Speaking with safebettingsites.com, former Liverpool and Newcastle defender Jose Enrique has stated that Pep Guardiola will be up there with Sir Alex Ferguson if Man City win the treble. He has also praised Eddie Howe for his campaign with Newcastle this year by saying he should be the Premier League’s manager of the year. He has also slammed La Liga for Vinicius Jr’s red card decision as a result of racism and called for better action.
Q: Harry Kane shone in yet another loss for Spurs, is it time for him to leave for Greener pastures?
JE: ‘’Harry Kane hasn’t spoken about renewing his contract or staying. If he were to leave, the only club that would take him is Manchester United. However, Erik Ten Hag will probably want to go for someone younger – for a long-term project. Harry Kane is still a world class striker regardless of whether he has won anything with Tottenham or not.
“Any club that signs him would have a world class signing in their books. If I was the sporting director of Manchester United I would love him, but for the same price I might get Victor Osimhen. I don’t think Harry Kane will want to leave the Premier League because he wants to be the leading top goal scorer of all time. It’s either Man United or nowhere else. Chelsea are also looking for a striker but I don’t think he will make the move because of the rivalry. He might just stay at Tottenham to be honest.’’
Q: Should Declan Rice stay if West Ham win the Europa conference League?
JE: ‘’Declan Rice is also the same as Harry Kane in terms of moving clubs. If he were to move to a big club like Liverpool, Manchester United or Juventus it would come down to the price. He is young and talented, and the price tends to be high for English players – which is why Manchester City signed Jack Grealish for £100M. I think he will leave West Ham if he wants to compete in the Champions League or win the Premier League. He may leave this summer.’’
Q: Arsenal suffered their second consecutive defeat to Nottingham Forest over the weekend. Were they ever a title contending side or do they need more work?
JE: ‘’Arsenal were definitely title contenders. I thought Arsenal were going to win the league – but it just shows how great Pep and Man City are. It’s been the same for Liverpool in the past who have been competing against Man City for so long. One minute they are behind you, and the next they are above you in the League. I thought that Arsenal had left them behind, but they didn’t win for four games in a row and threw away the league. A lot of people have said that Arsenal should be disappointed, but if you told them at the beginning of the season that they would finish second, I think they would take it. But I do understand if the players were disappointed not to win the league.’’
Q: Vinicius Jr was yet again subject to racist abuse over the weekend and said the ‘’league belongs to racists.’’ You have spent time at La Liga at the beginning of your career, what are your thoughts?
JE: ‘’It is not right what happened to Vinicius Jr. He shouldn’t be subject to being called names week in and week out. It shouldn’t be allowed. They should have stopped the game straight away and fined Valencia. They should make sure that the fans who are doing that never come to the stadium again. I understand that the reaction from Vinicius Junior was not the best, but you have to put yourself in his shoes. If that was you, would you be so calm and collected? I would want to come for everyone in that stadium. It is strange that he had been punished and received a red card. For Vinicius, I believe next time it happens – which it probably will, he should walk away and the team should follow him.
“It’s 2023, he should not have to deal with that. Even if it means banning half the stadium, La Liga should take more action. It happened to Romelu Lukaku in Italy also, so it shows that both Spain and Italy need drastic improvement as well. It was a mistake from the referee. Because he dances, people should be able to abuse him? If they don’t like it they shouldn’t come to the game, simple.’’
Q: Which Premier League Club would Vinicius suit?
JE: ‘’As a player, Vinicius can go anywhere in the world. I would love him at Manchester City, Liverpool or Man United. He is one of the best in the world in one-on-one situations and definitely up there with Neymar and Kylian Mbappe. Right now at Real Madrid, he and Benzema are the most important players there. Real Madrid have the most Champions Leagues out of any team, so if he is fit to be in that squad, he can play anywhere.’’
Q: Manchester City are on course to win the treble with a breathtaking win over Real Madrid. If they secure that, are they the greatest English team ever? Ahead of Man Utd, Liverpool and Arsenal’s great sides?
JE: ‘’Manchester City are currently the best team in the world. It is difficult to compare them to the Invincibles or Manchester United in 1999, because you have to also respect those teams. Also, I don’t think I have watched enough of those teams to compare. It’s like comparing Diego Maradonna and Lionel Messi. I didn’t see Maradona play so it will be difficult to draw a comparison to them. Even without the treble, I don’t think I have ever seen a Premier League team like this before. They are making the Premier League look like a farmers league. It is difficult to say but Manchester City are definitely up there.’’
Q: If Man City win the treble, does that make Pep Guardiola the greatest Premier League manager ever? Better than Sir Alex?
JE: ‘’Sir Alex Ferguson was a manager for 12 Premier League titles for Manchester United when he was manager there. We need to see Guardiola more, and I think he will stay at Manchester City for a lot longer. But what Sir Alex did for Manchester United will be very difficult to replicate. I love Guardiola, he is a top manager. Yes, Man City have a lot of money behind them and it helps Pep a lot, but people don’t know how difficult it is to manage a team like that as well. Look at PSG, they have all the best players in the world but struggle to win the Champions League. For me, he is one of the best ever – but he is not above Ferguson. In his time Fergie was the best and now it is Pep. Wenger is also a Premier League great and probably above Guardiola. If Guardiola wins the treble, he will be up there.’’
Q: Roberto Firmino, Naby Keita, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and James Milner will all leave Anfield next season. What will Liverpool be like without these players?
JE: ‘’The only one who will be missed is Roberto Firmino. He played the most in the past four seasons and was really underrated at Liverpool. He has done the job for many years, but it was his time to go. He is 31 years of age and if Liverpool want to be a team fighting for trophies again, they do need a clear out to introduce more new players.
