Samuel Luckhurst

Manchester Evening News

A Zoom or a phone call are incomparable with conversing in person but my interview with Luke Shaw on the eve of the Europa League final flowed well. I supplemented that with a chat with the United Champions League winner Owen Hargreaves; two interview features ahead of United's only final in the last four-and-a-half years.

August 27 2021 will live long in the memory as I filed three world exclusives on Cristiano Ronaldo's return to United and the Sir Alex Ferguson one is a career highlight. I revealed United were considering hijacking his expected transfer to Manchester City, that United had submitted a contract offer to Ronaldo after Ferguson had spoken to him and that a medical was planned after Ronaldo declined City's offer. I also reported exclusively on Raphael Varane's transfer in the same summer. During the fraught final months of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's reign, I reported exclusively on Antonio Conte's receptiveness to joining United, the club's aversion to Conte, the decision taken to dismiss Solskjaer and the preference for Ralf Rangnick to take interim charge. What I savoured writing most was the United manager's 'obituary', a feature that highlighted how informed my journalism is. This year, I was the first to report Erik ten Hag was United's favoured candidate to become their next manager six weeks prior to his appointment. That story was followed up with a feature with Ten Hag's lifelong friend that provided unique insight. One of my favourite features was the inside story on United's worst season in decades, which was informed by multiple dressing room sources and detailed the fractured environment at the club. Reporting exclusively on Ronaldo is a knack I am proud of. I revealed he had filmed a video message that was played to the youth team in the dressing room before their FA Youth Cup victory and that Ronaldo would not travel on the club's pre-season tour. Over the last 21 months, I have interviewed Shaw, Ten Hag, Fred, Victor Lindelof, Tyrell Malacia, Bruno Fernandes, David de Gea, Diogo Dalot and Christian Eriksen. The transfer window is a relentless period and I revealed United had agreed a fee for Adrien Rabiot and was the first to report the deal had collapsed. I provided a 2,000-word read on what went on behind the scenes of United's transfer window, gathering information I had stored with the intention of penning an authoritative and informative long read. Days before United were humbled at Brentford, I reported on a dressing room row between players at the training ground and the following week exclusively wrote Harry Maguire was due to be dropped for the home fixture against Liverpool. It is always satisfying when the club one covers confirm an exclusive and the wrong-footed sessions Ten Hag has overseen in training went public in the warm-up to a United European away game. And after the recent fallow period of no domestic matches to cover, I again reported exclusively on United's XI for the Manchester derby at City.