Q: Are there any teams that represent value for Euro 2020/Euro 2021 now they have another 12 months to mature, such as England and Holland?
A: I see the argument that delaying the tournament makes England and Holland better prospects. They have promising young players, but some very experienced heads too.
England should both be in a stronger position next summer, especially with Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford both now likely to be fully fit. Memphis Depay is injured and was due to miss the Euros this summer. He would have been a massive loss for the Dutch, so they will benefit if he is back and firing.
The one team who I think will really benefit is Spain. Luis Enrique is back in charge and now has another 12 months to figure out his best XI. They also have home advantage in the group stages at Bilbao’s San Mames stadium, so should be humming along nicely once the knockouts come around. There’s plenty of experience in the squad too.
Q: Who was the best bet for Euro 2020 top scorer? Are there any players you felt could have made a name for themselves at the tournament?
A: Romelu Lukaku looked the favourite to me, although the betting was going with Harry Kane. Belgium could score a few against Denmark and Finland, and are fancied to go far. Lukaku has been scoring in Italy too.
Erling Haaland is already a household name, but he could really show what he can do if Norway get through the playoffs. Martin Odegaard is another Norwegian who could light up the tournament if they get there. He has been phenomenal for Real Sociedad on loan from Real Madrid this season.
Jadon Sancho is another who could have gone to the next level.
Q: Who had you backed for this season’s Champions League?
A: I think Manchester City have been rightly favourites for the competition, but for me have been too short at times. I think bookmakers in general can be slow to price based on a team’s actual strength and quality and tend to rely too heavily on the team name.
The market was very slow to rate Ajax last year, and it is the same this year with Atalanta. Conversely, I think Juventus have been priced partly on their name and have been too short in the outright (even before losing to Lyon). I would happily lay them.
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Q: How will the top five in England look when the season finally finishes?
A: Liverpool (sadly)
If Wolves don’t win the Europa League then I think they deserve to be in the top five. They have been one of the best English teams this season. Sheffield United merit European football next year too if they don’t win the FA Cup.
Q: What are your thoughts on ending the current Premier League season? Should it be scrapped, or does it need to be played until completion? (when safe to do so)
A: I think it will be played to completion in so far as it settles any debates on relegation, promotion and European places. But it is possible that games that don’t affect those three do not get played.
The TV money for finishing positions could easily be shared between clubs who could have finished 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th etc without too much fuss.
The notion of having playoffs to decide relegation/ promotion/ European places does not make sense to me, as you still need to find space to play the games. If you can have those matches, it wouldn’t be much of stretch to just play the remaining games as is, would it?
Given the stakeholders involved, I think it is in nearly everyone’s interest (bar West Ham and the likes) in getting a resolution and not having the season voided. The 2020-21 campaign can be pushed back to accommodate this.
My thoughts are we will see the remaining games (minus dead rubbers) played behind closed doors in late June and July, with next season not starting until September or later.
The overriding factor in all of this is the health and safety of everyone. Matches (even behind closed doors) should not resume until safe to do so.
Q: Who was your childhood hero?
A: Roy Keane.
Q: Do you still play the beautiful game? If so, what position?
A: I’m still playing 11-a-side and loving it. I played centre midfield for a season when I was 14, but other than that it’s all been at centre-back. I was lovingly described by a team-mate one time of being like Titus Bramble – ridiculously bad one week to sublime the next!
Q: What is your favourite goal of all time?
A: Shane Long v Germany. The chain of events that happened after that were life-changing for me in more way then one…
Q: Who is the most underrated manager in world football today?
A: Gian Piero Gasperini of Atalanta. Before the league was suspended, he guided them to 4th in Serie A, having scored 70 goals (10 ahead of next best Lazio). They are also in the Champions League quarter-finals despite playing ‘home matches’ at the San Siro. All done on only the 13th highest wage bill in Serie A. What a phenomenal achievement so far.
Q: How about the most underrated player in world football?
A: Most underrated is a great question, and I can’t pinpoint an exact player.
For me, Aaron Ramsey is world-class. I would love him at Man United. I think Arsenal messed up big time and should have got more criticism for it. To keep Mesut Ozil on mega-money and let Ramsey go for free was foolish at best.
He had a bad leg break 10 years ago and it took him a while to recover from it, but he’s been a top performer for years now and is underrated by most.
He did it on the big stage with Wales at Euro 2016 and in FA Cup finals too. He’ll no doubt add to his medal haul at Juventus.
I think Saul Niguez at Atletico Madrid is a really good all-round footballer, and also (hold your breath)… Lionel Messi. Because we have become so used to what he does week in, week out, we have become desensitised to it. The man is a genius with a football the same way Leonardo da Vinci or Albert Einstein were in their respective fields.
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