“This transfer window is going to be the biggest one for Jurgen Klopp because it will be the difference between them fighting for the title again or for them to be a midfielder team. They’re all legends as they have won everything with the club, but it is time for them to leave.’’
Q: If Liverpool fail to compete in the Champions League next season, can they still attract good signings to potentially rebuild their team?
JE: ‘’Liverpool can still attract money signings to the club, but the question is will the owners want to back Klopp? I think they know if they don’t invest, the fans will turn off completely. I think they have to go all the way out. We may not be able to get some of the players that want Champions League football but players like Mason Mount and Alexis Mac Allister will fit perfectly into the squad, there are many players out there. When they signed Salah from Rome, Firmino from Hoffenheim and Mane from Southampton they weren’t the biggest players there, and you don’t need the biggest names to be successful.
“We had the chance to sign Bellingham but didn’t. Even if we had Champions League football we won’t pay £150m for one player. We can get top players and can still be successful and compete.’’
Q: As of late, Diogo Jota has been favoured over Darwin Nunez to start in Liverpool’s games. Would it be hard to describe Nunez as a flop?
JE: ‘’Darwin Nunez is not a flop. Klopp’s style of play doesn’t suit Nunez. Nunez likes to run behind the defenders and into space, Whilst Klopp likes a number nine that drops deep with wingers playing as strikers. I don’t believe he is a flop, but I don’t see Darwin Nunez becoming world class like Mo Salah, Firmino and Sadio Mane. I hope I am really wrong. It is too early to call him a flop. I would play Cody Gakpo and Diogo Jota ahead of him up front and on the left side, where he sometimes plays, I would play Luiz Diaz ahead of him. He is not a starting player for Liverpool if everyone is fit.’’
Q: What do you think about Jurgen Klopp’s two match ban? Is it justified?
JE: ‘’Emotions got the best of Klopp, and sometimes it is better to stay quiet in these situations. When the referee makes a mistake, they are not punished as much, however when a player makes a mistake, they are punished severely. The referees have been poor across many games this season and haven’t been punished and I think the rules should be the same for everyone.
“The decision was fair in all honesty. Klopp was probably right in what he said, but at the end of the day it was better to be quiet because the only thing that can happen is that he can be suspended.’’
Q: What three players would you like Liverpool to sign in the summer?
JE: ‘’Alexis Mac Allister would be a good signing, Jude Bellingham would be unbelievable and I would love Moises Caicedo at Liverpool. Those three signings are players I would like to have. I love Caicedo.
“Then I will go for a right-back, particularly Denzel Dumfries from Inter Milan but he would want to come to Liverpool to play and not compete. We would definitely need a defender – depending who leaves in the summer. I would also go for a centre-back as well.’’
Q: As Southampton are set to go to the Championship next season, should Liverpool make a swoop for James Ward-Prowse?
JE: ‘’The problem with James Ward-Prowse is his age. He is 28 years of age. Liverpool like to sign younger players in their squad and I don’t think they will go for him. I like him a lot and I think he will fit into the Liverpool squad very well, but for what they are asking for I don’t think they will need him as a player. If they were to sign Alexis Mac Allister, you would be guaranteed a player that has played on the main stage, and can handle the pressure. If you can play for Argentina, you can play for anybody. I don’t think Liverpool will be interested in James Ward-Prowse.’’
Q: Trent Alexander-Arnold has been featured in a hybrid role as of late between the defence and midfield. Should this be the way for him going forward?
JE: ‘’Yes, this can be good for Trent. I don’t understand why people are so obsessed with it though. Arteta has done it with Oleksandr Zinchenko the whole season, Pep has done it with Cancelo before he went to Bayern Munich. John Stones has also played as a midfielder coming in from his right back or centre back role.
“I like Trent there in that role when we have the ball because right now we don’t have a midfielder that can distribute the ball like Trent can. Alexis Mac Allister can do that if he comes here because he has that quality. I think Trent and Kevin De Bruyne are the best right-footed players in the league and top two in the world.
“I like his role, but at the end of the day he is a right back. He has been the best for two or three years in that role. I like the vision he has but his position is a right back.’’
Q: Should Eddie Howe win manager of the year? If not, who?
JE: ‘’With Pep and Mikel Arteta also in the mix, it is very hard to make Eddie Howe a winner as Pep and Arteta have done wonders in Europe. But if it is down to the Premier League, It is more difficult to do what Eddie has done than what Pep has done this season. Even if Newcastle were to finish fifth, people will still be like ”Wow, what a great season.’’ What Pep has done is incredible, but Eddie deserves it.’’
Q: Can Nick Pope make a case to be England’s number one keeper ahead of the Euros?
JE: ‘’Gareth Southgate is very loyal to the players he likes in that squad. Look at Maguire. He doesn’t feature much for Man United and he is still in England’s starting 11. If Everton get relegated, Pickford won’t be in the starting 11 as you can’t have a championship keeper between the posts for a national side, even if he is really good. I would be surprised if he does.’’
Q: On current form, is Alexander Isak on his way to being one of a Newcastle legend in the mould of Shearer, Ginola and Keegan?
JE: ‘’It is too early for Alexander Isak to be compared to Alan Shearer. He does really well as a striker and plays on the left wing. The problem with him is his injuries. If he can stay injury free, then he will become a Newcastle legend for sure. But to compare him to Ginola, Shearer and Keegan, he needs more time at Newcastle before we can ask that question again.’’