Roy Keane was a former international teammate of yours. He was recently linked to return to management at Sunderland but ruled himself out the running. Would you like to see him back in management?
Yeah, he’s had the experience with working with Martin O’Neill and has done really well with Ireland so, if he feels it’s the right time to go back, he’d do well. He’s got so much to give, the experiences that he has. He’s proven before he can coach teams and manage teams and any team that he manages will be lucky to have him.
So many players want to play for him, he’s done it all at club level and is a natural leader so if you’re a club looking for that style of manager, he’d be a great fit.
It would be fantastic for the sport to have him back in the dugout. He would have been perfect for Sunderland, he’s a manager who can put clubs back on the right track and Sunderland have lost their way a bit – they need his guidance and experience of how to win football games.
I’m sure there’ll be plenty of other clubs who look at Roy as a potential manager.
Could he join United as a manager?
I wouldn’t be surprised – he can go anywhere he wants. He’s got a great reputation and people will listen to him. Players will follow him as he’s such a strong character. His ability to attract players would be second to none.
He’s obviously got strong connections to United but who knows what direction they want to go now. I wouldn’t rule Roy out of any job though.
City have been in tremendous form in the PL. Could you ever envisage a time where they win 4 or 5 successive titles as we’ve seen with Bayern Munich in Germany and PSG in France?
If they win it this year, it’ll be 4 in 5 years, which in the Premier League isn’t common. The beauty of the Premier League has always been how competitive it has been, as winners change hands every year or two years.
For a club to dominate it like City have been is a tough ask, but what they’ve done since Pep’s been there has been outstanding. The football and style and play they’ve got is the best the league has ever seen.
Obviously, when Man United where successful they were a strong side, but they never had anywhere near as much dominance as City have had.
People doubted whether Pep’s football was suited to the Premier League, but he’s proven them wrong and changed the style of football throughout England.
You see so many managers trying to copy his style of play, so the impact he’s had has been massive.
Can City win the UCL this season?
You’d put City, Liverpool and Chelsea as the three favourites and on any given day they can beat each other. I think Man City have the strongest squad, they can rest players and have quality off the bench to make things work. The disappointment of last year means the players will want to go one better. That’ll be a huge motivator for them.
You can look at the Premier League and easily have them as favourites, but in the Champions League, it comes down to one off moments, luck, injuries, desire. With all that covered though, you put City at the top of the list for sure.
Harry Maguire has come under some criticism for his performances of late. What have you made of his form in recent months?
I think when teams underperform, people look for scapegoats. And Harry Maguire, he’s the captain and so he attracts attention no matter what. I’d imagine by his own admission; he’s not had the best season he’s ever had. I think after the Euro’s a lot of the English players have found it difficult to replicate their form prior to the defeat.
But Manchester United as a team are disjointed – there are plenty of players not having great times, there are holes in their formation, tactical setups that don’t offer enough protection to the defence, so it’s difficult for him.
Look, Maguire has proven over the years he’s a top-quality player, he’s proven for England he’s reliable and if he is having a dip in form, I’m sure he’ll get over it and prove his doubters wrong.
Who do you regard as the best Premier League CB at the minute?
I think the two stand out candidates are Virgil Van Dijk and Ruben Dias. Both have made huge impacts individually and in the league. The impacts they’ve had on their clubs is enormous. You saw how much Liverpool missed Van Dijk last season. Not just terms of his play, but his immense presence on the pitch.
The same goes for Dias at City, since he’s joined, they look a completely different team. When you sign for big clubs like Van Dijk and Dias have, it’s whether you are going to become another player or make the difference.
And them two have made a huge difference. You can see the difference in the team when they do play – defensive records improve, the two of them are both really strong leaders and they have it all at the top level.
I’d have love to have played alongside either of them.
You were at City when they were under new ambitious owners in 2008 – what do you think Newcastle fans can expect? Can NUFC match the trajectory City went on?
As soon as City were bought, there was a change in expectations and demands overnight. Everything needed to be better, from the training ground to the travel facilities.
It rapidly changed and they had a clear vision of how they’ll become the best club in the world.
Obviously, the on-pitch improvements take more time as you need to attract the top players, but with Newcastle you don’t go from being lower mid table to top of the league overnight.
You need to sign players that can take you to the next level, and then the level after that and so on. When you look at Newcastle’s signings, they’re doing that right, signing players to push them up to the top half of the table and once they get there, they’ll go on another recruitment drive to bring in the talent required to challenge for the Champions League places and then the Premier League title.
They can follow the same trajectory as Man City for sure, but the fans will need to wait around 12-15 years before competing for the Champions League. Next season the goal is being a top 8 team.
Could they win the league within 5 seasons? Is that possible?
If their owners are as meticulous and committed as Man City’s have been, then yeah, it’s definitely possible. If you’re serious and you bring in 4 or 5 top players each transfer window, then you’ve got a new squad who believe they can challenge for the title.
You need to go through phases of players you bring in. Once you’ve got those in who push you forward and you’re playing in Europe, even better players want to join and while the Premier League is challenging, if Newcastle are investing and their aim is to be the best, then it’s going to be an exciting time for the fans.