Football Insights - Teddy Sheringham
Plenty going on at Spurs this week with the appointment of Antonio Conte and then the attention turning to Old Trafford this weekend as United and City get down to business in the first Manchester Derby of the season. With all of this going, Teddy Sheringham, a legend from both Tottenham and Manchester United took the time out to give his exclusive opinions about the appointment of Conte, the Manchester Derby and much more. Check out Teddy's comments below.
Teddy Sheringham On Man United
What did you think of United’s performance last night?
Well, you’re playing in Europe and you’re going away from home to an Italian team, it’s going to be tough. I know they’re not one of the top teams in Italy at the moment, but it’s a tough fixture. They got a result. The performance wasn’t great, it was very average, but they ground out a result again and that’s what you’ve got to do at certain times throughout a season.
Where do you think United would be without Ronaldo this year?
When players like Ronaldo come up for sale, you have to snap them up. Ronaldo is one of the two best players in the world and has been for the last 12 years. He’s just phenomenal. I don’t think they could’ve let him go to Manchester City. He’s just one of those players – he’s deadly. He knows how to score goals.
He’s focused. He’s professional. He’s unbelievable, isn’t he? So where would they be without him? I don’t know. They might’ve been able to get someone else for the money that they’re paying him, but it didn’t look like United were looking for someone else. They’d done their business and then Ronaldo came along.
Yeah, and to your point, when a guy like Ronaldo becomes available, you’ve got to take him, right?
He’s a phenomenon, isn’t he, so he’s not another player; he is the best if not the top two best players in the world for the last decade, so you’re not taking a chance on this player – he’s one that you know you’re going to get results with. He’s unbelievable and he’s still performing at the highest level.
Teddy, I think it would be fair to say that United, they haven’t been brilliant in Europe, but they’re sitting on top of their group. What do you think is a realistic ambition for them in Europe this year?
When you’ve got Ronaldo in the team, you’re looking to win it. He’ll be looking to win it. He’s done it before on many occasions. He wants to do it again. Things change very quickly. All that they’ve got to do at the moment is get themselves to the next level, and at the moment, after that result last night (against Atalanta), they’re in a good position to get to the next level.
You never know what’s going to happen. They might back the manager in the next transfer window and you have a completely different team by then. But at the moment, it’s just getting there.
United have got one of the best squads in Europe, but this year in the league, they’ve had their well-documented struggles. What do you think is stopping them from competing for the title consistently?
Well, it’s not just about having a brilliant squad; it’s about getting the right permutations within that squad, it’s about keeping a lot of egos happy. Sometimes you can have too many good players. It’s hard to keep them all happy at the same time, and I think you’ve got to be a top manager, you’ve got to be a very established manager to know how to make that work.
It’s not easy. Everybody thinks because you’ve got so many good players, it’s going to be easy, but it’s not, and that’s where Ole’s finding it tough, finding that right balance week in, week out.
Sir Alex did it with us when he was chopping and changing players, but he’d been in the job for 20-odd years. It was easy for him to get the respect of the players and for the players to respond in the right manner. It was easy for him to do because he was the manager that ruled everything.
When you’re a new manager and you haven’t had results, people look at you as if to say, “What are you dropping me for? Why are you leaving me out?” and that creates unrest in the camp, and if they’re a bad apple, that spreads. So you have to be very, very careful how you handle players.
Against Tottenham last week, United won that game quite convincingly. Do you think that was down to more Spurs being poor or United being good?
I think it’s probably a little bit of both. I think United were good on the day. We all know how poor Spurs have been recently, and it proved to be the final straw for Nuno. When a side as talented as United come to town and you lose you can sometimes accept it, but it was the manner from Tottenham’s point of view – they, almost rolled over, didn’t show any team pattern or fight to get back into the game. Once they were 1-0 down, it seemed like that was it, the game was over.
Man United’s approach was great. They pressed very, very well, but I do feel that Tottenham made it quite easy for them to come and get the result. Having said that, it still took a wonderful goal from Ronaldo again, to break the deadlock. It was a fantastic pass from
Fernandes, and an exquisite finish from Ronaldo – you don’t want the ball dropping to anyone else in a position like that. That’s it, Man United are on their way, and they thrived from there, and Tottenham just went deeper.
You won three Premier League titles on the spin under Sir Alex. What did he do to keep the team motivated and consistently performing at that level?
