An interview with Clayton Blackmore; hairdryers, goals, Academy, Angel Gomes and more… was kindly given quotes from a recent interview with former Manchester United defender/midfielder Clayton Blackmore, which was held with Play with a Legend. Blackmore spent twelve years at the Old Trafford club as a senior player, making 245 appearances and scoring 26 goals in the first team, but he joined United at the age of 14 and appeared in the FA Youth Cup final in 1982, making his first team debut two years later. Play with a Legend gives supporters a chance to play football with players that they might have aspired to become when they were children. Currently, Play with a Legend offer players from many different clubs in England, including Manchester United. Currently you can choose from Ray Wilkins, Clayton Blackmore, Viv Anderson, Lee Sharpe, Neil Webb, Dion Dublin, David May and Teddy Sheringham.

Blackmore played under Ron Atkinson and Sir Alex Ferguson during his time at the club, and the interview held with Play with a Legend covered his time at the club playing for the greatest manager, getting the hairdryer treatment, what happened on Torquay, the best goal he had scored of his 26 senior goals at the club, his favourite current player he would have liked to take back to the days he was playing, his thoughts on Gareth Bale, United’s Academy, Angel Gomes, his thoughts on what has gone wrong this season, Louis van Gaal and what he thinks about Ryan Giggs becoming the next Manchester United manager.

There is a lot of talk currently about managers and you played under the greatest. Did you ever get the hairdryer treatment from Fergie?

“The first hairdryer treatment was down at Torquay I think. It was 0-0 at half time and he went a bit berserk, and gave us an idea of what could happen if we didn’t play well. That is where he kicked the teas, orange juice. Everything went all over the place. It was everywhere but you know he was very fiery and just had to get it out of his system.

“Individually, I only got it once or twice but you’ve just got to ride the storm.”

What happened at Torquay then? Did you turn it around?

“I think we won but it was just [Fergie] putting down a benchmark. If you don’t pull your weight this is what you’re going to get.”

What was the best goal you scored? 

“I think the most important one was Montpellier away because we were under a bit of pressure. They were a really good and strong team. It came at the right time. We needed the goal and they actually lost their heads after that.

“But my best goal was probably a toss-up between Sheffield Wednesday at home — top corner at the Stretford End — or maybe my diving header against City at the Stretford End, and a 35-yarder against Leeds United the year we should have won the First Division. I’d probably go with the Sheffield Wednesday one.”

If you had to pick one player from the current United team that you’d like to have dropped into your team at United, who would it be? 

“Probably [Wayne] Rooney. Rooney is a top player. He gives you one hundred percent. You know what you’re going to get from him.

“I think it’s been a bit unfair that the press are giving him stick. He’s playing up front on his own. Sooner we get someone else up there to help him, he’ll end up being better again. And like myself, he has played out of position and sometimes when you’ve been a centre forward you lose your form in midfield. It’s difficult to get it back, and I think that has been a little bit of a problem for Wayne.”

Is Rooney still the right man to lead England at the Euros this summer in France?

“Definitely. He’s [Rooney] the top scorer all the time. You’d be stupid not to take him with you.”

There has always been rumours concerning Bale to United. Is that a good move for the Real Madrid attacker? Would you like to see him at Old Trafford?

“I’m not that bothered about Bale but it would be nice for us. It would be nice to see him back in the English league, definitely playing on the wing or up front for United. Whether it will happen I’m not sure.”

On the United front, a lot of people say the academy is not what it used to be and you worked for some time with the youngsters there. Why is it maybe not what it was and are you concerned? 

“I’ve got some people in charge and they’re trying to put things right. For me coaches have not been the best. We’re bringing players through and that’s what you want. At every age group we seem to be bringing one or two players through. I mean, if you look at all the other clubs there are not many players getting through but we actually are at every age group.”

Is there one player coming through that you recommend?

“There is a lad coming through called Angel Gomes, who could play tomorrow. I think he’s that good. He’s got an old head on his shoulders as well. He’s good enough to be in the first team now but it’s going to take him a year or two before everybody trusts him. A lot could happen in those two years, so hopefully he’s going to be still there and play for the first team soon.”

Is there one overriding factor when you think about what has gone wrong at United this season?

“I think it’s very difficult. We’ve got Rooney up front on his own and I think you need to start with two up front. All United teams in the past have always had two strikers and a couple of wide players, which pretty much means you’ve got four up front. And that stretches their defence making it very difficult for the team you’re playing against. You get bigger gaps up front, so when you do attack the players are already in that position.

“When you play one up front, you need the midfielders to get up there and they’re having to do a bit of running before we get into those positions.”

Is Louis van Gaal the right man? Is it Ryan Giggs next or what do you think?

“He’s [Louis van Gaal] the manager. It wouldn’t surprise me if he’s there next year until the end of the season. I mean, I’d love to see Ryan [Giggs] get a chance.

“I know Louis mentioned during a dinner for Ryan Giggs and said ‘he will takeover from me’ once Van Gaal is finished. So, hopefully Ryan will get that chance because he’s given 25-years to the club and they were quality years. We would have won a lot less things if Ryan wasn’t at the club. The club owe it to Ryan to give him a chance. If he doesn’t do it now he problem won’t do it then.”

Bryan Robson took you to Middlesbrough after over a decade at United. What was his management style like?

“First season with Bryan, I think he took a bit of Ron Atkinson and Sir Alex. Obviously there was a lot of himself in there and I thought he was really good. He was one of the best managers I played under. 

“We probably spoke a lot about a few things and I think we really take those things into consideration a few years later. We then suffered. We didn’t make the changes we should have done and that’s why I think we ended up being promoted and relegated quite a few times, but I thought he was a fantastic manager. 

“It’s a shame he never really got the chance to takeover at United. He deserved a chance to takeover United and I think he would have been perfect for it with the right number two.”

Dreamt of playing football with your childhood hero? Well, now you can! Play with a Legend, brings together football fans and their idols for a memorable football game and a post match pint where you can hear tales from the dressing room. It’s perfect for a stag, birthday, corporate or charity event and with over 80 former professionals involved, there’s sure to be someone you’d like to play alongside.


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