Last Updated: 12 June 2023, Author: AceOdds.com

Dwight Yorke Interview

  1. So, one of the main areas Manchester United need to strengthen is their forward line. Harry Kane has been touted as a target, but are there any other standout candidates that you think Erik ten Hag should pursue?
  2. On some wide forwards now, Jadon Sancho has looked a shadow of the player that United bought from Borussia Dortmund. Under three managers now, he hasn't really jelled under Ole, Rangnick or ten Hag. Do you think next season is a bit of a last-chance saloon for him?
  3. Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher sparked plenty of debate with their combined XI from United's '99 treble-winners to the current Man City side. What do you think your attack would look like if you were to put one together?
  4. How many players in Man City's current side do you think will get into that treble-winning team?
  5. And who do you think ranks higher in terms of the greatest manager of all time? Pep Guardiola or Sir Alex Ferguson?
  6. What was it like for you, as a striker, to have a creator and crosser like David Beckham in the team, and how crucial was it to the success of the team?
  7. And how was David Beckham's relationship with Sir Alex Ferguson during the good times, like the 1999 treble-winning season? And how did that sour over the course of your time at Manchester United?
  8. So as someone who had occasional issues with Sir Alex, was his behaviour towards his players sometimes a bit too extreme, do you think?
  9. So, what must ten Hag achieve next season, both in the Champions League and the Premier League, to keep the momentum building, and will supporters expect a title challenge?
  10. And Unai Emery is doing a cracking job at Aston Villa, but how far can he take them and his Champions League a realistic target for them next season?
  11. So looking back at your experience in the A-League as a player and as a coach, what stands out as the biggest achievement and your biggest disappointment while there?
  12. Australia reached around the round of 16 of the last World Cup, for only the second time. Graham Taylor isn't afraid to give youngsters a chance. Have any young Aussie players caught your eye?
  13. So Ange Postecoglou is on the verge of winning the treble at Celtic and there's been speculation he could move to the Premier League. Do you think he has what it takes to succeed in England and which club do you think would be a good fit for him?
  14. So did anyone at Aberdeen speak to you after you declared your interest in the manager's job?
  15. Were you disappointed that they didn't even reach out after you had declared interest?
  16. The Hearts job is also currently available. Would you be interested in that, and do you feel you could achieve the stated ambitions you had with Aberdeen, as in challenging and breaking up the Celtic/Rangers dominance?
  17. So with the financial gulf and points difference in the league so vast between the old firm, when you are chasing the pack, how do you think you can go about breaking up that monopoly?
  18. Celtic striker Kyogo Furuhashi has netted 30 times this season and 50 in total for Celtic since his arrival. How do you rate him as a striker? Does he rank alongside anyone you've played with, and could you see him playing at the top European club?
  19. You've played at the highest level in club football and won the Champions League, what would it take for Celtic or Rangers to go beyond the group stages? And would you recommend any players they should be eyeing up to being on board?
  20. Everyone remembers yours and Andy Cole's partnership for Manchester United. Do you think we'll ever see a traditional strike partnership come back into fashion again in football?
  21. There's been a bit of debate online where Manchester United fans are getting asked, would you take a loss in the FA Cup final if it meant a guarantee that City don't win the Champions League? Where would you stand on that argument?
  22. So you obviously won the League Cup with your boyhood club, Aston Villa. How do you think that feeling compared to all the trophies you won later on in your career?
  23. And what do you think the key difference that Unai Emery is making for Aston Villa compared to Stephen Gerrard's time in the role earlier on in the year?
  24. You signed for Sunderland under Roy Keane. What was it like to work under your former captain?
  25. So do you think this Arsenal side was a touch too immature to deal with the title race this early in their careers?
  26. They've dropped a serious amount of points in these last 10 games, as you just alluded to there. Do you think that will impact them negatively next season, or do you think they'll be back in the title race again next year?
  27. Who was the toughest defender you ever came up against and why?
  28. If you had to make a five-a-side team of all the players you've played with throughout your career, who are you going for?

Interview with Dwight Yorke

Coming hot on the heels of our engrossing interview with Manchester United legend Gary Pallister, we are thrilled to present an insightful dialogue with his former teammate, Dwight Yorke. The celebrated striker from the '99 treble-winning squad expounds on issues such as United's need to strengthen their forward line, the trials faced by Jadon Sancho, and the hotly contested comparison between United's treble-winners and today's Man City side.

So, one of the main areas Manchester United need to strengthen is their forward line. Harry Kane has been touted as a target, but are there any other standout candidates that you think Erik ten Hag should pursue?

Well, the Harry Kane scenario, he is obviously a proven goal scorer. So that's pretty much an easy decision in terms of that.

In terms of the future of the club, in terms of taking the club, someone with the potential of being at the club for five years, to integrate into the culture of Manchester United.

Maybe that striker from Napoli, Victor Osimhen. He's the one that seems to have a really good record, a good repertoire of young excitement, although he's unproven in terms of the Premier League.

He's the only other person that I think is currently a number nine, which seems to be a position that used to have lots of really, really good players, but at the moment doesn't seem to really produce that type of number nine anymore.

