Gus Poyet On Management And Solskjaer Sacking
Would you like to come and manage in England again?
Yes. My number one objective is to come back to England. That’s the main thing. After playing in England for seven years with Chelsea and Tottenham, and then coaching as an assistant with Dennis Wise (at Swindon Town and Leeds United) and Juande Ramos at Tottenham, for a couple of years when I retired, I then went on to manage Brighton and Sunderland.
That was another nine years of my life. After this period, I wanted to try something different and I decided to go to Greece, which was a great experience and in terms of football and life.
The plan was to go and come back, but life and football took me to Spain (Betis), to China (Shanghai Shenhua), to France (Bordeaux). I was away from England for too many years and when you leave the circuit, it’s a little bit more difficult to get back into the game (in England).
There is a circle of managers rolling around that they change positions, doing well, doing not so well; it doesn’t matter. They are in the game, they are constantly in the running for different jobs. And when you are out of it, it’s difficult to get back
My four years at Brighton were very successful. We improved each year and started to create an identity that the club still has today. And then Sunderland, it was the biggest job I ever had and one of the biggest achievements (avoiding relegation from the Premier League in 2014).
Beating the drop that year, it was miraculous. I find it quite strange now not to have an opportunity to get back in.
What have you found more rewarding in your career – the honours that you’ve achieved as a player, or actually managing clubs? For example, you mentioned saving Sunderland from relegation. What gives you more satisfaction?
Yeah, it’s a very good question, I have to say, and very simple for me to answer. It’s a big difference. When you achieve something as a player, it’s more you’re part of a group. It’s not like tennis where you play on your own.
It’s a team effort and the celebrations; sharing the happiness; the trophies; the relationship with the fans. It’s incredible as a player, but it is a team thing.
Managing is a lonely position in football. When you achieve something, it is very, very individual, even if you depend 100% on the players and your staff. But it is more of an individual achievement because these are your men that you lead.
I can give you 100 examples. As a player, if you don’t win a trophy, it is very unlikely that somebody will contact you from the other side of the world because of one result. Now as a manager, when you have one important match – I will always remember one with Sunderland.
We were able to beat Man City at home 1-0 with the Phil Bardsley goal. It was my fourth or fifth game at Sunderland. We were rock bottom and beating Man City who, after it, won the league. It was a massive result. The repercussions of that, it was bigger than anything I have done as a player.
I had emails, texts, WhatsApps, whatever you can call it, from all over the world. Around the world there is nothing bigger than the Premier League. When you are a player in the Premier League, you are one of how many? 500, 600? When you’re a manager, you are one of 20 and that makes it massive – big.
It’s different satisfaction. One is shared and your part of a playing group. One is a little bit more individual and the recognition is bigger.
And you mentioned Sunderland – obviously, you kept them up and that’s a massive achievement. Sunderland, they’re in League One now. Do you still follow the club?
Yeah. I’ll tell you the one moment that it was very difficult for me. Watching Sunderland Till I Die (The Netflix documentary). It was very difficult for me to watch it, because of not only what was happening in the year that they went down again, but also because that was my office. They were my people, that was my training pitch. Every single morning. That was my life.
I was very pleased that Netflix made the show, but it was sad to watch because it’s how we (Sunderland) finished, going down again.
The programme showed the world what I was saying when I was there. When I was there and when you’re part of a club, you realise, from inside, how important football is for the city. How important is for the fans. Sometimes you can say that a thousand times, and people don’t listen.
Sunderland is something that will stay there forever. I will always follow the club.
To go back to the question before that – the difference between managing and playing. Sometimes you see fans and, they are happy to see you and they will remind you of a goal, or they will remind you of the team you played in.
When you meet a Sunderland fan, they remember, their objective. I remember when they said to me after one week, “You have to keep us up and you must beat Newcastle.” The objective was there, the objectives, they are more passionate.
