On Hodgson letting Tottenham’s England players down…
As England fans, we’re not as fickle as people make out and anyone could see in that game against Iceland that there was a complete lack of tactical preparation – the players were essentially left to do it themselves.
These players who get called up, and the Spurs players in particular, get selected because they get the help at their clubs to succeed and the players are put in the right positions to play their best.
When they get to the international setup, they should get the same support from Hodgson to do that and they didn’t.
You can’t have Harry Kane taking corners/free-kicks when it’s not something he did at his club and I think forcing them to do different things did not help them at all. Hodgson let those players down.
On how those players will respond this season…
The crucial thing for Spurs this season will be how quickly their English core can get the sour taste of the Euros out of their mouth.
There’s a lot of pressure to replicate that form, considering how the likes of Kane started last season.
Everything went right for those players last year, with Kane, Eric Dier, Danny Rose and Dele Alli all getting call ups for England and it was massive mental boost.
Now, following the poor tournament, there’s a lot of backlash towards them, so it’s going to take a lot of mental strength to pick themselves back up again.
On his move to Tottenham and the price tag…
That move was the start of the crazy fees being thrown around now.
I went to Newcastle and was the most expensive player for 24 hours! You can’t control the fee and all you have to do is play to the best you can and hope to justify it.
On his early career and playing for Norwich…
It was funny actually because I started on trial at Ipswich but whilst I was trialling and waiting to see what happened, I travelled to Norwich and they put their arms round me and gave me great support, so I ended up signing for them instead.
They’ve done a lot for me and my mother, so you always want to repay them.
I was neither a Norwich or Ipswich fan growing up as I followed Manchester United and West Bromwich Albion.
I looked up to Cyrille Regis, Laurie Cunningham and Brendan Batson because at the time, there weren’t a lot of black players around so I tended to associate myself with teams that contained a few black players.
Also, Manchester United had top quality wingers and I loved playing on the wing so it was exciting to watch them play.
Nowadays, there are no out-and-out wingers as they prefer to play the opposite side and cut inside rather than hug the touchline and put balls in to the box. I’d say the game is based on possession now, rather than fast attacking play and getting balls in to the box.
On Norwich’s chances this season and players to look out for…
I think with clubs like Norwich, they’re very shrewd with who they bring in and who they allow to leave the club.
The Canaries’ squad is very strong and when you factor in that they had a lot of players missing against an Ipswich outfit who were near full strength, it shows the depth at Alex Neil’s disposal.
As a yo-yo club, one thing Norwich have had is good finances and experienced players. Along with Newcastle, they have the financial strength to keep their best players.
Cameron Jerome is someone to watch out for this season.
He didn’t have the best of seasons last year but I thought it was harsh on him as the Premier League is a different type of league and he’s more suited to the Championship where you get a bit more time on the ball.
I don’t think the team played to his strengths, but in the Championship he knows the league well and it will tailor to his attributes.
You’ve also got Wes Hoolahan, who is a fantastic player and one I like very much in behind the striker and if they can keep him fit and firing, then they’ll have a great season.
On Newcastle keeping Rafa…
For a club as big as Newcastle, it was very important that they got off to a good start and they have done. Keeping Rafa Benitez was a massive bonus for the club and due to the tremendous support, it probably played on his heartstrings a bit, having managed at Liverpool, to remain loyal to such a dedicated fan base.
The fact that a manager of his calibre, who managed Real Madrid and probably had a host of teams looking for his services, decided to stay at Newcastle speaks volumes for the club. It certainly doesn’t surprise me that he stayed but it will take some adjustment from him.
On the new signings…
In my opinion, Dwight Gayle was exactly what Newcastle needed – a quality goalscorer. Dwight’s very much in the Ian Wright mould, someone who doesn’t keep still and consistently works the keeper – his strike ratio is very good.
The goals he’s scored for Newcastle have been typical poacher’s goals.
On whether discontent in the boardroom affects the players…
It doesn’t. As a player you’ve got a job to do, you can’t worry about what’s going on behind the scenes.
Unless what’s going on affects the players (i.e. contracts), then that shouldn’t affect them when they step out on the turf. There are club matters and matters on the pitch and they have to be kept completely separate.
On the need for attacking teams in the Premier League…
If you look at the likes of Liverpool now, who play similarly to how we did at Newcastle when we were labelled ‘The Entertainers’, you beat Arsenal in a thriller and then lose 2-0 to Burnley.
With us, you never knew what the score was going to be but you knew we’d attack and Liverpool this season definitely resemble that team.
Liverpool are going to be a good team to watch this year and they look like they’re on the edge of something really special.
At the same time, we always say they are on the cusp and then they go and lose so they’re certainly one of the most unpredictable teams in the league.
On West Brom and Tony Pulis’ style
For Albion, their main goal is survival and I think mid-table is where they’ll finish. Tony Pulis is never the type of manager to overhype his team and create lofty expectations, and based on where West Brom have been – always fighting first and foremost to stay in the division – survival is of utmost importance.
Pulis is a shrewd manager, in a similar vein to Sam Allardyce, very astute and tactically very accomplished. He’s always going to set up a team to be difficult to beat. Fans can’t complain and moan about the way he plays because he does a job and West Brom are difficult to play against as a result.
Having defied the odds regularly during Norwich’s 1993/94 UEFA Cup campaign, how are Leicester going to punch above their weight in the Champions League?
First and foremost, they’ve got to find a Plan B. It’s going to be very difficult for them to surprise teams in the Champions League and they’re really going to have to mix it up.
You could see against Arsenal that the defenders were dropping off an extra five yards to avoid giving Vardy the space over the top.
I wouldn’t say they’re predictable, but clubs are aware of their strengths and weaknesses now and in Europe, it’s going to be hard for them to breakdown down these teams.
Claudio Ranieri will have worked out how he wants to play in Europe but it’s really a case of managing two squads now, one suited to play in the Premier League and one for the Champions League. It all depends on the draw, the teams they get and the travelling.
If they don’t get a favourable draw, it could be a very difficult season both continentally and domestically for the club.
On Scouting for Montserrat…
For me it was an honour to be asked to go and help out, but as you can imagine, it’s a small island with not a lot of talent to choose from.
I had a great couple of years scouting there but when you’ve got a team at the bottom of FIFA rankings, it’s a difficult setup, especially with all the rules and regulations now. It was a proud moment for me though.