After a week which saw Liverpool run out victorious against Spurs in the Premier League, we spoke with BonusCodeBets ambassador, John Barnes. The former Liverpool midfielder shared his thoughts on the sacking of Frank Lampard, Jurgen Klopp’s FA Cup failures and Arsenal loan signing, Martin Ødegaard.
John Barnes Exclusive: It doesn’t matter how much money Lampard spent; he should have been given more time.
“Regardless of the club’s history with managers, I think [Chelsea] could have given [Frank Lampard] more time anyway. You should always support managers, particularly if you look at the way they’re playing, there’s a bit of inconsistency because they’re made up of mostly young players. When they were getting things right playing well last season, you can see what he was trying to do.
I feel that with time, belief and support, he could have turned it around. So, I’m surprised because I know the relationship he has with Chelsea. But we know Roman Abramovich and what he’s like.
Frank Lampard was doing a decent job. The fact that he did better last year when they were spending no money, and now he’s spent money – to me, doesn’t mean anything. They still look as if they can be a good side. So, it was a big surprise to me that Lampard was sacked.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Lampard may need to look to the Championship for his next managerial role.
“With regards to Frank finding another job, it’s okay to say he can ‘get back into management’ but that really depends on what jobs are available. A third division team, a second division team, a Premier League team? It’s up to him as to whether he feels he wants time off to reassess and reenergise, but I’m sure that if the right job came along, he would get back into management straight away. It’s not his choice unfortunately.
A lot of people feel that ex-players can just become managers. You can’t. You must be given the opportunity, and secondly, it must be whether you feel it’s the right job for you.
Maybe there’s a Championship club who he will go to next. Who knows? Frank Lampard will know, but he’s a football person, and I’m sure that if the right job came along, he would definitely look at it and consider.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Tuchel isn’t necessarily going to do a better job than Lampard
“Tuchel is a good manager. He’s proven it. So of course, getting a manager like him to come to Chelsea is a good move for the club, but that’s not to say he’s going to be better than Frank Lampard in his time there.
Just because he’s German, doesn’t mean he’s necessarily going to get the best out of Havertz and Werner. It’s been difficult for them because they haven’t really hit the ground running, so the fact that a new manager comes in, won’t necessarily change that overnight. But what you do know is that you’re going to get a good manager.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Liverpool’s disappointing recent FA Cup record is a coincidence, and Klopp prioritises every single football match
“I don’t think the [FA Cup] is not prioritised at Liverpool. They (Liverpool) played a strong team against Manchester United, and they lost, I don’t think they took it lightly. We all know what Jurgen Klopp is like in terms of prioritising every single game and trying to win. So, I don’t think he’s neglected the FA Cup at all.
He’s only played in probably four or five FA Cup seasons. And if you look at what he’s done in the last two years, in terms of the number of matches lost, they haven’t lost many. So, as far as I’m concerned, Liverpool getting knocked out in the early stages of the FA Cup is a bit of a coincidence.
Not that he does this, but if you’re going to prioritise anything, it will be the Champions League and the Premier League. Everybody will do that, not just Jurgen Klopp. But I don’t think he’s not prioritised the FA Cup, because he played a strong team against Manchester United. I can’t really remember the teams in the past, but I don’t think he necessarily has played a weakened side, which would mean that’s why they’ve lost.
He doesn’t prioritise competitions, he prioritises football matches. And every match he plays, he wants to win.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Klopp’s recent frustrations are not about the team’s performances but are based on the fickle nature of football fans.
“Jurgen Klopp was under the most pressure in his first couple years when he wasn’t winning any anything. But, having won the Champions League and the Premier League for the first time, I don’t think he’s under that much pressure.
The frustration comes from how fickle football can be. I feel the same way, in terms of what he’s done what they’ve won, and the fact that they’re going through five or six [bad] games.
The situation at the back really works against the way we (Liverpool) play. Anybody who knows anything about football knows that is the biggest reason [for the dip in form] – because of the injury situation.
I’ve said all along that our (best 11, 12, 13 players can compete with anyone. If we (Liverpool) lose a couple of those players, I’m not saying we would struggle but we won’t be as consistent. And I think his frustration is around how quickly some people have now started to question the desire or [suggest there is] complacency – which is not in Liverpool whatsoever.”
John Barnes Exclusive: If Van Dijk was playing next to Rhys Williams, he wouldn’t be making the mistakes he’s made.