That’s the difference between playing and managing. I’ve been lucky and good enough to achieve the objective in most of the clubs I’ve been. The exception maybe was Betis. When I go to a club and the owner says, “OK, you need to win the league.” If I don’t belive that is realistic I’m not going to accept the job because I won’t be able to achieve my objective.
I don’t want a job just to have a job. I want to be part of something. And when an owner says to me, “OK, you need to do this and this,” and I believe that it’s possible, I go in. At Brighton, they asked me to save them from relegation for a year, and we did it. I said, “How are we going to go from avoiding relegation to promotion the following season?”
And we won the league in League One and then we went into the championship and then we began the philosophy. And then we were very close to the Premier League.
The team was growing. Then you get the opportunity of managing in the Premier League that you have to take and the objective is to stay up and we stay up and we beat Newcastle every time. I like objectives.
I like to sit down with a chairman, sit down with an owner or sit down with a sporting director, and if they tell me something realistic or something that I believe inside me that is possible, I go – 100%.
The Uruguay job has just become available. Would you be interested in that role?
Yes. As a football player, you have ambitions to play for your country one day. I was lucky to win the Copa América in ‘95. And then, when you become a coach, you prepare yourself for that as well.
To lead your country as a manager would be amazing. I always say that, from my side, I need to prepare, I need to prove myself to deal with top players with egos. Because that’s what you’re going to find in a national team.
I want to learn about other countries and also to prepare properly. When you’re coaching a team, you have the whole year with the players and can work with them every single day, making them better. When you’re a national team manager, it’s more about the selection – how you pick the players.
Now, after Óscar Tabárez has gone, there are a lot of names linked with the job. But obviously, I would be very interested in having the opportunity to talk to the Uruguayan Federation.
Qualification has been tricky for Uruguay, but you look at the squad…
Look, after four games we were fourth, sitting comfortably. Then things became more difficult. We drew with Columbia at home and we lost to Argentina twice. We lost against Brazil. We lost at Bolivia. Which means we made one point from five games and now we are in the position that we are.
The results didn’t help Tabárez and his coaching staff. Even after his past achievements and successful career in the national team, at the end, we are all coaches and we know that football is about results. The team needs a reaction, it needs to win three of their last five, for sure.
Maybe three and a draw. It’s a big moment for Uruguay and for the national team, because we went to the last few World Cups and we want to go to Qatar as well.
If you had a dream job in management, what would it be?
There are many. I don’t think it’s different from when you are player. When you’re a player, you always think about playing for the biggest team. As a coach, it’s the same. After working in La Liga, in the Premier League, I mean, Ligue 1 in France – all three big leagues – you prepare to go to a top place. The national team of Uruguay would be a dream, yeah.
Ole was relieved of his duties from Manchester United yesterday. A lot of people are suggesting that they might regret not firing him sooner and appointing Antonio Conte when he was available. Instead, Conte’s gone to Spurs and what could be United’s loss certainly looks like could be Spurs’ gain.
Well, I think that Ole is great guy. He’s so nice. I know him personally and every time we meet it’s like we know each other better than we really know each other, because we don’t know each other very well.
We done a little bit of the coaching course together and we’ve met a few times since. He took a massive job, even with his legacy as a Man United legend, you have to take the job. It’s a challenge that you cannot say no to.
He’s so calm and he knew how to deal with the situation over there for the last few years. And he manages all the problems that they have as a club in a very good way.
But like I said before about Tabárez, the results are the most important thing. Will they regret not appointing Conte? It’s difficult to say at this moment in time Conte. Maybe timing played a part.
If I’m Man United, I will pick which coach I want and I will go for it. It doesn’t matter how much I need to spend. They spend enough to be challenging for the Premier League, so why shouldn’t they spend money to get the manager they want?
Do you think Pochettino could be the right man if he was given the opportunity?
Poch has delivered some terrific years for Tottenham. He was ready for a bigger challenge in the Premier League and he was often linked with Real Madrid. Now he is at PSG and he has won his first trophy as a manager. If Man United think that the number one target is Pochettino, they need to go for it and pay whatever they have to pay.
