Ahead of a weekend which sees newly crowned champions, Rangers, head to city-rivals, Celtic, we spoke with BonusCodeBets ambassador, John Barnes. The former Celtic manager shared his thoughts on why Celtic players should give Rangers a guard of honour, Roberto Firmino’s starting place being safe and Arsenal potentially signing Martin Ødegaard on a permanent basis.
John Barnes Exclusive: Liverpool following the Manchester City business model is good, but they can’t spend money like that
“Liverpool haven’t got the money that Manchester City have, so they can’t follow City’s spending model to stay at the top. If following “the model” means spending the highest amounts on player salaries, Liverpool simply can’t do that.
“Liverpool can’t spend money like PSG, Real Madrid and Barcelona can. Following the model of success in terms of spending money while at the top of the table is good, but most teams can’t spend to the same extent as Manchester City. Everyone follows Manchester City’s model, even Championship teams, but everyone can only spend the money they can afford.
“Liverpool will continue to invest in the club as best they can, which is what they have done. So, Liverpool won’t be able to pay players £300,000 a week, but they’ll be competitive.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Diogo Jota coming back and playing well won’t affect Firmino’s place in the starting XI.
“Despite Diogo Jota starting on Monday night and scoring, Roberto Firmino shouldn’t be worried about his starting position.
“Liverpool’s problem is obviously at the back and in midfield. Mohamed Salah is the top scorer, and Roberto Firmino has been a big part of his goals, but the balance between attack and defence isn’t right because of the injury problems that Liverpool have at the back.
It’s great that Diogo Jota’s come on and played well, and he will obviously push for a starting place in the front three. However, that doesn’t mean that we’re going to start winning every game and being consistent, because we still have our problems.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Liverpool forwards not scoring goals is down to their lack of confidence
“Liverpool scoring two goals in their last 70 shots isn’t great, but it’s because of their lack of confidence. The confidence is needed for Liverpool to start scoring their chances, as it plays a big part in scoring goals, especially as the Liverpool strikers are not the most clinical – they’re also not proper centre forwards like Cristiano Ronaldo, Harry Kane or Robert Lewandowski.
“Liverpool scores a lot of goals because of the way they play, not because they’re clinical finishers. If confidence is low amongst players who aren’t natural goal scorers, like now, then you can see why the goals will drop off. Liverpool’s forwards are not natural number 9 goal scorers. They’ve missed a lot of goals over the last 2-3 years when Liverpool was winning most games too, but now confidence is down and they’re not creating as many chances, and the ones they do, they miss.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Jurgen Klopp is taking pressure off the squad with his top four comments
“Jurgen Klopp has said it’s impossible for Liverpool to finish in the top four, but that’s not true.
“Liverpool are not so far behind that they can’t make up the 10-point gap to finish fourth. It’s unlikely they’ll finish in the top four, but not impossible, Klopp saying it’s impossible to finish fourth is just to take the pressure off the players.
“The teams in the top four aren’t playing consistently well enough for it not to be a possibility for them to drop points and be overtaken by Liverpool after a good run of form. However, we must start winning consistently for that to happen. The problem is with Liverpool being inconsistent, rather than the other teams being too good and outperforming us (Liverpool).”
John Barnes Exclusive: Divock Origi won’t go to Aston Villa and start scoring lots of goals
“If the links are true about Divock Origi going to Aston Villa, I can’t see him scoring lots of goals there because he isn’t a top scoring number nine. Ollie Watkins is also playing very well for Villa already, and they don’t usually play with two strikers.
“However, if Aston Villa are looking for a player with pace who’s good on the counter, Origi would help them with those attributes, but I doubt he’d score lots of goals for them. He’s been a great servant for Liverpool and very useful as an outlet, I hope he gets a good opportunity if he is to leave Anfield.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Arsenal should look to sign Martin Ødegaard on a permanent basis
“It would make sense for Martin Ødegaard to stay in North London for the foreseeable future and for Arsenal to keep him on a permanent basis. Ødegaard isn’t going to get back into the Real Madrid team next season so it would be pointless for him to leave a club where he is getting regular game time and performing well.
“It was a mistake for him to sign for Real Madrid at 15, because he was never going to play much and this stifled his development. If Real Madrid do not win the league this season, they’re going to make some major signings, meaning he almost certainly will not make the team next season.
“I’ve been impressed with Ødegaard, and although he’s playing in an inconsistent team, he’s been playing well, Arsenal will get better and so will he.”
John Barnes Exclusive: Celtic should give Rangers a guard of honour
“Celtic should absolutely give Rangers a guard of honour now they’ve been crowned champions. That’s the protocol, so they should do it. However, if the players don’t want to do it, they won’t do it. If Celtic didn’t want to give them a guard of honour, then they shouldn’t have let Rangers win the league. If Aberdeen had won the league, they would be doing a guard of honour, so it makes no difference the fact that it’s Rangers.”
John Barnes Exclusive: If Roy Keane was to manage Celtic, he’d need to change his ways
“If Roy Keane went to Celtic and managed the way he pundits, he won’t succeed. He’s intelligent enough to know that he’d have to change his style to what we see in the TV studio. 20-30 years ago, his style would have worked, shouting and abusing players, but that doesn’t work with modern players anymore, he would struggle with this approach and lose the dressing room. However, Roy Keane’s a clever person, so he would likely change his approach if he went in as manager there.
“If the fans and the club give him time, then I’m sure Celtic will be as competitive as Rangers have been since Steven Gerrard was given the time. Keane will not be successful with Celtic overnight. Success will depend on Roy Keane and how he approaches the job and whether he is given enough backing by the board.”
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