‘A Sit Down With John Barnes’ – 2nd August 2022

With the new Premier League season less than a week away, we caught up with BonusCodeBets ambassador, John Barnes. The former Liverpool and England star gave his comments on the new season and the Lionesses Euro’s glory.

We saw Liverpool beat Man City 3-1 in the Community Shield but lose 3-0 the other day. Can Liverpool beat City to the Premier League title?

Yes they can but so can Manchester City beat Liverpool to win the title. When you look at the last game that separated them, last year Liverpool could have beaten City because they played with a level of consistency. This year, I’m expecting the same thing from Liverpool, all we can ask is that we see the same level of consistency they’ve shown in the last two years.

Man City can do better than that, look at last year, there was nothing Liverpool could do. I expect Liverpool to do the same thing that they’ve done in the last two or three years but so can Man City. There’s only going to be a point or two between them so hopefully Liverpool can do it this year.


Liverpool came so close to a quadruple last season, can they do it this year?

The way they play with their level of consistency means that come the end of the season, it could be close but they may win none. They may lose the Premier League like the last game of the season, they might not win the Champions League, you can’t expect them to win four trophies. But, what you can expect them to do is be fighting for those four trophies right til the last games of the season and that’s what I expect them to do. So to think will they do the quadruple? No, as they didn’t do it last year. Manchester City could do the quadruple this year, so could Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. Liverpool can do it but so can three or four other teams but I don’t think any team will win the quadruple.

Going into the season, who would you say is looking like a realistic threat to City and Liverpool and why

I think the teams closest to City and Liverpool are probably Chelsea and Tottenham. Chelsea have recruited well. Obviously, Lukaku is now gone but they’ve brought in Sterling and some good players. Tottenham have also brought in some good signings. So although I still think Man City and Liverpool are going to be the top two once again, I think that those two will get closer to them than they did last year. Arsenal I think will also improve, I still think they’ll be young and inexperienced but I think Chelsea and Tottenham will be up there. Of course for Manchester United things will be hopeful but the harmony and togetherness is still not right, they have Ronaldo who wants to go and is still there, will that upset the balance and harmony, will that upset the group, we don’t know. Manchester United have got to sort the harmony out at that football club as well before they can challenge.


Have Liverpool made the most out of the transfer window this summer?

They’ve done what I expected them to do. I didn’t expect them to go and make lots of signings but with Mané leaving they brought in Núñez. They’ve brought in some young players, they’ve brought in Fábio Carvalho, Harvey Elliott is now back. Jürgen Klopp doesn’t like making lots of signings, Manchester City have signed Haaland, and Julián Álvarez from Argentina, so they’ve made good signings as well. I don’t think Liverpool needed much, because they’ve got a good squad and they want to keep that togetherness right.

Jürgen Klopp doesn’t want to make many signings, neither does Pep Guardiola, so what they both already had and what they’ve brought in will just keep them one step ahead of everybody else.


Were you surprised by Mane leaving?

Nothing in football surprises me, the motto is ‘players come, players go’. Mo Salah has stayed which is good news but Mané is going and that doesn’t surprise me. In modern football, regardless of how things are going, players move on and the most important thing is that fans and people connected to the club support that because players, regardless of what’s going on in the club, may move and they can’t then get disappointed and undermine the club by saying the club lacks ambition and the club has to keep these players. They can’t keep someone that doesn’t want to stay. If a player doesn’t want to stay, he has to go, but while he’s at the club, he should be giving 100% to the club.


Núñez looked comfortable on Saturday, what can we expect to see from him?

He’s hit the ground running, he’s scored, he’s fitting into the team. Jürgen Klopp buys players he can see fitting into the club, and he knows he’ll fit. I think he’ll be more of a threat in the box with crossings coming in. He’ll give us that added dimension, a bit like Haaland will give Man City that added dimension. I think their squad is good enough now without making any more signings. If someone comes up then great, if not then they’re happy.


Who are you looking forward to seeing from this Liverpool side?

The whole team. The team itself, the way they play is the most important thing. There’s no one I’m looking forward to seeing more than anybody else. They’re a real team. They’ve still got Salah, they’ve still got great players but once again, I’m looking forward to seeing the team and seeing more of what they’ve done in the last three or so years.


Will it be Liverpool and Man City fighting for the top place again this season?

Absolutely. Liverpool and Man City have both shown a level of consistency that no one else can match. You have to give Chelsea’s new signings a bit of time to settle in. Tottenham as well, they’ve made some good signings but they’ll need time. They’ll both be stronger but needing time. Liverpool will be stronger and consistent enough to be clear of those two teams.


Liverpool have been linked with Hakan Calhanoglu, could he be a sensible signing?

Calhanoglu could be a sensible signing for the squad. He’s been playing in Germany for a while, I can’t see him getting into the team but if Jürgen Klopp knows him, he’ll fit into the squad. I don’t think he’ll be frequently in the team, so if it’s a matter of squad players, yes but he isn’t necessarily going to improve our team. I don’t think they’re going to get him but if they did, he’s be a decent addition to the squad.


Who will finish the top four?

I know my top two will be Liverpool and Man City but my next two will be Chelsea and Tottenham. In what order, I don’t know.