They’ll pay £100m for a player – why do they not want to pay £10m for a manager? Now, they cannot make any more mistakes. I think it’s time to get it right. It cannot be David Moyes, it cannot be van Gaal, it cannot be Mourinho, it cannot be Ole Solskjær, it cannot be the next one.
Man United need one manager and that manager needs to take the club to another level so they need to pick the right person
Gus Poyet On Chelsea
This Chelsea team, they look like they have absolutely everything. What do you think they should be looking to achieve this season?
Well, from the moment that they won the Champions League last year, in the summer, I was always saying that they needed to win for the Premier League. I think we got used to Liverpool-Man City, Man City-Liverpool, and it was like the rest, they were away from it. I expected Chelsea to challenge. I expected Manchester United to challenge.
The system Chelsea play and the way they understand how to play is perfect to win the Premier League. Solid, compact, very difficult to play against. Everybody knows their role. Man City and Liverpool will be up there.
When Chelsea played Manchester City they were beaten by an outstanding City performance. But, at the end of the day, it’s about 38 games, not only one. So they are definitely candidates.
Between the three of them – Man City, Liverpool and Chelsea – one is going to be the champion and like we (professionals) always say, when you get to the last three months, depending on how much you are involved in international games and the injuries, and, with a little bit of luck, you can be the next champion. But Chelsea, without any doubt, is going to be there or thereabouts.
This is a Chelsea team that are scoring a lot of goals and they look so confident against whoever they play. How scary do you think this team can become when Lukaku gets back in? Because he hasn’t even really got going yet.
He started the first few games very well and he looked top – it looks like good decision to bring him back to England. I think most of the teams in England will struggle against Chelsea. They find it very difficult because Chelsea always has an answer.
At the moment, our defenders are scoring more than the attacking players. Where as most teams rely on offensive players making the difference, Chelsea has goals from everywhere.
In Chelsea’s last few games without Lukaku and without Werner, it is the defenders or full-backs who have chipped in. Every single player is doing something for the team. That’s why they are so difficult to play against and it’s been difficult for the opposition to find a way to play against Chelsea.
Except Man City (Chelsea’s one domestic defeat so far this season). This Chelsea team, with respect, is capable of beating 14 teams, week in, week out, all the time because they find a way. And then titles are decided against the bigger clubs.
Thomas Tuchel has had a remarkable start to his Chelsea career. Why do you think he’s been able to get his methods across to the players so quickly and so effectively?
Because he set up the system and he realised it was the best way for these players to play. He keeps improving and gives the players the belief that it’s the best system. He also knows that he can little tactical tweaks that will work.
One day you’ll see Marcos Alonso being a key player and scoring goals and making the difference on the left. And then Alonso goes out and Chillwell comes in and does exactly the same. And then you think that he’s going to play for the next 15 games, Marcos Alonso is back and he’s producing.
There are things that they work on in every game and then they make little tweaks, strategic decisions, for specific games. Coaches and managers, we live by that, we live by the decisions that we make. When you make as many good decisions as Tuchel, you are top. He is a top coach and maybe he will stay at Chelsea for many years.
If you could think of one weakness that this Chelsea team has, what do you think it could be?
Well, when the opposition makes life difficult for Chelsea, they close the spaces. Sometimes they rely a little bit too much on Mason Mount to create. Mason has been at his best for a while, but when he’s not there for whatever reason, they don’t have a player that he can do the same things.
For me, Mount gives them unique qualities. I’m not saying they don’t have a player to bring into his position, but he is unique. Mason Mount deserves more credit.
We can talk about the system. We can talk about the central midfielders. We can talk about Lukaku, but I think that a big, big part of the offensive actions, they depend on Mount. will give him plenty of credit.
Tony Rüdiger has been absolutely phenomenal this year. His contract expires at the end of the season. What would you do if you were in charge? Would you sign him up? Would you let him go? How should Tuchel handle this one?
