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Football Insights - Glen Johnson

Former Premier League star Glen Johnson took the time out to talk exclusively to Genting Casino featuring his thoughts on two of his former clubs Liverpool and Chelsea.


If you were the captain, would you have worn the rainbow armband anyway?

If I was captain I would have spoken to the team and decided what the team wanted. In this World Cup, the only thing important to the players is to perform which sounds selfish. If I was wearing the armband was going to upset some of my teammates, then I would not do it, but I would have a chat with my teammates.

Harry Kane was going to be the one to wear the armband, the others would still be a part of the campaign so it's not all for Kane to decide. You should just have an in-house decision with the dressing room and agree how to go about it. If you don't wear the armband, it does not mean you don't support what the armband means, but Harry Kane would have got abused either way. You have to do what's right for your team.


Can Bukayo Saka solidify himself as one of the world’s best wingers with the World Cup, or is he already?

Saka is up there, but you can't say you're one of the world's best if you haven't done it in and around the biggest and best tournaments. Of course, he's a fantastic player and showed against Iran what he can do, but let's not get carried away because it's the easiest game in the tournament. If Saka keeps performing the way he is and does this throughout the whole tournament, it definitely puts him in that category. 

Saka reminds me of Arjen Robben, seriously left footed but that's not a bad thing because his left is that good. Saka is his own player too, he works hard, he's quick and a serious goal threat, I like him a lot.


Will it be a blow to England to not get a clean sheet?

If you're that much better than a team by scoring six goals against them, you should not be conceding two. At the end of the day, it's a tournament environment, it does not matter you just need to win. As a defender, I'd be fuming to concede two but at least they won easily.


Harry Maguire looked back to his 2018 best today, can he recover his form and play for United again?

Maguire was decent against Iran, nearly scored as well, but he's under a lot of pressure. Games change form, I'm sure he'd be happy with how he performed, hopefully, he can carry the momentum in the next game, have a good tournament with England and then you never know what happens when he goes back to Man United.

I was not worried about Maguire in a back four today as it's the weakest game in the group, but I'll be worried when we play one of the big nations or top teams. Then it will be interesting to see what Gareth Southgate does then.


Should Phil Foden have started? Would he be the main man in some teams, whereas he’s on the bench for England?

The answer is no now to if Foden should have started ahead of Saka because we won 6-2, so it doesn't matter as long as the team wins. Of course Foden is good enough to play for England and most other teams, but we're blessed in those forward positions at the moment. Players cannot complain when the team is winning, of course you're disappointed to not play, but you can't bang on the manager's door when the team wins 6-2.


Who should be starting, Mount or Foden?

I like both Foden and Mount, it's a tough one. Who starts depends on who plays in the front three, obviously Foden can play up there, but you don't want too many of those flair players like Grealish, Foden, Saka at the same time, it's about who plays around them. I quite like Mount as an all-round midfielder, but I'd prefer Foden a bit further up.


Should Jack Grealish be in that conversation too, or has he not been good enough for Manchester City?

Grealish has not been good enough by his standards to get a start for England. If he had been scoring goals and getting assists for Man City, he would have more foundations to start for England. Of course he scored against Iran, but it was a tap-in, that was not a Jack Grealish goal from his ability. It's great for the scoresheet but he has a lot more to offer.


That was Sterling’s first goal for England in the World Cup, was it a long time coming or has he needed to improve to have that achievement?

Sterling did need to improve in previous World Cups and I think he would agree. When Sterling broke onto the scene, he wasn't technically that good in terms of how good of a player he is. Sterling was not scoring many goals, but now he has matured and knows where to make certain runs at certain times now he's a goal machine. Now he's grown up, he should feel like he belongs on the World Cup stage compared to when he was young he was in awe of certain characters around him, now he's one of the main men.


Harry Kane seems to float about, created the Sterling goal too, but would you prefer if he stayed in the middle like a traditional striker?

I would prefer if Kane stayed in the middle like a traditional striker. Kane will feel disappointed that he hasn't scored a goal in a game where his team has scored six. But ultimately I'm sure he'll take the win. If I was his manager, I'd be saying to leave the wide play to the wingers, because if he gets a chance in between the posts, he's going to score two out of three chances. I'm sure that's where Kane would rather be too, but at the end of the day he's had a good game and got himself two assists. 


