Tunnicliffe has inside track to get the better of old pal Pogba
Four of a kind: From the left, Ryan Tunnicliffe with Jesse Lingard, Paul Pogba and Ravel Morrison as they celebrate Manchester United’s victory in the FA Youth Cup final back in 2011
Ryan Tunnicliffe, the Luton Town midfielder, is hoping to use his experience of playing alongside Paul Pogba to his advantage as he looks to stop the World Cup winner at Kenilworth Road tonight.
Tunnicliffe was a team-mate of Pogba’s during their successful youth careers at Manchester United, with the two players forming a strong relationship on the field.
Pogba has credited Tunnicliffe with being one the players who helped him settle at United after he joined the club as a 16-year-old, and both midfielders were part of the side who won the FA Youth Cup in 2011.
“When he first came in, he was a good lad,” Tunnicliffe said. “He was loud, but I had been there quite a while so I did anything I could to help him.
“You see how good a player he is when you try to get around him. He was my midfield partner, so we tried
bonding a relationship off the field. If he thinks I helped him then I was more than happy because he has gone on to do great things. If I can take a slight bit of credit for that, then I’m happy.”
Tunnicliffe played under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for the club’s reserve side and the 27-year-old will be hoping the United manager selects his old friend in tonight’s Carabao Cup meeting.
“I think everyone can see that he’s world-class,” Tunnicliffe said of
Luton v Man Utd
Pogba. “I played alongside him quite a few times. It was a while back so to play against him will be fun for me, and I’m sure he’d say the same.
“I’ve studied up on players that I’ve come up against, so I’ve seen him in training. But he can probably say the same thing about me.
“I’m not the player I was when I was 17 and I don’t think he is. He’s obviously improved a lot and got bigger, stronger, so I have an idea of the things he can do, but it’s up to me to see if I can stop it.”
Luton have won their first four matches of this season in all competitions and appear to be building real momentum under the management of Nathan Jones, who returned to the club from Stoke City in May and masterminded their escape from relegation.
They are one of only three sides to have won two games out of two in the Championship this season and Jones said he had improved as a manager since his difficult spell with Stoke. Jones was sacked by Stoke last November, just nine months after leaving Luton.
“I believe I am a better manager than when I left here because I learnt a lot from my previous job,” Jones said.
“There were a lot of different things that I had to solve or go through that I hadn’t faced before, but as a manager that is a regular occurrence. I am a better manager for it and that is what you have to take out of it.”
Of the visit of United, he said: “We plan for the very best team that they can put out. Whatever changes they make, they’re extremely strong – 11 different internationals.”
Leyton Orient’s attempt to bring down their illustrious near neighbours was set to be called off after a number of the League Two club’s players tested positive for coronavirus. Having accounted for Swansea earlier in the competition, League Two’s Newport aim for another Championship scalp when Watford arrive at Rodney Parade. West Bromwich have endured a difficult return to the top flight – they are pointless after two games – but can raise spirits against Championship opposition. Felipe Anderson and Sebastien Haller should feature in attack for a West Ham side who have been failing to translate chances into goals in a slow start to the Premier League.