Last Updated: 14 June 2023, Author: AceOdds.com
We are thrilled to bring you an exclusive interview with football legend Joleon Lescott, where he takes a deep dive into the intricacies of the beautiful game. From his insightful analysis of Manchester City's defensive strategy under Pep Guardiola to his candid reflection on his own experiences on the pitch, Lescott gives us a rare glimpse into the world of top-tier football.
Potentially. I think depending on if Nathan Ake's fit, I think he plays.
It's not traditional too, is it? So I think John Stone's plays and Ruben Dias plays, but not conventionally centre-halves.
Before the first leg of the Madrid game, he played the same team for three games in a row, which he hasn't done. You would expect that, but going into the Madrid game, I expected Kyle Walker to play due to Vinícius Júnior.
So I think Pep's still in the case of, "oh, I need to pick personnel that wins me the game" rather than "these are the players that are going to play and I'm not changing".
So about that question, what's less important?
There's still a title to win. There's still an FA Cup to win. I don't know what is deemed not important or less important.
Because, if you said the Laporte is only going to play the remaining league games and City lose to Real Madrid, they're the most important games. So, you know what I mean?
For a period of time, we've seen more regular personnel at the back. But at the start of the season, you could have said the same about Ruben Dias, who wasn't in the team. So I think they all go through spells when they're in.
But from a player's perspective, yeah, he would be frustrated because every player wants to play every minute. But you've got to give him credit because he isn't showing that frustration when he plays.
Next season? Same, important, very important.
Able to play and look comfortable throughout the back line. Whatever role he's asked to do or perform, he's doing it exceptionally well. I just expect that to be his progression at Man City, while Pep's there anyway.
It's kind of, well, this is the way we're going to play, and we're lucky that he's able to fulfil different roles and is probably better suited to all of them roles. Barring the John Stones one when he's more advanced, but as either fullback, you wouldn't expect Ruben Dias or John Stones be able to do that as well as Akanji. So I think they're all as important as each other for different reasons.
I get this question a lot. At the time of the mistake, I didn't think anything of it because I never kind of dwell on mistakes or high moments, you just kind of move on.
The reality hit about the situation more than my mistake when we went 2-1 down. That was a moment of realisation that we could lose this, and now we need to score two because at 1-1, we need to score one goal. I believe we were going to score one goal at some stage.
Did I believe we were going to score two in the last minute? No.
But in regards to that, and I've said this to City fans as well, I would take that moment away as I say the lowest, but in that season the highest was a 1-0 win at Aston Villa, so let's take that away as well. And we don't win the league. So in regards to me playing a part in that, yeah, it wasn't a great moment, but there were so many other positive moments throughout the season.
Yeah, obviously, if you're in the winning team, confidence is through the roof, and the belief is there, and you're just optimistic about the games coming up and really excited about them.
But the total opposite, if you're not, it's the end of the world.
Where do you see your next win or next goal coming from? Until you go into the game. So at Villa, when we were in a bad run of form, there was always a moment when I believed we would win before the game kicked off. It didn't pan out that way and stuff.
But as a player, I'm assuming they all have that belief that they can perform and be the match-winner or just do their job enough to help survival.
But yeah, it's probably the time where your emotions are so erratic due to the outcome of the game.
A lot of stuff was unexpected, or just stuff I wasn't used to!
You take for granted fixtures and the FA and the support you get in and around the game. And that, yeah, there's a lot more we could do here. But yeah, I was aware that we wasn't allowed the fixtures for the season due to potential match-fixing, referees associations were getting burnt down.
I remember for the derby game, we played Olympiacos, and the fans come to the hotel that we stay in and are in the reception area. Then the captain come and knocked on my door, and was like, "we're going downstairs, the fans are here".
When I say fans, I don't just mean a couple of them looking for autographs, it's the ultras with flares in reception.
I had a routine before games, just do what I needed to do: chill, ice, and recover. And I was like, "Oh yeah? Na, I'll leave it" and he said, "No, I'm not asking. We're going down".
So we went down there and it was going off. They were singing and chanting and obviously letting us know how important this game was. And then equally we lost the game, but we had a few days off, so I was going home. So my car was in the car park, and then we came back, and they were waiting. All the ultras were waiting there.
But as we got off the coach, I could go the other way to get to my car and go to the airport. So I didn't see the outcome of that. So that was a pretty new experience, I should say.
But overall, players were good staff members. The majority of them were great, the ones that I worked with. So a different, very different experience.
I was lucky enough to be at the Everton game, when he took charge with that, and his presence for one. Real calm and authority about his demeanour. So they were instantly noticeable.
But I think his ability to change and adapt. I think he recognises what the game needs. And I don't know if there's many managers that do that, are able to go, well this is how I want to play, but if the game's not panning out that way, we need to change in-game.
