Sharpe looks to turn back the clock

Sharpe looks to turn back the clock
PHOTO: The New Paper

In his heyday, Lee Sharpe was a flying winger for the Manchester United side that conquered all before them in the early to mid-1990s.

On Saturday, the 44-year-old will show glimpses of that superb form when he lines up for United's Masters team as they clash with their Liverpool counterparts in The Castlewood Group Battle Of The Reds 2015 at the National Stadium.

Sharpe (left), who will be reunited with former teammates like Paul Parker and Andrei Kanchelskis, had a memorable eight-year spell at Old Trafford under Alex Ferguson, winning three Premier League titles and two FA Cups, among other silverware.

Apart from substance, he also knows a thing or two about style and is often recognised as United's first "pop star footballer", even before Ryan Giggs and David Beckham came into the picture.

While Sharpe and his former colleagues will be looking to turn back the years and thrill the fans, the same cannot be said of the current United side, who have been criticised for failing to excite in the manner their fans are so used to.

Sharpe is sympathetic of the situation United manager Louis van Gaal finds himself in, although he would like to see a more adventurous approach similar to days of old.

"At the end of the day, it's the manager's job on the line so I think he has to play it in the way he feels best," he told the New Paper in a one-on-one interview yesterday.

"Every United fan has been brought up on entertaining football, but many teams that have decided to play football ended up getting relegated.

"It's a fine balancing act and it's a difficult one to call because I'm certain they'll finish inside the top four this season, and if they win the league playing this way then not many people can argue with that.

"But, for me, United have always had a lot of goal attempts, and crosses into the box, and keeping teams camped inside their own penalty box.

"Sir Alex used to say you have to take risks to win football matches, and I would just like to see him (van Gaal) take a few more risks."

Another player under fire has been captain Wayne Rooney, with many questioning if he is still the same player he once was.

Although Sharpe believes van Gaal's tactics are not doing the United skipper any favours, he feels a change in position could just be what is needed to reignite Rooney's fortunes.

The ex-England international said: "Because United's game is so slow, Wayne Rooney is a lot easier to mark.

"When it's quicker, he can find space and find others with his passing and create more, but the way the manager is playing isn't helping.

"Also, I don't know what it is but it seems like the basics are just not going right for him at the moment.

"His first touch, simple 10-metre passes, he's giving the ball away cheaply and he never used to.

"Maybe it's time for a change and perhaps play him in central midfield.

"But you never lose talent and he's still got it. It's about whether the manager can get it out of him."

npsports@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on November 12, 2015.
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