Chris Waddle exclusive interview

Chris Waddle discusses transfers, managers and more on his former clubs.

 
Chris Waddle 1

NEWCASTLE UNITED

Transfers

There’s a lot of praise for Newcastle United’s academy player, Mo Sangare, at the moment. Do you think Sangare is a first team contender?

Academy players ae key to avoiding relegation for Newcastle this season. Rafa Benitez has had his hands tied for around 3 years now with the current squad and Mike Ashley is showing no ambition for that to change anytime soon.

Newcastle should be looking to their academy for their players if they’re not going to buy anyone any time soon. Mo Sangare is someone I would like to see given first team opportunities and he would bring that youthful enthusiasm. It’s important to freshen things up and he doesn’t seem to have the power to buy players at the moment.

Newcastle United were lined up to sign Jordan Lukaku from Lazio, but it fell through on medical grounds. Where should they be looking now for signings?

Lukaku would have been an exciting signing for Newcastle United, but the club can’t afford to take chances using their resources on someone they have question marks over. It’s frustrating for signings to be ruled out on medical grounds but I back Benitez to come up with three or four other players who will suit a club of Newcastle’s stature. I hope we will see someone come in through the door before the transfer window closes.

Where are the gaps that Newcastle should be looking to fill in this transfer window?

Newcastle need a pacey winger, a creative midfield player and a striker who will reliably score goals if they’re to survive in the Premier League. I like Rondon as he’s a very hard-working team player, but he isn’t going to score the goals that keep Newcastle in the Premier League. We need competition in the attacking areas and players who can make things happen in the final third.

Salomon Rondon

Newcastle look to be interested in Ibrahim Amadou from Seville. Do you think he’d fit into the squad well?

Amadou is technically gifted player who would be a fantastic addition to Newcastle. The issue is that Fulham are also interested and most players coming over to England would rather live in London than the North East. I think that’s something that really hurts our cause when trying to sign affordable players from abroad. Rafa Benitez is desperate and will take any player he can get at this stage.

Newcastle's season

Newcastle face Manchester City and Tottenham in their next two games. Do they need a result to build momentum?

Newcastle have some very tough fixtures coming up against Tottenham and Manchester City, but whether the club survives will never depend on those games. There are six top teams in the division and the other 14 clubs are looking over their shoulder looking to escape relegation as soon as possible. Newcastle will really struggle in their next two games and you’ve just got to hope it doesn’t hurt their confidence too much.

Newcastle just need to stay positive and have a close eye on their competition. Newcastle are better than Cardiff, Fulham, Crystal Palace and Huddersfield so they’ll stay in the Premier League ahead of those other clubs.

Newcastle have been knocked out the FA Cup very early yet again under Mike Ashley’s ownership. Do you think Newcastle just want to focus purely on Premier League survival?

Newcastle didn’t want to be in the FA Cup and it’s no coincidence that the club has been knocked out early practically every year under Mike Ashley. Premier League survival is the club’s first and last priority because that’s where the money is and they don’t want to risk any distractions or injuries. Benitez made massive changes against Watford because the board will have wanted him to focus on the Premier League.

It’s a shame because it is obvious that Benitez wants to compete for trophies and the fans would love nothing more than a cup run. I think managers sometimes get a hard time for the teams they field in the FA Cup because it’s obvious they’re under directions from the owners to prioritise the Premier League at all costs.

Benitez and Ashley

Mike Ashley has claimed that he is close to finding new owners. What do you think to this?

I think it is pretty obvious to everyone by this point that Mike Ashley has no intention of selling Newcastle United. Every transfer window he claims we’re close to getting new owners as justification for him not spending any money, but I don’t think anyone is falling for that anymore.

Mike Ashley is content to just bank the TV revenue and isn’t particularly worried about what everyone thinks of him. He has Sports Direct advertised all around one of the biggest stadiums in the country and he is well aware of that value. Any prospective buyer must look at the size of the club, its quality facilities and passionate fans thinking it has limited potential, it really is a gold mine if they strike the right note. Mike Ashley is clearly shunning their advances and he will never admit it.

Mike Ashley

Are you happy with the job that Rafa Benitez is doing at Newcastle?

Benitez is doing a great job at Newcastle and the fans love him for it. Neutrals might think he would be under pressure with a club the size of Newcastle fighting relegation, but he has probably overachieved considering the circumstances he’s working under.

It is unacceptable of Mike Ashley to not support his manager. Rafa Benitez will walk away from Newcastle in the summer. I think his relationship with the fans is the only reason he is still at the club, but there’s only so long he can ignore the cold hard facts about the limitations he is working under. Rafa Benitez wants to compete for trophies and have the full support of the board. He won’t get that at Newcastle.