Everyone at Chelsea will tell you that they want him to sign, but in football, it works both ways. I always say this, and this is very important. When the club want a player out, it’s like it’s simple, “He must leave. We want him out, we do everything for him to go,” and the contract is not an issue.
And maybe he’s got a three-year contract, but the club want him gone. See you later. And they do everything to find a way to get rid of you. I don’t like this.
Now, when a player’s contract is expiring everyone thinks, “Oh, why he doesn’t sign? He’s greedy, he wants more money.” It’s exactly the same situation. I don’t like how players are represented this way. This is a position I’ve been in twice.
I was a player that liked to finish my contract, to the last day, putting myself in the best position to negotiate a new one. I was not afraid of getting injured. I was not afraid of not giving 100%, because I’d always show that I gave 100%.
I finished my contract twice at Real Zaragoza. After the second one expired – and I had played for the club for seven years – I came to Chelsea on a free transfer. For Rudiger, it is a fantastic position to be in. It’s going to be a negotiation that depends on what Chelsea can offer and what he can get elsewhere.
Maybe he will want to go to another country – who knows? I’m sure that Chelsea will want to renew his contract. But it works both ways (when a club wants to sell a player and when a player wants to run down a contract) and I don’t like it when the player is seen as the bad one.
Because 80% or 90% of the time, the club calls the shots. I’m not talking specifically about clubs in England, I’m not talking about Chelsea, I’m talking about all the clubs around the world. You never see bad publicity when a club wants a player gone, but when it’s a player, its terrible.
He’s in a great position. Two years ago, he was not playing and nobody was thinking about him, and probably people were saying he should leave because he isn’t playing. But he stayed and worked hard. He was ready and when he came back, he showed everybody how good he is. Now he’s in a strong, strong position.
Chelsea are playing Juve tonight. Juve beat them first time around. Do you expect them to get a bit of revenge?
I think the game they lost against Juventus was one-off, it can happen, especially with these Italian teams. I would be very surprised if Chelsea doesn’t win. Obviously, it’s going to be difficult because of the quality of players at Juventus, but Juventus is not playing very well this year.
They’re having so many problems. It’s going to be a matter of being patient and maybe score the first goal. It’s always difficult, especially in these kind of games. As soon as Chelsea gets the first goal, I think obviously Juventus needs to open up a little bit and it’s going to be a different game. But I’m pretty confident they’re going to do well.
Is there anyone they should be worried about playing in Europe this year?
Well, there’s many teams in Europe that are difficult. Real Madrid keeps getting better. I think Man City is very difficult to play against and have caused problems for Chelsea. In the Premier League, the game at Stamford Bridge, they beat them 0-1. Liverpool is another team that is very complicated to play against.
Paris St. Germain is always going to be difficult to cope with the three up-front (Messi, Mbappe and Neymar) – it’s tough. It’s tough, but the best. I’m talking about the best because when they stretch themselves and they separate the three up-front, obviously it’s very difficult for to defend against.
Bayern Munich is always difficult. One of the problems for players – and I’m including myself – is when you play in Europe against the best teams, you’ll be thinking about it during the game before. You have to have a very strong mentally. Especially if it’s not a very nice game.
I call it the ‘ugly Monday night’, north of England, raining, a winter day – terrible. You need to be very strong really to play those, because you know what is coming after.
Chelsea, afterwards, they’ve got Man United at home on Sunday. Do you expect Chelsea to pile on the misery for Man United fans on Sunday?
Well, I would like to think that we’re going to be a reaction from Manchester United. Without Ole there, there is nobody to take the blame. I’m expecting a reaction. The most important thing for them is to get something going on in terms of playing.
It’s been difficult for Manchester United to maintain a consistency in matches, so anything could happen in one game. They’ve got exceptional players and they can hurt you at any time. In normal situations, Chelsea win this match. But like I said, on the day, because so Manchester United have so many good individual players – anything could happen.
Gus Poyet On Tottenham
Tottenham has recently appointed Conte. What advice would you give him to start getting the best out of the attacking players at the club?