On some wide forwards now, Jadon Sancho has looked a shadow of the player that United bought from Borussia Dortmund. Under three managers now, he hasn't really jelled under Ole, Rangnick or ten Hag. Do you think next season is a bit of a last-chance saloon for him?

Yeah, it's one of a mystery, really. He had so much potential and hope for the likes of Manchester United. Huge investment, really done an amazing job when he was at Dortmund.

Somehow the transition from there to Manchester hasn't really worked out in the way that we all thought it might for him. Really struggled, whether it's from a mental point of view, which seems to be well documented. He hasn't really really lived up to the price tag.

So yeah, he's on borrowed time, I suppose, if you have to be fair in many respects. He hasn't really produced the goods that we expect him.

So yeah, maybe to be given another chance to think there's another lifeline for him if that were to happen. But yeah, he's on borrowed time as far as I'm concerned.

Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher sparked plenty of debate with their combined XI from United's '99 treble-winners to the current Man City side. What do you think your attack would look like if you were to put one together?

Well, to be quite honest, people go on about this debate that's continuing to unravel. Why are we talking about it? They haven't even done the treble. Until they really have, then there is no debate.

You know, there is a high possibility, I suppose, that they can do the treble. But that's great. If they do, they will be joining an elite group of players. You know, no other British team hasn't done that. It's not like they're going to try and eclipse what we have done. And so I just don't get it.

You know, these guys, ex-players, whatever, get into these really peculiar discussions, which are really of no significance. Until they have done that, then let the debate start. You're arguing something that has not happened yet. And until they've done that, then I just really think it's an invaluable sort of debate.

What if they were to lose one out of the next two cup competition that they enter into? So that debate will never exist. So come on, guys, just tell them to grow up both of them. You know, they're going on about stuff that I don't feel that is really needs debating just now, in my opinion.

Maybe it's good for the viewers and people out there to get involved and interact. And I like, as I said, they're joined in a group of elite. You know, it's not like they come in and go, wow, they've done something that we haven't done.

They're coming into a group of players that is the only British team to have done it. So as far as I'm concerned, it's a debate that hasn't really warranted at this point. It may warrant in a couple of weeks' time, but for now, it just doesn't seem to have any value.

How many players in Man City's current side do you think will get into that treble-winning team?

One.

And he might not even get into the team, he might just be on the bench: Kevin De Bruyne.

Why would we change our striking attack when we scored all those goals? It doesn't make any difference to me. One, though he is an exceptional player.

I like Haaland. I think he's great. I think he's for everything. I've always raved about him. I've said to everybody, even United three/two years ago, buy this kid for £150 million.

His potential is... he can probably be on the bench, of course, but why would you change myself and Coley, Ole and Teddy in terms of what we brought and what we want.

It doesn't make any sense, guys.

And who do you think ranks higher in terms of the greatest manager of all time? Pep Guardiola or Sir Alex Ferguson?

Yeah, Pep has revolutionized in the game in terms of the system and the way he's trying to transform, you know, overloaded in midfield with a defender coming into midfield and trying to play that, you know, free-flowing games.

Well, we played a free-flowing 4-4-2. Get the ball forward, get it into wide areas, get the ball in the box, two strikers get on the end of it. You know, so 25 years ago, that was the system that everybody wanted to play.

And here we are now with Pep coming in and doing what he's done and a great manager in his own rights. And of course he deserves all the applause that he's getting at this current stage because he's a terrific manager.

Greatest manager ever... What are we basing it on, trophies at the moment? Because if it is, I think Sir Alex Ferguson. We were free-flowing and we played some exciting football. You look at his team in 2008 with the likes of Ronaldo and Rooney and Tevez and that kind of combination was unplayable at times.

So again, it's another debate, isn't it? It seems to be the new thing in and around England at the moment, everyone trying to compare each other with the style of play. But at the end of the day, it's about getting results and these both sets of managers play this particular way, but get results in the same way, in the same manner. All right,it might be a different style, but they're getting the results. And that, for me, is more important.

At the end of the day, you can play whatever style you like, if you are getting the job done, then it's relevant what type of styles. But I suppose we are in the 21st century, and Pep's just... brought it on a little bit more in terms of a little bit more adventurous in terms of bravery.

Allowing defenders to step in in certain positions to make that overload and make it, sort of, I won't say even an advantage because at the end of the day it's 11 v 11. There are still 11 players. It's not like it's something that you can't really get to grips with. It's just that people are not prepared to go in there and really do the battle with them.

But yeah, in answer to your question, I just think that right now at the moment, I think Pep has the potential to go past so Alex Ferguson. But right now I would say Sir Alex is the top man.

What was it like for you, as a striker, to have a creator and crosser like David Beckham in the team, and how crucial was it to the success of the team?

Yeah, magnificent. I think the one thing I recognize that when I done that transfer from Villa to United, not only was I joined in an elite group of players with a fantastic manager, there was this particular style of play.

I felt like I needed to change my game slightly, certainly in the early stage where I used to come deep and sort of be that link guy at Villa and connect the team from midfield to the attacking positions.

