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Ray Parlour Talks To JBI Training

3 July 2023

JBI Training Talks To Arsenal Legend, Ray Parlour

Discover the untold stories and career highlights of Arsenal legend Ray Parlour in an exclusive interview with JBI Training. From his time as a key player in the famous 'Invincibles' squad to his insights on leadership and teamwork, delve into the world of football with one of its most celebrated icons. Join us as Ray Parlour shares his experiences, anecdotes, and invaluable wisdom, providing a fascinating glimpse into the mind of a true sporting legend. 

JBI Training is a leading provider of Technology training for esteemed corporations like BBC, ITV, Cisco, Lloyds, and government organizations, offering a wide range of courses, including their highly regarded Power BI Courses and Python training. Power BI is a leading business intelligence tool that has many diverse use cases, including using data to improve sports, such as football.

 

Over To Ray Parlour ...

Career questions 

 

Who was the best player that you ever played alongside? 

 

I played alongside so many great players. If I had to pick, it would be between Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp, with Dennis just edging it.  

 

Dennis had the biggest impact on the squad in terms of changing a lot of our attitudes with regards to his professionalism and the way that he trained. He was such a great trainer, and he would always be practicing on his own after our sessions. That had a massive effect on the rest of the squad and made us take a look at our own training.  

 

He joined the club in 1996. Football was changing, it was starting to become a bit more professional, if I’m being honest. Thierry could change a game in an instant and win a game on his own, but Dennis, was different class. He made all of the players better.  

 

Who was the toughest opponent that you ever faced? 

 

In terms of hardness, it would have to be Stuart Pearce. He would go through you – he would really try to rattle you with his tackles. If you tried to kick him harder, he’d go: “Is that all you’ve got, son?” Then you would spend the rest of the match looking over your shoulder because you knew he’d come and put in another big tackle on you to even things up.  

 

Roy Keane. He was such a big presence in that Manchester United midfield at the time – he would run that area of the park. Roy was such an important player for that Manchester United team, who Arsenal were fighting tooth and nail with for supremacy from 97 until I left the club in 2004.  

 

What was the highlight of your career?  

 

Scoring against Chelsea in the 2002 FA Cup final was such a big moment for me, but also for my family. The FA Cup was such a massive occasion in my house growing up. Dad would be glued to the television all day and mum would be making the sandwiches. That was special.  

 

Another of my proudest moments was when I captained the team to a 5-1 away victory to Inter Milan in the Champions League. They had beaten us 3-0 at Highbury, so to beat them away at San Siro, that was an amazing moment.  

 

After the match, I said to Arsène Wenger, “Boss, you know I have to be the skipper moving forward now.” He giggled and said: “Patrick is our captain.” I was only joking, but he wasn’t! That was a very proud moment for me. To turn around a three-goal deficit and to win like we did, that was very special.  

 

Apart from yourself, who was the biggest joker in the Arsenal dressing room?  

 

We always had good dressing rooms at Arsenal. All of the players would like to have a bit of fun and banter with each other. Wrighty was always funny back in the day. You probably wouldn’t think this, but Dennis Bergkamp absolutely loved a wind-up. He would always be winding people up in the dressing room. He really enjoyed the British culture after coming from Inter Milan, where they took their football very seriously.  

 

Don’t get me wrong, we would train hard and Dennis was the hardest trainer, but outside of the training, he loved the camaraderie that we had as a squad because it was different in Milan. Dennis was a wind-up merchant, but we all loved him.  

 

Iconic moments 

 

Let’s go back to that second double winning season, the FA Cup Final against Chelsea where you scored a beauty. Tim Lovejoy infamously announced 'It's only Ray Parlour' before your screamer against Chelsea in the FA Cup final, what were your thoughts on this at the time and what do you think about it now? 

 

I thought it was quite funny. There were better players on the pitch than me, people like Thierry and Dennis, all of those guys. Bradley Walsh sums it up perfectly. He was doing the co-commentary alongside Tim that day and whenever I bump into him, he says, “Ray, that is still one of the best moments that I’ve ever been involved with.”  

