In an exclusive interview with Safe Betting Sites UK, Liverpool legend Dietmar Hamann has claimed he would rather have Darwin Nunez over Manchester City striker Erling Haaland as Liverpool’s new signing ‘does a bit more’.
Hamann, who made 268 Premier League appearances with Liverpool, City and Newcastle, gave interesting quotes on a wide-range of subjects which you can use for publication with a credit to safebettingsites.com.
Watch the full video below.
Highlights of the Interview
- Believing Darwin Nunez is a better signing for Liverpool than Erling Haaland is for Man City
- Doubts about Erling Haaland and his injury history
- Jurgen Klopp needing to finish in the Prem top 2 and go far in the CL or face trouble
- Kalvin Phillips potentially harming England World Cup hopes with move to Manchester City
- Defending Newcastle players who have joined despite controversy around the takeover
- Manchester United having the right manager to get the best out of Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho
- Premier League top six predictions, including Manchester City beating Liverpool to the title again
Full Transcript Of Interview.
Journalists note: Feel free to use all quotes in publications but please reference Safe Betting Sites UK.
Q: How was your weekend, I saw you were commentating on the German Cup?
Didi: That’s right, I was there on Saturday. Eventful game, eight goals and a good start to the season.
Q: How do you think it went with Bayern, obviously scoring five is great but is conceding three a bit of a worry?
Didi: Yeah, I think so. They didn’t do too much wrong at the back, there were no individual mistakes really where you can say ‘he was at fault for the goal’. One or two more chances and it could’ve been 4-4, which will obviously be a worry because that was their achilles [heel] last season.
Q: Do you think they need to sign another defender, or do you think it’s just teething problems after coming back from a break?
Didi: I think they’ll bring [Konrad] Laimer in from RB Leipzig now, he’s a defensive midfielder and I think he’ll help them. [Matthijs] de Ligt came on for the last 20 minutes and apparently he was short of fitness but I think they’ve got the personnel, they just need to do better.
Q: Sadio Mane played and was quite influential, do you think that’s a great signing for Bayern Munich?
Didi: Brilliant signing, you’ve seen his stats and figures at Liverpool. He was pretty quiet and wasn’t involved too much but what he did was excellent and obviously we know what he’s capable of. He got his first goal which was quite an easy finish but I think he’s a brilliant signing for Bayern.
Q: Do you think he’s the right signing to take over from Lewandowksi?
Didi: They’ve got to play different now I think because they haven’t really got an out- and-out striker anymore, with Lewandowski they had that and he did everything. He held the ball up, could score with both feet, outside the box, with his head, and now they’re playing with Mane and Gnabry up top so the dynamics will change in the team. Whether it will suit them or if it will be successful, it remains to be seen but they will have to play differently without an out-and-out striker.
Q: Liverpool managed to beat Man City in the Community Shield – not what the bookies were expecting after Liverpool’s pre-season, do you think that’s what the real Liverpool look like rather than the losses against Man United and Salzburg?
Didi: Yeah, it is a statement. I think you always have to take results in pre-season with a pinch of salt because Salzburg had started their season a week before, so in terms of fitness they were a few weeks ahead of Liverpool. It wasn’t surprising against United, I think they played a lot of young players and It was by no means their first team. It doesn’t worry me too much, but I have to say it is a bit surprising the way they dominated Man City at times, because the dynamics at Liverpool have changed
with Nunez coming on late in the game and getting a goal which will do his confidence the world of good. I thought psychologically it might be a tough season after falling short in the Premier League and Champions League last season, but there was a statement made on Saturday and we’ll just have to wait and see because Mane will be a big loss but their start couldn’t have been any better.
Q: Darwin Nunez struggled at times in pre-season, obviously Erling Haaland has gone to Man City and all the talk has been ‘who would you rather?’ – in your opinion, who would you pick?