At the end of every season, once we’d won the league, Sir Alex used to get all the players in and say, “Look, I’ve written two players names down and I’ve put them in an envelope here. These are the two players that might let us down next year.
Don’t let it be you. I don’t want to tell you who it is, but we need to be better next season. I think we’re going to be better. I want to be better. There’s two players in here that I think might not be able to step up to the plate to make us better, and those names are going in that envelope, and I’ll tell you at the end of next year.”
It might be a little thing, but it might be on your mind throughout the summer when you’re lying there and you’re thinking, “What a lovely season we’ve just had. I might rest on my laurels a bit.” You didn’t want to think your name could be in his envelope the following season and to think he could turn around and say, “See, I told you. I knew you’d let us down.”
Were there any surprises in those envelopes come the end of the season?
I don’t think we ever got to see who the names were. By the end of the next season, when you win the league again the next year, you forget all about it, don’t you?
As long as it wasn’t you letting the team down, then you didn’t mind. I don’t know, perhaps he might’ve, at some stage, pulled a player in and if they had’ve fallen below the standards, then he might’ve told them, “Look, here’s your name. I’m showing you. I told you, you need to do better.
You won the biggest prizes at United, and you had a great career. You played until you were 41. You still hold the record as the oldest outfield player in the Premier League, which is a credit to your fitness and stamina and ability to do the business. Ronaldo’s obviously broken a few records in his time. Are you worried he might take that one off you?
Not really, because I think he’s only 36. It’s a long way to go to get to 40 and still be playing at the top level (in the Premier League). I think he could, without a doubt, but when he’s played at that level for so long, I’m not sure he will want to.
He might want to. If he does, there’s no reason why he can’t go beyond that, because of the fitness and how he looks after his body. He stays clear of major injuries, which is massive, and he’s obviously got the drive which I had to keep going.
When you’re doing your pre-seasons, when you’re getting kicked on a Saturday, and you’re feeling a little bit tight and you’re hurting a little bit, it takes a lot to keep going, especially when you get past 35. It’ll be tough, but if anyone can, he will, and if he did then it’s not the worst person to lose your record to, is it!
You wrote history in the Champions League. It’s one of the most iconic moments in modern football – the 1999 final – and that was a team that had some significant fire power. How do you rate the current crop of United forwards in comparison?
Yeah. It’s a strange situation now. We worked in twos in those days, and Yorkie and Cole
were, without a doubt, the main striking force in that season. They really hit it off and they were fantastic, but if they weren’t firing on all cylinders, Sir Alex had myself and Ole Gunnar to fall back on.
It’s a little bit different now – you’ve got the one centre-forward. I know they played with two up front just recently (at Tottenham) but it’s mainly one centre-forward with people playing on the wings now.
Cavani, without a doubt, he’s the main spearhead. I think he is the focal point that Manchester United miss when he’s not playing, because you can have Rashford playing,
Ronaldo, Greenwood, they’re all players that drift around the number nine area – they play wide, they roam, but they’re not exactly a centre-forward player. I think the team looks much better when Cavani is playing and you have that focal point. But as for fire power, I really like Greenwood – I love the way he scores goals.
But we haven’t seen enough of Jadon Sancho yet. Marcus Rashford scores goals, but not at the rate that Yorke and Cole did, or Solskjaer and I did all those years ago. It’s only probably Cavani who does it on a regular basis, and Ronaldo steps up always, but from different areas.
On the Ronaldo signing – when Ronaldo comes on the market, you’ve arguably got to bring him in, but that comes with added pressure for the manager. Could it all end in tears?
I don’t think it will end in tears between those two – no. It’s a tough one. He is going to have to be managed and he won’t be able to keep playing every game, like he wants to. And Ole will need to be strong to do that.
But I think there’s good respect. I think the bigger point is, if Man United don’t win anything, then I think Ronaldo’s going to get the hump with what’s going on.
I don’t think it will be about their actual relationship. I think it will be if Man United miss out, if they’re miles away from winning the league by the end of the season or if they get knocked out in the next stage of the Champions League and the FA Cup and have a disappointing season.
And if they do have a disappointing season, then it feels inevitable what will happen with Ole. I don’t think it will come down to a Ronaldo-Ole situation. Ole knows where he’s at in his Man United career now. He needs to win a trophy and obviously Ronaldo wants to be part of that.
