One of Arsene Wenger’s first Arsenal signings, Luis Boa Morte went on to have a successful career in the Premier League. The silky winger is best known for his spell at Fulham, where he spent seven seasons.
Today he talks to news.bwin about Fulham’s chances of surviving in the Championship this season, Arsenal’s Premier League title hopes and how Portugal have a few tricks up their sleeve for Euro 2016.
Boa Morte on Championship survival chances and the sacking of Kit Symons
“We have to acknowledge that we’re in a tough spot, it has been an inconsistent season. Kit Symons was doing a good job with the club before he was dismissed but unfortunately the board didn’t share that opinion. In my opinion, the decision was wrong, as I played with Kit and I thought he was going the right way.
“He was starting to implement his own ideas from 2014/15 during pre-season. He is a Fulham guy through and through, he belongs to Fulham and you need to appreciate that. He loves the club and knows it inside out.
“Paul Clement’s sacking at Derby was another strange situation. He’s come from Real Madrid to Derby, implementing everything he’s learnt from his time in Spain but, for some reason, it didn’t work out between him and the board. It’s difficult because managers don’t get the time these days to implement their own philosophies”.
“Fulham will have to rely on the likes of Ross McCormack to keep them safe this season, he’s been very consistent, scoring plenty of goals. People were, and still are to an extent, questioning his hefty price tag for a Championship player, but with prices in football nowadays, who knows whether someone is worth the amount of money you pay for them. We also have Moussa Dembele, who has come in from Paris St Germain, who is also scoring, so we’ve got good potency in front of goal”.
Boa Morte on the increasing influence of China
“The Chinese Super League is trying to impose itself on the world. Back in October I was in China watching a Shanghai Shenhua match. Players of the calibre of Demba Ba and Tim Cahill were playing. The quality of football was very good, the atmosphere in the stadium is amazing. We’re not just talking about 20-30,000-seater stadiums either, we’re talking about big Old Trafford-style arenas packed with fans.
“They’re attracting some of Europe’s best players because they can offer a different style of football, in a completely different league where players can live a completely different life. The money definitely isn’t everything…but it sure helps. They’re attracting unbelievable players; Ezequiel Lavezzi has just moved to Hebei China, Jackson Martinez went to Guangzhou Evergrande and Alex Teixeira is at Jiangsu Suning. The future is bright for Chinese football”
Boa Morte on Arsenal’s title challenge and scouting system
“Leicester have been unbelievable this year and their title run is reminiscent of Blackburn’s in 1994/95 so it’s certainly possible that they could go on to win the league, but, in all honesty, I think Arsenal will win it. Victory against Leicester closed the gap to two points and they have the squad necessary to remain consistent until the end of the season”
“It’s very difficult, looking at the youth systems now, to tell whether a player is going to make it or not. We’ve seen Jack Wilshere rise through the ranks, but really it’s how the players, once they emerge in the first team, cope with the pressure of having to perform week in, week out to remain in the frame.
Arsene Wenger has a very good reputation of developing youngsters, which is good for the likes of Alex Iwobi, but they need to take the chance and run with it. It completely depends on the player because he’ll get the chances, but it depends on whether he takes them.
“When you have more money to invest, especially due to the new TV deal, the younger players often are the first to get shunted, as managers want ready-made players that they can pitch straight in. They want results straight away. They don’t want to wait.
Boa Morte on Portugal at Euro 2016
“Portugal have to win their group, we have the second best player in the world and players with good experience at a very high level. We have to finish top, no excuses.
“Under the circumstances, Portugal will have to reach the quarter final. It should be a prerequisite to finish among Europe’s top eight teams, as Portugal is certainly a part of that category. Of course, in tournament football, there are always surprises, such as Greece in Euro 2004, but it would be a disaster if Portugal did not reach that stage.
“Wales could be a real surprise this tournament with Chris Coleman at the helm and Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey leading by example. They don’t have a lot of pressure on them this tournament as it’s their first in over fifty years, whereas Portugal and Cristiano Ronaldo must perform. Wales did very well to catch Belgium by surprise and to get through so they can catch a few teams off guard. Ryan Giggs had a wonderful career at Manchester United but never really got the chance to shine with Wales. Bale is fortunate as he will have the limelight on the big stage.
“Portugal does not depend on Ronaldo, we have some exciting players who are ready for the tournament, the likes of Danilo Pereira at Porto, Bernardo Silva at Monaco, Renato Sanches at Benfica, so there are some good young players who could make a name for themselves. There are a lot of fantastic young players on the verge of breaking through, so Portuguese football has a bright future”
Boa Morte on Reading forward Ola John
“He’s a good player. I think people need to give him time to familiarise himself with the country and the league. It’s very tough physically and you need to have the right temperament to play in the league. It’s very difficult in Portugal compared to the Championship, but he’ll adapt in good time. He was very good at Benfica and you don’t suddenly forget about this overnight, so he’ll come good at Reading. I think it’s a matter of time before he’s firing on all cylinders”