Pat Nevin Exclusive Interview with OLBG

Updated: 219 Football

Speaking to OLBG, ex-Chelsea, Everton and Scotland star Pat Nevin said he wasn’t surprised by Chelsea’s dismal defeat to Aston Villa on Sunday and believes the Toffees should not get carried away with their win against Brighton

Pat Nevin Exclusive Interview with OLBG

By @cfcunofficial (Chelsea Debs) London - An Evening with Antonio Conte, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=56586647

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Editor-In-Chief with 20 years experience covering the betting angles to breaking news stories. Daily slots player, Portsmouth fan and League Snooker Player

September 2023 - Nicolas Jackson is naive and needs to mature, Chelsea should bid for Ivan Toney, Celtic’s Kyogo Furuhashi would make a good fit at Stamford Bridge

Chelsea, Everton and Scotland legend Pat Nevin says he wasn’t surprised by Chelsea’s dismal defeat to Aston Villa on Sunday and believes the Toffees should not get carried away with their win against Brentford.

What do you make of Chelsea’s result against Aston Villa? 

PN: “I don’t think Chelsea’s defeat to Aston Villa was a surprising result! Villa are a good side and Chelsea are just at the start of their rebuild. Although Chelsea's team is young, it's extraordinarily expensive. My vague feeling is that the owners have decided not to compete in buying superstars, so they've looked at the data and gone for young players who are, whilst not world-class, are still very good. I'm not sure whether that's a good or bad plan, but it's a plan nonetheless.

“Nobody should expect results right away, and nobody should expect a Champions League finish this season. If Chelsea did finish in the top four, then it'd be amazing. I think it's more likely we're looking at a two or three-year project with players that young. Most people who are into football will be aware of that - that's what happens when you build a young group together. Nobody's expecting them to take over the world.   

“The Villa result looks like a lot of the other results they've had! It's a question of waiting and if the fans are willing to wait. Can they afford to wait until they're finally a team that's Top Six, and then Top Four? That's the question. There are a lot of what-ifs right now. I've never seen an experiment like this before, but I'm very interested in it.”

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Pochettino told his players to ‘grow up’ after the game. What do you think he meant by that? 


PN: “'Grow up' can be taken in a number of ways. It sounds dreadful in some contexts as if he's telling the players to stop being childish. However, it can also mean that the players need to find nuances and maturity in their game. One thing to keep in mind is that Chelsea have bought so many young players who haven't played in the Premier League before.  

“I would translate Pochettino's comments into him telling his players to be a bit more street-smart. They're in the best league in England for a reason, the players and coaches are smart and nobody wants to be naive in such a tough league. When he says 'grow up', you can read into it as a slight, but if I was in there, I'd understand. I'd think 'We have to stop being so naive.' Look at Nicolas Jackson - five yellow cards, four for dissent, is extremely naive. The players need to mature and stop doing things like that. A lot of them will know that - the best teams don't do that.” 

You mentioned Nicolas Jackson there. From the evidence you have seen so far, is he good enough for Chelsea? 

Pat Nevin on Nicolas Jackson

⚡Chelsea needed energy & Jackson brings it! 🏃‍♂️⚽ All over the pitch, fast but goal scoring needs work. 👌However, he's young, just 22! ✨ Right choice for the job? I'd say yes, nobody else can fill his boots yet.👟🔥

PN: “Chelsea really needed energy and most people would agree with that. Jackson certainly doesn't lack it, and you see him chasing after players all over the pitch. He's got serious speed, but he doesn't look like a natural goalscorer yet. He has all of the other attributes, though. The very best strikers put chances away, but it hasn't quite happened for him just yet. However, he is young - just 22. Is he the right person for the job? I'd say he is because there's nobody there who can fill his boots right now in the squad.  

“That'll change when Nkunku comes back. With him and Broja, there will be more competition for him. Jackson isn't putting chances away, and that's how strikers are judged. Chelsea get so many chances but they can't seem to finish them!” 