 

It was a bit of fun. I went on Soccer AM straight after. One of my best friends, the golfer Ian Poulter, he had his stag do that summer and Tim Lovejoy was going, so I made sure that I turned up with a big poster of that moment that I signed with the caption ‘Dear Tim, It’s only Ray Parlour’.  

 

That was what football is all about. I used to love the banter; I thought it was funny. It was great for me to produce a big moment like that in an FA Cup final. I was lucky enough to find the target. It was in front of the Arsenal fans too, which was a massive bonus because my Mum and Dad where there and they were in tears – Dad knew how big that moment was for me.  

 

Over the weekend, I was watching the 0-0 draw with Manchester United in the invincible season and the mele after Van Nistelrooy missed the penalty. You were getting stuck in there. Can you describe the intensity of that rivalry at the time?  

 

That rivalry was so intense. There wasn’t much between the sides and, when you look at both clubs’ achievements, it’s the fine margins that make all the difference. When United won the treble, we should have beaten them in the FA Cup semi-final, but Dennis missed that late penalty. Then when Arsenal became the Invincibles, if van Nistelrooy scored that penalty, it’s a different story. 

 

You would have put your house on van Nistelrooy scoring. We all know what happens afterwards; we went on an amazing run and made history as a team.  

 

That was an incredible match. You could tell that something was going to boil over after Patrick Vieira was sent off. With how late it was in the game, we knew that if van Nistelrooy scored that penalty, there was no coming back. As a team, we always thought that if we could get four points against Manchester United in that era, we had a chance to win the league. It was a massive point for us away from home. Because of the dominance of the two teams at the time, we knew that we would have a great chance of winning the league if we could beat them at Highbury in the return fixture.  

 

There was so much competition between the two teams during that period.  

 

We really respected the Manchester United players. There were a lot of winners in both teams. At Arsenal, even when we would play eight versus eight in training, nobody wanted to lose and sometimes things would boil over.  

 

Both teams knew how important that fixture was. We can talk about North London derbies, which is a massive game for the fans, but the biggest game of the era for us as players was Manchester United. That was a game that normally determined who was going to win the title that season.  

 

I think we were a little bit out of order in 2003. Quite a lot of us were fined.  

 

if you were a neutral, that was the game that you wanted to watch.  

 

Do you think the Premier League will ever see a rivalry of its kind again? 

 

I don’t think there will be a rivalry that was that ferocious. Times have changed in football; you couldn’t get away with a lot of the tackles that were flying in back then in this period. You could get away with a lot more back then.  

 

I think Liverpool and Manchester United is a big one. That could be a rivalry that could boil over next season if they are competing with each other.  

 

We all know Arsène Wenger as being an incredibly calm and studios man. What was he like in the midst of that rivalry with Manchester United? Did his behaviour change?  

 

Arsène always remained calm. He didn’t change and he didn’t have to because the players didn’t need any extra motivation; they knew how important those games against Manchester United were.  

 

Arsène let the players get on with it. If you start changing the way you approach games, it can actually put pressure on players. Sometimes that can get in your head and you start to wonder why the manager has changed his approach.  

 

Arsène would treat an FA Cup final like a league game, but George Graham was different. Before the first cup final I ever played in, I was in a hotel for three days before the game, and then you start to think about the game too much, especially if you’re a young player. The players knew how important the rivalry was between Arsenal and Manchester United without Arsène having to say anything. You could see the rivalry between Wenger and Ferguson. They had plenty of spats and Arsene loved that rivalry. That incident in 2003 was brewing for a long time – it was always going to happen.  

 

The Invincibles  

 

Do you think any of this current crop of Arsenal players would be good enough to get into the Invincibles side and if so, who? 

