Glen Johnson: ‘There are question marks over Liverpool appointing Arne Slot’

 | Monday 13th May 2024, 16:16pm

Monday 13th May 2024, 16:16pm

glen johnson footy

It’s widely anticipated that Feyenoord’s Arne Slot is set to replace Jurgen Klopp as the manager of Liverpool. The Premier League club’s former right-back Glen Johnson believes there are “question marks” over the Dutchman’s appointment and says the “expectation of everybody” will be the biggest challenge facing Slot in the Anfield hotseat.

In an exclusive interview with Betfred, Johnson told us why he believes it would be “bonkers” for Liverpool to sell Darwin Nunez, why Newcastle United’s Anthony Gordon would be interested in a move to Anfield and why he reckons Thomas Tuchel won’t be returning to Chelsea this summer.

Would you be happy if Arne Slot becomes the next manager of Liverpool, as expected?

“There’s question marks. He’s obviously done a fantastic job at Feyenoord, they’ve finished second in the Eredivisie, he’s got them playing some fantastic football and he’s going to inherit a better team than what he’s got currently, so if he can replicate the football Feyenoord are playing at Liverpool, then he can be successful but it’s going to be tough for him to follow in the footsteps of Jurgen Klopp.”

What do you believe are the biggest challenges facing Slot at Anfield?

“The expectation of everybody. Liverpool have competed in every competition for what seems like a long time and people are going to be expecting the same from them under Slot. As long as he’s given time and they’re patient with him, then there’s no reason why it can’t work. It’s big shoes for him to fill.”

What do you believe success looks like for Slot at Liverpool next season, if he’s appointed?

“I still think they’ll compete and we don’t know if it will be a three-horse or two-horse race for the Premier League title next season, but I definitely believe that Liverpool will be close. However, I believe people would take them securing top four considering that it will be his first season.”

Are you excited by what you’ve heard regarding Slot’s management style and comparisons to Pep Guardiola?

“Absolutely. If anybody’s style is compared to Pep’s, then they’re doing something right. If they’re going to play that style of football, then the players are going to enjoy it and considering that a number of them are world-class, you’re going to get that little extra percent out of them performance wise. If anyone’s compared to Pep Guardiola, then they’re definitely doing something right.”

Darwin Nunez last week deleted all Liverpool related pictures off his Instagram, leading to speculation that he’s planning to leave the club. Opinions regarding him across the Liverpool fanbase are seemingly mixed, but do you believe he needs to remain at Anfield this summer?

“They can’t let him go. It would be absolutely bonkers. Nobody knows the reason for why he deleted those pictures but for me, as a player and what he does for Liverpool, they can’t let him go. He’s the right age and I know he misses loads, but he creates so many chances for himself.”

After the Merseyside derby in April, Jamie Carragher suggested that Liverpool could consider Nunez’s future at Anfield. Do you believe it’s fair to suggest that considering Darwin’s age and the fact that he’s had 31 goal contributions for his club this season?

“People are entitled to their opinion but he’s young and creates loads of chances, so by the law of averages you’re going to miss a lot, but I think what he does for Liverpool is underrated. I like him a lot and players like him don’t come around often, so if they’re prepared to let him go, then they’re going to have to spend around £80 million to find a replacement that’s as good as him. He has to stay.”

An exclusive from the Daily Star has claimed that Liverpool are interested in making a move this summer for Newcastle United winger and England international Anthony Gordon. Can you envision Gordon being interested in a return to Merseyside despite his previous allegiance with Everton?

“Yes, because players need to do what they need to do. It’s his job at the end of the day and if Liverpool come calling, then a player’s going to be interested. I don’t know if he’s an Everton fan or whatever, but you’re going to be interested if Liverpool come calling for you. 

“He’s a good player, but whether Liverpool need him is a different thing. Ultimately though, he’s a good player and Liverpool are a huge club, so I do believe Anthony would be interested in the move.”

Gordon was released by Liverpool at 11 years of age. Do you believe that rejection at such a young age could provide added motivation for him wanting to return to Merseyside in the summer from Newcastle?

“Possibly. When a player’s 11 years old, then people can get it wrong but if he feels as if he should have been at Liverpool, then if they’re interested in him, he now knows he’s good enough because they want him back. If their interest is real, he knows that he’s won them over.”

Reports in Ghana have indicated that Liverpool could be interested in activating a reported £85 million release clause in West Ham United’s Mohammed Kudus’ contract. Would this be a good move in your opinion?

“He’s clearly been one of West Ham’s best players this season, but £85 million seems like a lot. I don’t know if he’s the type of player that likes to be a big fish in a smaller pond but ultimately, playing for a title challenging team is a completely different ball game. We don’t know what he wants to do, but he definitely looks as if he’s got the credentials to fit in at Liverpool.”

Mauricio Pochettino on Friday claimed that being sacked by Chelsea at the end of the season “wouldn’t be the end of the world.” Do you believe he deep down knows that his time at Stamford Bridge is coming to an end?

“I don’t know. I’m not too sure. Hopefully the owners are going to give him time because sometimes the team looks great, so there are positives coming out of Chelsea. I definitely think he’s the right man for the job and he needs a bit more time. The fans and the owners will run out of patience eventually, but I still believe it’s worth giving him at least another season.”

Do you believe Pochettino made such a comment because he’s so confident in his credentials?

“Yes, possibly. It’s a good thing for the manager and his players to be confident and believe in what they’re doing. As long as he believes in what he’s doing and the players believe in what he’s doing, then they’re going to make positive steps.”

Bayern Munich manager Thomas Tuchel is reportedly open to a return to the Premier League, with both Chelsea and Manchester United linked with the German. Do you believe a return to Chelsea would be a positive move and do you believe he’d choose that job over the Manchester United job?