So I'll give him credit for that, but I think he's one of the managers that's probably learned as fast as I've seen a manager learn in a short space of time.
Yeah, obviously played with Dawson at West Brom, but yeah he's been instrumental.
My son is a Wolves fan and he's made me know how important and how good he's been.
And Dawson is an honest player so you're always going to get maximum effort.
Very far. But am I saying he needs to go and play for other teams? No.
I think his progression and his consistency has probably been as steady as it's been since he's been in the team.
I think he's always put in good performances, but there's always been moments where you can see that he's still learning. Where at this moment in time, I think his understanding of the game and himself and his body is as consistent as it's been. And that's what you want from a defender.
It's very rare a defender is able to progress when it's ups and downs. It's rather just a case of steady progression, maintaining the level that you're playing at, and then all of a sudden you may be called upon to do something different, and you can.
Obviously, in possession, he's as good as most, so that will always be a factor. But I don't think his good moments now are solely in possession. I think there are tough defensive moments that he's showing as well.
I've never been asked a question about him, to be fair!
I thought he started off well. It went well at the start, was playing, was performing and contributing.
Then I think towards the end of the loan, he wasn't in the team, and he wasn't getting the minutes. Whether that was a decision based on his performances, who knows.
But yeah, he's still young, and I've worked in development football, so regardless of him being my son or not, I know that younger players, they are inconsistent. Also wingers take longer and forward players potentially take longer to understand and develop. So I think it's been a great learning curve for him.
He's enjoyed it, he's played with men and showcased that he can. Which is what I believe is the best thing.
But yeah, he's also done well and been exposed to first-team sessions at Blackpool so I think. It was the right move for him at the time and yeah, it's going as well as I would have hoped so far.
It's going to take time.
But again, in the greatest respect to Blackpool's situation, for him and the younger players, I don't think it's a negative thing that they got relegated. I think that propels them. Whether they are ready or not, who knows?
But I think it kind of forces the hand of the club, potentially, to bring them and make them train and have to be in around the dressing room. So that can only help their development as young men, but as players as well.
So yeah, I'm excited for him. I try not to be a coach. I try to be a dad as much as possible. But yeah, there's going to become a time when we need to think about how this is going to play out and what it takes to be a professional.
I don't know how Schmeichel views that, but I don't think Schmeichel is viewed 'the best' because he's got five Premier Leagues.
Regardless of the Premier League titles, for a goalkeeper, I don't think that determines whether you are the best or not. Because there's other greats that haven't won that and will be up there as well.
But for Ederson, I think he will go down as a great when it's all said and done.
I think the way the modern game is played, I think he is unique in his ability, in possession and his calmness. I think that will be a factor to why he's regarded as one of the best. If it's 'the' best, who knows, but I don't think it will be down to solely titles.
Yeah, they're obviously different and the way Pep wants to play is different to, say, Joe's strengths. But who's to say Joe couldn't have developed that style? Who knows.
It was clear that it wasn't the manager's ideal choice because before Ederson there was Bravo and Caballero. So there was obviously something else, it wasn't solely down to Joe's ability with his feet.
But like I said, Joe Hart, is an exceptional goalkeeper. Exceptional work ethic and proven that he's a winner. He's gone on and I think he just won his second title, maybe third.
So Joe's a great friend of mine, but yeah, different styles obviously mean different outcomes for different players.
I was lucky enough to play with a lot of keepers I could trust.
Because again, the requirements were different. So I could trust them in what we needed to be trusted in.
I never played with a goalie that I thought, he's not going to give his all or he's going to let me down when this happens.
Tim Howard, Matt Murray, Joe Hart, to name a few of the club ones. It was kind of like, these guys know my strengths and I know theirs. So how do we play together and understand? There's not always time to communicate in-game, in moments.
So we would try to review situations and say, when this happens, show them this way or do this. And then if it doesn't, if it goes in, or if I let him pass another way, then we know who's responsible for that outcome.
So that was kind of the beauty of having good goalkeepers and friendships and partnerships.
Not to the level he's doing it, in the time he's done it, no.
Did I see him being a manager? Yes. Very, very astute player, very intelligent.
So there's no surprise in how he's coaching, the surprising factor is the time he's done it in. The transitions he's had, to go from Man City to Arsenal and be successful so fast. That's the surprising bit, but his style isn't, because he was so clever.
Yeah, there's always leaders. It's just whether that leading style fits the dressing room, that's the key factor. For a leader, I think you have to have the respect of the group. Whatever the reason is- whether it's performances, training, relationships- there has to be a respect element to leadership. When you speak, when you address the group, they need to listen and respond.