If you look at Chelsea's underlying numbers, it looks promising. They have a high rate of expected goals, but there's nobody to finish them off? 

PN: “The data says Chelsea should be in the top five! If you look at the players they've got and the fact they've spent a billion, it's hard to understand why they're not in that position already. Football isn't played on a computer, though, that's the problem! Matches are won and lost on the pitch.”  

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Another player who is struggling in front of goal is Mykhailo Mudryk. He showed some promising signs against Aston Villa. Is it the team’s fault he’s not performing, or is he simply not up to it? 

PN: “There's a reason why Arsenal wanted Mudryk - he's phenomenal. His pace is ridiculous and so are his skills. He had different problems to everyone else as he was a Ukrainian lad coming into a new country. There was also a massive transfer fee hanging over him, though the pressure is slightly off now due to the other fees Chelsea have paid.   

“I think he has the potential to be a great forward and a great creator. He came into a side that wasn't playing well, but he didn't make it easy for himself. His numbers last season were not good. I always look at the underlying player and I don't think Chelsea want to lose him. Chelsea know better than anyone that if you let a player go, they can be world-class somewhere else.”  

He also came in during the January window, which is a particularly tough time to arrive? 

PN: “He came in in January, which is a tough time for players to arrive. It's early days this season, and I still have great hopes for Mudryk when the team starts clicking. That could be later this season or next season. He has all the qualities that defenders hate playing against. If Chelsea did cut their losses, it wouldn't be a surprise to see him shine somewhere else. He's still only 22.  

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“You'd expect him, and a lot of other Chelsea players, to start finding their best form. The problem is, you have so many players who aren't at their peak yet, and that's why you need experienced players like Thiago Silva or Ben Chillwell to help the team gel. It's just not clicking as well as everybody at the club would have hoped.” 

Do you think Ivan Toney would be a good solution to Chelsea's goal scoring problems? He's been linked with a move in January. 

PN - “I think Toney would be the obvious move, but this club doesn't often do the obvious thing! I think Toney would be against their policy, though, as they don't usually go for the finished article. They buy young players who they hope will grow into match-winners. I think Toney would make a lot of sense. Chelsea need to go for a proven goalscorer, whether that's Toney or Callum Wilson.  

Pat Nevin on Ivan Toney for Chelsea

Toney seems the move for Chelsea, but they favor growing young talents over polished stars⭐May go against policy, but a proven scorer like Toney or Calum Wilson is what Chelsea needs. 🥅⚽️

Those transfers should work. It'll be hard to convince Toney if Chelsea are in the bottom half in January, though. They're throwing money at things right now, but they have to be careful not to go too far. If they slide down the league, then it'll be hard to convince the top players to join. It also sends the wrong signal, as signing a ready-made striker like Toney is essentially the board letting everyone know that their plan isn't working. A lot of us know that already though! We know that signing a load of young players who haven't played in the Premier League before is risky, and if it's success right now that the board wants, they need to sign a proven goalscorer. It's not rocket science.” 

Reports this summer suggested Chelsea were tempted to activate a buy-back clause for Tammy Abraham. Glen Johnson said this would be ‘embarrassing’, do you agree? 

PN: “I don’t think it would be embarrassing if Chelsea re-signed Tammy Abraham. Tammy left the Russian-owned club, and now Chelsea is an American-owned club. If critics question why the board let Abraham go, then the higher-ups would just state that they didn't, the previous regime did.  

“It's annoying to see him playing so well but not at Chelsea! The same goes for Fiyako Tomori - I watched him play the other day and he was the best defender on the pitch. He was a monster! It makes sense why Chelsea let him go, however, as they had a lot of defenders at the time. I think there are plenty of forwards at Chelsea, though, and the current owners aren't going for sentimental transfers. Supporters will want Tammy, a former academy player, as they've lost Mason Mount and Lewis Hall, but I don't think the board will be as concerned.” 

Do you think they're also missing Reece James? 