And then when you got someone like Becks who, with the qualities that he does possess, which is delivering the football at an incredibly consistent level, you just realize that you didn't need to come into those pockets or areas to make that link.

And if I did, then when the ball gets to David and gets to Giggs on the opposite side, the ball would come in with such quality. And if you're not in a position to get on the end of it, it would bypass you.

And so the first, I would say the first two to three weeks, I recognized very early that I didn't need to get involved in the midfield area.

So Becks was instrumental to me scoring the goals that I've scored and likewise, Giggs on the opposite side was quite incredible. The team that I played at United was undoubtedly the best team in Britain for a very, very long time.

And the combination in midfield works extremely well with Scholes quality passing and vision in midfield, with Roy Keane's tenacious and leadership quality. It was just the perfect balance.

And so football was such a joy to play at that particular time. So to single out Becks just alone was a little bit, you know, far-fetched, in my opinion, because the quality was all around in that team.

And how was David Beckham's relationship with Sir Alex Ferguson during the good times, like the 1999 treble-winning season? And how did that sour over the course of your time at Manchester United?

It's like anything else, isn't it? I mean, when you think about being in a relationship when it's all going well, and you cross the T's, and you dot all the I's, and everything is fine. Everyone is happy, and you're winning football matches, and you just think of it in a relationship form. It's great, isn't it?

Everybody's happy-go-lucky, and we're playing football and laugh and joke and da-da-da... They come to a point where you come to a difficult stage of your career. Whether you're playing, whether you're in the media too much, the manager is a little bit edgier than before, and he's not as friendly as he is, or your form is deteriorating, not being as consistent as you have been.

Those relationships do take their toll because, you know, now that I'm a manager, you're not just managing that individual, but you've got to manage the rest of the team and manage the other players who are seeing dip in form and you're still, you know, not performing as well.

Like I said, it's like anything else, and it's not just deteriorate. It's just come a stage after a number of years that, whether it's form, whether the relationship is taking a turn for the worse in many respect, or you get a little bit older, you're not as fast as you are. And there are so many factors there for a relationship going a little bit sideways.

And it's no different in football. You know, you see it. We've seen it even the best of the best. When you're out of form, and you get a little bit old, these clubs move you on.

And so Alex Ferguson, I think for all the greatness he has achieved and been the father figure as we all keep saying that he is, he is a fair manager. There's no gray areas with him. There's black and white.

Either you perform and perform at a high level, if you don't, you out the team and they move you on. And you bring in other individuals who are younger, faster and eager to be part of United. And that's just what it is.

So as someone who had occasional issues with Sir Alex, was his behaviour towards his players sometimes a bit too extreme, do you think?

No, I don't think so. It probably can be. Some people might view it that way. He had his own way and his own style, and he was within the right to say what he did.

We knew that if you, you know, there were guidelines and protocols to follow within the system of Manchester United. And if you fall out of those protocols and don't follow the guidelines, you've been punished. I've been punished for not following the guidelines at times and I think that is a fair assessment of how it should be.

Because at the end of the day, like I said, you're not just managing an individual, you're managing an organization. You're managing 28 players, which are challenging for 11 spots. So the 11 that is playing, you've got to manage the other 17 players who aren't as well. And they're looking and seeing, they're trying to get into the team and you've got to manage that.

And I think the way of the game is gone. His method, would it work? I think it would, but he would have had to tread a little bit more light in terms of some of the things he may have said.

Because simply there is just so much scrutiny that is there, not that it wasn't there before, but there is so much scrutiny and guidelines from a manager's standpoint as well, now that you have to make sure that you stay within those guidelines yourself.

So, yeah, every manager has a way and he's been successful doing it that way. And it's very hard to point your finger at someone when they're that successful.

So, what must ten Hag achieve next season, both in the Champions League and the Premier League, to keep the momentum building, and will supporters expect a title challenge?

Yeah, listen, he's done tremendously well this season. Considering when he came in, a little bit unknown, although he's made a really tough decision in getting rid of Ronaldo, which was something that could have gone belly-up in his face.

But he shows that he's a strong manager, he has a strong belief in his philosophy, as we say in the game, which is great to see. You've got to back yourself in those situations. He's been able to do that.

I think the fact that he's gone on to win the Carabao Cup, which is great. Obviously, huge disappointment going out of Europe. And then of course, being in the final of the FA Cup, you know, in two weeks time, we are here sitting, you know, qualified for Champions League, won two cups, that's a hell of a season.

You know, when you think of the turnaround that he has. And I think that's how he will want the season to end. Can he put a dent in the fact that this treble-winning conversation probably won't take place if that were to happen, right? So we are hopeful in that sense.

And then next season, you think, where do you go from that? I think the way it has to be improved is the league. The league has to be closer to City, without a doubt.

I don't think having the likes of Newcastle finishing ahead of us and Arsenal finishing ahead of us is something that we will be happy about. I think it's acceptable at this stage, but certainly next season, it won't be accepted in the sense that he had now given us possibly two trophies in this conversation.

If that were to happen, then I think the league is something that we need to target and getting closer to City and finishing in that second position and a bit closer to possibility with a chance of being top, I think that will be very realistic.

