Danny Murphy exclusive interview

The ex-Spurs and Liverpool star discusses the managerial merry-go-round, Premier League and more.

Danny Murphy | Sportingbet

Tottenham

Are Tottenham still contenders for the Premier League?

"I don’t think Tottenham are contenders for the Premier League because they still have some very difficult away fixtures against the likes of Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea. Tottenham don’t have a great away record against the top teams and I think that takes them out of the equation. However, they will definitely finish in one of the Champions League spots.

"Pochettino is doing such a remarkable job at Tottenham that it has almost become taken for granted that they’re now a Champions League club. This is despite spending virtually no money compared to their rivals and having to play away from White Hart Lane for nearly two years. Pochettino has improved literally every player under his management and he deserves all of the praise he is getting for the miracle job he is doing."

Do you think Son is a contender for Player of the Year? Could he be a target for Europe’s elite clubs this summer?

"I think Son is a wonderful player and he is a fantastic professional, but I don’t think he should be a contender for Player of the Year. His recent form has been sensational, but I don’t think he has done it over a period of time because he started the season in poor form and has been away at the Asia Cup. I don’t think he has been as consistent as the likes of van Dijk, Fernandinho and Sterling.

"Son has proven himself to be a fantastic player at Tottenham and the fans love him for all the right reasons. His versatility make him such a wonderful asset to the team and he has so many attributes, but I don’t think he is someone that the likes of Barcelona or Real Madrid would ever look at. I don’t think either of the Manchester clubs would be tempted to take him away either. More importantly, I think he is happy at Tottenham and is grateful for the platform they have given him so he wouldn’t want to leave. Tottenham really value him and that feels great for any player."

Is Pochettino the right man for Manchester United?

"Pochettino is a wonderful coach and I think he would do a very good job at any club, including Manchester United. However, I do think that there is an understated element of risk that comes with Pochettino. It is quite remarkable to think that everyone is so sure that he would be a success considering he has actually ticked so few boxes in his career so far. Pochettino has never won a trophy and he has never worked with superstar players before. He has never worked at a club where he is expected to win trophies and has never had the pressure of spending vast sums of money on the right players. He arrived at Tottenham under very little pressure and expectation and has rode that wave ever since.

"I do think Pochettino has a lot of the ingredients that Manchester United look for in a manager. His work ethic, his style of play, the way he improves the players, the way he conducts himself and his humility, all those things mean that he is an attractive proposition to Manchester United. I think Daniel Levy will struggle to convince Pochettino to stay at Tottenham unless he does some form of grand gesture that shows the club still has room to improve."

Pochettino | Sportingbet

Do you think Eriksen will sign a new contract at Tottenham?

"I don’t think Eriksen is going to sign a new contract at Tottenham and I expect him to leave the club this summer. I think he has been edging for a move for a while and he would have signed a new deal by now if he wanted to stay. Tottenham will always have a problem with players being lured away by other clubs who can offer to double or triple their wages until Daniel Levy breaks his pay structure.

"I really like Eriksen and think he has been one of the most technically gifted players in the Premier League, but it looks like he will move to La Liga this summer. It’s an interesting one because I don’t see him starting for either Real Madrid or Barcelona, but perhaps he is being lined up as Modric’s replacement."

Do you think Alderweireld will leave the club this summer?

"It looks like Alderweireld will leave Tottenham this summer. I think the clause in his contract makes him an absolute steal and a no-brainer for Tottenham’s rivals. He is one of the best central defenders in Europe and they’ll be queuing up to throw money at him.

"The huge positive for Tottenham has been the development of Davinson Sanchez who has been progressing very well. I think he is going to be a huge player for the club for many years to come."

There are reports of Gareth Bale having still not settled at Real Madrid. Could he ever return to Tottenham as a landmark signing?

"I think Gareth Bale will return to the Premier League and I would expect Tottenham to be at the front of that queue. Gareth was a young lad when I was at Tottenham and he became very well loved as both a player and as a person. You see the reports of him not settling in Spain and he might want to return to comfortable surroundings in London.

"I’d love to see him come back to Tottenham and I think there’s a chance that it will happen, but not this summer. Bale is too important to Real Madrid now that Ronaldo has gone."