PN: “We can't let James go to Real Madrid, either! The fans will want to see homegrown players. I wouldn't say it'd be embarrassing, I think there'd be a lot of celebration if Tammy came back. But in simple terms any club on the planet would miss a fit Reece James.” 

Is there anyone else you would like to see Chelsea sign in January?   

PN: “I think Ivan Toney is the one that makes the most sense. Chelsea won't get Callum Wilson or many other proven strikers. I think Kyogo Furuhashi at Celtic would be a good move, too, as he'd finish off a lot of the missed chances. Chelsea will have a lot of options, but they've already signed a huge amount of players. They also have Nkuku to come back and I think Broja will shock everyone.   

“Before his injury, a lot of people thought he was the answer. He's still young, has a great build, and has plenty of potential. Chelsea will know more about those two by January. If I was looking at the squad, I'd upgrade the 10 position. I really wanted the club to move for Maddison as I love creative midfielders and I was one myself. Players like Maddison, Foden, and De Bruyne are hard to find, and Chelsea have had a lot of them over the years. I was upset to see Joao Felix go as I thought he was fabulous. Pochettino probably made the decision to not keep him, but I thought he could've been central to the squad. Just look at his form at Barcelona!”  

Chelsea’s strategy of signing young players on long contracts has been considered risky. Do you think long contracts are a good idea? If they are, why is no one else doing them?  

PN: “Chelsea’s long contracts are very interesting. If I'm wearing my Chief Executive hat, as I did at Motherwell, you'll find that everyone does this concept - but usually for four years, a maximum five. In theory, you're amortising the cost of players over time. For example, if you sign a £100 million player, it'll cost you £25 million for four years. The reason why you don't often see long-term contracts is that careers themselves aren't long.  

Светлана Бекетова, CC BY-SA 3.0 GFDL, via Wikimedia Commons - Chelsea should be wary of some long contracts, Paul Pogba for United is evidence of that according to Pat Nevin

“There are a million dangers with any player. Just look at Paul Pogba, £89million, and he left for nothing. The same goes for Lukaku. Even international players who've won World Cups can fail to work. Chelsea are now doing the same thing with young players in the hope that they'll improve, increase in value, and then you can sell them at a profit or at least a good percentage. It's fine in theory, but nobody knows how well it'll work. It's a risky concept. If it works, it's phenomenal, but it can't work for every player. If every club did this, it'd be a disaster. It'll never be 100% successful, but if you've got a player locked in on a long contract and he improves, it'll make sense. 

“If, however, human nature kicks in and you sign someone who isn't playing and make them a multi-millionaire, then he won't want to leave. We've all seen it. You've got to be certain that these young players will work. It's probably the most risky strategy I've ever seen at a top-level football club in England. My other team, Everton, are an example of what can go wrong. Over £700 million was spent and look at them now. If you get it wrong, you'll be in massive trouble. I have to say I'm enjoying watching the Chelsea experiment as a bystander though.”

The Blues play Brighton, who are looking fantastic, in the EFL Cup on Wednesday - what are your predictions for that game? 

PN: “Brighton vs Chelsea is a really tough one. I couldn't even vaguely guess the teams they will put out. They could possibly play two reserve teams. We've seen Brighton make six or seven changes before and look fantastic. I'm looking forward to one thing above all - seeing Billy Gilmour. I think that player we are seeing now was always there.  

Chelsea vs Brighton EFL Cup Betting Odds

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“I know Billy and when I watch him play, I can never believe Chelsea let him go. There's a slight bias as I'm Scottish, but if you consider that Mac Allister and Caicedo left for £175 million, you'll notice that Brighton haven't missed a beat. They always knew they had Billy as a backup. Seeing him control games is a real joy. Norwich wasn't a good call, but I don't think he wanted that move. 

“I'm looking forward to the game and seeing Billy. He'll be up against Enzo Fernandes and Moises Caicedo, so it'll be tough. I'd say the league game will be more interesting, though, as both sides will definitely play their best 11. The Chelsea fans could do with a cup run, however! If you look at their stats, you'd understand why the fans are so deflated.” 

What do you think of Chelsea’s lack of wins?  