Didi: It’s a tough one, they’re both very physical players. I think Nunez, probably in terms of hold-up and link-up play, does a bit more than Haaland. Nunez might fit into Liverpool’s team better than Haaland does in Man City’s team, because City have never played with a centre forward. Even Sergio Aguero, I don’t think Pep Guardiola was his biggest fan and at times he played with Jack Grealish, Raheem Sterling or Bernardo Silva up top and Gabriel Jesus when he was there who played out wide a lot of the time. It’s a 180 degree change for Pep than what he’s done before, Haaland didn’t score on Saturday even though he should’ve had at least one or two. He will score goals for them, but it remains to be seen again how he fits in because it’s a team that isn’t very direct. City like to penetrate the ball and pass the ball, that’s not Haaland’s game. His hold-up play will never be as good as a Grealish or a Bernardo Silva, or whoever played up top in the past. It’ll be interesting to see how they will play because I think when you have Haaland in the team, I think you have to try to play a little more direct because he’s best when he’s got space and when he can play quick.
Q: Do you see last season as a failure for Liverpool, and do you think they need to win the Premier League or the Champions League for it to be a success this season?
Didi: I certainly wouldn’t see it as a failure to be in contention for all four major trophies with a week to go in the season, it’s an amazing achievement and I’m not sure if we’ll see a situation again where a club can do that. The perception is that they didn’t win an awful lot last season because they fell short of the two biggest prizes. It was a brilliant season but this season I think the focus is winning everything but if they could pick one it wouldn’t be a cup, but the Premier League or the Champions League instead. I think they showed on Saturday that they’re well capable of handling the pressure, but has it left a scar after falling short so late in the Premier League season and falling short against a Real Madrid team that really could’ve or should’ve been beaten in Paris? I think that will be the big question, but if you win two trophies and if that is the two cups again, that is a good season by any means for any club. The Premier League and the Champions League will be the competitions they would like to win this season.
Q: If Liverpool don’t win the Premier League or Champions League this season, do you think Jurgen Klopp will start to feel the pressure?
Didi: It depends what happens, it depends how they fall short – if they finish 3rd or 4th, or if they get knocked out in the last 16, then there might be questions. He took the club to another level from where they’ve been before and I don’t think one bad
season, if they were to have one will change anything. I think Liverpool is very happy with him, the fans love him, there is a connection there which is very important at Liverpool because it is a special and a unique club. Even if they were to go trophyless this season, I wouldn’t think it’ll change too much.
Q: There seems to be a resurgence of German managers in recent seasons, what can you put that down to?
Didi: It’s very hard, I think years ago we had quite a few Spanish managers, some Portuguese, I don’t think there’s a reason for it. What is evident is that there are hardly any English managers in the Premier League and that’s certainly something the English FA has to look at. Jurgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel were both given their first chance at the same club in Mainz, to take their first steps and get their first experience in management. Sometimes you need to be given a chance, and obviously Mainz is known as a club where they stick with managers and give them a chance to express themselves because it’s a well-run club. Maybe the pressure at lower league clubs in England is too much and they get rid of managers too early, and it’s the same in Germany. If managers lose five or six games they’ve got to go, but I wouldn’t think there’s one particular reason. It’s just that we are fortunate to have Tuchel and Klopp, two outstanding managers that have won the Champions League in the last few years, winning titles like Tuchel did at PSG. We’re just fortunate to have them, but I don’t think there’s a particular reason for it.
Q: Do you think that English managers should take the step of moving abroad for their first few jobs?
Didi: I think it will help because Graham Potter is the one who stands out as a manager who went abroad and came back into the Premier League, and it’d certainly help English players going abroad. When you do play abroad, it widens your horizon and then again, for the top players in England the most money is paid in the Premier League so there’s no reason for a Grealish or a Kane or a Sterling when they do move clubs to go abroad unless they want to play for Bayern Munich, Real Madrid or Barcelona. It’s been the case really for the last 20 or 30 years, there’s very few top English players that have moved abroad and that would be the same for managers. I certainly think it would help them to get more out of their careers, and when they step back into England at some stage. If somebody doesn’t want to go abroad, you can’t force them.
Q: You recently described Thiago as one of the most overrated midfielders in Europe, has your opinion changed on that?
