Ahead of game week seven in the Premier League, we caught up once again with BonusCodeBets ambassador John Barnes. The former Liverpool and England midfielder shared his thoughts on the late Roger Hunt, why Ole Gunnar Solsjkaer is holding Manchester United back, and why Nuno Espírito Santo shouldn’t drop Harry Kane.
John Barnes Exclusive: Roger Hunt is a Liverpool hero and will be sorely missed by everyone
“Everyone talks about Roger Hunt all the time because he was a hero. From when I came, people would pretend to be him in training. He was such a legend for Liverpool in terms of the goals he scored, and he was a lovely man as well. We used to get together over Christmas, but we hadn’t seen him for a while because no one had seen anyone very regularly.
“But the Liverpool family is so strong that regardless of whether you played in 1960 or 2010, you’re a part of the family and they identify with each other so he will be sorely missed by everyone really because he was such a humble guy as well.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Jota is not a replacement for Firmino
“I have confidence in Firmino playing as well as he can to get in the team. Why would Jota take over Firmino’s position when he’s not a centre forward? But, the way Liverpool play, he can play there but it’s not a question of him taking Firmino’s position, it’s a question of him scoring goals for Liverpool when he gets an opportunity.
“I like Roberto Firmino, but Jota is expected to score more than Firmino. He does different things for Liverpool and really brings this front three together, so I don’t see Jota as a replacement for Firmino.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Mo Salah can become an Anfield legend… but only if he stays at Liverpool for years
“The longer Mohamed Salah stays at Liverpool, the more his legendary status at the club will be solidified. However, that will be at the end of his career and not when he leaves the club. Remember when Fernando Torres was here, people used to say the same thing about him but then he left too soon, so won’t be thought of in those circles.
“But the way he’s going in terms of what he’s done, he will be a Liverpool legend, but only at the end of his career when he leaves Liverpool can we determine how impactful he has been. Because if he goes tomorrow, it might not be as much as if he leaves in three, four- or five-years’ time so we can only make that assessment at the end of his career or when he actually leaves Liverpool.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Bruno Fernandes should stay on United penalty duty – don’t give it to Ronaldo
“Bruno Fernandes is a penalty taker and he missed one penalty, but he’s still a good penalty taker. Just because you miss one penalty, it doesn’t mean you’re not going to take penalties anymore. Cristiano Ronaldo is also a penalty taker but whether or not he will take over from Fernandes remains to be seen – but I don’t think he should.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Solskjaer is holding United back and he’ll struggle to keep everyone happy
“Manchester United will always be behind Manchester City and Liverpool until the questions marks over Ole Gunnar Solskjaer are removed. On top of that, they have lots of superstars – is everybody happy? Will Pogba go? Does the arrival of Ronaldo unsettle some players, with Greenwood and Martial now unlikely to play? Is Sancho going to play now? There’s still dis-unity at Manchester United, more than at their title rivals and that will always foster inconsistency.
“It will always be there under the current manager. It’s one of those situations whereby every time they win, it’s fine but when they lose, the questions marks are there again. As long as that happens, it’s not good for Manchester United.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Arsenal played well against Spurs, but let’s not get carried away
“Arsenal played well [in the North London Derby], but Spurs were poor. It was a bit of both. But just because they clicked against Spurs, it doesn’t mean that they’ll suddenly become a consistent team that will do it every week. Of course, that was only their third victory that they’ve had. It was just a good day for Arsenal.
“Tottenham were poor, but Arsenal played really well. Scoring early does help confidence. It was just a combination of the perfect storm for Arsenal in terms of scoring early enough and getting a couple of goals to give them the confidence to go on and do what they did.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Tomiyasu will be better off at centre-back
“Takehiro Tomiyasu was solid in the game against Tottenham, but that’s a one off. He is a centre-back originally despite playing right-back at the weekend. He may have played there on Sunday but that was just for that game. I’m not sure he’s going to play there every week, but, against Spurs, he was impressive.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Arsenal’s youngsters are playing well but fans need to be patient with them
“Mikel Arteta won’t put pressure on Saka and Smith-Rowe to carry the team so as much as it looks like there’s pressure on them, maybe they don’t feel the pressure on them. Arteta will say to them ‘go out and play and if you don’t play well, it’s not your fault because you’re young and growing’. The fans don’t put pressure on either, and they support them so I’m glad to see that they’ve picked up where they left off towards the end of last season.
“But then again, Arsenal are still ninth in the league, so they’re not suddenly fantastic. We’re talking about one game against Tottenham. So, we need to see them doing it week in, week out.
“They have the potential to score and assist regularly but they have to realise their potential and that’s what you get with youth. They’re inconsistent, until they get enough experience to be able to do that week in week out, and hopefully – for Arsenal’s sake – they can do that here, but only time will tell.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Nuno shouldn’t drop Harry Kane, even though he doesn’t want to be there
“Dropping Harry Kane won’t work. Nuno should play him and work hard with him in training. Dropping him isn’t a solution. Talking to him and getting him looking at himself and thinking ‘I need to do better’ is the only solution because he must decide for himself that he needs to give more than he’s giving at the moment.
“This seems to be more than just ‘a tricky time in his career’ to be honest. In his body language, he doesn’t seem to be happy. And of course, he’s now not going to move until at least January, so he must forget about that and knuckle down. But in dropping Harry Kane is not the solution for me now.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Nuno is not under-qualified to be Spurs manager
“Nuno is not under-qualified for the Spurs job at all. He’s a good manager. Regardless of how he did at Wolves over a couple of years, it doesn’t make him under-qualified. Jose Mourinho is proof, Brendan Rodgers too. They’re not under-qualified, they’re just good coaches. Things just aren’t happening at the moment but that doesn’t mean he is not a good coach.
“The writing is not on the wall at all because they were top of the league not so long ago and suddenly, it’s all doom and gloom. Things change so quickly in football.”
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