Do you think Newcastle could follow in Sunderland’s footsteps and have their own documentary about the club?

I would love to see Newcastle do something similar to Sunderland’s documentary series on Netflix. I think it would be great viewing and I know fans would love to get a closer insight to what happens behind doors at the club with players, transfers and so on. I really liked watching the Sunderland documentary, but Mike Ashley might see that and he’ll be grateful to avoid the drama. There’s no chance that Mike Ashley would allow cameras behind closed doors at Newcastle.

TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR

Transfers

On Tottenham keeping hold of key players…

If Tottenham let Eriksen go, they won’t be able to replace him. He is a top player who anyone would be interested in signing and if Tottenham want to be seriously competing against the top clubs these are the types of players they need to keep hold of. Eriksen is vital to the club, especially as they move into their new stadium.

Eriksen will know what he is worth and he is within his rights to demand it. Tottenham have had a lot tighter budget moving in to the new stadium and it would be a lot cheaper to give Eriksen what he wants than to go a spend a large sum of money trying to replace him.

On Dembele leaving…

Tottenham were right to let Dembele go because they've got enough talent coming through the ranks that deserve a chance in the squad. He was a great player and very popular with the fans, but he was starting to pick up a lot of injuries and the club managed to sell him and get him off the books. This frees up more money that we’ll hopefully see used before the January transfer window closes.

Only players around the same age and calibre of Dele Alli and Harry Kane are going to be offered the big contracts at Tottenham. These players have set the bar at the club and Tottenham are happy to let go of the other players who demand more.

On Pochettino signing new players…

I think Daniel Levy will give Pochettino the spending power of Man City and Liverpool once they move in to the new stadium. Daniel Levy will have promised Pochettino that. I expect Tottenham to soon be making £80million signings that can push them to the next level.

Tottenham fans are used to seeing their side finish in the top 4 and will now be wanting to win silverware. Once Tottenham move in to the new stadium and start signing top players, they won't have any excuses not to and I think they will.

On Tottenham renewing Llorente’s contract beyond this summer…

I would be surprised if Tottenham renewed Llorente's contract. He is a good player but he is in his 30’s now and we know Tottenham need another striker that can compete with Harry Kane to keep him on his toes. He's going to be 34 soon and his ability is only going to decline so they may as well look elsewhere with the funds that become available.

Fernando Llorente

On Tottenham signing Leeds winger Jack Clarke…

Jack Clarke has shown great potential at Leeds and would be a good signing for Tottenham. He fits the mould of the type of player Pochettino likes to go for. He's energetic, technical and looks comfortable on the ball. I don’t think he would come straight into Tottenham's first team and they would probably be looking to loan him out to another Premier League team to see what he's capable of.

On whether Pochettino has first pick on English youth players…

I think Pochettino now has first pick on young English players in the transfer market and agents will want the move as well. Agents want their players playing regularly as the players improvement makes them more money. Pochettino has brought through most of England's national team stars and for an agent that makes Tottenham a lot better proposition than anywhere else.

Young players want to get first team football and are now happy to go abroad to get it. We have seen that with Sancho moving to Dortmund. Tottenham are in a great position because they have given English players a chance and they don’t have to move abroad in order to get regular football. This could save them a fortune in the long run.

Teams like Man City have the talent in their youth system, but they're never going to get a chance on the pitch as they're always looking for an immediate impact. Young players are now too hungry to sit and wait and that gives clubs like Tottenham a great chance to snap up the best youngsters in the country.

On Vincent Janssen's future…

Janssen has had a horrific time at Spurs and he needs to move on as soon as possible to put it behind him. Not every signing works out and Janssen hasn’t been able to compete with Kane at all. It's very unfortunate for him and not something you want to see in football but the key thing is finding somewhere he can get game time and kick start his career again.

Season so far and beyond

On Tottenham's FA Cup defeat to Crystal Palace…

Tottenham have given themselves an advantage in the Premier League by being knocked out of the FA Cup. The squad has been hit by injuries and the players would have seen the busy fixture list and wondered when they were going to get a break. They will now be able to take advantage of the break they have on FA Cup weekends and prepare for the crucial fixtures that will decide if they qualify for next year’s Champions League or not.

On Tottenham's Champions League tie against Dortmund…

Tottenham aren’t going to win the Champions League so they may as well just focus on the Premier League. They're more than good enough to beat Dortmund and progress in to the quarter finals but it's just another game to worry about. With the recurring injuries that keep cropping up, they have to focus on being in the Champions League next year rather than worrying how far they can get this year.

