Ex-Tottenham and England midfielder Darren Anderton was known as one of the most loyal players in the Premier League era and one of the most consistent performers in an England shirt, meaning his opinions on big-money-moves and chances of European success should not be taken lightly.
Speaking exclusively to news.bwin in a wide-ranging interview, the player perhaps best remembered for his World Cup ’98 goal against Colombia, gives his opinion on the moves of Raheem Sterling and Fabian Delph, Tottenham Hotspurs’ hopes for this season and England’s chances of European glory in France next summer.
Having himself turned down big moves to Leeds United and Manchester United while at Spurs, it is perhaps surprising that Anderton has backed Sterling’s move to Manchester City and is cautiously supportive of Fabian Delph’s move to the Etihad too.
“Unfortunately for Liverpool fans, it is all part of the game, when you’re flying and playing great football, the big teams want you. Liverpool have done extremely well for him, but you only have to look at the two teams in recent years – moving to Manchester City will give him Champions League football and more chance of trophies. Of course there’s always more money, but that’s part and parcel of ambition and Raheem is clearly an ambitious young man.”
“As for Delph, the U-turn was unfortunate. I genuinely believe that he wanted to stay at Aston Villa but with Christian Benteke on the way out, he’s got to think about his long-term career, and Tim won’t thank me for this, if he wants trophies then Manchester City are the better bet. That said, I think Fabian might have got his timing slightly wrong if he’s thinking about his England place.
“When I chose to stay at Spurs instead of going to Manchester United it was because I was playing regular football ahead of major international tournaments and I wanted to keep it that way because playing for England was that important to me. Fabian is in the early stages of his international career so he still needs a big season to get him on the plane, so it’ll be interesting to see if he can get a place nailed down at City.”
Darren Anderton: I will be very surprised if Bournemouth go down
Having started his career at Portsmouth and ended it at Bournemouth, Anderton has a clear affinity with the coast and his affection is best displayed with a glowing endorsement of The Cherries’ survival chances.
“I will be very surprised if they go down. The upward curve they are on hasn’t just lasted this season, it’s been three years in the making and you’ve seen with teams like Fulham and Wigan in the past (teams who have come through multiple divisions), this sort of momentum is quite significant for a lengthy stay in the Premier League.
“I think it’s important for them to stick to the brand of football that has brought them success, whilst adding in a bit more adaptability. Eddie Howe is a great, young manager and the players suit his attack-minded approach. The real test will be getting the balance right between playing positive football and changing formation against the top clubs. If they get that right, and I think they can, they have a great chance of avoiding relegation.”
Darren Anderton: Top Four looks out of reach for Spurs
Having spent over twelve years with the club, Anderton’s assessment of Spurs appears to be one shared by the majority of the club’s fans – Tottenham are at risk of falling further behind the Premier League’s leading pack.
“For every season they don’t compete in the Champions League, it becomes tougher for Spurs to challenge the big four of Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal. Admittedly Chelsea have been a bit quieter this year, but looking at how these top teams have strengthened over the summer makes it look like more of a challenge to compete with this quality.
“Last year was a great opportunity for Spurs to grab one of those top four spaces. You had Liverpool losing Suarez and Manchester United settling into a new manager, so you’ve got to say it was up for grabs – Tottenham just didn’t perform consistently enough throughout the season. There’s not been too much change in personnel at Spurs, so I expect to them to start well, but the top four looks a big ask.”
Darren Anderton: England can win the Euros…but I won’t be betting on it!
Anderton’s 30 cap England career spanned seven years and five different managers, so with a major international tournament on the horizon, we had to ask the question, ‘Can England win it?’
“Of course we can, but I won’t be betting on it. The only really positive thing I can say is that it’s a knockout competition and so anything can happen – it’s like Wigan winning the FA Cup!”
“Euro 96 is one of my greatest and least favourite memories in my career. I don’t really think about the Germany golden goal moment too much (when Anderton hit the post) because there was nothing more I could have done. If it had been a one-on-one with the keeper, I think it would still be haunting me. I do think about what would have happened if we had scored – we had a goal celebration planned that we’d just run straight down the tunnel!”
“If England are going to stand any chance, Roy has to recreate the spirit of Terry’s team. He created an incredible team culture, it was like playing club football, just with different lads. We bonded on the training pitch, but he also encouraged bonding on nights outs and we were treated like adults – from what I’ve heard, it was very similar to the Irish team in 1994. It’s one thing playing for yourself and the country, but if you’re playing for your mates too, you give it that extra bit.”