‘A Sit Down with John Barnes’ – 10th February 2022

Ahead of the next round of Premier League fixtures, we caught up with BonusCodeBets ambassador, John Barnes. The former Liverpool and England midfielder discussed Declan Rice’s potential suitors, the future of Liverpool and why Ralf Rangnick must satisfy the egos at Manchester United.

John Barnes Exclusive: Mo Salah won’t be affected by losing the AFCON final

“Mo Salah will be able to put the AFCON final loss behind him. Egypt did so well to even get to the final and it’s a completely different competition, different team, players and even continent! It’ll have no impact whatsoever on his form for Liverpool and vice versa. 

“Had Liverpool lost in the Champions League final, that wouldn’t have affected him when he was playing in the AFCON 2019. It’s a different competition and a different match. 

“It won’t have an impact on him at all. Yes, he’ll be disappointed at losing but that’s part of football. He’s lost in the past and this is just something he hasn’t won.”



John Barnes Exclusive: Harvey Elliott’s return is great for the future of Liverpool

“First and foremost, it’s great to see Harvey Elliot back for himself. Of course, it’s fantastic for Liverpool but for a young player to have such a horrendous injury, it’s great to see he’s back to full fitness and playing well. He rode a few tackles which would have helped show him that the injury is no longer a problem.

He played well, he scored and what he does is add to the squad. He won’t be in the starting 11 if everyone is fit and he’s probably not one of the first 15 or 16 players when you look at the strength in depth that Liverpool have in Diogo Jota and Luis Diaz coming in – they’re ahead of him in that position anyway. 

“But it’s great for himself and great for the future of Liverpool. We’re not going to put pressure on Elliot to be in the first team, or even necessarily on the bench but it’s great he’s back.”


John Barnes Exclusive: Signing Luis Diaz shows Liverpool are preparing for the future

“Liverpool aren’t phasing out their current attackers because if they were in a Champions League final, their front three would be Roberto Firmino, Mo Salah and Sadio Mané. 

“In this age of modern football, teams have to prepare for the future and fortunately Liverpool can do that by signing the likes of Diogo Jota and Luis Diaz and having players around them they can push to be in the team. 

“It’s not a question of phasing them [Salah and Mané] out but Liverpool know what modern football is like; players come and go regardless of who they are.

“Liverpool are covering every eventuality and looking forward to the future while still wanting to keep Salah and Mané.

“Both Salah and Mané are coming up to 30 and they’re not going to be around in five or six years and Jurgen Klopp is fortunate that Liverpool allow him to look to the future rather than thinking short term as most managers have to do.”


John Barnes Exclusive: Ralf Rangnick can’t experiment with his squad as he’s the interim manager

“At Arsenal, Mikel Arteta is the long-term manager, he’s the man in control. Therefore, if he decides to drop any of the senior players, like he did with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, he will be supported. There is no manager at Manchester United. 

“They can’t bring a young player like James Garner back into the fold and ignore the senior players without there being a long-term manager. Ralf Rangnick is there now but he’s not going to be the long-term manager and we don’t know who that’s going to be.

“Manchester United have to play their superstars and their strongest team every week regardless of their form. They can’t put all the pressure on the youngsters because they’re in a different position to Arsenal.

“If they were to bring James Garner back and he’s put in the team ahead of more senior players, that will only cause more disunity and we know how powerful the players are there. If a manager comes in who can make decisions like bringing Garner back in to play over Paul Pogba, then they’ll have to support him. 

“But at this moment in time, Manchester United don’t have stable footing at a managerial level to make those kinds of calls.”


John Barnes Exclusive: Manchester United won’t be able to stabilise the club until next season

“Ralf Rangnick doesn’t have the authority to drop players who aren’t playing well. He might alienate himself from the players if he drops them as he’s coming from the position of being the interim manager.

“He has to look at the big players with the big egos and hope that they can turn it on. If he lays the law down now there may be some animosity towards him next year when a new manager comes in and he becomes the technical director. 

“I’m not saying they should write their season off but the quicker they can stabilise the club in terms of identifying a manager and bringing him in, the better. They still have enough good players to qualify for the Champions League but next year is when they’ll really have to stabilise.”


John Barnes Exclusive: Declan Rice could fit in at Liverpool or Chelsea

“It depends which manager wants Declan Rice. If Thomas Tuchel doesn’t want him, it doesn’t matter if he supports Chelsea and his best friend is Mason Mount, he won’t go to Chelsea.

“If Tuchel doesn’t want Rice, he won’t be going there – that’s the way football should be. He can’t hold out for a move; he has to look at the interest in him and see if that club’s style of football will suit him.

“Players don’t choose clubs. Good clubs choose which players they want to fit into their team.”

“He’s a good player and can play in a few positions. He won’t suit Manchester City because of the way he plays but his style of play could suit Liverpool or Chelsea. 


John Barnes Exclusive: Dele Alli’s attitude is more important than his dress sense

“If we want to stop worrying about players off the pitch, why are we saying that they’re role models? We can’t have it both ways. We can’t say that we shouldn’t worry about them off the pitch but then, when they do something we don’t like, we say they’re role models and have to meet a certain standard.

“From a dress perspective, it’s immaterial. Frank Lampard said it himself; he doesn’t care what Dele wears as long as he performs on the pitch, works hard in training, is humble and a good professional.

“It’s a storm in a teacup, it doesn’t matter what he wears as far as I’m concerned. His attitude is much more important.”


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