I don't know about the dressing room now, but we were lucky that we had some top talent, lots of experience and players that had been at the club for a long time. They knew what it was about, knew the culture of the club and what the fans want to see. So it was an easier transition, say for me, than some players now.
I think back to Alan Stubbs and David Weir- they were embedded in it. If you mention those names, you associate them instantly with Everton. We had other players in the squad that would reference the same things. But I think in terms of leaders now, it works different so I don't know.
Erm, both? I think that could be said about any manager. If he keeps therm there and keeps on progressing, then he's there for the long haul. If it doesn't go to plan, whether that's this season or next, then like any manager, he's under pressure and under threat.
So do I think Sean Dyche can keep them up? Yes. I was slightly less confident before the Brighton game, but having seen that result and then looking at the fixtures of other teams, there's a real optimism. They can get something out of the last two games, more so than the game on the weekend.
Yeah- this is a tough game for City and it's always been a tough game. I think if it was at the Etihad, then it's different. At Goodison, the expectancy of the fans, the noise and the atmosphere they create will be immense. You look at the games surrounding it for City- the Madrid one may be a factor. I don't think this is a fixture either team would choose. I think if they could, they both would have selected different teams.
Woah, huge, huge. With the new stadium too! The only positive thing might be that the fans will be there in numbers regardless. Maybe the opportunity to be in a winning team- if they go down and they're winning more games than this season, hopefully that leads to promotion. Then they go into a new stadium in that situation. That's the only positive slant.
I don't know if there's any real benefit to going down. No team wants to do it, obviously everyone's trying to avoid it. But looking at the bigger picture, if Everton go down, but are top of the championship going into a new stadium with 50,000, that would be the only positive to getting relegated.
I think so, yeah. I'd definitely like to think so. You never know, but there's nothing to point to that. Saying that, there was nothing that gave me that impression of Sunderland, but I definitely don't see that with Everton, no.
I don't know. I hope so. I've been wrong every season for the last four or five, saying they would win. So I've steered clear of saying they're going to win this year- hopefully I'm wrong again! They have different strings to their bow this year, i.e. Haaland, Jack Grealish playing the best he's played.
But it's Madrid! Before the game, I said it would be 1-1, I felt it would be a good result just because of what Madrid are in this competition and what this competition is to Madrid. But I know come Wednesday, I'll be a lot more confident and optimistic that City will score two, three goals at home and that sees them through.
Yeah, I think so. I think they have to be right up there. What is the criteria for the other great teams? Are Man United's title winning team regarded as one of the best because they won the treble and multiple titles? If so, then City would have to be considered, because they've done the same. Plus, on the way to doing that, they would have to have beaten United. So that is the beauty of this for Man City and their fans. Part of what could be a historical moment is the fact that Man United are in the way. That is an added bonus to it.
At the moment, knowing Man United fans and knowing how they view Man City, City need the Champions League to be regarded as the same in some aspects. So to do that, with them in the way, a Treble would be iconic for the club.
I've seen that, yeah. Honestly, when I heard the question, I thought everyone was going to say Champions League. But then when you hear the fans and you realise, you can't admit or accept defeat to your rivals. And I get it. I totally get it. I think the players would take the Champions League. I don't know, but I think if they could pick one right now, I think they would take it.
But I totally understand the fans saying 'no way'. There's no way you're gonna say, yeah, we're gonna lose to United in a final. I think if it was a semi-final or just a league game, but not a final, no way.
I see it being tough. I see ten Hag as someone that learns very fast. Obviously, the game at the Etihad to the game at Old Trafford was so different in terms of how he approached it that I can see him making it tough for City. Their chances will be strong, they'll have Marcus Rashford who's been huge this season.
It also depends what momentum City are going into that game with. They could be Premier League winners and going into a Champions League final. So their confidence, I don't know if it gets higher than that. But if that's not the case, then all of a sudden, I'm sure Man United would see themselves as favourites.
They'll be waiting on other results to determine how confident they feel.
I've been asked that a few times. I would enjoy the challenge, I liked the physical aspect of defending. So having seen him enjoy it as well, I know I'd enjoy that battle. Whether I'd get the best of him or not, who knows? I enjoyed playing against Drogba for those reasons. He wanted to play a game, a style that suited me.
Haaland would obviously be tough, but my answer to that is I would have been playing for City, so I would have been on his team.
Profile of player? Small, agile, someone that was constantly moving.
One of the toughest ones for that was Giuseppe Rossi. When he was at United and then when he went to Villarreal. I just remember thinking, jesus, your movement is nonstop. But luckily for me, some of his teammates weren't on the same page. They didn't reward him for his movement by passing him the ball. He made me realise like, yeah, there's obviously another level. I liked to play against players that wanted a physical battle as much as I did.