Conte doesn’t need my advice. He knows better than me how to get the best out of the players. I think it’s more about giving the players a clear idea; how to play. Players will be convinced when they start getting results/ The players relax and they start doing what they do best.
You want them to understand their roles and how the team is set-up to play. This will give them clear minds.
I think they were a little bit confused about so many changes. Obviously, everything was clear under Pochettino, and then in came José for one reason, to win trophies. When he was a week away from the final, he was fired.
In the summer, they got Nuno and now they’ve appointed Conte. It’s not easy for the players. Before the game against Leeds, Sergio Reguilón said it was the worst two weeks of his life under Conte, which I liked and also thought was funny in a nice way.
The intensity of the training will increase. They players will be pushed to their limit, running all the time, and they will be fitter as a result.
But then it’s about winning. Against Leeds, they found it difficult in the first 30 minutes, but they were able to win it. That will give them something to build on, but it’s going to take time. Conte is a totally different manager to the previous ones and he’s going to demand a lot from them and they will need to adapt to his coaching style and way of playing.
He’s been successful everywhere he’s been.
Realistically, what do you think they should be looking to achieve this year as a minimum objective?
If you ask me if see them getting into the top four, then the answer is no. Can they do it? Anything can happen because I don’t think there are too many teams that are really showing a consistency apart from West Ham.
I expect Man United to be better. They’ve got a decent squad. As for Tottenham, we don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s very difficult to say. I think it’s impossible to predict what they’re going to do. Maybe in the beginning of the season we were expecting Leicester to be better but they are not close to challenging for the top four positions at the moment.
I think the fourth position is there to grab for any team that is consistent because the top three is clear. There’s no doubt. Fourth is there to grab and, like I said, at the beginning of the season it was all about Man United and if it was not Man United, it was Leicester.
Now we have West Ham, which is a nice surprise. Let’s see what Tottenham and Arsenal can do about their position as well.
Conte is a very passionate coach – would you have liked to have played under him?
I think we would understand each other very well. No doubt. 100%. Even with a look at each other, I would understand what he wants, exactly, and I would put it on the pitch, 100%. He would scare me with his fitness regime and running a lot.
At my age now, even to go back and running – totally impossible! It’s funny, as a player I needed to train well to be fit enough. I had a love/hate relationship with the fitness coaches at my clubs. I hated them when they made me run, but I love them because I need it.
During the suffering you will look at them saying, “I hate you. You keep making me run and I want to kill you.” But when you went on the pitch at three o’clock on Saturday and were running, jumping, getting to tackles and winning duels, you really love them because physically you can. So yes, he is a coach that I would have liked to have played under. No doubt, I would have loved it.
And as an ex-Spurs man, were you excited when they announced Antonio Conte as the manager?
Yes, of course. I was surprised because when they appointed José, I thought actually it was a reason to change the mentality and to make them more aggressive and to go and win trophies. And then when José left, which, in my opinion, I thought was quite early, there was Nuno.
Conte would play similar to Jose, (apart from system) so I wasn't expected Spurs to go for Conte (after sacking Jose a few month earlier) but the people running Spurs, I think they know better than me.
N’Dombele, is a player that I imagine you know quite well, given your time in Bordeaux. It hasn’t really clicked for him at Spurs. What do you think of him as a player? Do you rate him and do you think he can get back in under Conte and start delivering the goods?
I think he’s a very good player. I think he’s got lots of strengths; he’s powerful, he can drive with the ball, he can do many things in the midfield. I don’t know him personally, which is something very, very important. You need to know the player.
You need to know if he’s happy and if he doesn’t have any problems at home. There are so many things that can go around the head of a player. And after that, you need to manage him. That’s the most difficult part for any coach – managing the players and their different characters and mentalities.
We look at the player and we think he should be playing or he shouldn’t be playing, but there are often many reasons why. The Spurs system now – Will he (Conte) keep playing with two centre midfielders?
