CHILD’S PLAY

Son Loui wants dad Andy Man­gan to star for Shrews­bury against Man U

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Chris Dunlavy

SO you think Shrews­bury Town don’t stand a chance against Manch­ester United? Try telling young Loui Man­gan.

The six-year-old son of Shrews striker Andy, Loui hasn’t got time for the doom-mon­gers who reckon Louis van Gaal’s mis­fir­ing mil­lion­aires will crush the min­nows from the Meadow.

“He’s des­per­ate for his dad to play against Man United,” ex­plains Man­gan, who re­turned to Shrews­bury for a se­cond spell in Jan­uary and scored the third round win­ner against Cardiff on his de­but.

Funny

“But it’s funny be­cause he doesn’t re­ally un­der­stand the lev­els. I told him we were play­ing Man United and he said ‘You should beat them Daddy’.

“I’m stand­ing there, try­ing to ex­plain, go­ing ‘Yeah, but they are very good you know, mate’. He just shakes his head and says ‘You can score Daddy’. He is funny.

“My other son, Find­ley, is two, so he’s a bit too young to know what’s go­ing on. But Loui is at that stage where he’s mad into his foot­ball.

“He started with his first team in Septem­ber and that’s ramped up his in­ter­est. He’s a lit­tle left-footer, re­ally good ac­tu­ally.

“Af­ter that, he started to watch foot­ball on telly a lot more, then he wanted to come and watch me. Ob­vi­ously he knows the big clubs – he’s ba­si­cally a Liverpool fan, a Man United fan, a Barcelona fan.

“He’s made up I’m play­ing Man United and he’s go­ing to walk out with me. He said to me ‘Daddy, can I have Rooney’s shirt?’ I haven’t got the heart to tell him he’s in­jured!”

Not ev­ery­body shares young Loui’s faith. The Shrews, de­mol­ished 7-1 by Ch­ester­field on Jan­uary 2 and cur­rently 19th in League One, are the small­est club left in the FA Cup by a dis­tance. Most book­ies peg Micky Mel­lon’s men at 9-1.

Yet their gi­ant-killing pedi­gree is for­mi­da­ble. Le­ices­ter and Nor­wich were dis­patched en route to a tight 2-1 fourth round de­feat to Chelsea in last year’s League Cup, whilst Cardiff and in-form Sh­effield Wed­nes­day – oth­er­wise un­beaten in 2016 – were slain to tee up to­mor­row’s show­down at New Meadow.

Most en­cour­ag­ingly, United are at their low­est ebb in re­cent his­tory, nurs­ing some 14 in­juries and reel­ing from an em­bar­rass­ing Europa League de­feat at the hands of Dan­ish min­nows FC Midtjyl­land. Not that Man­gan has any truck with that.

Big­gest

“That’s for the me­dia, not for us,” he in­sists. “To me, they’re still the same Man United, one of the big­gest clubs in the world with all the his­tory and suc­cess. Even with all those in­juries, I bet they still have in­ter­na­tion­als who can’t make the bench.

“Yes, they’re strug­gling. But is that en­tirely down to them? The Premier League has so much money now that ev­ery­one is catch­ing up. Ev­ery team can sign a world-class player. They’re a huge team, and any­one who says oth- er­wise is talk­ing non­sense.

“We’ll be pre­par­ing to face their strong­est pos­si­ble team but, in my eyes, there’s no such thing as a weak Man United team.”

Yet for all the ob­vi­ous re­spect, scouser Man­gan does share some of his son’s pos­i­tiv­ity, es­pe­cially af­ter net­ting against Chelsea last sea­son.

“We beat Cardiff, we beat Le­ices­ter,” says the 29-year-old, a for­mer Fleet­wood team-mate of Jamie Vardy. “We took Chelsea re­ally close. I think the fans are ac­tu­ally quite ex­pec­tant and us play­ers take great heart in know­ing that we’ve coped well against high-level op­po­si­tion.

“This is a whole new level to any we’ve played be­fore but you’ve got to go out there and be­lieve you can do it. We’re all pro­fes­sion­als who are paid to win. None of us will go out think­ing ‘We’ll just have a nice day to­day’.

“There’s still magic in the FA Cup and if you don’t be­lieve in that, you may as well let some­body else have your place.

“We just have to savour the chance. Since the draw, we’ve been so fo­cused on the league games be­cause we knew they needed at­ten­tion. Now we’ve got a cou­ple of re­sults, it means we can en­joy this for what it is.

“It’s Man United. Things like this don’t hap­pen to play­ers at our level very of­ten. You’re ex­cited, ner­vous, ex­pec­tant all at the same time. It’s a proud mo­ment for all our fam­i­lies to see us out there. Let’s seize it.”

And as for that one spe­cial fam­ily mem­ber, Man­gan hopes lit­tle Loui doesn’t start tak­ing su­per­star vis­i­tors for granted.

“First he sees Chelsea, now Man United,” laughs Man­gan, who started the sea­son with Non-League side Tran­mere. “He must just think th­ese are the lads his dad knocks about with. He’ll soon learn!”

MISSED: Andy Man­gan hasn’t told son Loui that Wayne Rooney is in­jured...

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