Will Tottenham finish in the top 4…

Tottenham dropping out of the two domestic trophies has all but secured a top 4 finish. They can now focus on their Premier League performance. The Champions League spot along with the money gained from it is more vital than a domestic trophy. The club are aware how important it is to finish there and that will be their main priority.

If Tottenham don't make the top 4, then the new stadium will all have been for nothing. It's the club's main goal this season and I think they'll secure a top 4 finish.

Current squad

On Ibrahimovic's recent comments towards Harry Kane's career…

Harry Kane won't leave Tottenham this summer, but his head will eventually turn towards winning trophies. Real Madrid can practically guarantee that, as well as a very generous pay rise. He seems very settled at Tottenham and he's enjoying his football, but when he looks back at his career he will want his goals to have secured medals.

Kane will look at the future of Tottenham once they move into the new stadium and he'll decide on his future from there. He can get in to any team in the world so Tottenham have to prove they're the club he can lift trophies at.

Harry Kane

On Tottenham injuries…

Tottenham's World Cup stars are clearly suffering from fatigue after playing so many games in a season. Tottenham have been very unlucky to lose both Kane and Alli at the same time. Not many clubs could afford to lose two players of that magnitude.

Tottenham's squad is a lot stronger than they are given credit for. When you look at the amount of key injuries they have, it’s easy to say they haven’t got squad depth, but it’s a different story once those 4 or 5 players are back from injury.

On Wanyama's recurring injury and Tottenham future…

Wanyama needs to stay fit for the rest of the season if he's realistically going to be part of Tottenham's plans next season. He was great when he signed for Tottenham and Pochettino is clearly a big fan of him, but as a manager it's hard to make plans when you have an injury prone player.

Pochettino will have drawn out what he wants his squad to look like next year and it’s 50-50 if Wanyama is a part of that plan unless he proves his fitness for the remainder of the season.

On international tournaments during the season…

International Tournaments shouldn’t be running during the domestic season. The African Cup of Nations was moved out of season and it should be the same with the Asian Cup. Son could have been away for around four weeks which could have cost Tottenham massively, especially with the injuries they have.

Tottenham pay Son's wages and they potentially see no return on that for a month, whilst he could also have been injured whilst away. The Premier League sponsors know that fans want to see the best players and can't be happy watching players leave for International Tournaments midseason.

At the very least, the League need to look at the fixtures that the players are missing. Tottenham can't be fixtured to play rivals such as Chelsea and Arsenal when a key player is out on an International Tournament.

Pochettino

On Pochettino's future…

Daniel Levy will give Pochettino what he wants to stay at Tottenham and make them genuine title contenders. Pochettino could virtually walk in to any vacant manager role and Tottenham know that he will leave unless they make the funds available for him to sign top players and progress the club.

Tottenham know how important it is to keep Pochettino at the club and they will have showed him the club's plans for the future. He's clearly a massive part of it and will have a massive say in it. It's an exciting time at Tottenham and he'll want to be a part of that.

Pochettino wants to win trophies, but he's got a long career ahead of him which means he has time to create the dynasty he's started at Tottenham. If Tottenham fail to compete and win trophies, then he'll be tempted by the offers that come his way.

Mauricio Pochettino

On Pochettino being more vital than Tottenham's players…

Kane is more important to Tottenham than Pochettino. There's plenty of top managers that would take the Tottenham job should it become available, but if Tottenham were to lose Kane and his goals then they would lose 20 points a season. Kane has been the Premier League's most consistent top goal scorer for the last four seasons and there's no way they'll be able to replace him.

Tottenham are moving up to another level now and losing Pochettino or Kane isn't an option. With Tottenham moving into a new stadium I think it would be a strange move for any of the players or management to leave this summer. They have a real chance of silverware next season.

On Klopp proving himself as much at Pochettino…

Klopp has got a lot more resources than Pochettino and still hasn’t won anything at Liverpool. Liverpool have been fantastic this year but they will have a lot more to answer to should they not win a trophy. They've spent hundreds of millions and the board will now be expecting a return on their investment. Until Tottenham are given the same financial backing at the other top teams it's hard to criticise them.

On players following Pochettino out the club…

If Pochettino left Tottenham then certain players would want to follow him out. If he were to go to a team where players thought they had a chance of winning trophies, then there's always that chance it will happen. Any manager in the world would want to sign Kane and it would be no different if Pochettino were to leave. If Pochettino were to join another club, Tottenham will definitely have a clause in place that would stop him from being able to sign any Tottenham players for the foreseeable future.