If he does, you would like to think that he will pick two from Højbjerg, Winks and Skipp. N’Dombele needs to be better than them in training. From the outside, you look and you say, “Well, he’s got everything.” But we are not there every day and we don’t know how happy he is.
I would like to think that when a manager like Conte comes to your club, you know what you have to do as a player, for sure, if you are a midfielder. 100%. Now, can you do it? Do you want to do it? It’s up to the player, so let’s wait and see. It’s early days, but like I said, he has the attributes and he certainly has the quality.
Harry Kane, he started the season slowly. If you were coaching Kane, what advice would you give him to start finding the goals again in the Tottenham shirt?
There is none. What can I say to Harry Kane? He’s the best British striker in many years. He’s the best by far, so he doesn’t need any advice. In the summer, I think people don’t realise how difficult it is when something is in your head and you need to deal with that.
He probably didn’t have a proper preseason. He’s a striker, and for a striker to score goals, the team needs to play in a certain way. Tottenham haven’t been playing in a way for him to go and score.
In the past, if he had one clear chance, he would take it. I think it’s a matter of the team performing and he will be back to his best. I’m not worried about Harry Kane at all. I think he’s class, he’s different to the rest, better than the rest. It’s a matter of the team performing, then he will deliver, no doubt.
Tottenham are playing in the Europa Conference League this year. Is that a tournament they should be trying to win?
It’s simple. Tottenham needs to win any trophy – try to win any, OK? Because any trophy will be good for Tottenham. “Now, I think that this competition shouldn’t be played. At least not for English teams. They shouldn’t be playing in the Europa Conference it’s not good enough.
When UEFA launched the tournament, I thought it went against the players. We’ve been saying for years there’s too many games. Players, they cannot perform at a high level every week because they play too many games.
If you play for your country, you used to play two games during the international break, but sometimes it can be three. Then there was talk of a World Cup every two years and now they put an extra competition in Europe. This should be a tournament for smaller countries, with respect to them.
But for English, Spanish, French and German football, for other top countries, I don’t it’s not necessary. I feel the same way about the Nations League.
Arsène Wenger, he mentioned the World Cup every couple of years and that kind of got rejected. But what do you think about the demands on players these days?
If we want to see quality, we can do without the extra games. We should be looking at less games, not more. If we want to see top World Cups, we should be playing every four years. I also think that it’s a bit unfair for the teams that have won the competition.
Those teams had to wait for four years for a chance. Now, to give the chance to be able to win the cup every two years? That shows no respect for the past. On top of that, I agree with Arsène Wenger was one of the best managers in Premier League football, probably second to Sir Alex Ferguson. If he was currently manager of Arsenal, he would be against playing a World Cup every two years.
I want to see Ronaldo week in, week out. I want to see him at the top level. I want to see Messi at the top level, and for that, you need a rest because he’s over 30. I want to see him fit. As a manager, to prepare your team and to create an identity, you need to train, and if you’re going to train because you play every three days, then preseason is key.
If you don’t have the players in the summer because they’re playing with the national team, and they are on holidays, then you cannot prepare your team. And then you lose your job after five games because your team isn’t playing well.
You need your players for a full preseason because, if you’re the coach of a top team, you cannot train as much because you play every three days if you’re in a top team.
So Tottenham’s next game is against Burnley. How do you think they’ll get on up there and is it a game they should be looking to win?
It’s simple. They need to go up there and win. The problem is that it’s a very difficult place to go and it’s very difficult to play against Burnley. You need to be up for it. It’s, I think, a big test for Spurs and I think it’s a great place for Conte to check on the character of his players.
Whatever the result is, the information that he’s going to get from the players that play the game is going to be amazing. It’s going to be very, very important for the future of the club and the team. I think it’s a good game for Conte’s team to go and play now.
Gus Poyet On Brighton
Gus, we spoke earlier on about your achievements at Brighton and they have to pay a lot of credit to you for moving them up from League One into the Championship and winning that in style. Also, for giving Brighton’s current captain Lewis Dunk his professional debut. How far do you think he can go in the game and what’s he like as a guy?
