Former Manchester United midfielder Zoran Tosic has revealed how he felt overawed when he first arrived at the club.
The Serbian came to Old Trafford in January 2009, joining a side that were European champions, and has explained to The Athletic why he didn’t succeed.
After failing to make an impact in his time at the clubs, Tosic left just a year into his contract. He made just two league appearances before joining Partizan Belgrade — who United face on Thursday night in the Europa League.
Tosic admits that he struggled to keep up with the high standards at United, even when it came to training, with the likes of Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes showing incredible signs of dedication for players that had reached their mid-30s at the time.
“I was put straight into the first-team squad and the levels were so high that it felt like another sport,” Tosic told The Athletic.
“It was very heavy for me in those first weeks in Manchester. The ball moved so quickly in training, the quality was top, top, level. Nobody lost the ball. Except me. I was trying my best but it wasn’t enough. This wasn’t the football I knew.
“I thought I could play for United but there was a reason I was not at their level. These players lived the football life at the top. Giggs was 36, Scholes 34. They trained at 200 per cent. They lived football 24 hours. It was a big surprise to me to see them do this, a big lesson. They were on bikes before training and in the gym after.”
Reading these quotes you can’t help but feel players coming to United — who don’t even make the grade — no longer feel this way.
Those were the standards demanded by Sir Alex Ferguson — and then the leaders he had on the pitch, such as Giggs and Scholes.
You can read similar stories about Roy Keane during his time at the club.
If you can’t be arsed to do it in training, you wouldn’t be trusted when match day came around.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer witnessed this himself under Fergie, so hopefully with help from his coaching staff this mentality can be restored.