Football interviews you won't find in any magazine
What have you made of the recent goings on at your old club Man City?
“These are very exciting times. Money doesn’t mean everything, it has to be done the right way with the right players to get a natural balance to the team, but I’m sure Mark [Hughes] and his staff are more than capable of doing that. If there’s one thing I would do it would be to look into putting quite a bit of money into the academy system to ensure that source of potential talent doesn’t dry up and instead gets wider and produces even better players.”
Do you think they can really break the stranglehold of the ‘Big Four’?
“With the money that’s now available it’s always a possibility. Chelsea have spent millions and millions of pounds and it’s worked for them but they’ve had the right people pushing them along and I’m sure Mark will be looking to emulate that. If the right player becomes available at least they’ve got the financial clout behind them to make a bid for that player.”
Do you think we’ll see the kind of names being linked with the club actually turning out in a City shirt?
“I’m not into that kind of speculation or making those predictions but Mark will know what he wants to buy and the needs of the team. I think with the way football is going today you need a squad of rich talent not just a team.”
Might the money cause unrest among the current players who will be fearful of being replaced by bigger names?
“I think it will keep players on their toes. If you’re in the team and playing well then there’s no reason you shouldn’t be kept in the team. The knowledge that, if your standards do drop, the club can at the drop of a hat go and buy anybody to replace you will get you working harder in training and working harder in the games.”
If an Arabic billionaire had turned up at Maine Road in the 70s, who would you have like to have seen brought in to play alongside you?
“If there’d been that kind of money you’d be looking at Kevin Keegan, Kenny Dalglish and people like that. We had a really, really good team in the mid to late seventies but if we’d had players of that calibre then they’d have been a fantastic addition to the side. As it happened they went to Liverpool and look at the success they had in that period.”
You’ve worked with a few of the contenders throughout your career as a goalkeeping coach, but who should be England’s number one?
“The manager picks the team and he’s going for the experience of David James at the moment, but there’s going to be a time soon when the other lads are knocking on the door and he’s going to have to give them a chance. As long as they’re playing well at their clubs there’s no real reason why they shouldn’t be given that chance.
Scott [Carson] has been unfortunate enough to play in that game against Croatia where he was branded the villain because he let that goal in, but he’s learned from that mistake and is now with us and has a new identity, a new club to play for with new players and he’s responded fantastically to it. Chris [Kirkland] seems to have got over his injuries and gone to another club, Wigan, and is now producing the goods again. But possession is nine tenths of the law so unless anything drastic happens I’m sure Mr Capello will be loyal to his players and stick with the tried and trusted, but when he has the opportunity to put someone else in I’m sure he will do.”
Was it wrong for Steve McClaren to throw Scott Carson in at the deep end against Croatia last season?
“I think it was wrong for him to be put into a pressure cooker situation like that, the damage had been done in the previous games – England shouldn’t be relying on one game to qualify for a major championship. I think he already has learned from that mistake. It’s made him determined to put that behind him and prove to everybody what a good goalkeeper he is - and he is a really good goalkeeper.”
Some people suggest there’s a shortage of top English keepers at the moment, do you agree?
“When you look at it there’s David James who’s had an illustrious career, even though he had this ‘Calamity James’ tag for a while, he’s played a phenomenal amount of games and played for big clubs then there’s Scott Carson, Chris Kirkland, Paul Robinson, Joe Hart, Rob Green, you could go on. It seems like there’s a group of goalkeepers now that we can actually rely on.
“Being a goalkeeping coach at a Premier League club you see a lot of young keepers and then you realise that we’re not actually as bad as we sometimes make out. What we’ve got to realise is that the foreign keepers like Petr Cech that come over are the top keeper from their country, they’re generally not second or third fiddle, they’re the top man.”
Words: James Maw
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