Wayne Bridge: ‘England can 100% win the Euros’

 | Monday 10th June 2024, 8:27am

Monday 10th June 2024, 8:27am

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Here at Betfred, we are delighted to welcome Wayne Bridge as our official ambassador for Euro 2024. In his first in a series of interviews, Wayne, who received 36 caps for his country during his playing career, exclusively spoke to us regarding England’s chances of winning the Euros, why he believes Harry Kane will win the Golden Boot, Jude Bellingham’s Ballon d’Or chances and Chelsea’s decision to replace Mauricio Pochettino with Enzo Maresca.

How far do you believe England are going to go in the tournament?

“100% they can win it. It’s not going to be easy because France are an amazing side, but they do have a great chance. The only issue the team has is whether they’re going to play with one holding midfielder or two. I’d like to see them play with Declan Rice in holding midfield and Phil Foden and Jude Bellingham ahead of him. I’d then have a front three of Cole Palmer, Bukayo Saka and Harry Kane. A team with the quality they’ve got, it would be exciting to see them play like that.”

Is an easy run to the final preferable for the players in your opinion?

“It would be great to have an easy run to the final. No game is ever easy because there’s always pressure, but it would be great to have an easier run. However, you do want to play against the big teams at some stage because you need to beat them if you’re going to win the competition.”

Do you believe Gareth Southgate has left out any players that you personally would have taken to Euro 2024?

“There was maybe a shout for Jadon Sancho to go because he’s done well in Germany since he left Manchester United for Borussia Dortmund in January. However, I don’t know if he did enough there to warrant a place in the squad. Dominic Solanke may feel hard done by too because he did very well for Bournemouth this season, but I wouldn’t dig too much into the squad that Gareth Southgate has selected because it’s better to talk about the squad that we’ve got than the ones that missed out. We need to all get behind the team.”

Marcus Rashford was one of the more surprising absentees. Do you believe he needs to get out of Manchester United to return to his best?

“I don’t really know where his head’s at. I’m very big on the mental side of the game and I don’t know if his head’s gone a bit or there’s a problem with his attitude. He possibly needs someone to put an arm around him and give him a talking to. I don’t know all the details, but I wouldn’t suggest that he needs to get out of Manchester United yet. That could be a question that gets answered this summer, but he’s obviously got a lot of ability.”

Can a change of club give you that mental freshness you need as a footballer?

“There’s a lot of things that can. The manager can, even if it’s the same manager, because I had a bad time under José Mourinho but I was able to turn the corner with him and it proves that you can always turn things around. 

“A break and then starting the new season fresh can also help. I don’t think that jumping ship is necessarily the answer. I just believe that he needs to get his head down over the summer and have a good preseason and see how the start of the season goes for him.”

Who’re you backing to win the Golden Boot at the competition? The current list of favourites include Harry Kane, Kylian Mbappé, Cristiano Ronaldo, Jude Bellingham and Olivier Giroud. 

“I’d go for Kane, but Mbappé will give him a run for his money. Harry just always seems to pop up with goals, whether it’s a great strike, header, tap in or penalty. As an Englishman, I’d put my money on him, but I believe Mbappé will be a challenge for him.”

If England wins the Euros, do you believe Jude Bellingham will be the frontrunner for the 2024 Ballon d’Or? He is currently second favourite behind Vinicius Junior.

“I don’t think England winning the Euros will mean he goes ahead of Vinicius Junior and wins the Ballon d’Or. He could have a rubbish tournament and not play well. I don’t think he will even be bothered about winning the Ballon d’Or to be honest because what would he rather do, win that or win the Euros? He’d take winning the Euros over the Ballon d’Or.  However, at the moment I think it’s a flip of a coin between him and Vinicius to win it.”

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Do you believe Chelsea have made an error by getting rid of Mauricio Pochettino as their manager?

“It’s hard to say it’s an error, but I do believe the decision to sack Pochettino was harsh considering that he was turning it round a little bit towards the end of the season. It’s a bit of a shambles at Chelsea with the amount of players they’ve got, the contracts they’re on and the inconsistency of everything. A lot of managers don’t get a lot of time and it seems like Chelsea chuck money down the drain a lot of the time. It’s not always about the manager, you’ve got to look at the players as well. 

“I don’t think getting a new manager fixes a problem long-term. In the short-term, players may show a bit more effort, especially those that weren’t being selected often by the previous manager. It’s a new start for everyone really, but I believe it was still a bit harsh to sack Pochettino.

“A new manager coming in could also be disruptive for some players because you’re not aware of their philosophy, how they train players and everything changes effectively. It seems as if everybody wants a quick fix. Some of their managers too have been strange choices. Graham Potter was a strange choice in particular.”

What do you make of the appointment of Leicester City’s Enzo Maresca? He’s another former number two of Pep Guardiola and do you believe he could do a similar job for Chelsea as what Mikel Arteta’s done for Arsenal?

“He will need to be given time because he will want to bring players in and it’s a massive headache. We don’t even know if he will have control over the players he keeps or sells.”