 

There were so many good performances from a lot of Arsenal players last season. You could argue that Saka could get into the team on the righthand side. On the left, Pires was different class that year. You can’t replace Henry or Bergkamp with anyone from the current squad if I’m being honest.  

 

Patrick Vieira and Gilberto were brilliant that season. I called Gilberto the Invisible Wall. He was always in the right place.  

 

Then you look at the back four. Gabriel had a really good season for Arsenal this year, so maybe he could have got in there, but Kolo Toure and Sol Campbell were brilliant for us that year. Lauren was terrific at right back and Ashley Cole was phenomenal at left back.  

 

I can’t really swap any of the Invincibles for anyone in the current squad apart from Saka, and that’s probably being a bit harsh on Freddie Ljungberg, who scored some vital goals for us. 

 

Do any of the key players from that team remind you of any of the current Arsenal squad?  

 

I thought one of Arsenal’s best players last year was Martin Ødegaard. He grew in stature with his captaincy. He’s not on Dennis Bergkamp’s level yet, but you can see the signs. He always wants the ball, and he is a very intelligent player. Dennis was like that.  

 

I really hope that he can improve again. I think he has got better with every season he has been at the club, and he is still a young player. I think he could be thought of in the same class as Dennis Bergkamp if he can keep performing on a regular basis.  

 

Gabriel and Saliba were really good. Saliba’s injury was probably one of the moments that changed the season for Arsenal. If they had kept him fit, they may have had a better chance of winning the title.  

 

I love Aaron Ramsdale in goal. I think he has a brilliant attitude and Jens Lehmann was very similar. Goalkeepers can be a little bit crazy at times – they always are.  

 

Arsenal transfer business: incoming

 

Arsenal have added Kai Havertz from Chelsea, Declan Rice looks like he in on the way along with the talented Ajax defender Jurrien Timber and we’re only a couple of days into July. How impressed have you been by Arsenal’s transfer dealings so far?  

 

The owners know that they have a manager that could potentially win them the league title. I think they’ve let the purse strings go to bring in the best players for Arsenal to try and achieve that.  

 

Edu deserves a lot of credit. I’m very lucky to be able to go with Arsenal on the pre-season tours to America. Last year, he was on his phone non-stop trying to get deals done. It’s a difficult job. When players are under contract, they can sit tight and refuse to move, so Edu deserves a lot of credit for what he has accomplished over the last couple of transfer windows.  

 

Arsenal will be looking at the squad and would have identified the roles where they need to strengthen. Xhaka looks like he is going to be moving on this summer, so midfield is an area where the club is looking to add quality. Declan Rice will be a great signing. I know that both clubs are working on trying to find an agreement in terms of the payment structure, but it looks like that deal could be close to completion which is great.  

 

I think we need some cover at centre half. I haven’t seen a lot of Timber from Ajax, but I’m sure the club has done their homework on the player.  

 

Kai Havertz has a massive opportunity. I don’t think we’ve seen the real Havertz over the last couple of seasons, especially after Thomas Tuchel left the club. I think he could be a really good signing. You need quality back-up across all positions, and I think he can play in a number of roles for Arsenal.  

 

We saw him play as a number nine for Chelsea, but I don’t think that is his best position. I can see him playing deeper than that at Arsenal, and with the club returning to the Champions League, you need to have that strength in depth.  

 

The transfer business looks good at the moment. Arsenal have highlighted the players that they need, so they just have to execute that now.  

 

I think it would be fair to say that Havertz had some moments playing for Chelsea, but he never really sparkled like he did as a youngster playing in Germany. 

 

I think there were reasons for that. Chelsea played like a team of individuals last season. They had so many players and made so many changes at the club. 

 

Mikel Arteta would have done his homework on the player.  

 

Arsenal were a real team last year. They were completely united, there was that connection with the fans. If Kai Havertz feels that and Mikel Arteta thinks that he can be a very important player for Arsenal, then I think he will be a really good signing.  