Pep's always spoke about improving when you're winning and it potentially being easier. You would probably say fullback area, having lost Cancelo and Zinchenko. Who knows, maybe Cancelo comes back. Ilkay Gundogan, he may leave with his contract expiring, so probably midfield as well. Someone with that level of intelligence isn't easy to acquire.
There'll definitely be signings because, like I say, Pep has always spoke about improving and evolving. The game moves on, players' motivations change and alter, so fresh faces will be eager to do well. I think he spoke about the start of this season being flat due to the task of motivating them to go again. With new players, I don't think you have that worry because they want the honours that the current crop have. So I'd say potentially a midfielder and fullback, but I don't know who that would be.
Oh, a huge, huge job. As important as Emery at Villa. He's someone that I was very impressed with, having seen him. I'm not going to get carried away, but I don't see them fighting relegation next season with him in charge at all.
Yeah, definitely. I think it's the most attractive league, the most competitive as well. But I think Wolves, I don't think it's just the league, I think Wolves is a club and a job that people would want. You know what I mean? There's ambition within the club. There's talent within the club. So yeah, the Premier League is a major attraction, but Wolves is a pretty decent team to be the manager of.
They've proven since being promoted that they want to progress and aren't just happy to be there. Yeah, there's obviously a period where they've transitioned between players and stuff. But overall, they've tried to improve every year, whether it's on or off the pitch, with managers and players.
Yeah, they're very different experiences. I don't know if it was a good or bad thing, but I didn't live in Wolves, I grew up in Birmingham, so not being around that and seeing what that club meant to the fans on a daily basis may have helped me at a young age. I had a great relationship with the fans. In terms of the achievement, it was huge for me. The players I played with at that time were serial winners. Denis Irwin and Paul Ince, to name a few. It helped me realise I wanted more of that feeling, so it's something I regard as a great achievement.
The only element that dampened it was that it wasn't at Wembley. I would have loved that to be at Wembley, because I wasn't aware I was going to go on and play for England and play at finals at Wembley. So that early in my career, if someone said to me: 'This is your only final', you want to play at Wembley. That's where the greats have played, from an English standpoint. But yeah, what that meant to me was huge.
Funny stories, there's not many funny stories I can remember about either really. Denis was very calm and I learned how you approach training, games, and just the professionalism needed. It was the latter point of his career, but I was aware of his status in the game, and even more so now. He was really good. I was lucky with a lot of players, pretty much all of them, that I had a good relationship. So I would take on board the advice they were giving and luckily enough for me, they all wanted to help me.
Incy's approach was different, but perfect for me. He would tell me as it was, when it was. Whether that was kick up the backside or kiss on the cheek, it was needed. Incy is someone I still speak to and hold in the highest regard for the influence he had on my career. He was a boyhood hero, I was playing midfield due to wanting to be like Paul Ince.
They kept me grounded, helped me understand there were responsibilities I had as part of the team, but to enjoy it as well. Just learn how to be a professional and get better really.
Glenn Hoddle, without a doubt, the biggest influence on my career. The most enjoyable manager I worked with, the way he viewed the game and spoke to me about the game was unique. It was so clear. Was it because I was young and still learning? Who knows? But, the things he said and the pictures he painted about the game were another level.
He's someone I admire as a pundit, when I hear him speak, it just sounds so clear and it sounds so obvious, that you think why didn't you see that or recognise that? Glenn Hoddle was without the doubt the best manager.
The best coach? Terry Connor was the most influential coach on my career, someone that kind of manufactured me from the age of 16, 17, created the habits I had throughout my career. As a coach, he was my biggest influence.
It's the same as when you think about coaching. There's things and styles that you want to obtain and there's some that you don't. I never want to be a pundit that's criticising all the time. Sometimes players do good things and other players can't cope with that. It doesn't have to be a mistake. It can just be good sometimes. So that's the way I view things.
Having worked in development football as well, it's helped me recognise when it's a mistake and it's something a player does well. So there might be an isolated moment that a player makes a mistake, but if you look back at previous games you're like: 'He doesn't do that, so that was just a one-off". You can understand that. If you're seeing players make consistent decisions, you're like: "That's what he does, he's not learning". I like to think I can have a diplomatic approach to that aspect of punditry.
I wanted to give it a go and having spoken to players that have retired, whose opinion I trust, they said to just do a lot of things, whether it's punditry, coaching, whatever it may be, the development side of football. Then you know what you enjoy, what you'll give more to, and punditry is something I enjoy.
So let's go Joe Hart in goal.
Um, Yaya Toure.
And a tussle between Wayne Rooney and Sergio. Let's change it up and go... no, I'll go Sergio. I won't even change it. Let's go Sergio Aguero.