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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 Liverpool and Chelsea's new signings, Stokes City and their lofty Premier League ambitions, England's World Cup chances and his predictions for the season ahead. Read Glen's exclusive interview below.


Raheem Sterling has made his move now from Man city to Chelsea. Did this move surprise you and how big of a signing is it for Chelsea? 

It surprised me at the beginning that City were willing to let Sterling go. Obviously he’s a fantastic player and of course if he was available, it doesn't surprise me that Chelsea were interested and I think they have a fantastic player on their hands. 

As long as they get him enjoying his football and enjoying life, then they will have a world class player on their hands.

 

Koulibaly is a done deal. Thomas Tuchel mentioned that he believes Koulibaly can emulate what Thiago Silva has done at Chelsea in terms of playing until the age of 37. Do you agree with these comments from Tuchel?

I don’t know about him playing in the Premier League until he's 37 but if he’s a similar mentality to Thiago Silva then there’s no doubt he can succeed. To play at that level you have to look after your body well but I don’t think Chelsea will be interested in having him until he’s 37- they may only want him for the next couple of years. 

 

Mikael Silvestre believes that Koulibaly will help Chelsea fight for the title, do you agree with him?

Yes, Koulibaly is a top class Center-half.  My only concern with him is he has never played in the Premier League before. It’s the toughest league in the world. He’s shown all the signs though that suggest he will deal with the Premier League so I do think he’ll help and I think they’re building a really fantastic squad again. He’ll help massively.

 

Chelsea are linked with Kimpembe from PSG. As someone who’s played in World Cup’s and Champions League’s, how important would his experience be for Chelsea?

You’re going to need that experience if Chelsea are going to go deep into every competition. So to have a player who has performed at that level and won many things will only help and I think he would be another fantastic signing.

 

Mason Mount scored in pre-season and got MOTM against Club America. Do you think it’s time that he really kicks on his career and cements himself as a world class player?

Yes, I do believe it's time for Mount to kick on. He’s impressed everybody- when he first started, people just assumed he was a young English player performing well at the moment but not expecting him to kick on, but he’s won their player of the season in the last two years. I like him a lot and I think he deserves to be playing. He’s performing at every level and he could go onto being one of the best. 

 

Chelsea are linked with a few wingers. Would Neymar be the player to cap off a perfect window for Chelsea?

Neymar is a world class player. If Chelsea can sign him for a sensible deal then obviously he would be a good signing. Whether it is realistic or not, I’m not sure but if they can get it over the line for something sensible then it's a no brainer. 

 

What are your thoughts on the job that Thomas Tuchel has done so far?

Tuchel has done a great job. At the beginning, people thought it was harsh that Frank Lampard had been sacked and I personally thought it was a bit too soon to sack him. 

Everyone was then raving about Tuchel at the beginning of his Chelsea career because they won four on the bounce but they were four easy games. After that, he impressed me massively.

The players love him and he shows great attitude and energy on the sidelines. He’s done a fantastic job and if he gets the players that he wants then I could see him being at Chelsea for a very long time.

 

With Romelu Lukaku leaving Chelsea this summer, it appears that Chelsea still need to sign a striker. Who would be the ideal striker that you would sign?

I would say Lewandowski. He’s been there and done it and I wouldn't take a risk on a player that’s young and unproven. Lewandoski would bang in goals for fun.

 

What would a realistic outcome for Chelsea be?

I can’t see Chelsea being good enough at the moment to win the league. As long as they bridge the gap and remain competitive for the last 25 percent of the season then I think they would take that. They will get top 4 and as long as there is some sort of improvement and the gap is closed from City and Liverpool then that would be a good season. 

 

Liverpool last week lost 4-0 to Man United in pre-season. Should Liverpool fans be worried by this result?

No, they shouldn’t be worried. Obviously you never like to lose and you want momentum with good performances, but ultimately pre-season is all about fitness, so while it is a heavy defeat by their standards, I wouldn’t be concerned at all. Liverpool will be a lot fitter come the start of the season, so I wouldn’t be worried at all. 

 

Mo Salah scored in preseason against Crystal Palace. Having recently signed a new deal with Liverpool, would you say he is one the greatest Premier League players of all time?

Yes, Salah is one of the greatest Premier League players of all time. He is one of the fastest to get to the number of goals he’s got to as well and he’s world class. When he’s on form, he’s hard to stop so you have to put him up there as one of the all time best. 

