A Sit Down with John Barnes – 21st April 2022

Ahead of the next installment of Premier League fixtures, we caught up with BonusCodeBets ambassador, John Barnes. The former Liverpool midfielder shared his thoughts on Liverpool’s quadruple charge, Lacazette needing to put himself in the shop window, and Bruno Guimarães not being Newcastle’s star man.

John Barnes Exclusive: Liverpool players will feel the pressure going for the quadruple

“Liverpool players won’t be distracted by talk of an unprecedented quadruple. They cannot control the talk outside. They take each game as it comes, as they showed with their performance in the FA Cup semi-final and against Manchester United. 

“They put pressure on themselves to perform in every fixture. They don’t go into games thinking ‘this is a step closer to the quadruple.’

“It [the quadruple] would only affect them if they were thinking about the last game of the league season, Champions League final and FA Cup final – but they aren’t thinking about that.

“It will however, put pressure on their fans, who will feel that each game is a step closer.”

John Barnes Exclusive: The idea that Liverpool are the best team in Premier League history is “ridiculous”

“If next season a team came along, without losing a single game and then won the FA Cup, League Cup, Champions League and Premier League, they would be the greatest side in Premier League history. But that’s never happened. So, talking about whether Liverpool winning the quadruple, would make them the greatest is ridiculous.

“However, this Liverpool side are one of the greatest teams in Premier League history, and they probably would have won the league twice by now.

“Whereas, in the past Manchester United won the league with the likes of Ryan Giggs, as well as the Champions League, FA Cup and others. 

“This could potentially be the greatest ever Premier League season for a team [Liverpool], but not a side.

“I don’t like speculating into what could happen further down the line. They could lose every single remaining game. What would we then say? That they aren’t a good side?”

John Barnes Exclusive: I’d support a manager’s decision to strip Maguire of his captaincy

“I would be supportive of any decision a manager makes. 

“I’m not certain why it is rumoured that Erik Ten Hag will strip Harry Maguire of his Manchester United captaincy, because he hasn’t even been given the job yet. 

“People can always speculate – but I would always support any decision made by the manager of a football club and everyone should support it, whether he stripped Harry Maguire as captain, or even if he chose to retain him. A manager must have full autonomy no matter what he does. 

“I’m not saying Harry Maguire should be stripped of the captaincy, he’s a good player and captain. It isn’t Harry Maguire’s fault that United are where they find themselves. It is the team and instability that United have been through.”

John Barnes Exclusive: Manchester United had no chance with Haaland

“Pep Guardiola refused to say that Manchester City were set to sign Erling Haaland. If they do sign him, he would be a great player for Manchester City. 

“But, in terms of Manchester United, they didn’t make a mistake in not making a move for him – who said he would even go to United? I don’t believe Manchester United could have signed him, he wasn’t going anywhere last year, and they don’t have the possibility. 

“Manchester United don’t just need a player like Erling Haaland [to fix their woes], they need far more. 

“They haven’t made a mistake in not going for him – he isn’t the player they need given the way they play.”

John Barnes Exclusive: Erling Haaland might disrupt City’s fluidity

“Even if Manchester City signed a recognised striker like Erling Haaland, it wouldn’t make them impossible to compete with next season. 

“What will happen is their other players will simply score less goals. Bringing in a striker might impact on the team and the way they play, more than not having a striker.


“If Manchester City bring in a main striker to come in who bags all the goals, then the likes of Raheem Sterling and Riyad Mahrez wouldn’t get as many, but they’d also lose the fluidity of the way they play.

“That’s why Pep Guardiola is quite happy not having a number nine. Even without one, they’ve won the Premier League, are top of the league again and are still in the Champions League. That’s not a position in which they need to fill urgently.”

John Barnes Exclusive: Guardiola was pragmatic and respectful in his team selection

“Dropping players for cup competitions shows whether managers have faith in their squad. 

“When Jürgen Klopp picks different players like Curtis Jones instead of Fabinho that’s not being disrespectful to any competition – it’s just a manager trusting his players. 

“Pep Guardiola did the same in the FA Cup semi-final against Liverpool. He didn’t disrespect the FA Cup, he trusted the squad that he picked, and put out a fantastic team. 

“Obviously, he decided the team, but he understood that without certain players like Kevin De Bruyne it would be more difficult for Man City, but he has faith. It’s not a question of necessarily prioritising other competitions. On another day that City side could have beaten Liverpool. 

“Guardiola was being pragmatic and sensible with his squad against Liverpool.”

John Barnes Exclusive: Spurs will clinch fourth spot

“Tottenham Hotspur are now firm favourites for fourth in the Premier League. They are more experienced than Arsenal, with a more experienced manager. 

“Everyone, myself included, got a bit carried away thinking Arsenal would finish fourth, but they are still a very young team. 

“They’re growing, and if they started to believe they’d turned a corner, then this is a wakeup call for them on how much they need to grow and the maturity they need. 

“It will come with experience and age. They probably felt they were playing well and going to continue winning matches, but it’s a learning curve for them.”

John Barnes Exclusive: If Alexandre Lacazette wants a big move, he should focus on scoring for Arsenal

“The best way for Alexandre Lacazette to secure his future, would be to continue playing well and scoring goals for Arsenal. 

“Mikel Arteta comments about focusing on Arsenal are fair. If you look at what Georginio Wijnaldum did at Liverpool when he was leaving, he continued to play well every game right until the end. 

“What happens with Lacazette will take care of itself, but what would help his future is playing well and scoring plenty for Arsenal with the right attitude.

“He will be going somewhere once the season ends, but he’d be off to somewhere better if he was scoring the goals for Arsenal.”

John Barnes Exclusive: Chris Wood has been superb for Newcastle United

“Ivan Toney wouldn’t necessarily lead the Newcastle team if he moved there, he’d just be a part of it. Chris Wood has done well for them – he may not of scored the goals since his move, but he’s been part of a team that’s surged up the league.

“Wood will never score many goals, but he contributes by bringing others into play, getting into the box and he holds play up. That’s exactly what Newcastle need. 

“Ivan Toney wouldn’t score 30 a season at Newcastle because of the way they play, it’s very different to Brentford. 

“Since Wood has been there, the team have got better and in the short term he’s not a problem – even for next year. 

“In terms of the future with the money Newcastle have to grow, in three or four years when they look to make the top four, then Chris Wood wouldn’t be the answer. Teams need to grow slowly.”

John Barnes Exclusive: Bruno Guimarães isn’t a star player

“Newcastle don’t have a real star man in Bruno Guimarães, their player closest to resembling one is Allan Saint-Maximin. 

“Newcastle would be wrong to look for just one star man that takes them to where they want to be, what if they broke their leg and couldn’t play for a year? 

“Bruno Guimarães is a great player that’s a part of the team. He is part of a squad that can take them to where they want to go – but if anyone is thinking he is their star man, then that’s not the case at all.”

John Barnes Exclusive: Sacking culture is stifling football managers ability to succeed

Football’s sacking culture has been stifling the ability of managers to really stamp their mark on a team for years. Some managers have lasted eleven games, others even less. Expectations are crazy from fans and everyone else, this has been going on for years. 

“If people want stability and their clubs to improve then they should stick with their managers. Hibernian didn’t do that, unfortunately, what happened Shaun Maloney is modern football, but managers should be given a lot more time to show what they can do.”

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