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Glen Johnson on Tuchel’s future: “It’s the hottest seat in world football”
On Wednesday, Chelsea take on Saudi Professional League Champions Al-Hilal in the semi-finals of the FIFA Club World Cup without their manager Thomas Tuchel who’s currently recovering from Covid-19. A fortnight ago rumours began to develop that there was unrest at Stamford Bridge with a number of players growing unhappy with Tuchel’s management. BettingOdds.com have caught up with former Chelsea defender Glen Johnson regarding why Tuchel’s job may not be safe, Ousmane Dembélé’s next club and why Liverpool could regret their failure to secure the signature of Fulham’s Fabio Carvalho.
Chelsea’s drop in form, which has effectively cost them their place in the title race, has led to rumours of player unrest and has applied pressure on Thomas Tuchel. We’ve seen Chelsea be absolutely brutal with managers in the past, so if this slump continues do you think he’ll still be at the club next season?
“I’d like to think Tuchel will still be at the club next season, but it’s the hottest seat in world football. I don’t think it’d surprise anybody if he wasn’t at Chelsea but I think it would be absolute madness for them to sack him. I think what he’s done in such a short period of time, and I think they are improving, if they keep him another season I think they’d be doing the right thing. I can’t imagine someone will walk in and pick up from where he’s left off and improve them immediately. I think it would be a mistake if he was to come under pressure.”
Chelsea were linked with a late January move for outgoing Barcelona winger Ousmane Dembélé. Joan Laporta stated that he believes Dembélé has already agreed a summer move to another club. If Chelsea are that club, then how excited would you be by that signing? Or do Chelsea really need him?
“I don’t think Chelsea need him, but I think he could help. He’s obviously a great player. Christian Pulisic isn’t really happening at the moment. Timo Werner’s not really happening at the moment. So if you’ve got a player who can come in and push them all for places and maybe they could trade one the other way, I reckon Chelsea would be interested in Dembélé.”
Could Liverpool rue missing out on dynamic Fulham winger Fabio Carvalho, with a deal collapsing on deadline day? Could you see the club going back in for him in the summer when his contract expires or do you think they could struggle to sign him? Do you believe other clubs could capitalise on Liverpool’s failure to secure a move by coming in with mammoth offers of their own?
“He looks like a fantastic young player. I think Liverpool will be kicking themselves that they didn’t get the deal done in January. Considering that he’s out of contract in the summer, if his form continues like the way it has been then there will be more competition for him come the summer.
“The Premier League is the best league in the world and we want to see the best young players there. He’s a super young player and looked unfazed playing against Manchester City in the FA Cup, so yes, I’d love to see him in the Premier League.”
Last time we asked you whether Liverpool would be willing to spend £60million for Porto winger Luis Díaz. Instead, they’ve spent just over £37.5million on a player who has led for goals and shots in the opposition box in the Portuguese Primeira Liga and has already got his first assist for Liverpool. Even ahead of the likes of the third-most-expensive player in the world Phillipe Coutinho going on loan to Aston Villa, or Everton snapping up Dele Alli, does this deal represent the coup of the January transfer window?
“£60 million is an awful lot of money as you know, so to do a deal for almost half that makes the move even more exciting. I think it’s good business and he’s already hit the ground running in terms of getting an assist against Cardiff. I think he could go on to be a fantastic signing for the club.”
It’s a signing that’s got many of the club’s fans excited but how excited are you about the signing? Do you believe it could give Liverpool a lift in the second half of the campaign and allow them to edge closer to league leaders Manchester City?
“I’m excited and he’s a good player. He looks like he’s already settled but I don’t want to judge him too soon. His signing will have given other players a boost, but if they want to catch Manchester City then they’re going to need a boost.
“I don’t think one player is good enough to bridge the gap with Manchester City, but I do think they’ve made a good addition to their squad. Luis Díaz will be knocking on the door for a place in the first eleven. If they were aiming to close the gap quicker then they may have needed a couple more players of the same quality to come in.”
Putting your West Ham hat on, is part of you happy that the Luis Díaz signing would now make it more unlikely for Liverpool to make a move for Jarrod Bowen?
