BEIJING, July 7 : Manchester United legend Peter Schmeichel says his former team needs to go back to the local community and build for the future with British players at its core.
"We have to look at who we are, go back to our values, to our culture and start building the team from what we traditionally always have done, from within our local community," the 55-year-old said in an exclusive interview with Xinhua on Sunday. Manchester United finished sixth in the Premier League last season, 32 points behind champions Manchester City and outside the UEFA Champions League qualifying places.
Much of the team's success over the past 20 years was achieved with a core group of British players, such as David Beckham, Ryan Giggs, Wayne Rooney and Paul Scholes, and in order for the 20-time league winners to return to their former glories, Schmeichel suggested that the team once again look to homegrown talents in order to forge ahead under new manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
"It's nice to have those players because they give new inspiration and new way of thinking. I think the club has always been more successful with a core of British players," the Dane noted. Speaking of Solskjaer, who played alongside Schmeichel at Old Trafford, the Dane was effusive in his praise of the Norwegian. "Ole is very different from a lot of managers. He's a very quiet lad who always infuses good energy into the environment," he said.
"Ole is also a guy who has a vision to build what needs to be built now. He has the personality that can get people on board. He's got an educational side to him, which is going to be very important now. And then he's got a clear direction. He knows precisely what he wants to do, and I like his direction and I support it fully."
Known for being vocally commanding during his playing days, Schmeichel also told that he thinks modern football does not produce enough dominant personalities. "I think football today is too silent. There's a lot of focus on how you play [at the expense of] developing personalities, but I think personalities are hugely important in football," he noted.
Schmeichel's son Kasper is also a successful goalkeeper in his own right, having won the 2015/16 Premier League title with Leicester City and also appearing for Denmark at the 2018 FIFA World Cup. But despite rumors that Kasper might be set to replace current Man. Utd custodian David de Gea, Schmeichel senior expressed his firm belief that the question was a moot point as the Spaniard would stay put.
"I'm absolutely sure that David De Gea wouldn't leave. He'll stay at the club. For Kasper, he's in a really good place with a really good manager in an interesting team that should finish in the top four next year," he said. This is the second time that Schmeichel has been to China, and the Dane expressed his hope that more Chinese players would soon feature for teams in top European leagues, just as his former Manchester City teammate Sun Jihai did.
"The support and the hunger for football is here in China, so to have players also coming across to Europe on a more regular basis would be incredible," he said. XINHUA