“When Virgil Van Dijk came and played alongside centre backs like Joe Gomez or Dejan Lovren, he calmed them down. No matter how they performed without him, with Van Dijk they showed their true value. It’s the same with Rhys Williams – I’m sure if Van Dijk was playing alongside him, he would have been much calmer against Manchester United, which would have helped the situation.
However, for Rhys Williams to play alongside a midfield player who’s not a centre back puts him under pressure. Young players coming into the team shouldn’t be under that sort of pressure, but they are, because of the whole current circumstances.
It’d be nice if Liverpool could address the centre back issue, but these are not usual times when you can just go out and spend £50 million on a player to address positional shortages. You don’t know what’s going to happen with Covid-19 and from a financial point of view you don’t know what the future holds either. Maybe Liverpool would feel it irresponsible to spend a lot of money now, and I don’t see any club spending a lot of money. I don’t think they’d get the best set of centre backs to change the way they play in the January window anyway, but if they felt that they could do that I’m sure they will.
If you look at Trent Alexander-Arnold when he first came to Liverpool, to a good side, he played his role with confidence. He was not under pressure and he showed his worth. You wouldn’t want a young player to come into a team that’s not doing particularly well and think they’re going to change that.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Manchester United’s consistency is what will make the difference this season
“We’ll only know come the end of the season how good Manchester United have been this campaign. We’ve seen this before when Manchester United have played well for several games, then suddenly things change. I think that’s where they’re currently at.
The good thing about them is that even when they don’t play well, they seem to still have magic moments, and do enough to win most games, which is good for them. However, I don’t think they’ve held this form for a long enough period of time for us to be able to say that they have turned a corner, because we’ve seen their form drop back into inconsistency in the past. They are in very good moment currently though, for sure.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Martin Ødegaard was too young to go to Real Madrid but now he has a great chance to prove himself at Arsenal
“Martin Ødegaard signing for Arsenal could be good business for them. I know he went to Real Madrid when he was 17, so he’s obviously a good player. I always thought he went to Real Madrid too soon, because unless you’re a 17-year-old like Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo, you wouldn’t play consistently at that age.
He really should have built his career before he did that. But now he’s been given an opportunity to come to England and play regularly, so I’m interested to see him. I don’t know much about him, I’ve not seen him, but from what people tell me he’s a very good player. So, I think that Ødegaard is an exciting prospect, particularly at it won’t cost Arsenal any money.”
John Barnes Exclusive: The Premier League needs more common sense with the offside rule
“The Bernardo Silva goal against Aston Villa should have been given offside. It was a ridiculous decision to award the goal in the first place. You have to still allow some common sense to prevail, rather than just staying to the letter of the law. The spirit of the law is also very important. You can see that when he got the ball, he wasn’t interested but as soon as he touched it, it then became a second phase, he then would have taken the ball off him. I’m glad to see that decision was changed but that goal should never have been given.”
“The Premier League would deserve more credit if they hadn’t made an offside rule like that to begin with. You can’t take common sense out of football by running everything by the letter of the law. If they allow more balance in terms of allowing referees to use more common sense then that’s good, so yes, I’ll give them some praise for addressing a problem that they created in the first place.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Managers should tell the truth more often – what Neil Lennon did was good to see
“It’s quite hard for managers when things aren’t going well at a club and fans give the manager stick, saying that he doesn’t know what he’s doing – the fans don’t know the ins and outs of what’s actually happening.
If only managers could tell the truth as to why they sometimes leave their superstar players out. For example, with Arsenal, of course fans would ask why Mesut Özil wasn’t playing when they don’t know what’s going on behind closed doors.
I feel sorry for managers when they must tow the party line and say that everything is happy and going well at the club, despite there obviously being problems.
I don’t know whether Jeremie Frimpong is the problem or not, but managers do protect players a lot. If you look at some of the language coming out of Celtic – Neil Lennon is rightfully defending himself. When he came out about the press, he got a bit carried away but sometimes managers must tell the truth about what’s going on.
I don’t know what’s going on with Frimpong, but what I know is that that for any club, not just Celtic, managers want players who want to be there. Regardless of what they’re playing well or not.
I don’t know whether Frimpong not wanting to be there had any reason as to why Neil Lennon “outed” him, but managers want players who are fully committed to the club, who will stay the club.”
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