 

Darwin Nunez joined this summer. Is he a strong enough replacement for Sadio Mane?

Mane will be impossible to replace. I don’t think they got Nunez to replace Mane, but they’re going to have to find a way to get him playing. I think they would like to have signed him and kept Mane so I don’t think he’s a replacement but he’s certainly a good player. Like Diaz, if he can get going as a world class player and look like he’s been there for years, then there is no doubt he will be a success. Liverpool know what they are doing with these players.

 

Will Nunez need more time to settle in than Diaz?

Most likely yes, as not many people can do what Diaz did and hit the ground running like he did. That’s nothing against Nunez, it's a credit to Diaz with how quick he’s started. Nunez will need time to adapt to Liverpool and to the Premier League. 

 

What do Liverpool need to do to close the gap on Man City?

Liverpool didn’t do much wrong last season. It's just unfortunate they are up against City at the moment. I can’t say where they have to improve but they just have to lose one less game. The points that Liverpool are getting are good enough to win any league at the moment, so I think it could come down to their head to head games.

 

Two players who have been linked are Jude Bellingham and Kylian Mbappe. Should Liverpool be targeting them this summer?

It depends. I don’t know how long they have left on their deals but if they carried on learning their trade somewhere else and then you get them at a cheaper rate in 12 months time then that would be sensible. Either way, they’re going to cost a fortune so you might as well pay it now. Liverpool should therefore try to sign them before others do.

 

Mikael Silvestre suggested that Man United aren’t an attractive prospect anymore.  Would you agree and would you say Liverpool are a more attractive prospect currently?

At the moment, 100 percent. It's a no brainer. There was a period where players would want to go to United but those days are gone. United are miles away from being an attractive prospect and are miles behind Liverpool.

 

The signing of Calvin Ramsey was completed. How much do you rate this signing?

I’ve never seen him play so I don’t know much about him, but he appears to be an exciting prospect and one for the future. 

 

Could Andy Robertson be replaced by Kostaas Tsmikas at Left-Back?

No, not at the moment. Tsimikas is a good player but Robertson fits Liverpool’s style of play, so Tsimikas will be a back up for now. 

 

Declan Rice has been linked previously with moves to Liverpool and Man United. It appears he’ll be staying at this window though. How important is he for West Ham?

He’s huge. No team wants to lose their best player. He’s the main man and is the key to everything they do but I think we all know the clock is ticking for his time being at West Ham. 

 

Do you think Chelsea should be targeting Declan Rice this summer?

Yes, I think so. They’re quite active this window and everyone knows they are interested in Rice. If they really wanted to do it they would have done it already, and I find it strange that it is taking so long. 

 

After last season's success, what would a good season for West Ham look like?

They’ve had two great seasons on the bounce. They only tailed off due to fatigue within their squad which was a little bit light.

They’ve been active in the window though and have got a few squad players in so hopefully they can perform like they did across the whole season and not tail off towards the end. The last two years they’ve spent the majority of their time knocking around fourth and fifth so I don’t think they can do much more than that. 

 

If you were to predict your top 6 for the Premier League next season, what would you go with?

Not in this order, but I would go with: City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal and probably Man United. 

 

Would you say that Portsmouth fans were let down by the club and how important would promotion be to them next season?

Yes they have been let down. The fans there are great; they love the club and are super loyal. What’s happened there is a real shame and the sooner they get back up to where they should be, the sooner the club can start giving back to the fans.

 

What are your thoughts going into Stoke’s new season? Will they make that step up back to the Premier League?

I’m not sure. It's a tough league and whoever goes on the best run towards the end. I’m not sure they have the tools to do that and I’m not sure they have those two or three players to help them make the step up.

 

Is Michael O’Neil good enough to take Stoke up?

He can only work with what he’s got. He’s a good manager but the squad isn’t amazing. I think if they get the games right and the tactics right then I think he can be good enough to take them up. 

 

Thoughts on Southgate after a recent dip in form and will he ever lead England to silverware? 

He’s done a great job. Then lads are enjoying playing for England again and he’s got a great squad. After getting to a final and a semi-final, I think they are on the right track and age is on their side, so I don’t see why they can’t take things a step further and win something. 

 

Two of England’s Right-Backs are Reece James and Trent Alexander-Arnold. Who is the better player and who should be starting for England?

