UTD Podcast: Axel pitches his leadership credentials
Axel Tuanzebe wants to be a leader in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s young and developing Manchester United side.
That’s the message he gets across in a revealing episode of the UTD Podcast, which is available to listen to now on Deezer and all of your favourite podcast platforms.
Axel, of course, became one of the Reds’ youngest-ever captains when he led the team out against Rochdale in September.
While he admits that proud experience is one he wants to repeat, the centre-back also says he is keen to impose himself as a senior figure in the dressing room and as someone his team-mates could turn to.
“I wouldn't say necessarily [I want to] just be captain, just be a leader for the team,” says Tuanzebe in his UTD Podcast. “Just be someone the team is going to turn to.
“There are other problems in football as well that people do not see. I always say to the lads if you need anyone or want to talk or anything, just call me out. Especially in the youth age groups with lads I’ve grown up with.
“Lots of players had different problems. As captain of the youth team and reserves individually I’d just speak to them. You don't need to tell me ins and outs, if you have a problem just tell me and I'll come and meet you and try and help you.
“If a player is affected off the pitch, it affects his performance on the pitch. If we have everyone operating at 100 per cent we’re a much better team.”
On a recent UTD Podcast, former Red Jesper Blomqvist admitted it ‘hurt his heart’ to receive criticism from captain Roy Keane when he made a mistake.
While Tuanzebe acknowledges that time has moved on and methods have changed, he also believes players can still benefit from being given a few home truths, as long as the message is delivered on the pitch.
“It has changed. A lot of players cannot deal with it anymore,” Axel continues.
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“They don't understand that Roy Keane’s not like that off the pitch. Ashley Young is a prime example, he’s always talking. Misplace a pass, he’d be on to you. It’s not personal, he’s not telling you because he dislikes you. He’s just telling you because you’re a Man United player and he wants you to be better.
“For me, going out on loan at [Aston] Villa, I experienced that first-hand. I never took it personally. I was demanding better from my players. It’s missed a lot in football now.
“People take it personally but as soon as you cross the white line it’s done. When you come on the pitch, it’s application, professionalism, it’s doing your job right. If you’re not doing your job right, you need to be told.”
Axel has a core group of players he socialises with most in the dressing room, mainly those who came through the youth team at the same time as he did – Marcus Rashford, Scott McTominay and Tim Fosu-Mensah.
However, he also keeps in touch with some who are no longer at the club.
“Changing rooms change a lot, you have players coming and going. You get advised not to ever be too close to anyone just because it's a common goal situation, the business of football.
“I think if you’re close to someone you can always maintain your relationship off the field. I still have contact with a lot of players from the youth team. I always reach out to them, I always like to see where people are going and how they’re doing because they’ve played a part in my life.
“Rashy, Timo and Scott we've all come through the same system, relatively at the same time, we've experienced similar things, so we're close.”
Download the full Axel Tuanzebe episode on Deezer.
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