“We don’t know how strong Liverpool’s interest is in [Jarrod] Bowen anyway. With the signing of Luis Díaz, I don’t think Liverpool will be looking to sign Bowen too, if there was any truth in the rumours to begin with. If there was interest then I believe the signing of Díaz has done West Ham a favour.”
Your old teammate Frank Lampard was announced as the new Everton boss on Deadline Day, the same day the club announced the signings of Dele Alli from Tottenham Hotspur and Donny van de Beek. Does Lampard have the capacity to turn around their respective careers in England, whilst coping with the monumental task of steering Everton away from relegation?
“I think he’s going to have to. I think Lamps will be able to get his arm around them. But it’s not about the manager - they have to want to do it. I think Dele has shown us for a few seasons what he can do and what he’s capable of but he’s been nowhere near that for a while now. You don’t lose your ability overnight so I’m sure he can, he just needs to start enjoying his football and working hard. I think Lamps will be able to help him but he can’t give them something they don’t have; they need the desire and hunger themselves. If Everton can find some form they’ll be way too good for relegation.”
How much do you think the Everton win on the weekend will typify Frank Lampard’s career at Everton with the type of football they’ll play. Do you think they can bounce on from that win?
“Yeah, absolutely, we see it an awful lot, a team is struggling badly, a new manager comes in and they win their first game. Hopefully, for Lampard it’s not just their reaction overnight, hopefully, they’re buying into what he’s going to install in them because I think they’ve got a good squad and they’ve shown us that at the start of the season, I think it’s more of a question of their mentality than their quality”
Could Lampard even get Dele Alli in form for the England squad at the World Cup, or is that too soon?
“He’s going to have to hit the ground running for sure, I can’t remember the last time he played for England to be honest. He’s got a lot to prove. If he can hit the right form and bang in some goals and get some assists, then obviously Gareth Southgate is going to have to take him seriously. But, right now, I think he has to concentrate on Everton and work his socks off. I have no doubt he has the ability to be in the England squad but he might have run out of time for this World Cup.”
West Ham didn’t bring in anyone this January, not managing to sign Benfica striker Darwin Núñez. Despite having money to spend, they were unable to strengthen their squad. Do you think it’s a huge blow to their top-four hopes? Can the club really rely on Michail Antonio to charge them to the top-four finish line over the next few months?
“The way West Ham play, they all work their socks off and they’ve got an awful lot of games this season. In the last couple of seasons, their form has dropped off at the backend of the campaign and I think that could be attributed to fitness and fatigue. I definitely think they needed to get a few more players in if they wanted to maintain a serious challenge for fourth spot.
“Michail Antonio works his socks off but he’s injured quite a lot and he’s not a goal machine by any stretch of the imagination. I do think West Ham needed a few more players in January. They needed more squad players due to the amount of injuries they’ve had. They just needed a few fringe players who could have kept the current eleven focused and kept them fighting for their shirts. I don’t necessarily think there’s a weak area in West Ham’s team, they just need a bigger squad.”
Former West Ham striker Dean Ashton has questioned the club's ambition after they missed out on January targets. Is he right to? It is a disappointing month after last year saw Jesse Lingard arrive. Could their lack of activity come back to haunt them?
“It could, but I don’t think the club just sat on its hands doing nothing. I don’t think there’s any lack of aspiration or anything like that. I just think that the players the club wanted demanded a fee that was bigger than what they wanted to spend. I’d rather they did their business by how they see fit rather than just spending money for the sake of it. I do, however, believe that they needed a couple of new players in but I’m sure they’ve got reasons why nothing came off.”
And finally, your old manager Brendan Rodgers is unfortunately now the favourite to be the next Premier League manager to leave his position. Many pundits have suggested that this slump in form coincides with his links to the Manchester United job. They exited the FA Cup at the weekend, but would it be a mistake for Leicester to sack him prematurely?
“I think we’re all surprised that Leicester haven’t kicked on the way that we thought they would, but I don’t think there’s any hiding the fact that the United speculation has hindered the progress for whatever reason. Maybe the players thought he didn’t want to be there, we’re not sure, but something has definitely gone wrong since then. Unless he can win the dressing room back, and if these performances keep happening, then of course the club are going to look to seek another manager. I still think he’s a good manager but if you’ve lost the dressing room it’s too late.”