Do you believe Manchester United need to try and capitalise on Chelsea’s decision to let Pochettino leave?

“I don’t know what happens with Erik Ten Hag after Manchester United won the FA Cup. Everyone was just in shock. Again, when I look at Manchester United it’s a bit like Chelsea in the sense that both are very inconsistent and there are the issues with that. There are certain players that didn’t get on with the manager so he had to change things up and then it's looking at if he gets on with the owners so it’s definitely difficult. 

“I like Pochettino as a manager and I think he would be good for the young people that come to the club as well, but I wouldn’t want Manchester United to benefit in anyway only because I don’t really like them if I’m being completely honest – everyone was a Manchester United fan when I was growing up. There is a possibility but again, if they are getting rid of Erik Ten Hag, then yes, go and get him because I do think he would be good. However, what I will say about any big club that is going through a bad time is that you’ve got to give your manager time.”

Do you believe Gareth Southgate should have been considered for the Chelsea job? He’s hinted that he could leave his role as England manager after Euro 2024. 

“Probably, although if I was Southgate and I didn’t have the England job anymore, I’d be taking a few years holiday but yes, definitely, 100%. There will definitely be people looking at him but it just depends how this tournament goes, we don’t know how this tournament is going to go yet, so that probably would have been a good one for Chelsea, but they just wanted something instantly.”

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And do you believe Mauricio Pochettino would be a good candidate to replace Southgate as England manager?

“Not for me because I like an English manager. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a good manager but as I’ve said before, I like an English manager so in that case I would say someone like Eddie Howe, but if they weren't going to go for an English manager, then in that case, I’d say yes.” 

“Don’t get me wrong, Sven-Göran Eriksson gave me my debut so I was buzzing and no English manager did. I remember Glen Hoddle was pushing my name forward for England and nothing ever came from it, then obviously I managed to get in when Sven was manager but I would like to see an English manager.” 

Do you believe there’s any chance Chelsea will challenge for the Premier League title next season?

“I feel like if I said yes, everyone would be asking me how many pints I’ve had. I would literally say no if you’re looking for a yes or no answer, but there’s always a maybe, however, to me, it looks like it’s going to take a while. 

“If you look at the quality of Manchester City, I don’t think Chelsea would be able to challenge them next year if I'm being completely honest and the talk of a player like [Conor] Gallagher leaving blows my mind. As someone who’s one of Chelsea’s best players behind Cole Palmer, it blows my mind that he’s going to go. It also blows my mind that Cole Palmer isn’t one of Chelsea’s top earners because he’s their best player by far.”

Which players in particular are you clearing out of Chelsea this summer?

“You could get rid of a lot of them. It’s a tough one because I don’t see what they’re like week in, week out. I don’t know if a different manager comes in and attitudes change. I just think it’s a really hard one. However, for me, I would have concentrated on keeping Pochettino and having a real in-depth conversation about the players that he really likes and where he might need something else instead of getting rid of him – I think that would have been a better way to go around the whole situation.”

We’ve seen a previous interview with you where you claimed you were hurt by England’s Euro 2020 final defeat to Italy even more so due to the fact it was Roberto Mancini who led them to the triumph. However, how satisfying was it for you to see that same team under Mancini fail to qualify for the 2022 World Cup?

“I was only buzzing because I was getting a lot of messages from Italian people that I couldn’t even read because they were all in Italian. When I’ve mentioned Mancini before, the hate word gets thrown around a bit too much — I don’t hate him, it’s just the fact that he won it with Italy against England. I was just a bit gutted, especially because I thought England had thrown their chance away a bit. As a manager, I’ve said it before, in terms of Glen Hoddle and José Mourinho, Mancini couldn’t even lace their boots when it came to tactics, training and everything else, so it just blows my mind.

“When he won the Premier League with Manchester City, I believe that was due to the players rather than anything he brought to the table personally and I was obviously a little bit gutted that he was the manager when Italy beat England, which made things a little bit worse. I think I was a little bit happy to find out Italy hadn’t qualified, but it wasn’t one of those situations where I was absolutely buzzing.”

How do you expect your former teammate Vincent Kompany to get on at Bayern Munich next season? Are you surprised he landed the job?

“I was happy for him and surprised, but Burnley were on a hiding to nothing when they came up, so if they stayed up, I think that would have been an amazing achievement for him and the club. It was a tough, tough job. When I played with him, he was very mature for his age, very grown up, loves the game of football, studies it a lot, has a great attention to detail and I speak to Craig Bellamy quite a bit and he tells me how good he is. 

“Bayern Munich have obviously seen all the good work he has done before and had a chat with him, so in that aspect, it doesn’t really surprise me because of the way he is about football, how intelligent he is and how great a leader he is, so that’s what I mean when I said about how mature he is for his age. He’s always been a leader and conducts himself very well so from what I know about him, I’m not too surprised.” 

You can read all our latest Euro 2024 Betting Tips at our dedicated Betfred Insights content hub.

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