And, you know, I say unfortunate, but that's what is expected when you're at Man United. That's the name of the game. You and you at such a big club, and you expect the expectation there is huge. And when you start winning, they want more. And that will be the case next season.

And Unai Emery is doing a cracking job at Aston Villa, but how far can he take them and his Champions League a realistic target for them next season?

Yeah, I'm happy about Villa. It's obviously no secret there. I've done nearly 10 years of playing at that football club and I've watched it very closely over the years.

In terms of the ups and downs of that football club and to see the transformation since Unai Emery comes in, since he came in there and done a remarkable job in the turnaround.

Villa has always been a top-six club in British football, the history behind that football club. Huge fan base. Really been underachieving over the years, but huge, really wealthy owners, owners with a big aspiration for the football club to try and get to the level where Newcastle is and try to break in that top four.

European football would be a great transition for Aston Villa in terms of where they were and where they are now, that would mean a real big step for that football club. And I really do hope that they can really get into that European spot.

If they do, that would be a really fantastic platform for them to really build and go forward. So, delighted with the progress that they are making at this current stage.

So looking back at your experience in the A-League as a player and as a coach, what stands out as the biggest achievement and your biggest disappointment while there?

I think it's obvious the biggest achievement is being given the opportunity to manage at a club that has only been three years into the A-League and obviously gone on to win the cup and get them qualifying for Asia Champions League. It's quite remarkable in such a short space of time.

The disappointment obviously comes with the fact that having to leave the club in the way that we did. Really felt for the players. I felt they were cheated in the sense that we were making good strides and a strong possibility of being in that top four, top six. Of getting a chance to try and win another competition. I think the players have been cheated by that in my opinion.

And then, of course, just the way how the whole thing unfolded at that particular time wasn't particularly great. But huge, huge admiration in getting that job and a learning experience for me as an aspiring coach. Of trying to be the very best and trying to get to the very top of the ladder.

The experience that I gained in that particular seven months, it's quite remarkable, loved every minute of being in and around the players, what we've done and what we've created at the football club to have won the first-ever trophy for that club.

As I said, I'm very proud of my achievement there and I had over 50% win percentage in the period of time I've been there. So yeah, that in itself is a real positive. On the flip side of that, obviously disappointed with the way how things have been done there.

I'm gone, and I just felt that the players deserve a lot better than what they have. I felt for the players, not so much for me. I will get up and dust myself down and get on with it and get another opportunity.

I felt that there was a chance was that missed in a great sense for the players of trying to win another competition. I think that was the biggest disappointment in my opinion.

Australia reached around the round of 16 of the last World Cup, for only the second time. Graham Taylor isn't afraid to give youngsters a chance. Have any young Aussie players caught your eye?

Yeah, there was a couple actually. And you look back at my reign there at Macarthur, there were a couple of young players that I was very impressed by.

And as I said, as the season progressed, we could see some of these younger players really sort of forcing their way into the team. But unfortunately, that didn't quite work out that way.

I think the young kid that is obviously the Newcastle kid, Kuol. He was the one that Newcastle had brought. He really excited me. I had him in the All-Star team. Looked a little bit fragile, weak, but real talent in terms of his control, the way he saw the game. And then we seen a huge development in the last six months.

So Ange Postecoglou is on the verge of winning the treble at Celtic and there's been speculation he could move to the Premier League. Do you think he has what it takes to succeed in England and which club do you think would be a good fit for him?

Yeah, what you're saying about the transition is that, I mean, once you go to one of the top two teams in Scotland, that the potential of winning things between the two clubs, let's be clear about that.

And the fact that he has done a remarkable job, you know, a little bit unknown when he first took the job in terms of what he's done seemed like a trend for the Australian coaches. They go from the A-league then to Japan, and then from Japan to opportunity in Scotland, and then obviously getting the Celtic job, which is obviously, if not one of the biggest clubs or one of the two biggest clubs in Scotland, as we say. And done a remarkable job.

Winning the treble, he's always got a look at that. It would always be them or Rangers in these kinds of scenarios. Fantastic. Still, you know, we've seen managers done, then I think Brendan Rogers has done something similar, and Neil Lennon has done that sort of time there as well. So I'm not sure if they all done the treble, but they always in with a shout of creating the treble.

So, you know, when you do well, it's like anything else, doesn't matter what league you are in, and whatever standard you coaching and if you are successful as a manager, which he is now, then you're always going to have that attraction of trying to get to the Premier League.

And every manager, as you know, ideally would like to be in the best league, and the best league is in the Premier League. So no surprise that he is linked to a possible job. I'm not sure if he would get one of the top four teams or one of the top five, but there is always a middle-of-the-road team there that, somewhere along the line, the likes of Leicester probably getting relegated might be an attraction for him because of the parachute and the players that they have. But we all know how that changes when you go down to the Championship if they get relegated.

And so there are a few other clubs in there that I'm sure they will take a chance with him because he's obviously done the business up in Scotland. And why would you not? Because he's been successful, and I know people will probably try to, you know, undermine the level of teams in Scotland, which is always the case out there. But at the end of the day, you can only beat the teams in front of you. And he's been able to do that consistently.

So I won't be surprised if he's linked to a few jobs in England come the summer.