Bale | Sportingbet

Chelsea

Do you think Sarri will still be Chelsea manager next season?

"I think the writing is on the wall for Sarri at Chelsea and I just can’t see how he could be still the manager when next season kicks off. The whole situation is reminding me of Mourinho at Manchester United with the manager publicly criticising his players and looking frustrated on the touchline. I see a group of players who are unhappy and I don’t think they’re convinced with what Sarri is aiming to achieve. I think the inconsistency in performances combined with poor results mean there has to be a change.

"I think it is more a matter of when rather than if. Chelsea are still in the Europa League, they have the League Cup final this weekend and they’re one point off the Champions League places. It would be unusual for it to happen now, but Chelsea might pull the trigger if they lose to Manchester City at Wembley."

Has “Sarri-ball” been exposed in the Premier League?

"I’ve never understood the whole “Sarri-ball” thing and it has always bemused me. Sarri isn’t trying to implement a style of football that isn’t being played elsewhere and hasn’t been played before. This short and fast passing with a high press has been done a million times before by a lot of managers so I don’t understand how he can claim it or why he doesn’t have a plan B.

"Sarri’s unwavering commitment to “Sarri-ball” will be what gets him sacked at Chelsea. It has become so painfully predictable that it’s openly mocked. He’s trying to put square pegs in round holes and is refusing to accept his mistakes. Sarri insists on forcing the best defensive midfielder in the world (Kante) to play out of position so that he can use Jorginho as a playmaker despite not having an assist to his name. It’s incredible, really."

Do you think Eden Hazard will join Real Madrid this summer?

"I think Hazard is shaping up to leave Chelsea for Real Madrid this summer. The club will be anxiously looking at his contract only having 12 months remaining and they’ll be pushing him to make a decision. I think it will be a huge loss for the Premier League because he’s my favourite player to watch and he is irreplaceable. I can’t think of another player who is capable of doing what he does, irrespective of money."

Would Zidane be a good candidate at Chelsea?

"Zidane would be a great candidate for Chelsea. Sarri has publicly spoken of his inability to motivate these Chelsea players, but Zidane wouldn’t have that problem because of what he has achieved as a player and a coach at Real Madrid. His career in football means he demands respect. Zidane has also had unbelievable success in the Champions League and we know that’s always been a priority for Roman Abramovich. The only real question marks surround his tactical nous because he wasn’t able to get Real Madrid competing in La Liga.

"I know that Hazard is a huge fan of Zidane so the prospect of working with him might be enough to convince him to stay at Chelsea. It might take an appointment like Zidane if we’re to see Hazard still in the Premier League next season."

Arsenal

Mesut Ozil has been reduced to something of a squad player at Arsenal. Is this the end of the road for him?

"I think we are seeing the end of the road for Mesut Ozil at Arsenal. He simply doesn’t fit into how Emery wants Arsenal to play and he clearly doesn’t trust him on the pitch. It’s a strange one because I personally think Ozil should be a guaranteed starter for Arsenal because he is so creative on the ball. I think the likes of Aubameyang and Lacazette would much rather Ozil was playing, that’s for sure.

"I think there’s similarities between Ozil and Pogba in the sense that if you were to give Ozil the safety net of defensive midfielders behind him, he has the freedom to win matches on his own. Unfortunately, while Pogba was able to overcome Mourinho, I don’t expect Ozil to overcome Emery.

"The situation is being framed as a head-to-head between Emery and Ozil, but this is an argument that the manager is going to win. I think Arsenal are committed to giving Emery a few years and I’m not convinced Ozil has enough credit in the bank with supporters for them to demand a change of tact."

Ozil | Sportingbet

Manchester City

Guardiola has publicly spoken of how difficult it is for him to find space for Mahrez. Has it been a disappointing debut for Manchester City’s debut signing?

"I think Mahrez has probably been on the bench more than he would have liked this season, but I don’t think he would be overly surprised. He arrived at Manchester City knowing they had the likes of Sterling, Sane, De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva, so he wouldn’t have expected to start every week.

