My United: Why Michael 'Venom' Page is a Red
As part of the regular 'My United' series from the club's official magazine Inside United, Bellator mixed martial artist and boxer Michael 'Venom' Page explains why he owes a childhood pal his Reds allegiance, why Ryan Giggs is the man and who he reckons would be handy in the cage...
How did you become a United fan?
“Weirdly enough, when I was younger - I'd say about six years old - my best friend was a United fan and I never actually used to watch football, I used to play it but never watch it. And he was always like 'just say you support United'. So since then, I always said it. Then it was more like, I'd say, aged 10, when I actually started to follow it, that was it - I've been a United fan ever since.”
Who was your first United hero?
“It has to be Eric Cantona. Everyone was doing it in school, you know - flicking up their collar, putting it in the net. That's Eric Cantona. My favourite Cantona moment, seeing as I'm a fighter, was probably when he fly-kicked that guy. He shouldn't have done it.. but, you know, it was funny!”
What and when was your first Old Trafford experience?
“It was actually just going past the stadium, I actually never went to games. The Chelsea game in April last season [2018/19] was one of my first games to attend - it's just so hectic, with me doing what I'm doing. Old Trafford is an amazing place, a historical place, you can feel the energy. I was so excited to be there.”
Have you ever met any of the players?
“Yeah, I've met a couple. I'm a friend of Raheem Sterling's and, when I went to an England game, I got to meet a lot of the guys there. I met Marcus Rashford there, Phil Jones, quite a few guys.”
Who do you see as our biggest rivals?
“For me, I'd say Man City. We get the most stick when they beat us, so definitely City.”
If you had a time machine, which player would you want to go back and watch in person?
“Live, I'd probably say Ryan Giggs because, for me, he was just a magical player - a magical player. I used to like watching him cross balls in, how he worked with the team and just his personality. So yeah, definitely Giggs.”
On a scale of 1-10, how much do you love Ole Gunnar Solskjaer?
“I'm going to say 10. Obviously he's going to have ups and downs, but this is what's going to make him, test him as a true manager. He's done well so far. So for me - amazing. I just remember him as a player, every time he came on from the bench, I was like 'he's gonna score'. Every single time, I was like 'yep, we're getting a goal now'. I just loved him as a character, he was the ultimate super-sub.”
Which United player of any era do you think would be the hardest to beat in the cage?
“Ooh... Well... I'd say Eric Cantona again. I'd say Eric, man - that flying kick looked quite dangerous!”
Looking ahead to next season, are you hoping Ole and the players come back strong?
“One hundred per cent. I want Ole to bring back that fire that they had just when he came in. They're going to have to freshen up the squad, and they just need to be that typical Man United, those guys that - regardless of what happens - will always scrape out a win. It could be the hardest game, nothing's going right, but they know how to just win games. That's what they need to get back to.”
MY CURRENT SQUAD FAVOURITES
When it comes to picking out individuals from the present set of players, MVP spreads the love because he sees a collective working hard for each other...
“You know what? I really enjoy, I really love my squad. I like to watch even just their interaction - I can see that they really work well together, so I'm a massive fan of all of them. I feel Marcus Rashford has stepped up - for me, he's going to be one of the best players in the world. He's got a lot to learn and he's only getting stronger and stronger. Luke Shaw has stepped up. Paul Pogba has done a lot for us - he's the heart and soul of the team, in my opinion, and I want him to continue with that.”
WHO IS MICHAEL 'VENOM' PAGE?
Now 32, he was born in Hackney, London, on 7 April 1987 into a family of martial artists. He was trained by his father, Curtis Page Senior, in a variety of martial arts styles and disciplines. After beginning his career in kickboxing, he made his way into mixed martial arts and signed a contract to fight under leading US organisation Bellator MMA in 2013.
Michael is now a big draw and the leading UK competitor in Bellator MMA. His record stands at 14 wins and one defeat, after recently losing to Douglas Lima in the semi-final of the welterweight tournament. He is also a professional boxer, promoted by David Haye, with a record so far of two wins from two fights.
This article first appeared in the July 2019 edition of Inside United magazine. You can order your copy and subscribe here.
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