‘This is definitely Liverpool’s year’

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Liverpool’s year’

HE was known for his creative flair in midfield during his 11 years with Liverpool.

He was also part of the group of Liverpool players known as the “Spice Boys” at Anfield.

Former Reds captain Jamie Redknapp was in town as ambassador for Cadbury as the company celebrated its third year as a partner of the English Premier League.

The Premier League trophy was also on show as Redknapp made his first appearance here.

The event gave football fans in Malaysia an opportunity to get up close and personal with not only Redknapp but also the trophy, which was commissioned in 1992.

To celebrate its partnership, Cadbury is holding the Cadbury FC contest with exciting prizes that include signed football club jerseys, signed boots and the ultimate grand prize for seven lucky winners and a friend – VIP hospitality tickets and an all-expense-paid trip to the United Kingdom to watch a Premier League match.

The contest runs until March 31. For details, visit the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/CadburyMalaysia

In an interview with MetroSport, Redknapp touched on his role for Cadbury, his take on Liverpool’s phenomenal form, Jurgen Klopp and his prediction of who will win the Euro 2020 this June.

Here are excerpts from the interview:

MetroSport: Tell us about your role with Cadbury and your presence here in Kuala Lumpur.

Jamie Redknapp: Just like my fellow former England colleagues Andy Cole and Michael Owen in previous years, I am here to kick-start the Cadbury FC campaign and am grateful to be part of this campaign where fans can realise their dream of watching a live game in the UK. I must say it’s been a lot of fun.

MS: Tell us about your time at Liverpool and the era of the “Spice Boys”.

JR: Kenny Dalglish bought me in 1990, which is the last time Liverpool won the league, and if you would have said then that Liverpool would never win the league title again at that time no one would have believed it.

But it did happen and it could happen to anyone, Manchester United is a good example.

I had a great 11 years at Anfield with some amazing players and great characters. There were plenty of disappointments, of course, as we did not win the league but I did win an FA Cup, League Cup and the Super Cup.

But now all the 30 years of hurt and pain and time taken to find the right manager seems to be paying off.

Redknapp  in action for Liverpool during the club’s visit to Singapore at the National Stadium.

MS: As a footballer, what was your biggest regret?

JR: I don’t have any regrets but injuries played a big part in my life and hampered my career. I tore my hamstring and broke my ankle twice playing for England.

Sometimes it’s also luck. Maybe I used to be so tense playing for England as you want to do well under managers like Terry Venables and Glenn Hoddle.

But that’s life as a Premier League footballer, you give your best and cannot avoid injuries. But I have no regrets about finishing my career early as it gave me the chance to work in the media and I have truly enjoyed the journey so far.

MS: As a midfielder, do you think you would fit in the current Liverpool squad under Jurgen Klopp and be able to play the way he wants the team to play?

JR: It is a good question but I would probably be more suited for the Manchester City midfield under Pep Guardiola because of the slightly slower pace that they play.

Liverpool’s midfield have to work so hard and are full of energy and with the exception of maybe Fabinho, who protects the back four, the likes of Jordan Henderson, (Georginio) Wijnaldum, (James) Milner don’t stop. I love watching them play and I love the energy.

Yeah, I am sure I would have been fine in this midfield because the focus of Liverpool’s midfield now is not so much playing clever football but moving the ball to the front as quickly as possible and these players are all super fit.

I think John Barnes would have been great in this team and so would Steve McManaman and Robbie Fowler. There are no weaknesses in the team and the two young fullbacks (Trent Alexander Arnold and Andy Robertson) have been brilliant.

MS: Can Liverpool keep this excellent form into the next season and is there a chance of player burnout?

JR: I don’t think there will be player burnout but they will have to buy again and keep strengthening the squad. I think it’s more the case of can they keep the players?

A case in point is Virgil van Dijk. There are games where he does not even break into a sweat. He could wear the same kit again for the next game without washing it because he makes it look so easy. As long as they keep the same players I think they will win the league again next year.

There is no one right now except maybe Man City that can match Klopp’s side. But City will have to build again while Liverpool are solid except maybe they have to buy someone to replace Milner. So yes, I will be surprised if they don’t win it again next year.

The manager has a big part to play in the team’s success these past two years. Every team will surely be wanting Klopp as their manager. He is special as he has the amazing ability to extract everything out of a player.

I have met him a few times and he is 6ft 5in (1.95m), a massive man with such a charismatic character, and you could see why players love him and are willing to run through brick walls for him. So Liverpool fans should enjoy the moment and rejoice as the hurt of 30 years will be gone soon.

MS: Big clubs are not fully interested in domestic cups. How do you feel about the tradition of the FA Cup slowly fading?

JR: It’s difficult. It’s a shame actually because as a kid, you grow up watching the FA Cup. The Champions League plays such a big part in the leagues across Europe as that’s where the money is. I think the FA Cup should stop having replays to avoid unnecessary fixture congestion.

Another solution is to give the FA Cup winner a Champions League spot. That will 100% change everyone’s perception of the FA Cup.

MS: There is plenty of big money coming into teams like Wolves, Leicester, Newcastle and Everton. Will the dynamics of the big six change in the next five years?

JR: The clubs you have named are certainly on the rise. Wolves is one of the sides that could break through because they have a solid structure. They have got some class players. Leicester too have a good young squad with the right manager.

So if I am Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspurs or Man Utd, I will be really worried about Leicester breaking into the top six.

MS: England have a lot of injuries in key positions going into Euro 2020. How far can they go and who is your pick to win it this July?

JR: I think if Harry Kane and Marcus Rashford are not fit then England will struggle.

England have found it hard without their top players previously like when (Wayne) Rooney and (David Beckham) were sidelined. Our defence did not look comfortable in the recent League of Nations against the Dutch. We have a young squad and I like (Phil) Foden and (James) Maddison but England’s hopes will be built around getting Rashford and Kane fit.

I think we will go far but I can see Belgium winning the tournament. They have great players in every position and will be the team to beat.