 

In many ways, it is quite similar to when Arsenal signed Martin Ødegaard. Real Madrid didn’t fancy him, so he joined us on loan and then he went back there, but again he wasn’t a key player and he joined on a permanent deal. Mikel Arteta saw something in Martin Ødegaard and knew that he could get the best out of the player. I’m hoping that he has seen something similar in Kai Havertz and, if he has, then Havertz could be a great signing for Arsenal.  

 

I agree. Sometimes a player needs a different environment to flourish.  

 

It’s a little bit like Mason Mount. I don’t think that anyone expected him to leave Chelsea, but sometimes you need a change of scenery as a player.   

 

He could be a brilliant signing for Manchester United. I am hoping that Kai Havertz will be the same for Arsenal.  

 

I saw some comments from you saying that you were surprised Arsenal moved for Havertz, citing the need for the club to sign an out and out number nine. Is there a player out there you would like to see come into the club? 

 

I always think that you need a bit of back-up. Eddie Nketiah did really well when he came into the team last season, but the Arsenal sides I was part of always had four really good strikers. I know that a lot of teams play with one forward now, but in my teams we had Nwankwu Kanu, Sylvain Wiltord and obviously Thierry (Henry) and Dennis (Bergkamp).  

 

I do think we need that extra striker. If Gabriel Jesus gets injured again, is Eddie going to be able to come in and do well enough in the Champions League?  

 

I know that we could play with a false nine, but I would like that security of having an out-and-out striker. The problem is, who is available? Who can Arsenal bring in that position? If the circumstances were different, I would have gone for Ivan Toney all day long. I think he would have been ideal for Arsenal. He reminds me a little bit of Ian Wright. I am sure that Edu is looking all over the world to see who is available. We also don’t know how much Arsenal can spend, especially if we’re going to spend a big chunk of the budget on Declan Rice. We may have to sell a few players to make room for another striker.  

 

The signing of Declan Rice appears to be imminent. How much of a statement of intent from Arsenal for the season ahead is this signing?  

 

I think the signing of Declan Rice is a massive statement of intent from Arsenal. People say that Declan Rice is a holding midfielder, but I see him as a complete midfielder. He can definitely add more goals to his game. I think he will really improve that part of his game at Arsenal.  

 

Declan is rarely injured. He plays week-in-week-out for both England and West Ham. Arsenal has a squad of really talented young players that will keep improving – he will fit in really nicely at the club. Declan Rice will be a huge signing for Arsenal, but just as important was the club agreeing new deals with the likes of Bukayo Saka, William Saliba and Gabriel Martinelli. It’s so important for Arsenal to secure the long-term futures of these players.  

 

Man City were interested in Rice but Arsenal were always favourites for his signature, are you surprised Rice considered Arsenal to be a better fit for him than Man City and why? 

 

I think that certain players consider their family life too. Declan Rice is obviously very settled in London and wanted to stay in London. Arsenal is the best club for him to join in the capital in terms of challenging for trophies.  

 

We all know how good Manchester City are and what they achieved last year was magnificent. Moving forward, hopefully Arsenal, if they can get Declan Rice, that can give them a big push towards winning a trophy next year. Arsenal will be aiming to go one better and win the Premier League title next season, while they will also want to do well in the Champions League.  

 

The last time Arsenal broke a British transfer record was to sign Dennis Bergkamp. If Declan Rice can have half the impact that Dennis had at the club, then he will be some signing for Arsenal.  

 

Wow! Yeah, definitely. It would be incredible if Declan Rice could have anywhere close to the impact that Dennis Bergkamp had playing for the club. Dennis has got a statue outside The Emirates. Hopefully in fifteen year, Declan Rice will have his own statue too.  

 

If Rice can make an impact like Dennis did, it would be amazing. I think that he is a player that will fit very comfortably into the Arsenal midfield.  

He’s a very intelligent player. He’s energetic and I like the way that he conducts himself on and off the pitch. He impressed me a lot during West Ham’s run to the Europa Conference League final, you can see how much it meant to him to win that trophy, so I hope he brings that enthusiasm and winning mentality into the squad. He will definitely improve the team.  