Didi: He played some good games last season don’t get me wrong, and I said at the time he’s easy on the eye and when he’s in full flow he’s probably as good to watch as anyone else but I was referring to the Premier League’s Team of the Season – he started 17 games in the league last season and what I was talking about was perception and reality. He’s a very good player, a very capable player there’s no doubt about that but I don’t think a player who started 17 games in the Premier League, less than half the games, should be qualified enough to be voted into the Premier League’s Team of the Season. There was no Fabinho or Rodri in the team, and he’s a link-up player, I know he’s not an offensive player but at the same time
he’s not a defensive player. I think he scored one goal in the Premier League last season, but we just need to see how many games he averages and what he brings to the team. Obviously, it’s down to everyone to have their own opinion – he played well on Saturday, no doubt about it but it’s one game into the season. Let’s speak again in six months on how many games he has averaged and played, and what impact he’s had on the team. I just feel that with him, that perception and reality is far apart which seems to also be the case for Premier League players who vote on that team. They don’t watch full games every weekend because they’re playing themselves and then they’ve got a life and a family to look after as well. I thought it kind of proved my point that with 17 league starts he’s [Thiago] been voted into the Team of the Season which I think is wrong.
Q: Is there anyone you would sign to replace Thiago?
Didi: I think he’s a very unique player, I don’t think you can replace a player like him because I don’t think many players can do what he can do. What Liverpool are missing is someone to score goals from midfield, because they have relied on their full-backs and front three for goals over the last few years. Luis Diaz had a decent start to his Liverpool career, but you need to see if he’s able to average the numbers that Sadio Mane was giving them. At the same time, Darwin Nunez is a different player to Roberto Firmino who is a hold-up player that brings others into play, he’s a player that likes to score himself. Sometimes to take the pressure off these guys, if you are so dominant as Liverpool are, I think they should have a player that scores seven or eight open play goals from midfield because if you look at Manchester City you have Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundogan who I both think reached double figures last season. Liverpool haven’t got that, I think they got 12 or 13 goals from midfield and FabInho got seven of them – two or three could’ve been penalties also. He is Liverpool’s deepest lying midfielder, so I think a goalscoring midfielder or somebody who gets you goals from midfield in open play would be perfect. I think it would help them, but I saw Jurgen Klopp say they wouldn’t be signing any more players. They’re well equipped, but that’s certainly one position because in Jordan Henderson you have a very capable player, James Milner is there, but obviously they’re not getting any younger. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is out for a few weeks again with injury, so that is probably the area where they could be a man short.
Q: Is there any names that you think Liverpool should buy?
Didi: Ah, I’ve never thought about it. I think Youri Tielemans is a very capable player, also James Maddison but he probably plays a bit further forward so there are two players at Leicester City who are very capable. There’s some out there, but then again there’s not too many who average these numbers from midfield.
Q: Do you think Haaland and Kalvin Phillips were the right players for Man City to buy?
Didi: With Haaland, he’s a great centre forward and is young, whether he fits into Man City’s style or the way they play unless Pep Guardiola changes his philosophy, and they play a bit different remains to be seen. His injuries are certainly a worry because he had a lot of muscle injuries last season, and across the last two years and he has been out for quite some time. As we know in England, it’s a more
physical game and it’s something I would worry about. As long as he’s fit and healthy, all good, but we need to wait and see whether he does pick up any injuries and if so how long he could be out for. Similarly with Kalvin Phillips, he’s a defensive- minded player and I think in Rodri they’ve got the best defensive midfielder in the league alongside Fabinho so I’m not too sure where he’s gonna play because when you play with Rodri and a back four with brilliant players, Guardiola likes to have two forward thinking players next to him in Kevin De Bruyne, Bernardo Silva or Ilkay Gundogan. Maybe Grealish who can also play there so I’m not sure where he’ll fit in. Rodri is a very smart player, very clever and is hardly injured so at the moment I can’t see how Phillips will fit into that team.
Q: Do you think this could be a bad move for Phillips in terms of the upcoming World Cup?
Didi: 100%. We’ve got a similar situation here (Bayern Munich) with Jamal Musiala who didn’t play an awful lot last season, he’s probably Germany’s best midfielder at the moment but he found it hard to get into Bayern Munich’s team. It’s different with Phillips, England has got a lot of options in midfield but then again Phillips and Declan Rice played ever so well in the Euros last year and it could harm his chances of going to and playing at the World Cup. We’ve probably got about 25 games until the World Cup now with the Champions League starting again soon, and I would like to think Phillips is going to play at least half or start half of the games but whether he does, I’m not too sure.