So did anyone at Aberdeen speak to you after you declared your interest in the manager's job?

No, I didn't have a direct conversation with anyone there. And I recognized from the time my time was up at Sydney, I was obviously out of a job and saw that. I understand the Aberdeen job was a big job in terms of the history behind it. And of course, having Sir Alex Ferguson that I knew about the job, I put a call in to Sir Alex and I had a conversation about it and if there's a possibility.

I knew it was always a challenge, always a tough gig to try and get. And that was as far as where the conversation was ended. And, you know, there was nothing there to sort of go on about because, you know, the boy Ferguson has done a great job and he's been in place there now as a new manager. So there's no conversation there.

Were you disappointed that they didn't even reach out after you had declared interest?

No, I won't say I'm disappointed. It's just what you're kind of expecting now. It's always been the case. It's not, you know, the game holds you no favours and it doesn't mean that they have to speak to you.

Although it would have been nice had they sort of acknowledged the fact that you were interested in the job. But I get to understand that now that I'm in the game, I'm in the management department.

I understand that, you know, there will be knockbacks and the more they knock you back, the more you're determined to succeed and this is just another setback, but a setback that continued to inspire me to continue to push forward and try to get a job, to continue to show what I'm capable of doing when I do get those jobs.

The Hearts job is also currently available. Would you be interested in that, and do you feel you could achieve the stated ambitions you had with Aberdeen, as in challenging and breaking up the Celtic/Rangers dominance?

Yeah, listen, I wouldn't turn my nose up at any job. I just think that these clubs are huge in history in their own rights and Hearts is a big club in Scotland, as we all know.

The reality is that they haven't reached out to me and I haven't applied for the job. Although I do stress that I will look at all option that is available to me. And if that discussion was to take place, I would like to have that conversation and see where it goes.

But at this current stage that is not the case and we will continue to look at the opportunities that are out there for me to try and get back into management.

So with the financial gulf and points difference in the league so vast between the old firm, when you are chasing the pack, how do you think you can go about breaking up that monopoly?

I think at the end of the day, it's like this, it's all cliche, you've got to take care of you.

The fact that when you go to a club, you've just got to change your narrative and change your mindset and build that culture, and the word philosophy is used in our game now.

Those are the things that you need to build that culture in and around the football club. I think often enough, you know, yeah, we respect the huge, the big clubs, and quite rightly so because of what they have done and what they have achieved, but it's not unbeatable.

We've seen these teams have been, you know, being able to be beaten in the past, but to just install a little bit more belief and a little bit more faith in the way they play and get good organization.

You know, I think that's always the case because, at the end of the day, it's still 11 v 11. You know, it's not that they are unbeatable. These teams are very capable of getting beat on any given day.

And I think that when you when you look at Scottish football, I just feel that they just need to change the mindset. I've always been a real positive individual. I never really accept that they can't be beaten. Yes, they may be superior in terms of squad and that type of stuff. But once you get out on the pitch, there is a different motive there.

And I do believe that part of my coaching philosophy and the positive ideas that I do bring to my teams is something that is doable. I'm not saying that I will do, but at least we'll have a go at them.

I think that's the big difference in my approach because you're kind of expecting to get beat anyway because of what they possess. If you set up correctly and install a little bit more belief and change the narrative and change the culture, then... you can get closer to these teams.

Celtic striker Kyogo Furuhashi has netted 30 times this season and 50 in total for Celtic since his arrival. How do you rate him as a striker? Does he rank alongside anyone you've played with, and could you see him playing at the top European club?

I've been impressed with him, actually, to be quite honest. His movement has been great. You know, he's scoring goals. He gets into the right position.

Yeah, he's a threat. And he's, you know, when the more goals you score, as any centre forward you are, you get more confident in terms of what he's done and how he goes about it. He deserves a lot of credit. Huge respect to him.

He's a little bit petite in terms of his size and leading the line. But his movements are good and that's a plus as a striker because you need good movements if you have to be a number nine, and he seems to do that extremely well.

But it's always unknown, isn't it, how many of the players have actually left Scotland and come down to England and sort of really hit it off to a level. Not too many in my time.

In the 30 years I've been involved in British football, I haven't really seen a massive amount that left that Scottish football and sort of come here and really tear it up.

Maybe he can be a good fit for maybe the middle-of-the-road, sort of Premier League team. In terms of the big boys, I'm not sure if he can cut it there, but as I said, if I was one of the lesser team, I'd probably take a chance with him for sure.

And until you really see him at that level, you're kind of hard to predict because, as I said, the uncertainty in Scottish football. You know, never really reflect how good you really are. But I go back to defending that because you can only play against the opposition. What you're playing against, week in week out, on the quality that you play. That's not his fault.

But as I said, he's continuing to impress with his goalscoring, his movements are good. And you'd be interested to see what it would be like if he comes into the Premier League.

You've played at the highest level in club football and won the Champions League, what would it take for Celtic or Rangers to go beyond the group stages? And would you recommend any players they should be eyeing up to being on board?

