What has impressed Blomqvist most?

Thursday 29 September 2022 08:16

Jesper Blomqvist knows what it takes to win the lot at Manchester United.

The winger was part of the squad that won the Treble in 1998/99, starting the dramatic Champions League final victory over Bayern Munich in Barcelona.

He appreciates how big a role team spirit plays in acquiring silverware and this is an element of the progress under Erik ten Hag that has provided him with optimism, as he watches the Reds play as a supporter these days.

After appearing in the Legends of the North game with Liverpool on Saturday, the Swede will be firmly focused on seeing if United can pick up a positive result in the Manchester derby this Sunday.

Why nothing is half-baked for Blomqvist


Saturday's Legends game at Anfield will be pressure but not like Jesper faces in the kitchen.

"To be fair, I don't have much time so the only team I follow is United," he told us. "The more years pass, the more I feel like a real supporter; suffering when the team is suffering and, win the team wins, you are happy for a day or two.

"I definitely try to watch every game. I have my son now who has become a very big United fan. We have that in common and can watch all the games together, cheering and screaming in front of the TV!

"It looks much better [under Ten Hag] but it's still very early. I think Erik and the rest of the team are well aware there is a long way to walk, in terms of the long term. But I see some really good signs. For me, especially the high-fives after a great tackle or save. That for me is building something. I can see the team spirit and the desire to win, that it means something to the players.

"We're definitely on the right track but there are still a lot of hurdles to get over. I've really liked what I've seen in the last couple of games and, hopefully, they can continue that now."

The unity at the back has particularly impressed Blomqvist, who agrees that the foundation to success is often built from that solid base.

"That really shows what it means," he said of the spirit in recent matches. "Defending is such an important part of the game. It always has been and is always going to be. Sometimes, people - fans and everybody - tend to forget that. They just see the goals scored but basic football is always going to be defending well and working hard. I definitely see that coming back in the United squad and it makes me really happy and hopeful for the rest of the season.

"If you keep losing games, it's difficult for players and coaches to keep the confidence up. If you don't play well, self-confidence is going to drop as a team and individuals but, if you keep winning and getting points, the self-confidence is going to grow as well. You definitely have to work from the back but defence starts from the front and you need all 11 players doing it. I see that on the pitch now and it gives you great confidence. It's something to really work on and build on."

Moments like this from Diogo Dalot have really impressed Jesper Blomqvist.

While being optimistic for the season, Blomqvist accepts that Manchester City, and his fellow Scandinavian Erling Haaland, pose a huge challenge on Sunday afternoon at the Etihad Stadium.

The Norway striker has hit the ground running in Manchester and leads the way in the Premier League goal charts but Jesper feels the Blues are beatable on their home turf.

"Definitely, City can be stopped," he asserted. "But it's not an easy task. It's going to be difficult, the most difficult task so far this season. But there is a chance as we know we can frustrate them. If we keep a solid defence and try to beat them on the counter-attack. They are unbelievable there [at home] and it's a tough, tough game so it'll be interesting to watch it.

"I knew Haaland was going to be something. Some people were saying he'd struggle there but he's such a quality player and so good in front of goal. I know Pep Guardiola will know how to use him as well. I think we still haven't seen the best of him. When he gets more in tune with the system of City and Pep, he'll be even better and even more useful. He's built a lot of confidence already but he'll get even better during the season. Wow, what a player!"

Highlights: Liverpool Legends v United Legends Video

Highlights: Liverpool Legends v United Legends

Check out all the key moments from the Legends of the North second leg at Anfield...

In the Premier League, after the derby, it's Everton up next - the club Blomqvist left United for in 2001. The unusual Sunday evening kick-off presents another tough test on the road for Ten Hag's men but the ambition of a top-four finish remains a realistic one, in the view of the ex-Sweden international.

"I think Frank Lampard is also starting to build from the back again," added Jesper. "It was a tough start but it's always difficult to come in during the middle of the season. Now he's had time to set the fundamentals for the squad and the team is looking better. They're finding a bit of confidence as well but, of course, we need to be looking for a win there at Goodison for definite.

"It's going to be difficult but the aim definitely needs to be the top four. It's going to be a tough season. I think there are quite a few teams now that can be involved in that top-four fight and you always have one or two surprises as well. It is going to be tough but I'm much more optimistic now than I have been in the last couple of years. I can see those early signs but we still need to realise we have to keep on working hard, as we have been doing, building the team spirit as well and then there is definitely a good possibility of making the top four."