PN: “That's not great, even for a team in transition. They've spent a billion quid! The real fans will stick with the club, but it's hard to take. A cup-run of some sort would lighten the mood, to say the least. A lot of fans are very worried at the moment and there's a lot of noise in the background with the proposed stadium changes, and so on.  

“There are no Champions League nights to lift fans, they're down in the dumps in the league, and they won't be eager to see the club get dumped out of the cup. I think the Brighton game is actually a really important game - and I think they can win.” 

Moving onto Everton, they defeated Brentford at the weekend. What did you think of the result and have they turned a corner? 

PN: “Everton shouldn’t get carried away with Brentford! I was at their game against Newcastle, and they're going through a dip. We all know the capabilities of Brentford, but now the absence of Toney is starting to take hold. Their other forwards are trying to cover for him, but they're better out wide. They've had to adapt their methods, and it's not as good. Everton caught them at the right time. Having said that, it was a really good performance.  

Kelvin Stuttard, CC BY 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons - Everton manager Sean Dyche

“Doucoure is really starting to perform. He kept them up last season, but he needs to perform every week. That's not a slight as he hasn't exactly had a lot of help, but it's time for him and others to step up. I'm looking forward to the Bournemouth game as I'm going, and I'd say Everton do have the right manager, despite what people say. It's not going to be pretty and there's no money to spend, but Dyche has proven he can get it done. I was at the site of their new stadium recently and it looks amazing. Everton have stadium problems, ownership problems, FFP problems, and squad-depth problems, but apart from that, everything's great! I think the biggest thing in their favour is the fact that the three promoted teams look very weak. I'm hopeful. It's not about turning corners, it's about survival.” 

Everton’s next league fixture is at home against Luton - their easiest game of the season on-paper. What are you predicting for that? 

PN: “I'm not expecting Everton to go and win 5-0. Luton got their first point the other day. I have great respect for Luton, but they're in for a rough season. Look at the money they've spent. If Everton don't beat Luton, then you have to say they've blown it. That's the one fixture that you absolutely have to win. 

“If Everton fail to win, then the good feelings from Brentford will fade away. Dominic is back, though, and now there are two center-forwards - something we've not seen for a long time! I wouldn't say I'd get carried away by beating Luton as most fans know that whenever Everton look as if they're turning a corner, they get smashed in the face by a car!” 

Everton vs Luton Betting Odds

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Do Rangers need a miracle to beat Celtic to the title this season?  

PN: “I wouldn't say Rangers need a miracle. I was at their first game of the season against Celtic and it finished 1-0. Rangers were unlucky not to get a decision in that game. They've only conceded two goals all season - but both were in 1-0 losses! That's not bad. They won at the weekend, though, so they're still up there. The fans aren't happy with the style, but the results aren't too bad.” 

Scottish Premiership Winners Betting Odds

Scotland Premiership 2023/24 16 Feb @ 20:06 - Win Tournament
Rangers 1.83
Celtic 1.83
Hearts 501.00

Rangers were booed off after winning against Motherwell. Was that fair?  

PN: “I think Rangers fans rightly say that regardless of the opponent - whether it's Hearts, Motherwell, or the mighty Hibees - Rangers should be winning in style. They're right to say that. Look at how much more money they and Celtic have! Motherwell are a good team, but fans want to see Rangers put others to the sword. They don't need a miracle to win the league, but they do need to win and not take their eye off the ball. It's starting to click for Brendan at Celtic now, despite his rocky start. He's not Ange Postecoglu, he has his own way of doing things. 

Image: shutterstock - Pay Nevin thinks things are starting to click for Rodgers now

“Even Ange had a rocky start, but that didn't last very long. Brendan needs to know his group and decide what's best for them. I was at Celtic's first game against Ross County and they could've let in a lot more than two goals. Rodgers is still a top manager, but I wouldn't be surprised if Rangers and Celtic went all the way in the title race.” 

Final question. How much time do you think Michael Beale should get? 