Well, we've seen Celtic, you know, even at their best, they were with the players like Larsson and then all these guys before. The history behind the football club and Celtic and Rangers and Barry Ferguson and Ally McCoist and, you know, you go back a generation or two.

You know, these teams always have great and great nights and great Champions League games when you turning on the TV, the atmosphere up in Glasgow and in Celtic Parkhead is absolutely sensational and you think they deserve a lot of that, but they really hardly ever get out of the group stage of them. They very rarely do.

So again, that's something that they probably would like a little bit more frequently to be getting past that group stage, which they haven't been able to do a lot in the time.

So, as much as they dominate in the Scottish league, again, when you make that transition into Europe it's just a different kettle of fish, different quality, different style, different quality of players, and you really have to be at your very best.

I do believe sometimes the likes of Celtic and Rangers don't have to be at their best when they're playing in Scotland to win games. The difference is when you come to the Champions League, you have to be at your best every time. There is no easy road or easy passage or easy games to any of these qualities.

So the transition is one that is very difficult. I've known for years that they've been trying and they have made good progress in that sometimes, but it's just not been consistent enough to them to really be tested. And it would be remarkable it's been done. The great Sir Alex Ferguson have done that with Aberdeen.

And I'm sure for all the supporters and all the fans in both Rangers and Celtic. We'd love to see one of them get to one of those stages in the knockout stages. But yeah, there's some work there to be done. And I think it's not impossible. It's very possible.

And you look at Celtic right now, they are preparing for the treble. Again, you would think with that sort of consistency domestically, you would think they would be closer in some way in Europe, but they're not even close.

As I said, they're huff and puff, as we say in England, huff and puff, but not really making that huge transition that we would like to see them do.

And not sure whether that's just a cultural thing or mentality or just kind of being accepted. Dominating the domestic league like they are, is just something that they're just used to and happy to just continue in that vein and rather than really saying, right, we need to get to the knockout stages of the Champions League next year.

Everyone remembers yours and Andy Cole's partnership for Manchester United. Do you think we'll ever see a traditional strike partnership come back into fashion again in football?

Yeah, I do think that will come back. I just think that with what Pep has done, certainly the Barcelona era and obviously now at the Premier League in terms of that.

I just think football is a cycle. You know, we used to, I mean, obviously I'm pretty much a much senior, very senior person now, but you know, someone stepping into midfield is something that we did 35 years ago.

We used to play with a libero, what you call a libero, one guy sweeping up at the back, the next one stepping in, and you know, you kind of seeing that sort of regenerate in a different way.

Back in the days, maybe it wasn't TV, wasn't the stacks that, you know, you see in these kinds of formation, wasn't there panned out as much, but the formation has been there for years.

So, yeah, I think it's just revolutionizing the whole process and I think when we played that two strikers Celtic play with Larsson and Sutton, you name it, that was the trend.

Now the trend is playing with a number nine at the moment and that will probably be around for a little bit longer, but eventually they will come back to two because the game is about entertainment, the game is about getting balls in the box and people scoring goals and the beauty of diving headers and stuff is kind of... unfashionable now, you haven't seen one of them for a while.

You know, people was kind of going through the air and launching themselves to score one of those type of goals. So I do believe it will come back, but it will at the moment with Pep doing his thing and everyone is trying to obviously copy that because he's not been consistent with it. But yeah, it'll be a matter of time.

I was saying probably in five years time, you'll see that go back into 4-4-2 because once you start being successful again in a formation that is revolutionizing the game, everyone tends to switch to that, which is what we are doing right now. Everybody is doing what Pep is doing or trying to do what Pep did.

There's been a bit of debate online where Manchester United fans are getting asked, would you take a loss in the FA Cup final if it meant a guarantee that City don't win the Champions League? Where would you stand on that argument?

Yeah, I mean, ideally, because it's such a unique thing to have, and it's been 24 years since that record has been, and it's obviously there is a possibility that they can. Ideally, you want to hold that record as long as possible. You got to be a little bit selfish in that.

I won't grudge them if they do. I'm not that inclined. Like I said before, they're joining us. They're not surpassing. They join an elite group, so I'm happy to welcome them if they do. So they will understand what that treble-winning team is like.

Although I would like to see United, and I think we are the best possible chance, I think, that we can stop them from retaining it. There is a lot of incentive. There's a lot at stake.

You know, the local Derby, two Manchester teams going hard at it. I feel a one-off game makes the game really exciting, but I won't grudge City winning the treble. If they were the better team on the day and they beat United and then gone on to beat Inter. So be it.

But like I said, I continue to stress, they're not surpassing us. They're joining the fact that we done that already. And we will always be the first. Whether they like it or not, whether they want to style it out and debate and da da da.

And like I said, the conversation might never even happen about the treble. But you know, so let's just take one kind of step at a time. We're two weeks away from really whether they are or not. But like I said, I'm not one for holding grudges. I'm way past that. Life is too short. I don't take life that serious, man.

Let them come in and enjoy what we enjoyed for 24 years. They can understand what it's like to be that way. But as I said, let's not get ahead of ourselves just too quickly, just yet.

So you obviously won the League Cup with your boyhood club, Aston Villa. How do you think that feeling compared to all the trophies you won later on in your career?