On that subject, would anything less than a trophy be a failure for United then this year?
Yeah, I do think so, without a doubt. They’ve come very close recently. Semi-finals then finals. You need to be winning stuff. That’s what Man United do, and anything else is a failure, because that won’t be progression. The club have slowly progressed under Ole, but they need to take the next step now, so anything less is a failure for me.
It seems Man United are always only one game away from a crisis at the moment, one defeat away from a crisis. How can Ole start delivering consistent performances from that team?
That’s the tough one. Consistency in naming teams is a big thing. You get your regular keeper and your regular back four, your two settled midfield players, and then Sir Alex used to chop and change the strikers.
The more players play together, once you’ve actually finalised who is your best 11, you chop and change one or two from that, because when you’re winning games, it doesn’t take so much out of you. But when you have got something, you’ve got to keep them all happy, you’re playing in different competitions, you try and swap teams about to accommodate all the top players that you have.
But sometimes you’ve got to upset players and say, “Look, you’ve got to wait for your chance.” Rather than accommodating players, just say, “Look, you need to do better when you get in.” But that’s the way we worked and if you got in, you wanted to stay in, so you performed to the highest level. That’s pretty much how it worked under Sir Alex.
Teddy Sheringham On Tottenham
Spurs have struggled for goals this year, they’ve just appointed Antonio Conte. How do you think he can start getting the best out of Tottenham’s attacking players?
I don’t think it’s just the attacking players. I think when you look at a manager’s job, it’s to get the best out of every player that you’ve got, individually, and also as a team. And I think if you look at every player at Tottenham at the moment, probably everyone’s playing to 60% of their capabilities.
I think that’s probably what Daniel Levy looked at. Obviously, Kane is getting the headlines for not doing so well, but when you analyse the whole team, you could say that they’re all under-performing. And that is down to the manager (recently sacked Nuno Espirito de Santo).
If you can’t get players to perform to their best, then you lose your job. However quick into the tenure it is, nowadays, they go. Conte needs to go in there, he’s full of enthusiasm. That’s the way he works.
It is all about enthusiasm and 100% commitment. When he goes in there, I can imagine, giving his first meeting yesterday, he’ll have all that bubbly, infectious character that, “This is how we’re going to approach games, this is how I want you flying into games.” And you should see a massive change in everybody’s demeanour as soon as they’re walking onto the pitch and attacking that first five or ten minutes in their next game.
But the teams approach will mirror Conte’s personality; infectious, enthusiastic, 100% commitment, desire on the pitch, and then your attributes come through after that. I can see a massive change coming around from Tottenham in the next two or three games.
Are you excited by the appointment of Conte at Spurs, Teddy?
Yes, very. I think the best appointment since Pochettino.
Yeah, I agree with you. I think he’s a proven winner. Like you say, he’s got a lot of charisma, he brings a lot of desire and he’s demanding. As a player, if you worked under a manager that hasn’t necessarily won things as a manager, and things aren’t going well on the pitch, sometimes do you not fancy the manager? Or is it more of a case of, you’re a professional, you go out there and do what you want to do?
I get asked this quite a lot in my life about managers, and is it all about the managers? Yes, it is. We’ve all worked for managers – my brother used to work in a bank.
He’s worked for managers that let him be himself and encourage him and gets you full of confidence and you perform to your best. And there’s other managers that will put you down and talk to you in a bad way, and it just rubs you up the wrong way. You still go into work wanting to give your best, but there’s that underlying feeling that, ‘what’s this fella going on about?
Every day there’s always something, you know. And that’s no different from the football pitch. You can get managers that rub you up the wrong way, and before you know it, you’re not really performing to the best of your capabilities, and you can’t put your finger on it and you’re in that mire. That’s how it looks at Tottenham under Nuno.
What does success look like for Conte at Spurs this season?
Tottenham are ninth in the league and they’re only two points behind Arsenal who are supposedly having a fantastic season at the moment. The Arsenal fans are seemingly delighted with Arteta right now and yet they’re only two points in front of Spurs.
That’s where the two different standards are at the moment in North London. But Tottenham are clearly unhappy with where they are and needed to change things.
So you think Tottenham should be finishing above Arsenal?
That alone is not good enough, but yes that is something to aim for that will please the fans. I would think Conte will be looking to get into the Champions League, without a doubt. That’s his desire. Once you get on a roll these days, you can move up the league very, very quickly.