Fulham v Liverpool, where do you see this match going?

It’s unknown. Fulham are now back in the Premier League, they’ll be full of confidence. What happens to a lot of the teams who come up from the Championship is they win a lot of their first six or seven games because they’re full of confidence. They got promoted because they played well, but more towards Christmas or January, once they’ve been beaten a bit, they lack confidence. Fulham will be full of confidence with it being the first game but what we’ll see from Liverpool is that level of consistency. Regardless whether they’re playing Manchester City or a lesser team, they’ll be playing with determination and desire so it’s going to be a hard game for Fulham. So I think Liverpool will win.


Who is your prediction for Premier League player of the season?

I can’t put anyone forward for player of the season, because we’ve not seen one game in the Premier League yet. We can talk about Haaland, Núñez, Salah, De Bruyne. It probably doesn’t branch further than those four I’ve mentioned but I’ll have a better idea after seeing a few games into the season. I know from a consistency point of view, Man City and Liverpool will be there.


Were you surprised to see Sterling leave Manchester City for Chelsea?

Yes but nothing in football surprises me. I think he did well at Man City, he probably wasn’t starting as many games as he would have liked but he’s been one of Man City’s most impressive performers over the years and he’s still very important to Man City. Look at it this way, If Mo Salah had gone, I wouldn’t be surprised, he’s stayed and I’m not surprised. If Sterling had stayed at Man City I wouldn’t have been surprised and I’m not surprised he’s gone because this is what happens in football. I’d be quite surprised if Kevin De Bruyne had left City but I’m not surprised by Sterling.


What can we expect from Sterling this season?

We can expect what we’ve already seen from Sterling. Excitement, quality, it might take him some time to get used to playing for Chelsea, he’s played for Man City for such a long time, he’s used to the way they play.


Have Arsenal impressed you in the transfer market with the signing of Gabriel Jesus? Where can they finish this season?

Yeah, they needed a centre-forward and that’s Jesus’ position. He’s young and it’s a great signing for Arsenal. He’s scored seven goals this pre-season so he’s definitely hit the ground running and of course, Arteta would have known him from Man City, he would have known the type of player he was, it’s an excellent signing.

They’ll finish between four and six, quite possibly the top four. I think after that, it’s between them and Manchester United. Arsenal will finish around fourth, fifth or sixth, it’ll be around there.


Tottenham have kept Harry Kane and the core of their squad, how important will he be to them this year?

If you’ve got ambitions to challenge for the title, get European football or finish in the top three, then you need your best players and he’s their best player. I think it’s vital that they’ve kept him and I think we’ll see a strong Tottenham this year.


How do you expect Haaland to do at Manchester City?

I expect Haaland to do very well. I don’t think he’ll score as many goals as he did at Dortmund because they play a different type of football. Manchester City play in a way for lots of different people to score, so while he’ll come in and add to that, at Dortmund, it was all for him to score. It doesn’t mean that if he doesn’t score as many as he did at Dortmund he’s been a failure because the Premier League is more difficult to score goals in and Man City play in a different way.

Man City felt they needed a presence in the box, very much like how Núñez is for Liverpool, Haaland will do well but if he doesn’t score as many goals, doesn’t mean he hasn’t been a success.


What can England learn from the Lionesses?

I don’t think the men can learn much from the lionesses. It’s much harder for the men’s team to win the Euros than for the women’s team to win because of course it’s a much more difficult competition to win.

It’s not a question of what they can learn from them because England has got to the final in the last few tournaments for the European cup, so they can’t learn anything from them. What they can do is keep playing in the same way that they are doing and with a bit of luck they can go that one step further.

If the Lionesses didn’t win then, it doesn’t mean that England couldn’t learn or could learn from them as it’s a completely different case. They can’t learn anything, they just have to keep doing what they are doing and hopefully can go that one step further.


What can Southgate learn from Sarina Weigman?

As I said, Gareth Southgate can learn nothing from Sarina Weigman and I think Weigman can learn nothing from Southgate. As Pep Guardiola can’t learn anything from Jürgen Klopp and Klopp can’t learn anything from Guardiola. Liverpool can’t learn anything from Manchester City. All they have to try and do is be consistent in a very tough competition. Of course it is a much tougher competition for the men to win than the women.

Women did fantastically well and all power to them but has no bearing on the men’s team and the men can’t take nothing from that at all apart from happiness that England be the women’s team, or the youth team, or the under 21s team, have won a tournament. Whether, England under 21s team or the under 19s team won the European championship. The men’s first team can’t learn anything from the England u21 team.


Could Sarina Weigman one day take over from Gareth Southgate or a Premier League team?

Well, would she get the same response from male players that she did from the female players, we’re looking for speculation, we are looking for someone to say she could, if she could get the same response, and we know she wouldn’t get the same response, so why are we pretending and giving the illusion.

Does she have the quality, she could very much have the quality but we know the world we live in and we can see the problem. Can a black manager take over England and win, or Liverpool. No they can’t and we all know why and so we still understand how biased and discrimination works. We have to stop giving the illusion that everything is all fair and equal so therefore anyone who says, yes they think she can would be lying, not because she hasn’t got the quality but because of the world we live in. We have to accept that and change that world rather than pretending that it isn’t the case.

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