Well, it's going to be the first, isn't it? And always was the first, isn't it?

So when you win that, that was incredible. Villa was all. I was a real Villa boy. That's the only club I played for. I played there for nine seasons, possibly going on 10. That's all I knew. That's all my commitment.

The other stuff outside of that later on. But at that time, Villa. I missed out on the 1994 cup final, for some reason, Ron Atkinson told me that I wasn't going to be sub. I was devastated. I was absolutely devastated because I've been subs and I've been part of the team for so long. But one thing he did assure me is if I do come back, make sure I came back and play.

And so his words never let my thoughts and of course to score at Wembley, which you coming from the Caribbean, and seeing it on TV, and the road to Wembley that was back in the days and to actually go and fulfil and tick another box that you just never thought you would playing at Wembley, scoring at Wembley, for Aston Villa, man, that was really incredible.

I mean, that day I actually shed a tear because it meant so much. It was really... you know, after nine years at that football club, to get to that level on such a platform, in such an arena, it was incredible. And I don't care whatever people may say or think, they will never take that away, never, ever.

And of course, you know, you've gone on, you left that club, and then you moved to the likes of United, which is the reason behind why I moved, because I wanted to win, you know, the big trophies.

And of course I've done that. So I've kind of, you know, the decisions has been going really well in terms of my decision making and yeah, you know, as much as people were sad and disappointed that I left Villa, but I left Villa and I would only leave Villa but for that very reason, for United.

It was quite incredible, mate. They will never take that feeling away from me. That Carabao Cup, as we call it now, for Aston Villa.

And what do you think the key difference that Unai Emery is making for Aston Villa compared to Stephen Gerrard's time in the role earlier on in the year?

I think it's like anything else, you know, he's come in, he's obviously a vast experience manager, come in there and you hear any manager, don't matter how good of a manager you are or good of an ex-player you are, or whatever you want to say you are, if players are not buying into your ideas you will always struggle, it's a known fact.

And so you have to go in there and really be precise, be direct with some things, make some tough decisions when you need to make tough decisions. There are some things in management that are non-negotiable.

I think he's made that very clear and the players like his idea. Training has to be fun. You change the narrative, you change the winning mentality, and he's been able to sort of come in there and tick those boxes and the players have brought into what it is.

You listen to any managers or any team that you played in. You need players to be on board with you. If they're not on board, you will always struggle.

And Emery has gone in there and he's been able to get those players on board, the same players that Gerrard had at his disposal, having to increase them by another 15%, which is a huge, a huge thing.

And you see the turnaround in results. That's just what it is. You know, same players, nothing has been changed. The same players have gone in and made them better.

He's gone on and, you know, get them to buy into his thoughts and his way of playing and install a little bit more confidence and belief.

Like I go back to you in the Rangers and Celtic, you're saying about Hearts and Aberdeen, breaking that narrative. You've got people thinking in a positive way, you get positive outcome. That's always a key element in part of your approach of your coaching philosophy.

I mean, there is lots of other parts that you have to make sure you combine together, but certainly the mentality and changing the narrative is crucial going forward, and Emery has been able to do that.

You signed for Sunderland under Roy Keane. What was it like to work under your former captain?

It was great. I saw him as a potential manager, you know, just because of his great leadership and the respect that he gains within the dressing room, which is what you require to be a manager.

I've said it time and time again, Roy Keane has all the potential to be a great manager and he should have been. But Roy Keane is his own problem, really.

He's his own problem, saying it as it is, you know, if he was a little bit more guided and a little bit more cuter in some of his approach, I think he would be the current manager of Man United today.

But Roy Keane live and die by the way he sees things and that's fine. And when it's when it goes your way is great.

But loved playing under Keano, loved my time being there. Getting to see the transition from him. Learned a lot. What to be like and what not to be like.

But I do still believe that for all the wrong that has come out of what he may or might have been thinking in what have come out in terms of him as a manager, I still believe knowing the individual and playing under him, he will be an even better manager at international level.

Because the simple reason I said that, and I really meant that and I've said it time and time, and I will probably say it again. You know, when you are managing, you got to interact with people on a regular basis. Keano is not the most interactive person.

And so international football is probably more guarded for him. Club management, you got to deal with people every day, every single day, all types. From juniors, to parents, to players, to owners, to chairman, to CEO, to... you name it, the list goes on. He's not that type.

So at international level, it's perfect for him. Absolutely perfect. When you get the players for a certain time, he comes in, he gets respect. He get all of that, which I've said. He's got all that persona. He knows the game well. You get the best of the players. They will leave and go back to their clubs. He will then go off and do his own thing and be left alone again. And then he will come back again.

So it's perfect setting for him to probably still have an outside chance to be an international manager. It's perfect for him. Perfect. But club manager? I'm still hopeful for him that he might get a chance some way along the line. I have no beef with Keano. Keano is good with me.

So do you think this Arsenal side was a touch too immature to deal with the title race this early in their careers?

People say that. I don't really buy that too much. I've seen times when they needed to dig deep and during the season and really show their character.

