Make Old Trafford a fortress again, says Silvestre


CHANDIGARH: Manchester United completed four signings on the deadline day as the club completed deals for Edinson Cavani, Alex Telles, Facundo Pellistri, and Amad Diallo. However, their pursuit to sign Jadon Sancho, who United have chased all summer, hit a roadblock as the England forward remained a Borussia Dortmund player.
TOI caught up with former Manchester United player Mikael Silvestre and asked the former defender a range of questions related to Manchester United’s signings, Champions League draw, Indian football, the black lives matter movement, and the Covid-19 pandemic.
Excerpts:
On current squad of Manchester United
The squad should be improved in some areas to challenge the title; the more competition, the faster the team will improve. The gap with the champion was substantial last season and the seasons before. But before challenging for the title, there will be some steps to climb, make Old Trafford a fortress again, be more ruthless and find some consistency in the performances.
On Manchester United’s transfer business
Manchester United always does business, but some clubs are more pro active in that department. I guess every club has its own. Deadline day is not easy to cope with the ins and out in the squad, and you end up signing players outside your top priorities, or you do an over spending because you’re short of alternatives and time. Danny Van de Beek, Edison Cavani, and Alex Telles are good players, but they will need to adapt quickly in the league.
On UCL draw and Manchester United’s chances of making to the knockouts
Their group is one of the toughest, but I would expect Manchester United to progress to the knockout stage even though PSG and Leipzig had a great campaign last season. PSG will be the main adversary with Neymar Mbappe and Di Maria up front, can’t wait to watch that doubleheader.
On Indian football and his time in ISL (Indian Super League) with Chennaiyin FC
I’ve been following Indian football, and since I’ve had the pleasure to represent Chennayin FC in the ISL, I keep a close look at their progress. The league keeps growing, and the level is improving steadily. More investment in grassroots and coaching is vital to develop the level further. It looks like the plan is on track.
On ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement
The latest police brutality with the killing of another black man George Floyd went beyond the USA, and this movement, which started in 2013, got much more prominent. The sportsperson and the players wanted to support the campaign, and at the time, I think it was the appropriate response to this injustice. Raise awareness to begin with. Racism is a massive issue in so many parts of the world; I believe a better education on Humanity can prepare the next generation to accept one another peacefully.
On Covid-19 impact on football
No fans are the most significant blow for the fans themselves. The players are affected. The other issue is the economic burden it caused for the entire football clubs and industry. The football culture is only existing through the media and social media. The experience is entirely different during the pandemic; you watch football on TV and chat about it on social media. It’s a bit sad.
On the comparison between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi
It’s impossible to pick one over the other. Both are different, and I’m just glad I’ve been able to play on the pitch and seeing them in action for so many years and more to come. Besides their talent and mentality, we have to acknowledge their capacity to do it again and again.



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