Some MFW readers might recall that our Manchester City preview featured my friends, Norwich neighbours and married couple Sean and Debbie Tilsley.
Last time around it was Citeh fan Debbie’s turn, and now Sean has his say on behalf of Manchester United. I did the most coherent interview I could against the background of a bottle of Pinot Noir for Mrs P and Debbie and several Henry Weston’s Vintage Ciders for Sean and myself. The Tilsleys arrived ten minutes after Liverpool had equalised on Sunday – and Sean, somewhat surprisingly, wasn’t actually too down about that.
I grew up in Lewisham in South East London and my stepfather was a walking book of football knowledge. He once wrote to then skipper Martin Buchan and got such a terrific letter back that I was kind of hooked. Players didn’t always do that kind of thing and as a young boy that meant a lot to me.
When we moved to Norwich all those years ago, dad helped out at Carrow Road as an auxiliary groundsman and also in the ticket office. He loved his football very much.
When I was a kid I fell in love with Celtic after that classic 1967 European Cup win and that feeling remains strongly with me until this day. I still love the Bhoys. When United triumphed in the same competition the next year I was pleased but felt no enduring love for them. Thoughts?
Well, I was a baby in 1968 but I have seen the match in its entirety since. I just wish George Best had been English – think what he could have brought to our national side!
Ryan Giggs came close to him but there was only ever one Georgie Best.
Favourite Red Devils of all time?
Easy – Besty, Denis Law and… Nobby Stiles!
So no Bobby Charlton then?
No cos you only gave me room for three.
I once had the privilege of meeting the great Sir Alex Ferguson. As if I don’t already know, what are your recollections of him?
Like him or love him, he seems to haunt my club. He’s always around like a spectre and it isn’t helpful, frankly. Not for any of our managers since anyway. But he was great. Probably the best of all time, really.
At this point, I mentioned with irony that I had seen Besty play in the flesh while Sean hadn’t. We swiftly moved on to “modern times”.
You ask me about Paul Pogba? He’s a bad influence on the team and very self-centred. He’s making us weaker and of course, no-one’s bigger than the club, as was famously said by you-know-who.
So which current Reds do you rate?
None of them! Seriously David de Gea, Marcus Rashford and Aaron Wan-Bissaka are my favourites but I’m not really impressed with the rest. We’re currently a shadow of our former selves.
So will you make the top four this time around?
Not a chance. I’m prepared to be proved wrong and will be devastated if we don’t, but I think not.
What do you reckon of Norwich this season?
I think you’re good. Injuries have hit you hard but you’ll probably be okay. I’ve been in Norwich for very many years now and I always keep an eye out for your results. Our adult son Ronan is a big City fan and that kind of speaks for itself.
Okay Sean, it’s score guess time – do your worst.
It’s going to be tight. No way will we find this easy. I’m going to go for 2-1 for Norwich and that’s not because I’ve had a couple of beers. It could even be 3-1.
As Sean and Debbie prepared to leave us with a few empty bottles for the recycling bin, I asked them what they thought of what I presume is the Man City third kit exhibited against Crystal Palace last weekend. I suggested it looked like a bag of rhubarb and custard sweets left to melt in the sun.
Sean just kept laughing and Debbie used the very ladylike phrase of “disgusting, horrible $hit that I’d never buy”.
Jokey references were also made to Strictly Come Dancing, the Village People and Danny La Rue. Not by me of course.
Let’s hope we’re the ones laughing on Sunday evening.