PN: “I would wait until it's certain that Rangers aren't winning the league. He's changed the Rangers team completely and they don't resemble the one from last season at all. People are saying he should go if Rangers blow it in the League Cup or have another bad European experience, but I think he needs a bit of time. If they fall off a cliff, then of course, have a look, but I'd wait until they fall way behind Celtic - and that hasn't happened yet.” 

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Is it too soon to make any rash decisions? 

PN: “It’s too soon for Rangers to make a rash decision. Rangers have changed managers a fair bit recently, and they need to trust someone at some point. It's a new group of players and having a change so soon into the season could upset the players - especially those who have come in from overseas. They can feel adrift, and the next manager may not fancy them. That is problematic.” 

 

July 2023 - Pat Nevin exclusive: Havertz could be one of the greatest in his generation, Pochettino can get the best from Fernandez and Mudryk and why Everton star Onana is good enough for a top side

What formation and style do you think he should play to get the best out of new signings like Enzo Fernandez, Mykhailo Mudryk and Marc Cucurella?

PN: “I think Pochettino’s formation and style depends on depth. Frank Lampard tried to play with a back four when he was Chelsea manager. The best years under Conte came with a 3-4-3 formation. I think it all depends though on the wide players, and the wide attacking players. Hopefully Reece James will be back, and they have Ben Chilwell who is unbelievable at attacking from wide areas. With Cucurella, he’s more attacking-minded and is strong in a back five or a midfield four.

“If they did decide to go with a back-three, the number of young players that could be involved is staggering. But I think it is a little worrying with the number of young players, so if they do decide to play a back five then they would hope that Thiago Silva will be fit to add some experience. If Silva is in there, then you can start to see the best from the likes of Chalobah, Fofana, Colwill and Badiashile. 

“I’m not sure who would play beside Enzo Ferdandez in this system. Maybe Caicedo if they sign him. Mount, Kovacic and Kante have all gone, so all of the players who would normally play in that system are no longer here. Even Billy Gilmour and Jorginho would have fitted in. You are then thinking about Ampadu coming back, the new signing Matos fitting in and Chukwuemeka to fill in that position. 

“My suspicion would be that somebody else will be brought in. They could really do with some more experience there. They need someone to go alongside Ferndanez because he is only 22. It’s a tough one though, because I also do not think that there is an obvious player to come in and replace him.” 

Premier League 2023/24 Champions Betting

England Premier League 2023/24 16 Feb @ 20:06 - Win Tournament
Man City 1.57
Liverpool 3.50
Arsenal 6.00
Tottenham 51.00
Man Utd 251.00
Aston Villa 251.00

Can Mauricio Pochettino’s style of play get the best out of Romelu Lukaku?

PM: “I would be really shocked if Lukaku stayed at Chelsea. If you look at all of the strikers Chelsea have now, they have better options. Nkunku and Jackson are young players who can play up front. They also have Broja to come back and he is also a good player. That’s three players who are all good players. 

“If you look at Lukaku’s last three seasons in English football, he did not score enough goals at all. With the way the game is played now, there needs to be a player pressing from the front. I just don’t think Lukaku fits that style of play anymore. The same thing happened with Cristiano Ronaldo at Man Utd. He is a great player, but should never have gone back to Man Utd, because he could not press from the front. I think the same goes for Lukaku at Chelsea. 

“All of the teams in the Premier League play a high-intensity style of football. Lukaku is not your man for that.” 

Mason Mount to Man Utd for £60m. Who’s come out of that better, do you think, Chelsea or Man Utd?

PN: “The real winner from the Mason Mount deal depends on how you look at it. Purely from a financial perspective, Chelsea effectively brought him for nothing, developed him as a player and then cashed in. They made a lot of money on a player who effectively just cost them development fees. 

“I think he is going to be a big miss though. His energy would have been perfect for the modern Pochettino team. 

“Chelsea overspent last season, and they need a restructure. They might feel they need the money and the Havertz money to help with the rebuild and financial fair play. They have probably brought in a quarter of a billion pounds this summer, which is a lot. Selling Loftus-Cheek, Kovacic, Koulibaly, Mendy and more was needed to rebuild. 

