre-season, I knew I had to be at my best level to play the way that he wants to play. I think I fit right in with the type of play and the things he asks me to do on the pitch. I think it suits the way that I like to see football so it helps. Obviously, he's a very good manager. He wants every player available and every player at the best level physically so I have to push myself more. Especially more in pre-season because I knew I had to be very good physically to be able to play the way that he wants. And then it's just about making progress, trying to learn, listening to what he's asking you to do and I think, not only me, but you can see the progress in a lot of players, especially collectively, but he is obviously one of the biggest parts of that."
Graham Smith - How different is it preparing for an unknown opponent such as Charlton to a Premier League rival?
"I think, nowadays, you will know a lot about the teams you are facing. Obviously, with new technology today, you can watch all the games from Charlton and I'm pretty sure we are going to prepare in the same way as we would a Premier League game. I think the meetings with tactical parts on the pitch [will be the same] so I think it would be a mistake if we didn't prepare in the same way, especially mentally, we didn't prepare the same way as we do in Premier League games because it's going to be a difficult game. It's a competition that we want to win. We want to reach first the semi-finals and they're going to be playing Manchester United. I don't think there's any bigger motivation at Old Trafford for them, so we have to expect that they are going to be at their best level and we have to be at our best level also to beat them."
Deborah Henry - Has it been difficult to re-adjust to club football after the World Cup?
"It's curious because I did not know what to expect, to be honest. After a World Cup, we never had that. It was also my first World Cup. First of all, it was a big experience and a very good experience for me individually but I think that we are only going to take conclusions a bit further than just now. For us, it's been good since we finished. We had good results, we are performing individually, collectively. It's brought us as much problems as other teams, so far, so I think it will depend on a lot of circumstances. But I think physically, it will be one of the biggest parts of having a tournament in the middle of a season will probably we will have to be cautious a little bit because there were a lot of games. It was a very good competition, and a tough competition to play, so I hope we continue like this, with all players available, and that will be a good sign."
Nathaniel Yates - How do you motivate yourself before the game and what difference has the manager made to the team?
"It's a good point. When you are winning games, it's easier to see that and everyone is in a good mood and motivated and it's when the things didn't go as we wanted, we actually did a good job and actually we bounced back. So we had some results this season that we didn't expect, especially at the beginning of the season, so the way that we work after that is one of the biggest differences that I've noticed since I've been here. Because, in the past, we have lost games and, this season, we have lost games, but the way we reacted after it [this season] made a difference, so far, and this is what I think is going to build us to be in a better position as a club, as players, as staff, as the manager. I think when the things aren't going in the way that you want and you bounce [back] after, that has been the biggest difference since I arrived."
Brian Houten - I'm sure you often hear that the Premier League is the best in the world. Having played now in three top leagues, and against many, many European opponents, do you agree?
"Yeah, I agree that it is probably the best league to play if you are a player that likes excitement, if you are a player that likes intensity, if you are a player that likes mess - this type of busy schedule. If you have this type of mentality, I think it is the best league to play. But obviously we are not all the same, there's a lot of players that would probably prefer to play in another league, but, for me individually, having played in these three countries, I would say it is the league that I enjoy the most because I like this intensity of schedules. The way that English people live this game, the way that everybody talks about the Premier League. It's like the world stops at the weekends to watch it and I think that made me love this country and, obviously, the Premier League. But I also am glad that I played in Italy and in Portugal because you also get experiences in different cultures and knowledge and I have to say that, in Italy, I loved to play there. I learned a lot. I also say that, in Italy, it's more a manager's game and, in England, it is more a players' game. It's more focused on the players, the individuals, the goals that these players score, the assists that these players score and, in Italy, it is about the managers. This manager wants to beat this manager. Tactically, this manager is better than this one. So I see it in this way, but that doesn't make Italy less or bigger. But I have to say that I prefer to play in the Premier League."
And, of course, it's warmer in Italy...
"A little bit" [laughs]
Mehfux Ahmed - Over the last six months, there have been a lot of new players that have come in and also world-class players such as Casemiro, Eriksen, Martinez , who is now a World Cup winner, Antony, and Varane from the season before. How have they helped you become a better player and what influence have they brought in the dressing room?
"What you guys see from the outside [is] what we experience from the inside, I think it's a plus when we a have player that has won the Champions League, that now Licha has won the World Cup. These types of winning mentality, it has to bring us as a team, has to put us in the next level. And this is the level that we want to be. They’ve played in big clubs, they've won a lot of things. I want to be, one day, the same type of guy that can say 'okay, I've won this amount of competitions at Manchester United. I have this experience of winning big competitions.' So this winning mentality, it also brings us a bit more of help in the same way, but, at the same time, they have this knowledge of when to do things, when we should be a bit more relaxed, when we should push a little bit more. So this type of experience that they have I think it just helps us and I think, for the fans, it's also exciting to have players like them. And I think, this season, we are building a good squad. We are building a squad with a good mentality and hopefully we are bringing and building a squad with a winning mentality and I think that's the goal for us."
Marc Henry - You've got World Cup and European Cup winners in the squad, but how important would be winning the Carabao Cup for the long-term development of the team?
"I think it has to be an obsession for us to win trophies, to win things. I think you guys [the fans] feel even more than me, you are here longer than me, that we have to win. This club is about winning trophies. It is about competing and fighting in every trophy that we are in. And this Carabao is not smaller than a Champions League, than a Europa League. Obviously, it's different dimensions but, for us, it's a trophy and we want to win it. Obviously, to arrive there, to go to Wembley, it's a tough journey. We know, it's difficult. But we want to take these small steps first. And every time we make a step, we want to do it with the certainty that we are moving in the right direction and I think we are in the right direction but the reality that we are not there yet. But to arrive there, we have to build many things first and I think this competition would be a very first big and firm step that we could take, especially because it is the first trophy of the season, and we are close. We have to have this type of mentality and face the game tomorrow like it is a Premier League game or the Europa League final or something like this. We have to, as it should and, hopefully, we can be celebrating in a month or so."