 

Arsenal transfer business: outgoing 

 

With such a significant outlay in transfer fees for new signings, Arsenal will have to balance the books. Are there any players that you expect to see move on this summer?  

 

You always look at your fringe players when you think about individuals that may be moving on. I hope that Emile Smith-Rowe isn’t one of the players that leaves. There were rumours about him being included in the Declan Rice deal, but he’s performing really well for England at the European Under 21 tournament and I think he just needs to have a bit of a run in the Arsenal team to rediscover his best form.  

 

Arsenal need competition for places in the midfield. It looks like Xhaka is going to go back to Germany, and Thomas Partey has also been linked with an exit this summer. Both players will probably move on.  

 

The signing of Rice looks imminent, so he will slot in there, but I do think that Smith-Rowe can play a part next season. I can see him playing in Xhaka’s role; he’s very good on the ball, he can run at players, his movement is good. I would like to see him continue his development at the club.  

 

Havertz is another player that can play in Xhaka’s position too. I think he can be deadly in that role, finding pockets of space.  

 

Kieran Tierney is expected to leave this summer, do you think that is the right decision and has he lived up to expectations during his time at Arsenal? 

 

Kieran’s Arsenal career has been a bit frustrating for him. I really like the lad, I’ve spoken to him on many occasions, and he has really tried to do his best whenever he’s been in the team. He’s had some injury problems as well, which hasn’t helped him. The way that Mikel Arteta sets up his team, with Zinchenko moving into the midfield, he seems to a better fit for the manager. You can’t ask Tierney to perform that Zinchenko role - he is an out-and-out left-sided player that loves to get forward and hug the touchline. Sometimes certain players don’t click in certain teams.  

 

If Tierney were to join Newcastle, I think he would be a great signing for them. Arsenal will need to balance the books this summer. If a player isn’t happy with his situation at the club or feels he should be starting more games, then sometimes you need to move them on.  

 

I think if you wanted to use a word to sum up Kieran’s time at the club it would be frustrating. He’s suffered some nasty injuries that have stopped him from holding down a starting place in the team. He is a top player and a top guy. Whichever club he joins if he does leave will be getting a brilliant player. 

 

Emile Smith-Rowe 

 

What advice would you give the talented player ahead of returning to Arsenal for pre-season training?  

 

It’s all about performances and attitude in training. As a player, you can get a bit down in training if you’re not playing. We know he’s had some difficulty with injuries and he was out for a long spell, but he has to keep working hard.  

 

Emile needs to keep showing Arteta that he is ready to go. If he is given a chance in the team, he needs to grab it with both hands and play as well as he can because then he knows that he could possibly keep his place in and play in the next game. That’s what Arsene was like with me, he’d always say to me, “Ray, if you play well, I’ll play you in the next game.” That’s all you need to hear as a player. He needs to make sure that he has prepared himself and is ready to go when the opportunity knocks, and the opportunity will come because there are so many games.  

 

He needs to keep showing Mikel Areta that he can trust him when he needs him. He will need to show a positive attitude when he isn’t in the team and that he is willing to bide his time until he is given a chance. If I was Emile Smith-Rowe, I’d be going up to the manager in training and saying, “Give me a chance.” Arteta will want to see that level of desire from the player. My advice would be that I know it can be frustrating when you’re not playing, but you have to be patient and wait for the opportunity and take it when it’s given. The hardest part is taking that chance, but with the right application and attitude, I am certain he will get it next season.  

 

Eddie Nketiah and Florian Balogun 

 

Florian Balogun comes back into the club after a breakthrough season on loan in France. He has said that he wants to play this season, do you think Arsenal should give him that opportunity? I think he could offer us something different in the striker role.  

 

Florian Balogun can definitely offer Arsenal something different in the striker role. I saw him up close on Arsenal’s pre-season tour last year and heimpressed me quite a lot.  