And there’s a long way to go, but he’s a winner. He’ll be wanting to win things as well. So even if it is the UEFA Conference League, he’ll want to win that.
Tottenham fans would love to get to Wembley – the FA Cup Final, and win the FA Cup, because this is what football is all about – winning things. Hopefully now we’ve got a winner in charge and that’s where he’s going to take us and get back into the Champions League football as well.
Do you think he could deliver Champions League football this year?
Yeah. There’s so much of the season to go. There’s just over a quarter of the season Gone – t’s a great opportunity. It’s good timing to change the manager if you’re not happy with him, and there’s plenty of time for the new one to come in and change things.
It was only a couple of years ago that Spurs were in the Champions League final. Since then, domestically and in Europe, they haven’t been able to build on that. Do you think Conte could take them there in the future and maybe go one step further and winning it?
I think that’s a long shot right at this minute. I think he would have been given assurances that he can have the type of player that he would want to be able to try to do that. Nothing is guaranteed.
If you’re given the tools to produce your best moments, then that’s all you can ask for. I would think if Conte is coming into Tottenham, I would think Levy has given him assurances that there is the money to go and get one, two, three players over the next six months in the two transfer periods and have a real go. He’s a winner and wants to do that.
What do you think his biggest challenge is, going into Spurs now?
Getting their mentality right, because everybody’s under-performing. It doesn’t take a lot, but you can also rub people up the wrong way in things that you do as well, and make them even worse than what they are.
The players have got to respond and they need to up their game by the 30%, 40% that they’ve been missing this year, and if everybody’s pulling in the same direction, then you’ve got a chance. First and foremost, he’s got to get the players that he’s got there performing to the best of their ability.
Would you have liked to have played under Conte?
Yeah, I think so. I liked infectious people and he looks like he wears his heart on his sleeve and he wants the players to go out there and give their all, and as long as you do that, I’ll back you. He looks like a good manager to me.
Does he remind you of any of the managers you’ve played under?
Not really. Things have changed now, and the way he jumps up and down the line – it’s all changed in the last 15 years. Sir Alex never ran and jumped up the line. Brian Clough never did that. Terry Venables never did that. At the time, they sat up high in the stands so that they could get a better view.
Nowadays, supporters demand that their the manager is down on the touchline, being very vocal, arms waving and jumping up and down, running up the side line. It’s all the bravado of it, all the showmanship.
Whereas really, I’d like the manager to be up a little bit higher so you can see the bigger picture of what’s happening on the football pitch, so that you can detail to the players at half-time what’s been going wrong. But life’s changed, hasn’t it?
How pleased are you for the fans after what was going on Saturday night, to now, less than a week later, to be in this position where they’ve appointed a truly world-class manager?
Well, who would have thought it, eh? Three games in and Tottenham are top of the league and saying, “Here we go. Now we’ve finally found our manager.” I mean, it’s amazing now that seven games later after that, he’s lost his job because they’re under-performing. It’s ridiculous really.
They were in eighth on Saturday night and he got the sack. It’s not the end of the world, maybe five points off getting into a European place. But that’s the way of the world now and now he’s gone, this new manager has come in that’s a proven winner in the few countries that he’s managed in. Let’s hope he can do something like that for Tottenham.
When you left Tottenham to go to United, you had a bit of a run-in with Alan Sugar. Harry Kane has found himself in a similar situation with Daniel Levy. From your experience, do you think that those two guys – Kane and Levy – will be able to repair the relationship?
Who knows? We don’t know the ins and outs of what’s happened. I think everybody’s surmising about what the relation is. Maybe the relationship is not as bad as has been suggested. Perhaps the assurance was given (from Levy to Kane that he could leave).
Maybe Harry’s just having a downturn in his performances and that’s where he’s at. Who knows? Only those two know about the ins and outs. But from an outside opinion, that’s all we can go on. It looks like he’s been given assurances that he could go if the right money came in.
From his body language, it looks like six months ago, Levy said, “Look, give us the rest of this season and we’ll let you go in the summer.” From Harry’s interviews that he did, saying that he’d love to play with the likes of De Bruyne, I’m amazed that he didn’t go. He looks like he’s got the hump that he didn’t go, and that drains on your performances when you are not happy with something.