I call him ‘Dunky’, and for me he’s still ‘Dunky’, even if he’s just turned 30 because he was so young when I was there. We knew he had the quality for the way that we wanted to play. He was very calm on the ball and he knew the angles, he knew how to play.
So for that, he was important. I went to see him – I don’t want to exaggerate it, but probably 15 times in the reserves on Monday night – in the old reserves – Monday night football. Just seeing how he was developing with a view to the possibility of him playing for the first team. Watching those game, he confirmed everything that we felt about it.
After I left, he has kept improving. It’s a credit to him. In the beginning, we tried to help him become a presence in both boxes; defending and attacking. He has dramatically improved this part of his game; defending his own box and being an important part of the offensive set plays in the other box.
I’m very pleased for him. Every time I watch Brighton, he’s the first player I look at. I thought he was leaving a couple of years ago. I remember a summer that there were so many rumours about him leaving for Leicester. He stayed and if he stays at Brighton forever, he’s going to be a legend over there, for sure. A one club player, it’s very difficult to achieve, but maybe Dunk is going to be one, I think.
Do you think, Gus – I mean, Brighton are having a great season so far. As a player, you want to win things. Do you think that, potentially, Dunk and Brighton could win a trophy this year?
Brighton may have an opportunity in the FA Cup. When you find yourself in a good position, you start paying attention. I’m sure that after a few years that Brighton was always finish in the top half of the league.
This season, they started fantastically and now they are not in a very good run of games, so I think maybe they should be concentrating on the Premier League. They are different to the rest of the teams that normally find themselves in relegation trouble; they play the best football.
They need to concentrate on what they’re doing. They’re doing a terrific job, I think. Potter is doing very well, he’s perfect for the team, for the club. Knowing the board well, I can see Potter as a manager Brighton would like to keep forever.
Time will tell if they can win trophies. I think they are comfortable now. I don’t think there is any risk they will get relegated, which is great for everyone related to Brighton. Brighton will not have to worry this year they can relax and play their best football.
And one of your countrymen – Darwin Núñez – he plays for Benfica, he’s a player that a lot of people are excited about. I was reading that Brighton are supposed to be interested in signing him. Do you think they should go for him?
No doubt, 100%. I think he is the future of the Uruguayan national team. I think he will be the future number nine when the big guys – Suárez and Cavani – finish. He has a little bit of competition from Maxi Gómez, who plays for Valencia, but Maxi is having some problems with his consistency, but we know Núñez is going to be top.
What he done in Spain, playing for Almeria, at an early age of his career, was impressive. And to play for a team like Benfica every week shows his quality. I think if he keeps improving, he’s going to be a top, top number nine. I think he has a great future. It will be nice if Brighton can get him – yeah, no doubt.
Gus Poyet On Young French Talent Jules Koundé And Aurélien Tchouaméni
When you were at Bordeaux, you worked with Jules Koundé. He’s been linked to Chelsea. Is he good enough to play for Chelsea? Is he good enough to be one of the top defenders in the world soon?
Jules Koundé played 90 minutes in every game he played for me. Jules was a very good professional from a very young age – at 19, he was already assuming responsibilities. He was a guy who I connected with very well from the beginning – he had what I like from a centre-half.
The responsibility I gave him as centre-half, with and without the ball, he understood it from the first minute, so I knew he would be very, very important for me.
I was not surprised when he went to Sevilla for 25 million, because I knew he wanted to have an experience at a bigger club. And he’s already won the Europa League with Sevilla, which is fantastic and important for him as well.
I think he’s got the quality to come to a top team in England – I’ve got no doubt. And if it’s Chelsea – even better, because I would like to see him, and I would like him to play for Chelsea. He wants to improve all the time, he listens to the coach, he wants to train. He is very powerful, a very special boy, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s coming to England next summer.
What about Aurélien Tchouaméni?