 

He is a big, tall guy. He has a good build. I think he has a brilliant opportunity to put himself in Arteta’s plans for the coming season by performing well during the pre-season tour.  

 

He did really well in France last year. I know that the level in France is a little bit lower than the Premier League, but he was still banging the goals in. He is a confident player and character. I think it will be interesting to see what he does on the tour in America. Everyone will be given an opportunity and he will have to show Mikel Arteta that he is ready to be part of his squad next season.  

 

I like the desire from the player. He’s already said that he wants to play after his successful period on loan in France, let’s see if that will be with Arsenal.  

 

This is a tricky situation for the club to deal with this summer. If you were in Edu and Arteta’s shoes, how would you approach Balogun’s future?  

 

I do feel like he deserves that opportunity to show his ability during pre-season. Pre-season is such an important time for lots of players – it’s so important to find your fitness and rhythm ahead of a long season. If you miss the pre-season with injury, it can be really hard for you to catch-up.  

 

I think Balogun needs to get back into training, get on the front foot and show the manager the desire that he is ready to do the business in the Premier League. I’m sure he’ll be given an opportunity is he can demonstrate to the manager that he is ready to play for Arsenal Football Club.  

 

Standards are high, we all know that, but if he has a decent pre-season, I think Arteta can be convinced that he can play a big role at Arsenal in the future.  

 

Ethan Nwaneri 

 

More good news for Arsenal fans with reports that highly rated youngster Ethan Nwaneri has agreed a professional contract that he will sign when he turns 17. There are plenty of examples of academy players that have made it into the first team currently on show, how much of an impact do you think that had on the young man’s decision and do you think he will be more involved with the first team next season?  

 

I think that Nwaneri will be more involved with the first team next season. I’m sure that the Arsenal lads will be encouraging him and will want to see more of him.  

 

It’s great news that he has agreed to sign with Arsenal. There were a lot of clubs trying to sign him. It would have been a shame for Arsenal to have done so much hard work in terms of his development if they lost him because he is a player with so much potential.  

 

I’m sure that Mikel Arteta has got massive plans for his future. I expect him to develop the player gradually, a little bit like how Arsène developed Jack Wilshire. We could all see the potential that he had as a sixteen-year-old, but in the end, he was so much of a special talent that he probably played too many games as a youngster which is probably why he had so many injuries in his career.  

 

I think what he does on the training pitch is the most important thing for him at his age. He has huge potential and it’s up to him to see that potential flourish as he continues his development at Arsenal. He will need to work really hard, but I’m very excited about him going forward and I expect him to be involved in pre-season, trying to show Mikel what he can do.  

 

Last season and looking ahead 

 

What lessons do you think Mikel Arteta would have learned from last season?  

 

There were games last season which we didn’t see out. Liverpool was one of them. It wasn’t a terrible result getting a point at Anfield, Arsenal’s record at Anfield has been terrible recently, but to draw after being two up was disappointing.  

 

The West Ham game was different. We were cruising in that game and if the third one goes in, its game over. To concede a stupid goal just before halftime gave West Ham a bit of belief. You could sense the buzz around the place that the goal gave West Ham. That was a massive two points dropped.  

 

Drawing to Southampton at home was a poor result. There were certain games where you look back and think, we had to see that game out. Arteta will be looking at that and will want to rectify that next season. Sometimes you have to win ugly. I think there are a few things that this team can learn to get a result over the line.  

 

Of course, everyone thinks of the teams that I was part of as playing beautiful football, but we could really mix it up if we had too. If we needed to kill a game off by trying to run the clock down or waste time, we did it. No one remembers how you win a trophy. It’s all about winning and I think that is something that Arsenal need to do a little bit better, especially when you get that lead. What impressed me last year was how quickly Arsenal came out of the traps. We really put teams on the back foot – an early goal can always knock the stuffing out of a team. Once you get in front, you have to know how to win the game.  

