ManUtd.com recently sat down with promising striker James Wilson to learn more about training at Manchester United and his experiences this season...
Going to work every day and training with Falcao, Rooney and van Persie sounds like a dream for every United fan – how do you find it?
Going into training with them is obviously a great experience but on the other hand, it’s a big competition if I’m going to be breaking through into the first team. It’s tough because they’re all renowned for scoring goals at such a high level.
How long have you been training with the first team?
It’s been a few months. I was brought in after the Manchester City game in March, but I was injured then for a few weeks after that.
How much do you enjoy the training?
It’s great to play with the players. The intensity is at a higher level but you get plenty of rest in between so you can keep repeating the sessions over and over. It’s good. You have to think a lot more quickly than normally but in the end you get to that level and the thinking just comes naturally.
Is that the main difference you notice when you step up then – a difference in the mental intensity rather than the physical?
I would say so yes because there’s always someone coming at you or doing something so you always have to be aware of your surroundings, maybe a bit more than you have to in the reserves or the Under-18s. You certainly have to have your wits about you if you’re going to train with them on a regular basis.
Do you personally have training sessions where everything goes right, and sessions where you can’t seem to do anything right?
Yes, I’d like to think more things go right than go wrong in training sessions! But yes, I’ve had days when nothing’s gone for me in training. And it even happens in games as well when there’s a lucky deflection which takes it away from goal. Other than that, it’s just a matter of concentration really to make it happen for yourself.
Do you see things in training that impress you, like a great piece of skill or a great goal?
Mostly it’s goals because that relates to me. Skills are a big part of the game as well but really it’s about goals and if I see a good one in training, I’ll think ‘Wow!’
Who is most likely to score a picture-book goal in training?
It would probably be Wayne, with a volley or something. The ball will drop out to him and he’ll just go for it when nobody else would think to do it and it’ll fly into the top corner.
Wayne, Robin and Radamel are all quite different, so would you learn different things from each of them?
Yes, I would say so. Wayne is the captain so he’s very verbal and you can go to him for advice. You can learn things from Robin and Radamel that you probably could also learn from Wayne but it’s mostly within a game. So if you do something that isn’t particularly correct in a game, they’ll tell you what you could have done instead and next time you can learn from your mistakes.
Can you learn things from them just by watching them, like their movement?
Yes, the movement is very important in the game as a striker because you have to get away from the defender. You can watch them in the games and in training every day so you can just learn from them and then do what they do when you find yourself in the same situation.
What would you say is a particular strength of Robin’s game?
His movement is definitely one of them and the way he can change direction quickly. He can go towards the ball and then run in behind quite sharply so he can get away from the defender. Then he’s got the natural instinct to finish anyway.
What are Wayne’s best attributes?
He can score from anywhere, outside the box or inside the box. He can score with free-kicks, penalties, volleys, headers… all sorts.
And what has the new boy Radamel brought to the club?
Mostly I would say that from crosses he’s always in the right position. For his first goal for the club, against Everton, Di Maria’s had the shot and he’s there straightaway, expecting the ball to come across to him. I also saw him playing for Atletico Madrid as well and some of the goals he scored there were fantastic. He can score any type of goal as well
most talented is always a tough thing for me to get excited about... I've seen plenty of talent never reach full potential. I'm not saying that's what will happen with Wilson, just that talent doesn't mean anything without the proper discipline and nurturing. I hope he has a great career; I think he could be really good. I just haven't seen enough of him in the first team to make judgement... now the reserves, that's a different thing altogether. He's obviously better than everyone else on the pitch, but then again, so is Januzaj when he gets a reserve game every once in a while.
Manchester United legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has a simple piece of advice for James Wilson – model your game on Robin van Persie's.
The Norwegian won the hearts of the Old Trafford faithful with his unerring finishing ability and was aware of Wilson's potential even when he was Reserves coach under Sir Alex Ferguson, before leaving to cut his managerial teeth with Molde and Cardiff City.
Wilson, who only recently turned 19, was handed another start in Sunday's big match against Liverpool and is clearly highly regarded by manager Louis van Gaal. The fleet-footed forward, who scored twice on his debut against Hull City last term, has the potential to become as firm a favourite as Solskjaer in the years to come.
"I never trained James Wilson during my time as Reserves manager at United," Solskjaer told United Review. "But I was well aware of him.
"I got to work with the gang from 1993, with Ryan Tunnicliffe, Paul Pogba and so on, but James was among the 1995 boys. I watched him regularly playing in the Under-18s and Under-16s and we all knew he was going to have a chance.
"There's definitely something there. He's got pace, he can finish and, when his body fills out, he'll improve even more.
"As a young striker, he can't have a better mentor than Robin van Persie – my message would be to just copy your game from his, it's that simple!"
James Wilson believes his first full season in Manchester United's first-team squad is enhancing his development, both as a person and a professional footballer.
The 19-year-old forward admits to being a "quiet person" in this Saturday’s edition of United Review, though he exudes a confidence and self-belief that has undoubtedly fuelled his ascent through the youth ranks, helping him to become one of the most exciting prospects in the Barclays Premier League.
After making his senior debut in May under the interim management of Ryan Giggs, Wilson has since earned the trust of Louis van Gaal, who isn’t exactly shy when it comes to blooding young talent. The Biddulph-born striker is now a bona fide star at Old Trafford and hopes to accelerate his education over the second half of the campaign.
When asked if there was a particular moment when he first felt like a first-team player, Wilson replied: “The first few weeks were I suppose a bit strange because I hadn’t been around the players for long, which is natural. But the lads were all great with me and were constantly speaking to me.
“I would say that I am a bit of a quiet person anyway, but they have helped me to progress as a person and a footballer. The point was probably just after the first two weeks when I was getting on the bench and making a few appearances. It was then when I thought ‘I’m in the squad now’.”
Wilson scored his first goal of the current campaign during the recent 2-0 win at Queens Park Rangers and hopes to add to his account if selected against Leicester City on Saturday. As he explains, he is already benefiting from the confidence boost provided by his maiden strike at Loftus Road.
“Even in training now I have felt a lot more confident, it has helped me a lot," he added. "They say your first goal of the season is probably the toughest one to score. Hopefully that is just my first one and I can keep going game by game, getting as many minutes as I can and a few more goals.”
He's receiving praise from all angles and rightly so, but hopefully it doesn't get to his head. His development has been very encouraging, and could well have a lengthy future at Old Trafford, but let's not kid ourselves- he still has quite a way to go to be a truly world-class center forward. He does seem like the shy, mild-mannered sort of person, not someone who will easily become arrogant, so I believe he can endeavour himself to the United faithful in the years to come.