Rashford came off the bench and had an instant impact, should he be the first attacker off the bench or should he be starting even?

It would be harsh for Rashford to start in front of the lads who scored the first four goals, you don't want to change the team when you're winning. Rashford is an incredible player and for someone like him to come off the bench and have that impact is exactly what you need to get to the final in these tournaments. Of course he'd be disappointed to not be starting, but he'll have more confidence and I'd be surprised if he is not the first striker off the bench next time.

Overall, I'd want Rashford to come off the bench first out of the attackers, but it will depend on who we play against. If it's a top team, you might pick Grealish who can do something a bit deeper in the park. If Rashford is up against good, quick defenders, he won't be as effective as he was against Iran.


How impressed have you been with Trippier, would you fancy your chances to start ahead of him in your prime? 

I'd 100% fancy my chances to start ahead of Trippier in my prime, but I'm 38 now! I'm impressed with Trippier, he's a good player, technically good and great for set-pieces, but I would be confident of starting ahead of him.


Would Gary Neville get a chance in this England squad or has the right-back spot evolved?

The right-back spot has evolved, it even evolved between me and Gary Neville. Neville was a fantastic right-back but he's not a flying full-back who would like to get forward and I'm sure he would say the same. Neville was a good defender in a fantastic team, but now you need to be a proper athlete to get forward in attacks and assist goals.


Would Alexander-Arnold and Foden be upset to watch the team perform so well without them?

Deep down Alexander-Arnold and Foden will be disappointed not to start when the team played well. They will be happy to see the team winning and to keep the camp happy, but no player wants to sit on the bench. If England go on the win it and those two don't start, deep down they will be gutted, but overall they should be happy that England had a good start against Iran.


Gareth Bale says Wales has more passion than England, do you agree?

I don't agree with Bale when he said Wales have more passion than England, every nation has passion and you need it in these big tournaments. Bale is just being loyal to his nation.


Should Gerrard go back to Rangers?

No Gerrard should not go back to Rangers, I'm against going back to places you've been to, you don't go back to a lit firework. What Gerrard did at Rangers was great, but the expectations, if he did go back, would be so high that he could only fail, because what else can he do? I'd be surprised if he goes back.


Was Cristiano Ronaldo right to do the interview with Piers Morgan?

Ronaldo was not right to do the interview. I don't mind what he said, because if he genuinely meant what he meant and said it to the staff or in-house that's fine. But he should not be having to go to a news channel and broadcast it out to the nation, that's when you're doing it purely for yourself and when you lose respect for the whole camp. Ronaldo and Man United should have sorted it out between themselves.

If someone like Gerrard did the Ronaldo interview while I was at Liverpool I would just laugh it off to be honest. It's just a bit daft. Ronaldo obviously felt like he needed the attention and I would just laugh because it's not seen before.


Which winger at this World Cup would you least like to face? 

I would least like to face Rashford or Mbappe. Players who are fast, strong but also good technically. Because those wingers can go short, long, cut inside, it gives you a lot to think about.


Should Trippier or Shaw be worried about facing Pulisic?

Pulisic deserves respect from Trippier and Shaw, but they won't be super worried because they know him from playing in the Premier League. They don't need to be fearful, but they need to be respectful and aware of him.


Who was the toughest winger you faced?

Ryan Giggs was the toughest opponent I faced when I first broke through into the Premier League as a kid because Man United were the best team in the world. But Giggs himself was not the best player I played against. When I was more established into the league and my career, it was players like Robben or Ribery that gave me the most trouble.


This is going to be Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo’s last World Cup. Who has been the better player?

It's bloody harsh if one of Messi or Ronaldo doesn't win the World Cup isn't it? Messi has been the better player throughout their careers, he's more of a team player too but Ronaldo has smashed nearly every record out there. If only one of them was playing, they would have won every trophy out there so they must be gutted to have played in the same era.

If Argentina play Portugal in the final, Argentina win.






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V: 1.38.0 All rights reserved. August 2021