Devil In The Detail


John McNicoll

Year of Birth:


Hometown & country:

Dover, England

How long have you supported United, and how did you first get interested?

Since 1990. My dad is from Manchester and is a big United fan. I was ten years old and although loved having a kick about in the street etc, never really enjoyed watching the games until I sat one weekend and watched both the semi-finals for the FA Cup. Much-fancied Liverpool going down 4-3 to a spirited Crystal Palace. Later on that day United would battle Oldham Athletic to a 3-3 draw. One of the best Sundays of football I have ever seen.

First match you ever remember seeing?

The FA Cup semi-final. Manchester United 3 Oldham Athletic 3. Goals from Robson, Webb and Wallace, in an enthralling encounter. United would go on to win the replay a few days later.

First match you actually attended?

9th March 1991. Chelsea 3 Manchester United 2. Brian McClair and Mark Hughes scoring for United. I cried when the full time whistle sounded.

In relation to football, who influenced you the most growing up?

The way Bryan Robson used to single handedly drag an average Manchester United side through games. He was my first influence. I wanted to play midfield because of him.

Did you idolise any particular player as a kid?

Eric Cantona. I used to go around with my collar up. I even got myself a pair of Nike Tiempo boots, just like the talismanic Frenchman. I copied everything he did, bar kung fu kicking a Crystal Palace fan.

Who is your current favourite player?

My favourite is Juan Mata. The player is an absolute magician and massively under rated by both supporters and current manager. Those two goals at Anfield on that sunny afternoon, will forever live on with me.

Who is your all-time United great, and why?

Again, it has to be Eric Cantona. The way he turned up, dragged us to title after title. Always turned it on in big games. The season he returned from his ban, his form was ridiculous.

Which non-United player from the past did you most admire, and why?

There are far too many to just have one. I used to love Alan Shearer. Stan Collymore was also one of my favs from the mid 90’s. Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp were also different gravy, when United and Arsenal were going toe to toe.

Which current non-United Premier League player do you admire (or fear)?

Sergio Aguero. Scores week in week out and normally against us. Harry Kane would probably be a close second on current form.

Most memorable occasion following United?

Beckham, into Sheringham….And Solksjaer has won it.

Worst memory following United?

Despite the obvious, Aguero in 2012 and all that, my first match was heartbreaking. Was so excited to go and see United for the first time. Chelsea crushed that.

If you had unlimited funds, which current player would you buy for United?

Robert Lewandowski. By far one of the greatest centre forwards at playing as a one up front.

Do you support any other team(s) in the UK or Europe?

I support Dover Athletic, a National League side. I am a season ticket holder at present.

What is the best United goal you have ever seen?

Beckham’s goal from the halfway line. It was even better that I was there.

What is the best thing about being a Red Devil?

I would imagine it’s the same as being a fan of any team. The sense of belonging. One big football family. My great uncle played for United in the 50’s and won a first division title under Sir Matt Busby. Its in my blood.

Which rival club(s) do you despise the most, and why?

Liverpool. If you are a Manchester United fan, its just ingrained in you that you cant like the reds from merseyside.

Have you had any chance encounters with players/managers/celebrity fans? Tell us about it.

I managed to get a little interview with United legend, Norman Whiteside. Apart from that, Ive met both Chris Kamara and Alan McInally.

Do/did you play football to any sort of standard yourself?

We have all had trials, it’s the convictions that count.

Favourite football-related media outlet (other than FMG obviously!)?

FourFourTwo magazine is class. Always getting some quality interviews.

Favourite food/drink?

Curry, Guinness

Favourite TV show?

The League, The Blacklist

Favourite movie/movie star?

Training Day, Denzel Washington. The man is an absolute genius

Favourite book/author?

The Greatest Player You Have Never Heard Of/ Robin Friday

Best holiday destination you’ve been to, and why?

Dublin, Ireland. 24 hour drinking and partying and some of the friendliest people on earth.

If you were single and could have a date with anyone, she would be?

So much choice! Natalie Sawyer and Hayley McQueen (both from Sky Sports News), Ann Marie Olsen, Manchester United blogger. But my top choice would have to be Stephanie Pratt (Celebs go Dating). It’s the eyes. Wow.

Name three guests (dead or alive) you’d love to invite round for dinner & conversation?

1. Sir Alex Ferguson. The stories he could tell you alone would be amazing.

2. Denzel Washington. Would love to hear some stories from the film scenes.

3. Adrian Durham. Love listening to his radio show on Talksport at 4pm each day. Man talks so much sense all the time.

Where will United finish this year in the league? And in Europe?

Will be really surprised if United can maintain a title challenge this season. Despite City having a great start, United just don’t do enough in the big games for me. Until Jose becomes a bit braver, I can only see us coming up short when it matters. With qualification to the latter stages already in the bag, the quarter finals will most probably be our final resting place.

Pick your all-time favourite United XI from players you have seen play (so unless you were alive to see big Duncan Edwards play, you can’t include him).

As listed in my greatest XI recently: Schmeichel, Neville, Irwin, Vidic, Stam, Beckham, Keane, Scholes, Giggs, Cantona, Van Nistelrooy. This team would surpass any club side ever.