Couple of games I probably could mention, I think was Brighton or Bournemouth or something like that. They come back at the Emirates as a couple of games where they showed a resilience, they showed the tenacity and determination to win a football match and really held off City when people think they will go under. So I've seen a lot of positive there.

It's just that they needed to keep the nerve. They want to win football matches in a way that sometimes you just don't need to. You know, when I say that, they want to win football matches all the time, playing really fantastic football.

You know, they don't need that necessary. You need results. And sometimes you, you know, this is a team and this is something I've learned in my time. You want to win every game. Yeah, that's the mentality. The big clubs, every time, want to win games. They want to play teams off the park.

City, you know, would probably be two up and cruising, but they want the third. When they could just say, right, let's sit in and, you know, what you call about game management and manage the game.

This Arsenal team with the youngsters that they got, they just want to win every time. Yeah, fine. But they go ahead and they're trying to get the second and trying to get the third and trying to be this flamboyant team playing a certain way. No, no, no, no, no. In the backstage there, in the latter stage, you go ahead. You win ugly 1-0. What's wrong with winning 1-0?

It always has to be this expansive way of playing football, da da da da da da. And people go, yeah, great. Look at us. We played fantastic. We played them off the park. They didn't need that.

What they needed in the latter stage was all about results. Resilient, being hard to beat, nicking a game 1-0 and move on to the next. That's what they need to learn.

So people go on about all this garbage out there that they a little bit and they blow it and they bottle it and da da da.

Nah, because they still want to play fantastic football. They want to play in a certain flamboyant way that, look at us, this is where we pass them off the pitch. That's okay.

Sometimes you play against a team who are fighting for their life, you know, it's going to be tough. So many games we win in our time, 1-0. Charlton away, crunch time, we go win 1-0. You don't have to win 3-0 all the time.

Yeah, ideally, that's the way. Everybody loves to see that expansive football. And you win two and three and you're magnificent. And everyone is joyful. And look at us and da-da-da-da. Nah.

Ten games in, ten games to go, they got themselves in a real good position. Know if we win all we game, we going to win. All right, let's win ugly. Today is an ugly-looking day to win a game. Roll your sleeves up, go away. Grind one out and grind 1-0 out and you're good to go. No, no, no, not Arsenal and them teams.

They're trying to copy City. Let's play, let's play this way. Let's do it, no, no, no, no. That's where I think they've gone wrong. Because you look at them, there was no 1-0 in there, is there, when you seen them win? How many games you seen them win in one nil? You're got to win ugly sometimes, man. People forget about all the way to win.

So I'm not buying literally where everybody is. I see a lot of good things in there, times when they really back up against the wall and show that they came back and won games. I just think at the crucial stage, we're still trying to win games two and three when sometimes I just needed to nick the game 1-0.

They've dropped a serious amount of points in these last 10 games, as you just alluded to there. Do you think that will impact them negatively next season, or do you think they'll be back in the title race again next year?

Yeah, it'll probably be interesting, isn't it? I think that's when you really test them. You know, football, I always say, when the going is good, it's easy to play, and you often hear that expression in the game.

When you score, and you're free-flowing, you know, everything you touch turns into goals. You really are tested when you really had something snatched away from you. And then that will really test your character the next year.

Can they now come back and show that consistency, which is what you need to win a Premier League?

And yeah, for all the young players in there, that would be a strong learning curve, but from a mental standpoint, how many of them will be able to recover from it too?

It'd be interesting to see if they've been scarred enough to falter or scarred enough to not only learn, but to come back even bigger and stronger next season. So it's an interesting one. It's too early to predict that.

Certainly, next season will give you a better idea and inclination as to whether they're strong enough to really sustain the level that we thought they might have been, or just as just a flash in the armour as we say.

Who was the toughest defender you ever came up against and why?

No, that's a question that has been posed before me. I'm not really, you know, what's the point in saying he's tough because if you, again, the narrative, if you're think in people that way, what do you think it's going to be? Right?

So, you know, you're playing golf and there's water there and you think, "shit, there's water". What you think is going to happen when you're ready to hit that ball? You're going to hit it in the water.

So I have never had that thought. I admire other defenders. I admire other players. I respect them. My peers, I've always have, but I don't think I've ever feared them.

That's a mindset that I've never had really, because you're just kind of giving up. You're giving up one to the defenders already before you even start. It's like you on the back foot. You're talking about backward football. That's totally the way.

I'm an attacker, he's a defender, but I admire him. I've always just admired someone like Roberto Carlos and Mancini and those type of defenders. They were proper in there. So tough as nails, but no, I never fear them. I very much respect them.

If you had to make a five-a-side team of all the players you've played with throughout your career, who are you going for?

So if it's a small goal, that's easy, so Schmeichel is not a problem. I gotta leave him out. I don't need him in the back.

Okay, so small goal will be Jap Stam, Paul McGrath, I'll go Roy Keane. Scholes. Do I pick myself?

Yeah, Paul McGrath was awesome. Jap Stam solid in the back there. I will put, I'll put, no. So I'll change that because my two defenders are great. I need more attacking, so I will put Scholes. Giggsy was a great five-a-side player, you know. Giggsy. And then obviously me up top.

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Last Updated: 12 June 2023
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