I’m sure he doesn’t mean to be playing the way he’s playing at the moment. Added to that, Nuno coming in and not getting the best out of everyone and him as well doesn’t help.
It’s a situation that sees him playing for Tottenham at the moment, which is good – Conte’s got a good job to get him back on side as well. If his head is still turned and maybe he’s said, “Look, you can’t go in the summer.
You might be able to go at Christmas or January,” and he's just saying, “Well, I don’t want to be here for six months.” Who knows? He needs to get him firing, he’s the focal point. If your centre-forward is not on form, playing at the best of his capabilities, it stagnates everyone else in the team. So again, it’s a big, big job for Conte to get Kane on side to get him producing.
Kane had a great relationship with Poch and also he and Mourinho seemed to have a connection as well. Do you think that, given Conte’s pedigree, he can galvanise Kane and get him firing again?
I’d like to think so, because for me, he’s the best centre-forward in the world, so I’d like to think so, but you never know. Conte might go in there and go, “Do you know what? If you’re not going to focus 100% and give me 100% commitment, you can get yourself out of here and we’ll put someone else up there that will.”
And before you know it, if someone’s giving 100% commitment and being the focal point of the team and everybody responds to that around them, you might get a better situation for the team.
You mentioned Kane and his performances, that they haven’t really been that great and he’s possibly got the hump. What kind of an impact does that have on the guys that he’s playing with?
Yeah, he’ll have a massive influence. I can’t ever imagine him being a bad apple around the place, around the football club. But if you’re not happy and your demeanour changes from being that – I wouldn’t say he’s a bubbly character, but you can tell when someone is focused and on form and just takes the game to the opposition and bullies people and just strong.
His whole demeanour is powerful. For him not to be like that will have a big effect on the rest of the players because they look up to him.
And if he’s not happy it brings other people down, and I think that’s probably worked against Nuno in his short tenure. He probably didn’t get the best out of Harry and didn’t work on that, even more so to get him on side, to get him being the focal point of the team.
Would it have been better for Tottenham to have sold Kane in the summer? Did Levy make an error there?
Well, without a doubt. If you look at hindsight, then you would say, “It looks like we should have done the business.” But that’s probably why he’s (Levy) a ruthless businessman because he said – whatever the figures were – if they were offering £150m and he wanted £170m, that’s the way he’s done things in the past.
And you’ll know, the next time that they want someone, if Liverpool want Son next and they offer £120m and he says £140m, you know he means £140m, because that’s the way he works.
But I’m sure, with hindsight now and the performances, if you could say, “Look, take it back and we’ll take that £150m, because I don’t want a player that will under-perform and possibly pulling everybody else down,” it’s a situation that probably Levy didn’t envisage that was going to happen. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.
When you left Tottenham, you went on and won the title at United – not the first season, but the following season. You won it three times in a row. Harry hasn’t won a title. You described him as the ‘best forward in the world’. Can he win that title? Do you think he can win that title at Spurs? How is he going to get a championship medal in his locker that his career, undoubtedly, deserves?
Who knows what’s going to happen at Tottenham now. Obviously, that’s what Levy is looking for, but when you had a manager like Pochettino at the time, he was looking to progress from where Pochettino had taken them to. I thought he was an outstanding manager.
He’s trying to find that manager that’s going to take Tottenham to the level, and I think Conte is the best man available to do that at the moment. Whether he’s going to have the chance or going to get anywhere near winning the title, we’ll have to wait and see. But he’s definitely got the credentials and if he gets the backing, then who knows?
Tottenham might have to spend a bit more because there’s a few good players but there’s not a lot of great players, so it takes a lot of re-building. When you look at the likes of Liverpool and Chelsea and Manchester City, they’ve got outstanding players all over the pitch.
Whereas Tottenham are nowhere near that at the moment. It’s a big re-building job. Whether Harry wants to hang around for that or whether he’s going to dig his heels in and say to Conte, “Look, I’m not here. I’ve gone already. I need to go,” that might be the case. And Conte might have to work things around without Harry. Who knows what this next situation is going to be.
And Harry might want to force something through in the New Year, in the next transfer window, and that will make him happy from where his mindset is.
You’re Antonio Conte, it’s the January window. What players are you looking at?
I think that’s very hard, because all the top players – and I think Man United were very lucky to get Varane this year. Real Madrid needed the money and that worked in their favour, but top players don’t become available, especially midway through the season if teams are challenging for big honours.