Tchouaméni. A brilliant player. I was seeing him in the second team – he was training with me and then in the summer – my second season – I gave him the debut to play for me in the Europa League qualifiers. You could see that he had everything – physique, calm on the ball, that kind of presence and courage to take responsibility.
He is a very intelligent player. It was a matter of taking him slowly and giving him exactly what he needed. I was certain that would keep improving, but it’s always nice to watch him, especially when he made his debut for the France national team. I was so pleased.
I was watching that game and it was a pleasure to see him reaching that level. Because I was having individual tactical meetings with him where we are watching a video together and I’m explaining things. For someone so young, he was so good. Seeing him after the international game was a pleasure.
I think it will depend a little bit on Monaco (when he moves). If Monaco can start getting close to the top, maybe they will hold him for a while, but if they are not challenging for things, he will probably leave, for sure. Monaco have a history of selling their players for a profit, and I think Monaco paid 10 million for him from Bordeaux. So now his price is through the roof. It could be anything
Lets see. He’s got the ability and the presence to play in England – that kind of centre midfielder who is good on the ball and very good defensively. I think it could be very interesting if he comes to England.
Gus Poyet On The World Cup
Didier Deschamps is a guy that you played with. He won the World Cup with France. Do you think he can do it again? Do you think France are the team to beat?
Well, I think they are one of the teams that has a chance. And I’ll tell you the reason. France has a history of developing top players over the years; giving these talents a chance with the national team. They’ve got an extraordinary number nine in Benzema, so they’re going to be one of the teams to beat.
But I think Brazil is going to be up there. I think Argentina have got better, they realise how they need to play without Messi. It is very difficult for a national team like Argentina to play with Messi – it’s a contradiction, but it’s true. Now they’ve found a way and they are very solid and they know how to do it.
I’m always expecting something from Belgium. I think they’ve got an exceptional squad. They can go to the next level. But without any doubt, France is going to be one of them. They’ve got everything. They’ve got power, they’ve got size, they’ve got stamina, they’ve got speed. They’re a top, top team and they’re going to be one of the favourites for sure.
Gus Poyet On The Ballon d’Or winner
The Ballon d’Or is announced in a week’s time, who do you think should win it?
I think anyone can win it this year. There isn’t a clear favourite. It has been very easy for the last ten years with Messi – Ronaldo – Ronaldo – Messi. The winner was normally decided on who won the most in each particular season.
The year that Cristiano won the league or Champions League and the European Championship, I thought it was better, not only because of the quality, but also because he won important things. The same with Messi.
Not only because he was the best, but because he won everything with Barcelona. I think it’s depends what you’re looking for. We normally look at the strikers so maybe Lewandowski or Mbappé, and then we look at players that win the biggest prizes. Jorginho – he won the Champions League and the European Championship.
I think it’s tough. I don’t think he’s (Jorginho) going to be the winner. He’s not going to be a clear favourite and he’s not going to make 90% of the people happy. It’s very difficult, even for me, to tell you one. So, let’s wait and see.
Gus Poyet On Newcastle's Survival
Do you think that Newcastle could be playing in the Championship next year?
Well, you know, I always say that one of the biggest sentences in football is ‘the table never lies’. And the Premier League table shows that they are in big trouble. I’ve been there. I was bottom for six months and we got away.
I’m not going to say that it’s done, but they are in a big mess, and that mess has been coming for years. They need something dramatic to happen in January. It’s not going to be easy to find the right players that want to come, with the risk of relegation.
It’s not going to be simple If they don’t put a few results together before January. I think that’s the key for Eddie and Newcastle because they need to get certain results to convince players to go there.
If not, they’re going to get the best of the worst players available; their tenth choices. And that would be a problem because it’s kind of an uncertain situation. We will see what they can do. I think it’s a great challenge, but it would be very strange to have the money and this ambition. It would be unfair for the rest of the Championship.
But we will see. I think it’s going to be difficult because the Premier League is very tough. It’s incredibly difficult and it doesn’t depend only on them now. It’s not only one going down, it’s three, but they have got a big challenge on.
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