Q: What do you think of Newcastle’s transfer business and Eddie Howe, how long do you think it’ll take them to compete for a Premier League title?
Didi: Premier League title I’m not too sure but I think before you win a Premier League title you have to get into the Champions League first because I don’t think they’ll finish 7th or 8th this season and go on to win the league next season. I don’t think they’ll be able to make up 25 or 30 points within a season, so the Champions League will be the first step. I think I can see them there in the next two or three years, even both of the North London clubs have done well. I think Chelsea are going a bit under the radar at the moment and they’ll have a strong team again and at hopefully at some stage Newcastle United will come good again. I think the Premier League needs a strong Newcastle, I can see them in the Champions League in the next three years and maybe competing for a Premier League title in the next six or seven years potentially. It’s not a guarantee, they haven’t signed too many players up until now because obviously everybody knows they’ve got money and if Newcastle want a player it will cost a bit more than everyone else who would be interested. In Sven Botman I think they’ve got a very good player, and they’ve got a talented squad who played a very good second half of the season. I think they finished in the top five in the second half of the season, and I think that answers the question about Eddie Howe, he’s done a brilliant job there.
Q: In regards to Newcastle’s takeover, if you were a player again is this something you would think about before joining?
Didi: As a player, if you’re lucky you’ll have ten years but you might only have five or six because injury can cut your career short and if you’re really lucky you’ll have 12 or 14 years. I don’t blame anybody going to Newcastle, I understand the controversy about the ownership but as a player I don’t think you can think about these things too much because if you have an offer they can double your wage. I’m the last person to criticise anyone going there because if the FA deems these people good enough to take over a club, why should the players question it?
Q: Top six prediction for this season’s Premier League?
Didi: Manchester City, Liverpool, Spurs, Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United.
Arsenal are looking good, they just have to be more consistent. The results have been good, but I think Oleksandr Zinchenko and Gabriel Jesus are two brilliant buys, two very underrated players. If you look at Jesus’ stats, I think they’ll be fine. Even if they finish in the top four behind Spurs, at least it gives them a good shot for next season because if you’re not in the Champions League it gets harder and harder to compete.
Q: Are you surprised at the Zinchenko and Jesus moves to Arsenal?
Didi: Well so far the jury is still out with Mikel Arteta, everybody is saying he’s doing great. They can win five or six games and then go winless for five or six and obviously that’s not the way to get into the Champions League or to compete. At the moment I’d sit on the fence with Arteta, I certainly wouldn’t deem him a success so far, I think he’s done okay, but doing okay at Arsenal is not OK. It’s not enough, but it probably didn’t harm Arsenal’s chances of appointing Arteta – he’s a very charismatic guy, a very good player who I played against for a number of years, and a very smart and clever player who can make players better but he has to do that on a regular basis now. With Zinchenko and Jesus, they’ve been underrated but a team needs players who put their own interests on hold because there a lot of egos at these big teams and you need waterboys. Even though Jesus was a forward player, I think he was a brilliant team player at Man City. I can’t remember one situation where I think he should’ve passed the ball – that’s the same with Zinchenko, and I think this is where City could really miss them throughout the season because you sometimes need players who accept their situation and couldn’t play for two or three weeks. I’m not sure whether Kalvin Phillips or Erling Haaland will accept their situations at City, and Phillips may have to bide his time. He may not play in the first three or four weeks, and he might say that ‘the World Cup is coming up’, and he cost a lot of money so we’ll see but I think those are two brilliant buys for Arsenal.
Q: What is your opinion on the debate between Alan Shearer and Jurgen Klinsmann?
Didi: [laughs] They’re different players, it’s very hard to compare – Shearer obviously decided not to join Manchester United, I think it would’ve been an easier question if he had gone to Manchester and scored the number of goals there which he did at Newcastle. Both players really never played for the top clubs, Jurgen was at Spurs and then he went to Inter Milan where he had a very successful time and then at [Bayern] Munich for one or two seasons but it’s a question I can’t answer. Two very
capable players, very different – both good in the air. Klinsmann probably had a bit more pace after Shearer’s injuries, when he probably lost half a yard but if you look at the goalscoring records of both of them, second to none. I couldn’t pick one over the other.