I think it’s very tough. Without naming names, he’s got to go in for top players. But there’ll be clubs like Newcastle that, if those players become available – and a Tottenham manager says, “OK, I want that top player,” or, “Becoming a top player, we’ll give you £200,000 a week,” all of a sudden now you’ve got Newcastle to contend with and want to build and buy a new squad.
They’ll say, “Straight on top of you, we’ll gazump you, we’ll give you £300,000 a week,” and money talks, so these players are going to be hard to come by now. There’s another club that are going to be coming available for all these top players.
You went to United to win things and that’s what you did. As a player, as a winner, as a guy that’s won the biggest prizes, what do you make of guys moving around for money?
Well, there’s untold money in the game already. You don’t need to move anywhere for money. There was talk of Gareth Bale going to China when he could still perhaps on the biggest stage in Europe – he supposedly thought about going to China two and a half years ago or something.
And it was like, “Are you mad? Have you not got enough money?” From where you grew up as a kid, getting paid to play football as a youngster was just a dream.
I don’t understand it and I can’t see Harry Kane going anywhere for money. Manchester City – where it’s reputed that he wanted to go – if they’re offering £300,000 a week and Newcastle said ‘come up here for £500,000, there’s no way he’s going to Newcastle. He wants to go and win things now.
Teddy Sheringham On West Ham
So moving on to West Ham, they’re absolutely flying in both the Premier League and in Europe. Do you think they could genuinely challenge for a top four place this year?
Yeah. Everybody was expecting them to fall down at some stage. And they kept going right to the end last year. David Moyes is doing a fantastic job in getting them motivated to make sure that they produce their best football again, working as a team.
That is their main attribute, they’re working as a team. All understanding their jobs, attacking and defending, and I think they’ve been fantastic again. So yes, I do.
Is the Europa League realistic as well? Can they lift that in May?
Yeah of course, they’re looking good at the moment. A lot of the teams over the years have struggled when they’ve come into play in European football. But obviously David Moyes has experience in these European games as well, so that would hold West Ham in good stead as well.
West Ham are famous for producing young players, the latest being Declan Rice. How far do you think he can go in the game?
I think he’s an outstanding player. He’s continued to grow in stature and importance to West Ham. I think he's been fantastic for West Ham, and probably even more so for England when he’s playing with even better players.
I thought he had an outstanding Euro 2020 and I was very surprised to see him get taken off in the final. I thought he was our one player that was retaining possession in every manner that he did.
Not only did he receive the ball off the back, playing the ball forward, but when there was nothing on, he got himself out of danger as well with his little spurt, running away from people in midfield, which is very, very hard to do in tight situations.
I thought he was absolutely outstanding, and even more so in that final when we really needed him, he stepped up to the plate. And then disappointingly got subbed in a real tough time when he was exactly what we needed on the pitch.
You played with some absolutely legendary midfield players. Recently Stuart Pearce said that ‘Declan Rice reminds him of Roy Keane’. Does he remind you of anybody, or do you think he's unique in what he offers?
People ask me about Harry Kane, who by all accounts looked up to me as a kid and modelled his game on me. He's got far more than what I had. When you talk about Declan Rice, I think he's got attributes of so many players.
Yes, there is something of Roy Keane there. His control in the midfield and his desire and his understanding of the game. He’s also got a little bit of Michael Carrick in as much as that he’s a better passer than Roy was. Sees the game very, very well.
He gets about the pitch like Steven Gerrard as well. Perhaps not that 100% committed in the way that Stevie did flying into tackles, but just the way he ran past players in midfield as well. I think there’s a bit of everything.
He's got an understanding of knowing when to play the ball first time like a Michael Carrick. Knowing when to control the game like a Roy Keane, but also knowing when to carrying a ball and knowing that he can outrun players in midfield, and using that power that he has to keep the ball and get past players and retain position in the way he does as well. I think he’s a phenomenal player.
On the subject of Rice, he’s been linked with Man United. What would your advice be to a Rice, would it be stay at West Ham for a little bit longer, and then make the move in a few years time? Or do you think he's ready to go and play for one of the biggest clubs in the world?
