Manchester United have undergone something of a transformation since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was given the manager’s position on a permanent basis. There has been a shift in transfer policy to recruit young and hungry players, while a more attacking style of play has also been adopted on the pitch. It hasn’t all gone to plan, though, as there have also been some disappointing results along the way, but Sam Homewood has been close by watching it all unfold.
Homewood, a passionate United fan, joined MUTV as a presenter in 2018 and now also co-hosts the club’s official podcast, UTD Podcast, alongside Helen Evans and David May.
One thing that often comes out of Old Trafford is the positive culture Solskjaer has been trying to instil.
Homewood finds this to be the case as well and believes it comes naturally to the Norwegian as he is “such a positive guy” anyway.
“We did an episode of the podcast with him, we sat around and he talked with us at length about anything,” Homewood told Express Sport.
“He’s like that with everyone and whenever we talk to any of the players, all of them will say how much they enjoy working with him and how enthusiastic he is.
“And then someone like David May will say, ‘he’s not just smiling, he’s also very tough’.
“But he just gets it, I think. And I know the results at the moment haven’t been perfect, but I trust him to know the way around it.
“He just gets it – he understands what Manchester United is. He knows what Manchester United should be way more so the anybody who’s from outside the club.”
Another person who understands what United is all about is Marcus Rashford.
After coming through the club’s famous academy, Rashford has developed into a first-team star an England international.
But it’s his work off the pitch that has garnered most of the attention in recent times, launching a campaign to tackle child food poverty in the UK.
“I can’t think of another footballer who has dedicated in such a short amount of time and especially so early in their career to making change and using the platform that they have to speak so loudly and to be passionate about something and actually get stuff done,” said Homewood.
“He’s not just turning up for photo opportunities then walking off with no idea what’s going on.
“He’s genuinely making a difference at a government level which is extraordinary when you think he literally just turned 23.”
Despite his youth, Rashford is well on his way to becoming one of the best players in the world, according to Homewood.
“There’s no doubt,” he added. “And it seems the case every season that he just gets better and better.
“He’s also had this physical transformation – I compare it to [Cristiano] Ronaldo even though Ronaldo is a freak of nature – but he’s bulking up like Ronaldo did around 2006, 2007 when he became impossible to play against.
“[Rashford] sort of has that about him, you slowly see him getting bigger and bigger so that when he runs at people it’s so much harder to get the ball off him.”
A club of United’s stature always attracts plenty of criticism when things aren’t going well and one player who attracts a lot of the attention is Paul Pogba.
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He points to the fact that many of the stories will be about Pogba even when he isn’t playing and praised the United midfielder for his ability to “get on with it”.
“Paul Pogba, I think, is a footballing enigma in that whether he’s playing or not playing, he gets talked about,” said the MUTV host.
“If [Lionel] Messi or Ronaldo is injured, people would carry on and talk about other players in the team.
“If Paul’s not playing, every question in the press conference could very well be about him and if he is playing, it’s possible every question will be about him.
“I don’t know if that’s because at the time he cost £90million or maybe it’s the charisma he has.
“But people are so drawn to him, whether that’s in a negative or positive way.
“I think he’s in a situation that so many people would struggle to deal and he does it every day and just get on with it.
“It’s also worth remembering when people are criticising him at the minute that it was only weeks ago that he had coronavirus.
“But I think he’ll be fine, he’s a phenomenal footballer whose capable of the most extraordinary things.
“I’m sure the manager will know what to do with him and how available he is.
“People love the word obsessed in football – I don’t say it to bait people – but people are obsessed with Paul Pogba. Everyone is, everyone is obsessed with Paul Pogba.”
United are often the focal point of any transfer news but many eyebrows were raised when they stepped away from their apparent recruitment policy to sign striker Edinson Cavani on deadline day.
Homewood, though, is excited to see what the Uruguayan can bring and believes he offers something “completely different” among Solskjaer’s attacking options.
“He’s much closer to a more traditional No 9 as opposed to Marcus, Mason and Anthony Martial,” said Homewood.
“They’re all slightly more similar to each other and then you put Cavani in and all of a sudden you’ve got something completely different.
“People would’ve criticised when he came saying ‘he’s only here for a paycheque or he’s 33,’ but I think on the training ground and on the pitch, he’s going to be huge.
“Also, you need competition and he offered some that and competition creates the best out of everybody so I’m delighted he came.”
The Premier League is currently taking a short break while the international fixtures are fulfilled, with United back in action against West Brom on November 21.
Sam Homewood presents MUTV and co-hosts the UTD podcast, available to download now from Apple, Spotify and all good streaming services.
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