It's difficult to pick one over the other because they’re both good at different things. Trent is good over dead balls and is a threat going forward, but I would say Reece James is a better defender so I would say it's a great option as you could play them both depending on the game. If you are up against a team that will sit back you would probably go with Trent, but if you’re about to play a game where you will be under the cosh a bit then you might want to play Reece. I think it’s a good idea to have both. 

 

With the women’s Euros going on, how impressed have you been with England so far?

They’re doing great. They blew Norway away but  it will come down to key games. They’re doing great so far. 

 

Do you think England will get past Spain in the next round?

You have to be hopeful and you have to be positive. It's a one off game now so I don’t see why they wouldn’t go through against Spain.

 

How do you think Ten Hag will get on at Manchester United?

He has a tough job on his hands. They have a good squad with fantastic individuals but it is a tough job. It's a fantastic club and one of the biggest in the world but he needs to get them playing as a team. It will be tough and he’ll be up against it but he has the ammunition to turn them around.

 

Man City have signed Erling Haaland and Kalvin Phillips. Will these players help them win the Champions League?

Definitely. Haaland is an amazing signing and will bang in goals for fun so I can see him taking off there. He’ll really kick them onto another level. 

 

An ex teammate of yours, Steven Gerrard is now managing Aston Villa with another ex-teammate of yours, Phillipe Coutinho. How dangerous could Aston Villa be next season?

They’ll take anything around the 6th spot I imagine. They will want to compete and push it as far down the line as they can but you don’t expect them to be threatening the top 4. They had a good season last year so there’s no reason why they can’t kick on again. 

 

How good of a signing is Philppe Coutinho for Aston Villa?

He’s a great signing. I said before they signed him that if you get the opportunity, you have to sign him. If you get him enjoying himself, he’s a proper footballer. The way he thinks and the way he moves makes him a great technician. It's no surprise to me that he took it by storm last season.

 

Spurs have been busy this transfer window. Could they spring a title charge?

No. I expect them to kick on and close the gap but they’re miles behind Manchester City and Liverpool at the moment.

 

If Mikel Arteta doesn’t get Arsenal into the top 4 this season, could he be sacked by Arsenal? 

No, I don’t think they will. They’ve had chances to sack him in the past and the fact they gave him the opportunity and time to make it work makes me think they’ll be quite patient with him but I think with the signings they’ve made, they have a good chance of breaking into the top 4 to be honest. 

 

Who do you think Man United need to sign to close the gap?

It's not about signing people, as they have already been signing people for a lot of money who are apparently at the top of their game but it's just not working. I think they have some good individuals; they just need to find a way of playing. 

They don’t play as a team and if I asked you what style of play they have, I don’t think you can answer it. They just seem to pick 11 players and that’s nowhere near good enough if you are trying to close the gap.

 

Where do you think Cristiano Ronaldo would end up and would he be a good fit for Liverpool or Chelsea?

It depends on why you’re signing him. I don’t think he would improve the starting 11 as he won’t play every week. If you’re buying him as a commercial deal though, then he’s a big attraction so it would depend on why you are signing him. 

 

A player who has scored for Chelsea in pre-season is Timo Werner. Would you say this is the last chance for him?

Yes. I think he has it in the tank but it just doesn’t seem to be working. I think he needs to have a big season this year and he’ll need to start quickly so he can get the club and the fans back onside. 

 

If you had to pick your Chelsea front three for next season, who would you go with?

I’d give Werner the first few games to see how he gets on. I’d go with Havertz and also Sterling. 

 

If you had to pick your Liverpool front three for next season, who would you go with?

I would go with Diaz, Salah and I would probably start with Nunez. 

 

Would you say Lukaku is the worst signing in Chelsea history and what went wrong for him?

At the moment, yes, purely because of the amount of money, the size of the deal and just how bad it was. I just think the Premier League is too fast for him. When he’s at his best, he just tries to keep things simple, he doesn’t get involved in the game too much and he’s between the goalposts and doesn’t move. 

In the last few years though, he’s been trying to become a footballing striker which he isn’t good at. I think he needs to get back to basics and realize what he’s good at. He’s more than capable and can score goals but I think he was trying to do too much in the wrong areas.

 

If you had to predict a winner for each competition this season, who would you go with?

World Cup - England 

Premier League - Man City 

FA Cup- Liverpool 

League Cup - Chelsea

Champions League - Man City

 

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