“Havertz leaving hurts the most. I think Havertz could be one of the greatest players of his generation. He was playing at center-forward though, and that is not his strongest position. Playing there really took away the strongest parts of his game. 

Arsenal have sealed an absolute cracker of a deal with Havertz. I’m really confident that Arteta will be able to get the best out of him as well. Arsenal’s team for next season is already looking extremely good. I think replacing Xhaka in midfield as well is a big upgrade.

“Even though he scored the winner for Chelsea in the Club World Cup and the Champions League, we still have not seen the best of him. Arsenal have got a great player. 

“While I think Chelsea may have got the better deal in terms of selling Mount, I think Arsenal have got the better deal by signing Havertz.”

Kylian Mbappe has announced his intention to leave PSG. Should Chelsea try and tempt him with Todd Boehly’s billions, if they can? Is it realistic? 

PN: “Everyone, including Chelsea, would take Mbappe in a heartbeat. If he is available, Chelsea should go for him. Whether this is realistic though is a whole different thing. 

“A lot of modern players of that ilk are looking at the numbers, in terms of goals scored and trophies won. But the problem is Chelsea are not in the Champions League next season. 

“Mbappe is a great player who I would love at Chelsea, but I doubt they are even an option for him at the moment.” 

Pochettino has given his backing to Kepa Arrizabalaga. Is that a wise move or should he be looking to upgrade?

PN: “I really like Kepa. Mendy going and Kepa staying is something that I am happy with. If you have a look at the table from last year, even though Chelsea had a really poor season, they really did not concede too many goals. A lot of that may have been down to Thiago Silva, but Kepa also made some fabulous saves. Kepa is not one of Chelsea’s biggest problems at all. 

“Kepa is maturing into Chelsea’s goalkeeper and he has Thiago Silva right in front of him. They will really need that experience, mixed in with Badiashile and Colwill. I therefore think there are definitely more important things that will need fixing before Kepa.”

Chelsea seem to be having a summer clearout to balance the books, with Colwill and Gallagher all linked with moves. Would any of those make good signings for fellow Premier League clubs?

Image: Lachlan Fearnley/Wikimedia Commons

PN: “Gallagher could play for anyone in the league. His technical level may not be amazing, but his energy levels and ability to close down is right up there with the best in the league. While he may still be loved at Crystal Palace, I think he could look higher than that. I’d be really sad to see him and his energy go. If he does go though, he will be completely fine without a shadow of a doubt. 

“I would be really surprised if Levi Colwill left Chelsea though. I think Chelsea really need him as they never quite replaced Rudiger. He is still a young player though, as center backs like him and Badiashile will not be fully ready until they are 24 or 25 years old. 

“I think if Chelsea want to win things next season, then they are going about it the wrong way. This is a side that will have to build and develop over the next few years. I look across the defence, and they are all so young. Even going forward, Madueke, Mudryk and Enzo are all so young. At the moment, they will not be ready to start competing for three years. 

“They will need to make a decision. Are they going to stick by Pochettino and allow him to move the team in his direction? Because at the moment, this is not a team that will finish in the top four. People will want to see that there is a plan though.”

Do you think Chelsea’s decision not to bid for Declan Rice will be one that they regret?

PN: “I think Chelsea would have wanted Declan Rice for a really long time. I’m not sure if Rice thought Chelsea would be a good move though, because they are in a state of utter rebuild. It is a staggering rebuild, and one that no team is coming close to. Chelsea would have wanted a complete restart and that’s fine, so this may have influenced Rice’s decision. As long as Chelsea do it with young players, it will be fine. 

“The average age of players in the squad is staggering. Rice would have to oversee a few things at Chelsea, and I think he probably would have wanted to walk into a ready made team at Arsenal. He can go to Arsenal and win trophies straight away. 

“Chelsea would have taken Rice in a heartbeat, but I think the timing of the move would have been wrong for everyone.” 