 

Can the players use the disappointment of last season to spur them on and go one further this season by winning the title?  

 

Arsenal can definitely use the disappointment of missing out on the title to go one further next season. There is a real excitement around the squad at the moment, not just from the players, but the fans too.  

 

I know last season was disappointing – we had a great opportunity to win the title with the position we were in – but you have to hold your hand up and say that City are a fantastic team, and, in the end, they were probably a little bit too experienced in the run-in.  

 

Arsenal will need to learn from their mistakes last year. I think they’ll be really up for a title challenge next season, especially if they can bring in Declan Rice and the players that have been linked. Arsenal need to believe in themselves. They need to believe that they can do it next season.  

 

I think Arteta will get the team together in pre-season and they will assess what went wrong as a group. The players will have to learn from their mistakes otherwise they will get left behind in terms of challenging for the title.  

 

We’ve got the youngest squad in the division. I’m really excited about watching this group over the next three or four years. They are only going to get better.  

 

How far do you think Arsenal will progress in the Champions League and what is the minimum for them upon their return to the competition? 

 

I’m really excited to see Arsenal back in the Champions League. I certainly believe that we’re good enough to get as far as the quarter-finals, I think that would have to be the minimum objective with the squad we have.  

 

It’s going to be interesting to see how Arsenal manage the Champions League alongside the Premier League, how Arteta rotates his teams. He will need to find the right balance.  

 

Arsenal will need a little bit of luck along the way if they want to win it.  

I would love to see the club win the Premier League next season. That is the one trophy I would love to see the club lift, so hopefully they can go one better than last season.  

 

Premier League title race, top four and next season 

 

Manchester City go into next season off the back of a treble. Can you see anyone stopping them from retaining their title?  

 

I’m hoping Arsenal can stop Manchester City from retaining their title. They are the big favourites to win it, which I understand because they have so much quality in their squad.  

 

It looks like they will be a couple of midfielders short. Gundogan has joined Barcelona and there a lot of rumours about Bernardo Silva leaving, which would be a big loss for them.  

 

Arsenal has to believe that they can beat them. I’m sure Liverpool will be stronger next season. They had a lot of injuries last season, but have added the signing of Mac Allister, who is a good player.  

 

I think it will be interesting to see what Newcastle do. They will be investing in their squad every year from now on, probably not at the levels of Manchester City, but they will strengthen.  

 

Out of all the teams, I really think that Arsenal is the best placed club to give them a run for their money. Everyone will want to beat Manchester City, especially after they won the treble, which may make things a little bit more difficult for them.  

 

It was a difficult season for Chelsea and Tottenham last year. Do you expect these clubs to come back stronger next season, or do you think they will struggle to get close to the top four?  

 

Chelsea is thinning out their squad at the moment. Pochettino will want to mould the squad that he feels he needs for the season ahead. Chelsea can’t be any worse than last season – it’s a big job for him.  

 

I’m expecting Spurs to be stronger. Ange Postecoglou is new to the Premier League, but he did a brilliant job at Celtic. I think Maddison is a great signing for them. Tottenham have been crying out for a player like him to join them for a while; they’ve missed that creative spark in a playmaker role.  

 

We’re not sure what is going to happen with Harry Kane. There’s a meeting in the diary between Harry and the club on July 12th, but, if I was in harry Kane’s position, I would have got that meeting in sooner. I would want to know what the ambition was for the season ahead and moving forward. I think Spurs are in a bit of a dilemma regarding his future.  

 

He has a year left on his contract. If he doesn’t want to commit to a new deal, is Daniel Levy going to let him go on a free transfer? I can’t see him doing that as a businessman. It would be a massive blow for Tottenham if he were to leave.  

 

Brighton surprise package 

 

I think it will be hard for another team to repeat what Brighton did last season, they were magnificent. In many ways, I feel a bit sorry for Brighton because everyone always tries to pinch their players. They have such a good business model at the club when it comes to recruitment.  