“It’s tough to talk about a manager coming into a job that I would like Mauricio Pochettino to stay in. However, if we’re talking from Thomas Tuchel’s perspective, then he’d definitely pick the Chelsea job over the Manchester United one. Chelsea’s another club that are competing, but they’re not and they’re miles away from it at the moment. With the players they’ve got, they should be doing more and if Tuchel had the option, I believe he would pick Chelsea over Manchester United.”

As Tuchel was sacked by Todd Boehly less than two years ago, do you seriously believe there would be interest from the club in bringing him back to Stamford Bridge?

“I do literally think it’s a non-starter. Chelsea’s owners sacked him for no reason when they first came into the club, so I believe that relationship is sort of over. I think it’s a kind of pointless conversation because I doubt that the owners even want him back and I believe Tuchel would stubbornly say no. However, we don’t know for certain and we’re yet to find out whether there’s concrete interest from either party.”

Do you believe finishing 6th in the Premier League and qualifying for next season’s Europa League can be deemed as success for Chelsea considering that they didn’t participate in European competition this season?

“Yes, definitely. They’ve been floating around 10th, 11th or 12th for a large part of the season and now they have the chance of finishing sixth so if they can finish in that position, then it would be a success when you consider where they were and it would be a kick in the right direction. In the summer they can bring in some new players and try to kick on from sixth next season.”

Football Insider have reported that Jordan Pickford is on Chelsea’s radar. Do you believe Chelsea need a new goalkeeper this summer and if so, is Pickford the right man to fill that position?

“I like Pickford a lot, but he can do some crazy stuff. I do think Chelsea needs a goalkeeper who is going to be there as a main figure of the team because they've changed their goalkeepers so many times in recent years and it’s a position that’s crucial to having a good team. That spine of the goalkeeper, centre-backs, central-midfielders and strikers are the core players that should be playing every week. In the past six years, god knows how many goalkeepers they've gone through, so Chelsea definitely needs to have that figure who will be present week in, week out.”

Do you believe Đorđe Petrović has the potential to be Chelsea’s long-term goalkeeper?

“I wouldn’t say long-term, but he has obviously put in some good performances and some that were not so good. It's hard to say because it’s tough to be a 24-year-old goalkeeper because it's a mature position. It takes time to become that sort of character, so maybe I’m being harsh. Maybe in a few years he will be at that level but right now, I’m not so sure.”

Do you believe Julen Lopetegui would be a good appointment for your former club West Ham United?

“Moyes’ position has always been spoken about, but I don’t really know what the fans want or what the owners expect because I don’t think he’s doing a bad job at all with what he’s got. So, to be honest, I’d rather have kept Moyes.”

Do you believe David Moyes has been treated unfairly by West Ham United?

“Yes, in the sense that the threat of his job comes up almost weekly, but like I say, I don’t know what everyone expects him to do. I understand that people want more attacking and free-flowing football, a bit more style, but you can only work with the players that you have. At times they’ve looked great and they’ve got some players that can do that sort of stuff but overall, I think they’ve got two or three world-beaters and the rest can’t play that style of football, so he can only work with what he’s got.”

How do you believe Portsmouth will fare in the Championship next season?

“To be honest, I think they’ve got a chance. In terms of that league, you’ve only got to be organised and you’re already better than half the teams, so it wouldn’t surprise me if they end up finishing in the top half. If they get a few more players and signings in during the summer then that can help them kick on, so you never know. I think when you come up like that, the players are going to be on cloud nine and as long as you’re organised, you’re going to be better than half of the teams already.”

Do you believe Portsmouth have a chance of finishing in the play-off places next season?

“Yes, it definitely wouldn’t surprise me. It’s a big club and as long as the players believe in what the manager is trying to do and they’re able to kick on and raise the bar a bit, then absolutely. It’s season one for them. If they finish in the top half, then I think they’ll take that, but there’s not a lot between finishing in the top half and getting into the play-offs. I think anything is possible, they just need a few more better players in the squad and to be organised.”

Crystal Palace’s Michael Olise is currently linked with moves to Arsenal, Manchester United and Newcastle United, but should Chelsea or Liverpool make a move for him if he becomes available?

“As a player, absolutely. He’s got that flair about him, he’s got something that other players don’t have and if there’s a chance that he’s going to go to one of your rivals, then I think Liverpool should definitely be looking at him. Whether they need him or not is a different thing and I’m not sure what the numbers are in terms of what people are discussing, but I can't imagine it being ridiculously expensive. So, as long as you sign him at the right price, then he’s definitely a player you would want to sign.”

Do you believe Olise could even move to Anfield as a replacement for Mohamed Salah, whose future is currently up in the air?

“Not so much as a replacement because you can’t really replace Mo, but in terms of a free-flowing player that people would love to watch, then yes he would be a good signing. He’s probably better than Mo at going past people because he glides past players, but whether he can score the amount of goals that Mo has is a different question. That’s why I think if Mo does leave and you do sign him, it’s not really a replacement; it’s a different player, but I do think the fans would love to watch him play for Liverpool.”

And we want to ask you the same question, this time regarding Gabriel Jesus, who The Athletic claim that Arsenal are open to selling?

“Yes, definitely. I would be surprised if Arsenal do actually want to sell him because I think that would be crazy. If he does become available, either Chelsea or Liverpool should bite their arm off. He’s not going to get you 25-goals-a-season, but he’s going to be a big part of the team and he works his socks off. In front of goal, he’s going to score a lot of goals at a club like that where he’ll get a lot of opportunities. If Arsenal do let him go, then they should absolutely jump at the chance.”

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