Is there any hope for Dele Alli?

PN: “There is always hope for players like Dele Alli. He shone really early, faded and has had a few years out of the limelight. He has gone so far from the brilliant player he was at the start of his career. It will take something extraordinary for him to come back now. It’s not his talent, it comes down to his hunger. 

Everton have a manager now in Sean Dyche, who will be able to tell very quickly if his hunger is there. If he does not smell the hunger, he will dispatch Dele Alli very quickly. It is a longshot, but it is not impossible. 

“We’ll find out soon enough if there are any players who will not have the hunger for Dyche’s side. I like the way that a Dyche side might not always be great to watch, but they know their limitations. Dyche will be able to find the best tune to get out of his squad. 

“It won’t be easy, and they will need to bring in players. It would not shock me if someone is cashed in on, such as Onana, so they can reinvest the money in two or three different players.”

Should Amadou Onana be a target for top-six Premier League clubs? Is he good enough to play for a club like Chelsea, Arsenal or Liverpool?

PN: “Onana is certainly good enough to play for them, but he has not shown that quality every week. At his best, I think Onana is unplayable. 

“He reminds me a bit of Pogba. They can be unplayable, but sometimes they do not play well. He has to be better than that, and be a 7 or 8 out of 10 every time. He certainly has the ability, but he needs to have the consistency to play for a top club.” 

Is Jordan Pickford good enough for Man Utd, if they fail in landing Andre Onana?

Oleg Bkhambri (Voltmetro), CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons

PN: “I think he would be almost a like for like replacement for David de Gea. They’re great shot stoppers, but neither are great at controlling the penalty area, and neither are amazing with the ball at their feet. 

“I wonder if they may look for someone who can play football with the ball at their feet a bit more. Jordan’s not bad with his feet, but he’s not one of the best. I would not be shocked if he went to United, but I think they should look at Onana. He’s good with the ball at his feet and comfortable with it. 

“European teams like their teams to play out of the back and just as Onana showed at Ajax, I think he could do the same at United.”

Is it hard to look past Celtic with a proven winner like Brendan Rodgers at the helm?

PN: “I think Rangers will push Celtic a little bit more this season. I think they have strengthened and signed some good players. I would not underestimate Rangers, and while Celtic are favorites, you cannot write off Rangers. 

“Celtic will still play in the Postecoglou ‘Ange’ style. It is not too dissimilar in fact to heavy metal football that used to be seen at Liverpool. But the problem with this is that players get tired quickly. The energy levels for Celtic fell off at the end of last season and they were just not there. They still won the treble but without Ange, Brendan may have to do something different. They had Ange who had one style and Brendan with another, so I don’t think the title is a foregone conclusion.”

Scottish Premiership Betting Odds

Scotland Premiership 2023/24 16 Feb @ 20:06 - Win Tournament
Rangers 1.83
Celtic 1.83
Hearts 501.00

Which players in Scotland, currently, do you believe would be good enough for a top Premier League side?

PN: “Kyogo is the one I think is good enough for a top Premier League side. Callum McGregor is also very good. There are not many players who can make the jump from Scotland to the Premier League, but Kyogo in particular is one who can. He’s light, he’s a good height and he is a natural, world-class goal scorer. 

“Lots could happen between now and the end of the transfer window, but if Celtic are the favorites, they will have to keep hold of Kyogo.”

Should Kieran Tierney look to move on from Arsenal if he’s not promised gametime?

PN: “I’m a Kieran Tierney fanatic. I think he is such a good player, who can play at left-back, center-back and wing-back. He’s too good not to be playing every week, particularly after seeing how well he plays for Scotland. 

“He could end up back at Celtic, but I think he could play at a high level in England or abroad. 

“I have said the same about Billy Gilmour before. I was thinking when Chelsea sold him, ‘what are you doing?’. Gilmour is a world-class footballer. He could sit in the Man City midfield and be fine because he is good enough for them. I think Gilmour will go on to have a good career at Brighton though, it is a good place for him.”

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