 

They’re going to get big money for Caicedo. They will be making a massive profit on the player if you believe the amounts that are being reported.  

 

Mitoma, he’s another player that could easily sell for big money.  

 

Brighton were a great team last year. De Zerbi did a wonderful job and I’m sure that a lot of the big clubs in the league will be keeping an eye on him. I hope they can have another great season in the Premier League next season. To do what they did last year, there must be a massive buzz around the place. They’ll be looking forward to playing in Europe too.  

 

Wider transfer business 

 

Do you think this could be the summer where Harry Kane departs Tottenham? Can you see him making the switch to Bayern?  

 

We know that Harry wants to win trophies and he is in a period of his career where he needs to start lifting trophies. A footballers career isn’t about money. When he hangs up his boots, he will want to look back at the titles. 

 

Harry will be thinking that he needs to win something. The dilemma that he has is that he will probably be thinking about beating Alan Shearer’s Premier League goalscoring record. Perhaps he could go to Bayern Munich for a few years and then come back and have a crack at Shearer’s record.  

 

I could see Chelsea coming in for him. We know that Pochettino has a wonderful relationship with Harry Kane. The ball is Tottenham’s court if he decides that he doesn’t want to sign a new contract with the club. I also think there is a possibility that he could see this last year out and then move on a free transfer to a Premier League club in 2024.  

 

Wouldn’t it be great is Arsenal did a Sol Campbell with Harry Kane?  

 

It would be unbelievable (laughs)! I don’t think there is much chance of that happening to be honest, I think his legacy at Tottenham would be over if that happened, although I would love to see it.  

 

I don’t think Tottenham fans would be happy if he went to Chelsea either. I think they could just about manage him going to Manchester United, or even City, but they wouldn’t want him going to any London clubs. 

 

There was a rumour flying around over the weekend that Arsenal are lining up a sensational move for Kylian Mbappe when his contract expires in 2024. Could you see that happening and if so, could Thierry Henry play a role in helping Arsenal secure his signature?  

 

It's funny you mention Henry whispering in the player’s ear, because I live close to Mark Noble and every time I see him I ask him about Declan Rice! I’m sure Thierry could play a role if there was genuine interest from both Arsenal and Mbappe.  

 

We all know that rumours can be a bit silly, but how exciting would that be if Arsenal could bring a player like Mbappe? We love the rumours and the gossip – it’s a big part of football. That is the kind of rumour that as an Arsenal fan, you want to be hearing.  

 

Technology Questions 

 

Has technology made football better or worse for the overall fan experience?  

 

I think it has made it worse to be honest. These days, you can’t celebrate a goal like you used to be able to because of VAR potentially seeing something in the build-up or a marginal offside.  

 

When you’re in a stadium watching a game, you don’t know what is happening when there is a pause to the game. I think there needs to be better communication and, perhaps there is a greater role for technology to play in that regard in terms of informing the audiences that are watching both in the stadium and on TV what is happening.  

 

Goal line technology is very simple and effective. I think the powers that be need to keep tinkering with VAR because it isn’t going to go away. We need to get the best out of it.  

 

What’s your favourite piece of technology that you couldn’t live without? 

 

It has to be your phone. I’ve lost my phone on a couple of occasions and it’s a nightmare! I’ve learnt to back them up now! Honestly, everything is on there. All my numbers, my information, everything’s on there. I would be lost without my phone. I think most people would be.   

 

There is more data available to recruitment teams now then they have ever had before. Is that a help or a hinderance when it comes to signing a player?  

 

Having the data available can only be a good thing in terms of understanding a player’s ability and so on, but it has to be coupled with real-world scouting and insights. You need to look at the player’s personality and how he will fit into the overall group you have.  

 

© JB International Training Ltd

About the author: Craig Hartzel
Craig is a self-confessed geek who loves to play with and write about technology. Craig's especially interested in systems relating to e-commerce, automation, AI and Analytics.

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