Facundo Pellistri

Proud Pellistri reflects on breakthrough season

Sunday 11 June 2023 07:00

Facundo Pellistri may have only played 280 minutes of club football in 2022/23, but the 21-year-old Uruguayan has added experience that should stand him in good stead for the rest of his career.

The right-winger made his long-awaited United debut in January, after featuring for his country at the winter World Cup. It took him just minutes to register his first goal involvement in English football, and he wouldn't have to wait long for a trophy, either.

Here, our no.28 reviews a formative campaign in detail...

So Facundo, we're going to look back on your season. It's your first full one at United since you joined the club. How do you look back on it? How do you review how it's gone for you this season?
“Well, it was a good season. And, luckily, we could classify for the Champions League. That was the main focus we had in pre-season. Also, we could win the Carabao Cup. Of course, it was a long season, full of matches and I gained a lot of experience here. So I'm happy to be here in this club and to have my full first season being a Manchester United player.”

Going right back to the start, you took part in the pre-season tour in Australia and Thailand. You scored in the friendly against Liverpool. How much confidence did you get from that and being around the squad and Erik ten Hag in his first pre-season as well?
“Yes, of course that match was the best match of the pre-season, of the tour, and scoring there was incredible because Liverpool, of course, is a good team and also the way we won that game – it was 4-0 - was incredible. So yes, that game and that goal gave me confidence.”

Why Pellistri will always remember 2022/23 Video

Why Pellistri will always remember 2022/23

Full Q&A | Facundo Pellistri on the different experiences he’s gained, Erik ten Hag and his friendship with Garnacho…

And, unfortunately, you got an injury at the start of the season that ruled you out for a little bit. How frustrating was that and how motivated were you to get back and get yourself into the manager's thoughts?
“Yes, of course. Against Atletico, I suffered an injury in my ankle and, of course, it was almost at the start of the season. So that is hard, but we are exposed to that. We play football, so injuries are all the time there. I focused on the recovery with the physios and the medical staff and, well, I'm now fit.”

And it's been a unique season because we had the World Cup in the middle of it. You were obviously involved with Uruguay, you started a few games. You got yourself on to a global stage: how valuable an experience was that for you as a young player?
“Yes, it was incredible. Playing a World Cup, also at my age, is something unbelievable. To play for your country is unbelievable. Imagine playing a World Cup for your country. As you said, it was in the middle of the year, so I was recovering also from my ankle injury. Luckily, I could go to the World Cup and it helped me to get more experience.”

Coming back to the domestic scene, you were involved in the matchday squads. How much confidence did it give you being involved with Uruguay and coming back to United? Obviously, you wanted to get your game time and prove how good you were for United as well…
“Yes, of course. Coming back to a club like United is incredible. It was a long season full of matches. I could participate in some of them. And yes, if I look back on the season, it was a season where I gained a different experience and I was involved in different types of environments.”

I think it was against Charlton, you made your debut in the cup. How proud a moment was that for you? Is it something you'll always look back on and cherish?
“Yes, it was incredible. Making your debut is amazing. But sometimes, of course, you can play only eight or 10 minutes and sometimes you may not touch the ball, but, in that case, I touched the ball and I could assist Marcus [Rashford]. So it was a perfect night. And I remember it. Me and my family remember that night.”

And you played in the semi-final against [Nottingham] Forest as well, as we went on to win the Carabao Cup. How proud are you to play a small part in that success in your first season?
“Incredible, because it was a competition that we won, and I have my medal at home. So I'm really proud of that moment. And we are looking forward for the next trophy.”

All The Goals: Tour 2022 Video

All The Goals: Tour 2022

All The Goals | As United prepare to face Leeds in Oslo, watch the 13 strikes from Erik ten Hag’s first pre-season tour…

You made your first start against Real Betis in the Europa League. Obviously, Spain is a country you’re familiar with, having had a few loan spells there. Was it different being asked to play from the start? And obviously you've got more time to make an impact rather than just coming on as a substitute, like you say?
“Yes, of course. Playing as a starter is always different than coming from the bench, because when you start the game, you more or less are on at the same rhythm as all the other players. But, sometimes when you come off the bench, it's a bit different because you have to adapt to how the game is going. But yes, it was an incredible experience. Betis is an incredible team and they have a very nice stadium and we could win that game also. That was the main aim: to win all the games that we play.”

You've also managed to get some minutes in the Premier League. What have you made of the league and the playing style? Has it taken you by surprise, how intense it is? Is it a big challenge for you?
“Yes. The Premier League is, of course, one of the best leagues in the world. Yes, it's a good league with a lot of intensity. Of course, the way we train here in Carrington, it's almost the same way that the Premier League is. We also have the best players here and the quality of training is high intensity. So, in that way, I'm quite ready with that. But as you said, playing a match, of course, sometimes it's different than training, but the rhythm and all that is high. But here in training, we do very good training sessions.”

You came on as a substitute against Fulham in the last game of the season. You were able to take part in the lap of appreciation around the pitch and be on the pitch at the end, thanking the fans. How much of a bond have you had with them this season and how much have you appreciated the support we've had, especially at Old Trafford?
“Yes, the support Manchester United fans give us all the time is incredible and they are amazing fans. To play at Old Trafford is something fantastic, so that's why I was happy playing the last minutes of the game, because I wanted to play in Old Trafford with all the crowd and the fans, just to say thank you to them. Part of this season and part of the success, as the manager said, is for them and they help to achieve all that.”

Action from Facundo's first start Video

Action from Facundo's first start

Player highlights | See how Facundo Pellistri almost scored and created goals on his first United start...

What have you learned working under Erik ten Hag this season? Do you feel like there are any areas of your game that you've particularly developed, on the defensive side or the attacking side?
“Yes. Erik is a great manager. He’s taught us a lot of things, different ways of playing. We prepare [for] every match differently. Of course, we have our same style, but we have to change some things depending on the rival. And, of course, you learn a lot of things. And that's why I told you that, this season, I learned a lot.”

And how much do the coaches help as well, the likes of Eric Ramsay and Mitchell [van der Gaag] and Steve McClaren. How much have they helped you on a one-on-one basis, as well as the rest of the team?
“We have a very big staff, a lot of coaches, and all of them are very important, because all of them have their specific roles and they all taught us different things. So, yes, they are all very important and I learned a lot from them.”

Pellistri has struck up a close relationship with Alejandro Garnacho.

There are a lot of senior players in the dressing room as well, aren't there, team-mates wise, do you learn from them? Do you ask for advice and do they give you advice? Who do you tend to spend a lot of time with?
“We have a very nice group. All of them help us in different ways. And, of course, I am more with the guys who speak Spanish because of the language. And yes, they help me a lot: Bruno [Fernandes], Casemiro, [David] De Gea and Licha [Lisandro Martinez] also. And I am also with Garna [Alejandro Garnacho] and we learn together from all the experienced players. And as I told you, the group is a very good group. And I think that's also a reason for all the things we achieve this season.”

You mention Garna there, he's had a great season, hasn't he? Obviously breaking into the first team and getting that new contract. So is it a good friendship between you and do you learn from each other?
“Yes, exactly. We are all the time together and and we spend this season together. Of course, we learn from each other and we enjoy being together and being in this club.”

It was a thrilling season following Manchester United. Make sure you are geared up for what's next in 2023/24 by becoming an official member, choose your perfect membership pack today.

Season-review videos:

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