You know, when you’re talking about footballers, you want to play for the biggest clubs in the world. I think he is becoming that player that if he was available, he would obviously be big money, he could go and play for anyone of the top biggest clubs in the world, whoever that’s going to be, I don’t know, Real Madrid, Barcelona - though they are struggling at the moment, though I’m sure they’ll be back or Man United, Man City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Bayern Munich, Juventus – I am sure they’ll all want him. He’s a sensational player, and probably in the top two or three central midfield players in the world at the moment. That’s how highly I rate him.
Michail Antonio, tell me what you think about him!
He’s changed from a winger to a centre forward. I don’t think he’s your sniffer that scores goals like a Robbie Fowler in and around the box, and tap-ins and actual exquisite finishers. He’s more of a worker and grinds people down and bullies them, with power and pace, and scores – I know he’s scored some fantastic goals as well, like real quality, but his actual physique is a big, big plus for him and he uses that to the best of his abilities.
He knows what’s good for him and he overpowers the players in his manner and he definitely knows where the goal is as well. He’s an outstanding player for West Ham at the moment.
He made his international debut for Jamaica in September. Do you think that there might be some regret that England didn't cap him? Is it a bit of a shame that he’s not playing for England?
Yeah, of course. I mean, you want all the players that you can playing for your country. Whether he would have been given the chance with England, I don't know, but he’s performing at the top end of the Premier League at the moment, so you would have to look at him.
I think he suits the way West Ham play, in as much as they’re an underdog type of team, and you don’t expect them. Maybe he would find it a little bit more difficult if he was playing for Liverpool or Manchester City, and you play against teams that are very defensive against you.
You have to break teams down in a different way. You get teams going to the London Stadium now, and they still hope to beat West Ham, so they press on. Whereas the more West Ham stay up there and are a winning team, teams will come to defend and make it difficult for you to break them down.
So that will be a different question mark on whether Michail Antonio can play in that manner as well. But he's good at beating teams on the break.
Teddy Sheringham On The Manchester Derby
OK, last set of questions Teddy. Just on the United/City game, 12:30 on Saturday. United have got the firepower to hurt anybody. Their recent record against City is pretty good. Do you think Ole can continue that recent good form against Pep and get a result?
I think it's a real tough one. If Manchester City had a centre-forward that could finish off all their great plays, I would say that Manchester City would come out winners, but they don't have that at the moment. Manchester United are in a good place after their draw against Atalanta and win at the weekend.
I see it being a cagey nil-nil draw, which is neither here nor there for the sensationalists around. There’s no ‘Ole’s gotta go’ or ‘Ole’s gotta stay’. I think it’s going to be a weekend for Ole to consolidate, draw with Man City and hopefully come through this little period and then start getting some more wins under his belt.
I don’t see it happening like the Liverpool game, let’s put it that way.
United have got unbelievable speed up front. You mentioned how much you liked Greenwood a little bit earlier on. Rashford is rapid as well. Do you think that they should go with a bit of speed up there and hit City on the break, or would you say go with more of a focal point like Cavani and Ronaldo in this one?
Well, you have got to find possession against Manchester City, who make it very difficult for you. They get possession and grind you down. So when you do get the ball against Manchester City, you have to keep it for as long as you can and enjoy the ball and get your breath back.
If Manchester City get on top and keep that position, it could be a very long game – a very long afternoon for Man United players. But I would say get players in there that can retain possession rather than getting them on the break so much. But who knows what’s going to work for Saturday’s game.
One more on this one Teddy. Ronaldo, obviously there were links to City in the summer. There's a chance that he could have been, if you believe the rumours, in a City shirt. If he played for City, do you think they would have been absolutely deadly in terms of finishing those chances they create?
Not necessarily. I don’t see Ronaldo as a centre-forward. He scores goals sometimes as a centre-forward. And he’s phenomenal in his numbers, but he doesn't actually play as that focal point centre-forward, does he? I know his two goals (for Portugal) the two headers a few months back when they needed to score, were unbelievable headers. But he's not that focal point. Not like a Cavani.
If Cavani was playing for Manchester City, I would see him scoring a lot of goals this season, because he’s in that area. He holds the ball up. His job is to score goals, but Ronaldo’s is a little bit more than that on football pitches.
Can West Ham f pull off a bit of a result this weekend against Liverpool and really stamp their mark on challenging for that top four?
It’s a tough one. Both teams playing with full confidence. But if you had to ask me as a betting man then I would go for a Liverpool win, just for how big and strong and composed they are as a team.
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