"Mahrez joined Manchester City knowing he would spend his fair share of the season on the bench and that’s why he is paid handsomely for the inconvenience. He could have signed for Tottenham and played every week, but he would have been paid half as much. Every player will talk about how they’re unhappy if they’re not playing because they’ll be crucified if they openly admitted they’re happy being paid enough money to secure the rest of their lives having only playing a handful of games.

"It is actually a credit to Guardiola that he is able to keep all of his players on board and contributing to the team’s success, despite them all sitting on the bench at various stages. Mahrez, Sane and Jesus have all chipped in with at least 10 goals this season so they will be happy. Whether or not they’ll eventually lose patience and demand a regularly starting role remains to be seen."

How highly do you rate Sergio Aguero among the Premier League’s greatest ever strikers?

"Sergio Aguero is one of the greatest strikers we have ever seen in the Premier League, there’s no doubt about that. I would place him in the top three to five strikers we’ve had in England. He has won many trophies and he has an unbelievable goals to games ratio. He scores an incredible range of goals and has overcome serious injuries to maintain his level. On every measure, Aguero has proven he is one of the best.

"Aguero will go down as a Manchester City legend who conducts himself like a perfect professional. It’s amazing to think that a player as good as Aguero has still been able to improve under Guardiola, especially at a time when it looked like Jesus might be a more natural fit to his style of play. I think Aguero is a wonderful example to young players of what you can achieve with the right hunger and motivation, regardless of the money in your bank account and the trophies in your cabinet.

"I think Thierry Henry is the greatest striker we have ever had in the Premier League. I think Henry had the all-round package and attributes that other great goal scorers simply haven’t. He had a wonderful gift and was a truly amazing footballer. He could play the killer pass, dribble for days; he had the pace and he had he power as well as the ability to hold the ball up. Henry is the Premier League’s best ever because he could do it all."

Liverpool

Would you rather Liverpool win the Premier League or the Champions League?

"There’s no doubt in my mind Liverpool supporters would rather win the Premier League than the Champions League. After nearly three decades without winning it, the Premier League is now the holy grail to Liverpool FC.

"When I was growing up, Liverpool winning the league was standard and became normal. However, it has now been far too long since we won the competition and a generation of fans have never seen us lift a league trophy. A lot of clubs see the Champions League as the pinnacle of club competitions, but Liverpool have won that more recently and fans are becoming desperate to get the monkey off our backs by lifting the Premier League."

Who do you think will come out on top between Liverpool and Bayern Munich?

"I think Liverpool have more than enough to overcome Bayern Munich and I expect them to progress quite comfortably. Bayern Munich are a good team with dangerous players, but they’re not as they have been in years gone by. Munich are behind Dortmund in the Bundesliga and I don’t think the German division is as strong as it once was either. Van Dijk is a big miss for Liverpool, but I still think they have too much for Bayern and will go through."

How many of Bayern Munich’s squad would improve Liverpool’s strongest starting 11?

"I can’t see any of Bayern Munich’s players improving Liverpool’s starting 11 when we have everyone fit. I think Klopp could assess both team sheets tonight and I certainly don’t think he would swap anyone. I don’t think Bayern are as strong as they once were and a few of their talismanic players are edging towards the latter stages of their careers.

"It might have been a different story in the past, but in the here and now I don’t see anyone who could break into Liverpool’s team. Neuer has been one of the best goalkeepers of his generation, but Liverpool now have Alisson between the goalposts. I’m a big fan of Thiago and I think he would improve Liverpool’s squad, but I don’t see anyone in the forward or defensive areas if Liverpool had everyone fit."

Thiago | Sportingbet

Klopp reportedly almost became the Bayern Munich manager in the past. Do you see him in the dugout at the Allianz Arena in the future?

"I don’t think Klopp would be interested in going to Bayern Munich and certainly not in the near future. I know there’s been reports that he was close to joining them in the past so never say never, but Klopp is so invested in the project at Liverpool and returning the club to the top of Europe that he won’t be going anywhere.

"Klopp obviously might want to return to Germany one day and he will always be sought after by the elite clubs. I think he might manage Bayern Munich in the future, but probably not until someone like Gerrard is ready to take over at Liverpool."

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