SHEFFIELD WEDNESDAY

On Sheffield Wednesday’s season so far…

Sheffield Wednesday will be looking anxiously over their shoulders but I think they will beat relegation. I think Steve Bruce will prove to be a great appointment and he will be quite excited by the squad he has at his disposal. I think Bruce and Sheffield Wednesday will be looking to quickly build momentum and maybe even gate-crash the play-offs.

On Steve Bruce…

Steve Bruce is the man to take Sheffield Wednesday to the Premier League. Bruce has an amazing track record of success in the Championship. He knows what to do and how to get out of it. With the right backing, Steve Bruce can take Sheffield Wednesday to the Premier League.

I’d love to see Sheffield Wednesday sneak a promotion this season, but realistically I think they will be looking to clear out the squad with so many players nearing the end of their contracts and start again in the summer. When Bruce gets the players that he wants, I feel he is more than capable of getting Sheffield Wednesday into the Premier League.

Danny Murphy criticised Steve Bruce for taking a break before taking over Sheffield Wednesday. Do you think it was uncalled for?

I don’t think too many fans have an issue with Steve Bruce taking a short break before taking over as manager at Sheffield Wednesday. I think the vast majority of fans understand the difficult circumstances and the promises that he had made to his family. The board were aware and were happy to appoint him on that basis. I think Danny Murphy and other pundits criticising Steve Bruce should be knowledgeable and respect the decision that has been made.

Do you think Forestieri deserves the £14 million price tag Sheffield Wednesday have given him?

Forestieri is a very good and talented Championship player, but I don’t think he’s good enough to make it in the Premier League. He’s had his ups and downs and not played a lot of football in the last year. I’ve seen reports that there is a £14 million price tag on his head and Sheffield Wednesday should snap their hands off if they can get an offer near that. He might get into a Premier League team fighting for their survival, but he wouldn’t be a key man. I would rather he knuckle down at Sheffield Wednesday and do his best to get them to the Premier League.

Fernando Forestieri

WIDER PREMIER LEAGUE

On Higuaín signing for Chelsea…

Higuaín is a proven goal scorer but the Premier League is different to anything else he's experienced. He will have plenty of chances with the likes of Hazard and Willian around him, but everyone thought Morata would be a great signing and it never worked out for him.

I think it'll go one of two ways with Higuain, it's really a flip of a coin. He will either bag Chelsea tons of goals or struggle to score at all. Chelsea have had a lot of well-known strikers over the last few years but they've all struggled. He'll want to get on the scoreboard early if he's to get him confidence up.

On Hudson-Odoi's situation leaving Chelsea…

Hudson-Odoi should do whatever he can to secure move to Bayern Munich. Bayern are looking to have someone fill the space Robben will leave and obviously see him as their long term first team option. The club will be offering him first team football and that's the key thing whether he goes. Chelsea have shown over the years that youth players don’t get a chance and they’ll now pay the price for that.

From experience, the chance to play abroad is a fantastic opportunity that shouldn’t be wasted. Hudson-Odoi will learn a lot both on and off the pitch and when he sees how well Sancho is performing for Dortmund it will make him want to go even more.

On Ole Gunnar Solskjaer rejuvenation of Man Utd…

Solskjaer has finally given Man Utd the attacking football they've been looking for. Mourinho has a style of play that was never going to work at Utd and the club and fans couldn’t get on board with his way. With the wealth of attacking players at United's disposal, it was a waste to have them sitting back and grinding out results.

Man Utd are weak at the back which is something that will need to be addressed in the summer, but with the attacking players they have in the squad they're always going to be a threat and you can see their confidence growing.

On Ole Gunnar Solskjaer taking the Man Utd role full-time…

If Solskjaer keeps winning games and playing quality football then Man Utd would be crazy not to offer him the managerial role permanently. There's always the chance that it doesn’t work out, but he would be a popular appointment with the fans and that would buy him more time than the likes of Moyes and Van Gaal had if he hits any turbulence.

On Perisic's potential move to Arsenal…

I don’t understand why Arsenal are targeting Perisic. Arsenal's issues are with their defence so Perisic won't make a difference. They have a lot of talent going forward so they should be focusing on bringing in defensive players not attacking players.

Ivan Perisic

On Man City winning the quadruple…

Man City have the squad to win the quadruple, but it often comes down to luck and I don’t think they'll do it. They have a great chance of winning the domestic treble, but I don't see them winning the Champions League this season. It's a massive task and it's hard to focus on all of them, especially when they'll be up against teams like Real Madrid and Barcelona in the Champions League.

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