Scott: How did you rate 2012-2013 for your club?
Rob: Hugely disappointing. Even though we had a really tough group with Madrid and Dortmund, the Champions League campaign was poor, and our defence of the title was incredibly insipid. We also lost a cup final to a relegated side and sacked the manager.
So, yeah, not the best all things considered.
Scott: Who was your best player?
Rob: Pablo Zabaleta was fantastic last season, from the first game to the last. His commitment has never been in question, and last season he was also absolutely brilliant, defensively and going forward. He won our Player of the Year and it must have been a landslide victory.
Matija Nastasic also deserves a mention. For a 19-year-old with only one season in Serie A behind him to come in and perform like he did was very special indeed.
Scott: Which player are you expecting most important in 2013-2014?
Rob: David Silva is City’s most important player, certainly in an attacking sense, so he will be vital. He was good last season but in truth he was way short of what he was in 2011/12.
I think Pellegrini needs to make it an absolute priority to play him centrally as often as possible and get him back to his best.
Scott: If you could take one United player, who would it be?
Rob: There’s a few I like. Vidic is a player it’s difficult not to admire, he’s probably the best centre-back I’ve seen at United, and when you consider you’ve had Stam and Ferdinand that’s quite a statement. I also like Kagawa a lot. I know he didn’t have a great season but with players like him it can take a year for them to find their feet. He’s got a great brain and I can see him being a big player for United this year.
But if I had to choose one it would be Van Persie. If we’d signed him last season, we’d have been champions. He’s that good.
Scott: Are you pleased Fergie’s retired?
Rob: I’m pleased in the sense that we no longer have to deal with the Fergie Factor, which undoubtedly existed. His ability to maximise the talents of his players was frightening; he’s the best manager the game has ever seen, no question about that.
At the same time, I’ve never known a time without him, so I think I’ll miss him in a way. I know he could be a right twat at times but he usually did it for the good of United. I admire him greatly.
Scott: Where do you think your club will finish this season?
Rob: I’m going to say first but I’m not sure a season as ever been as hard to predict as this one.
Scott: Where do you think United will finish?
Scott: Do you agree with the decision to sack Mancini?
Rob: I think there is an argument it was harsh but on balance it was probably the right move. There’s no doubt we regressed last season and our board won’t accept that. Mancini oversaw consistent progression for two-and-a-half years after taking over but there’s no doubt he lost his way badly last season.
I love Mancini and always will. He took us on massively and won us some silverware. He’ll always be remembered fondly, which makes a really nice change from most other managers.
Scott: City never really got in to the title race last season after winning the league the season before. What went wrong?
A few things. We didn’t do well enough in the summer transfer window and, as a result, were very rigid tactically: if Plan A failed, we had nothing to switch to. We also didn’t score enough goals – 27 less than the previous year when we won the title.
Scott: How much do you wish City would bring through their own (local) young players like United?
Rob: It’d be lovely and I think the club are making a huge effort to do that in the future. The £100 million academy complex is staggering in its size and vision, so we will hopefully see that bear fruit at some point down the line.
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