Q: How do you feel about the World Cup being mid-season?
Didi: FIFA decided it, so there’s no point arguing about it. The only thing I would say is that Australia were knocked out in one of the first rounds because FIFA said they didn’t want a winter World Cup. All of a sudden Qatar come around but they say they can’t play it in the summer because it’s too hot, but that’s something FIFA has to sort out and again we’ve got a lot of discussions on whether teams or players should boycott. If yo’re lucky you’ll play one [World Cup], if you’re lucky you’ll play two and if you’re an outstanding player you might be able to play three or four World Cups. So how can we expect players now to not turn up in Qatar because of the way they treat their workers – if FIFA deemed this place to be capable and safe to host a World Cup then I think it’s absolute nonsense for people to come out and say ‘players shouldn’t go’. It’s not the players decision, they didn’t vote for Qatar. It was the 24 FIFA executives who voted for Qatar and if they vote for it, the players will play there. I think it’s madness that there’s still people out there in whole countries, or teams or single footballers that think players should boycott the World Cup. Yes, we should have a discussion about things and let’s hope that the workers’ rights do improve and I think it’s a big opportunity because the spotlight is on them now. I look forward to this World Cup as much as I have for any other.
Q: Who do you think will have the best squad to deal with the fact that it is mid- season?
Didi: I’m not too sure whether we’ll get too many injuries – maybe we’ll get less injuries because we’re only halfway into the season instead of after a full season. I think you always have to look at France, Brazil played the best qualifying campaign in years and they might be, maybe not favourites, but thereabouts. England missed a great opportunity to win their first title for decades because I think they should’ve won the Euros but they didn’t. I think there are probably five or six teams better equipped than Germany, we struggle going forward and in defence. I think we’re solid, we’ve got three or four players who have really improved but going forward it might be a struggle because Timo Werner might be the starting striker if the World Cup started tomorrow and he’s been pretty disappointing since he joined Chelsea. He might still leave Chelsea, which I think will happen. I’d go with France, but I think England aren’t far away, Brazil, and I do like Spain – in the Euros they had a very young team, and they should’ve beaten Italy in the semi-final. Spain would probably be my pick right now.
Q: If England and Germany face off at the World Cup, do you think England would win again like they did at the Euros?
Didi: I think psychologically it gives England an edge because of last time, I think England showed Germany a lot of respect in the Euros and Germany missed an opportunity there to beat them. Gareth Southgate has been far too cautious, I think in the final he had seven defenders on the pitch when England probably had the best forward line in the competition. If you look at Jack Grealish, Bukayo Saka, Raheem
Sterling, Harry Kane and Jadon Sancho who hardly features and is coming into his own now. At Manchester United, I think he is one of, if not the best winger they’ve got. It’ll give England an edge, but I think the question will be whether we [Germany] can find a centre forward who scores goals in the next six months. If Timo Werner comes back to Germany, there are talks about him going back to RB Leipzig if he were to do so, and if he starts scoring goals and goes to the World Cup full of confidence then it might be a different story but at the moment I’d slightly favour England.
Q: In regards to Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford, do you think they need an arm around their shoulder and how do you think they can get back to form in the Premier League?
Didi: I think they’ve got the manager to do so now. He [Erik Ten Hag] is a manager who can develop players, he did it at [Bayern] Munich when he was in charge of the second team and did the same in Amsterdam with Ajax. If they [Sancho and Rashford] can’t do it under Ten Hag, I think it gets tougher and tougher. You’ve only got so many years to fulfil your potential, and when Rashford burst onto the scene everyone was taken aback by what they saw. His pace, his trickery and his finishing are things we haven’t seen recently, and that’s the same with Sancho. Towards the end of last season, we started to see a bit better from him – the first half of the season was a write-off. I’ve seen him do things here in the Bundesliga that I haven’t seen for many years. Young players need confidence, but they’re not getting any younger but they’ve got a manager now who does know how to get the best out of them and then it’s up to them.