With Manchester United welcoming Arsenal to Old Trafford this evening, the club are preparing for what is shaping up to be the biggest game of their season so far. Their last realistic chance of silverware in 2015, the FA Cup could well prove the catalyst for the full United revival, just as it was under Sir Alex Ferguson in 1986. One of the club’s biggest fans was born that very year and speaking exclusively to JD Football’s Tego Sigel, Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt shared his thoughts on the current state of Louis van Gaal’s Red Devils.
Bolt, who has impressed in charity football matches and even in training sessions for Manchester United, is as passionate a fan as any in the Stretford End and having dismissed PUMA’s attempts to involve him in the Arsenal kit launch last summer ["I told them straight away, don't come anywhere near me with that kit!"], the planet’s fastest man explained that his dream of a professional career in the game is fading, “It’s getting less and less,” he laughed. “I was in the cold for a shoot I did for PUMA with Sergio Aguero and I was in my shorts and my socks and just a t-shirt and it was freezing, I was like, ‘I have to play football in this?!?’ [Laughs] Naahh. That kind of set me back a bit and then Sir Alex Ferguson retiring kind of threw me off a bit.”
It’s been a tough season for United and Bolt thinks the blame lies squarely at the feet of the manager, “The thing about it is, these coaches don’t listen to players. It doesn’t even matter [laughs].” Challenging Louis van Gaal’s philosophy, Usain thinks it’s time to get back to basics, “Because every coach who comes in wants to implement their system and it’s not always going to work with the players you have.” But is it all the manager’s fault? “The players we have now, we’re not a passing team, we were never a passing team and now [Louis van Gaal] is trying to make us a passing team and it’s never going to happen. It’s never going to work.”
There are undeniably great passing players in the United squad though, something the record breaking sprinter accepts, “Juan Mata is small in the middle. He gets bounced about a lot. If he gets the space he’ll be brilliant, but he’s not going to get the space because people know he’s a great passer, so they always try to shut him down. If he was bigger then he would better.”
But what would Bolt do differently? “I think we should go back to a normal wing game. That’s where we were good over the years. We always played with wings…” And that’s where he comes in, right? “That’s what I’m saying! [Laughs]”
Usain Bolt was speaking in New York at the launch of the brand new PUMA Ignite running shoe, which is available now through jdsports.co.uk