Darren Anderton exclusive interview
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Exclusive: Darren Anderton talks all things Premier League

| 19.08.2021

In a Ladbrokes exclusive Darren Anderton interview, the former England international shares his thoughts on the main talking points across the Premier League.

Anderton spent the majority of his Premier League career with Tottenham, also winning 30 caps, and spoke to Ladbrokes at its launch of the 5-A-Side Bet on Wolves v Tottenham.

Forget Harry Kane… Arsenal have a bigger problem of players wanting out

I don’t know what’s going on at Arsenal. It doesn’t look like a happy camp. I’m not sure Mikel Arteta’s players are doing everything they can for him.

Defensively they’re all over the place. The second goal against Brentford summed up exactly where they are at the moment – they’re too easy to play against.

I like Ben White. I think he’s a really good player and he was someone I actually wanted Spurs to go in for. He’s a classy player.

But if you put him in a defence which is all over the place, then naturally he’s going to struggle and that’s what we saw on Friday night against Brentford. As a Spurs fan it’s not a bad thing to watch at all; I can’t complain.

Martin Odegaard adds something to the team if they can get him back in for the season. Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe are two other good, young players – real talents.

I actually think the problems come when you start to talk about the more senior players; there are a lot of names who I just get the feeling they don’t want to be there. They haven’t had a Tony Adams or a Patrick Vieira-type player for what feels like forever.

When the youngsters are all playing, I actually always tend to think Arsenal have got a chance of beating anyone. But when those young lads like Smith Rowe, Saka and Gabriel Martinelli come out of the team, that’s when I think they struggle. The players that are coming in just haven’t got the desire of those young lads.

I know people talk about Harry Kane and the problem Tottenham have got with him not wanting to be there, but I think it’s more of a problem at Arsenal.

Arsenal are a team that everyone wants to play against at the moment. I fear for them against Chelsea this weekend, especially if Romelu Lukaku features; he’s going to completely bully them.

Mikel Arteta is already under pressure this season

It was such a bad start to the season for Arsenal on Friday night, they just looked so poor at the back, and up next they’ve got two of the toughest teams in the Premier League back-to-back. There’s every chance we’re three games into the season and Arsenal are stuck on zero points.

It’s unfair but it’s a fact; Mikel Arteta is already under pressure. That’s the nature of the beast that is the Premier League and football management.

They’ve just played a newly-promoted team and they got beaten comfortably. They didn’t have guts, they showed nothing, so Mikel is already facing pressure, simply because of the manner of that performance.

It’s the first game of the season. Everyone should be buzzing to play, buzzing to impress, fans are back in the stadium. That’s not the kind of performance that should have followed from Arsenal.

Credit to Brentford for their part in the evening but as good as Brentford were, Arsenal were poor.

Mikel Arteta, Arsenal

The potential is there and I think that’s why Arteta has been given that extra bit of time to turn things around because he was very close to being sacked halfway through last season.

But how long do you wait? A performance like that against Brentford means the board probably aren’t going to wait very long before they make a decision.

You’d excuse them if they’re giving everything they’ve got, creating chances, really putting a shift in for the fans; you’d maybe say ‘OK, they were just unlucky’.

But when you play against a newly-promoted team and put in a performance like that, big questions are rightly asked.

They’ll finish seventh this season, maybe sixth. I can’t see them getting in the top four. There are too many top sides up there that are better than them.

It’s a tough league; there’s so much quality throughout the division. I just don’t see Arsenal having the consistency levels required to get anywhere near the top four this season.

City need Kane more than Spurs

After the weekend you’d say Man City need Harry Kane more than Tottenham do. I remember watching the game thinking ‘Harry’s price tag has just gone up… it’s £150m all day long’ because they were pretty toothless against Spurs.

Harry has handled himself like the complete professional when it comes to Tottenham Hotspur over the past few years.

Obviously he’s had a conversation with Daniel Levy at the back-end of last season and only those two will know exactly what was agreed. If there was an agreement in place, then of course as a player you’d hope your chairman stands by it.

How would Spurs replace him? It’d be difficult, but we were in this situation eight years ago with Gareth Bale and we became a bigger and better team off the back of his move.

It can happen; it’s not the end of the world. Yes, he’s the best striker in the world along with Robert Lewandowski, and it would be tough to replace his goals, but if the right offer does come in from Man City – which I think it will – we’ve already shown in the past we can deal with it.

Daniel Levy got what he wanted for Bale and he’ll get what he wants for Kane, too. City will have to stump up the full amount.

By the time this transfer window slams shut, I do see him at City. It’ll probably go right up to the wire, which wouldn’t be great for Tottenham because obviously you’d want to be able to bring in replacements and spend those transfer funds.

Man City won’t want to pay top whack but Daniel Levy won’t budge from his valuation and I think he believes City will cough up. It’s unfortunate for City but they’ve got so much money and they will spend it.

Harry Kane, Tottenham, Premier League top scorer odds

Alan Sugar’s £1m offer…

Man United wanted to sign me in 1995 and I’m not going to sit here and say the idea of leaving didn’t cross my mind. You’re always going to think about it but I was more than happy where I was.

I believed in ’95 we were in a position to be better than United. They finished second in the previous season and they’d lost Paul Ince and Mark Hughes.

I had an agreement with Tottenham that if someone came in with a bid of £4m, I could go. If we’re talking about Kane and gentleman’s agreements, I had an agreement in place with Alan Sugar that if a team offered more than £4m – say £6m – that I could get half of the extra amount.

So when we heard United had offered that £6m I was in line for a pay-out of £1m but Alan Sugar said he wanted me to stay and if I did decide to leave, he’d do a swap deal with United for Andrei Kanchelskis and say it was £4m – so that was me saying goodbye to a million.

With that in mind, I can totally understand the frustration Harry is feeling at the moment after dealing with that from Sugar.

I’d had a bad time when I first signed for Spurs; I had a really tough first few months and the fans were so good to me.

They stuck by me and could see I was just a kid. I’d had a hernia operation and once I was fully fit everything was great – they were brilliant to me.

So when I had this opportunity to jump ship – or whatever you want to call it – I didn’t want to take it. I wanted to win something with the club.

Robbie Savage – when I was at Birmingham – was trying to get out of the club and sign for Blackburn. He wanted to be nearer to home. I get on well with Sav and he called me to ask what I thought he should do. I said ‘Sav, I spent 12 years at Spurs; you’re asking the wrong person’.

I never really tried to force my way out of any club. I always remember Steve Bruce trying to deal with the Savage situation. Bruce loved him, I was always like “Why? Why are you trying to keep him? Get him out!” I love Sav, he’s a good lad. I just like giving him a bit of stick.

If I’d have gone up to Manchester, I’d have probably signed for United

I didn’t really want to leave Tottenham at first, it was all part of the negotiation process.

I got the deal I wanted at Spurs, I was happy, I was young and I’d just had a great season. I really thought we were going places as a club.

Of course it didn’t pan out that way in the end and Man United ended up going on to win everything and I only won the Worthington Cup.

That’s a disappointment for me, there’s no doubt about it. But I just loved Tottenham as a club. It’s a special place and they had special players that I would watch as a kid.

Sir Alex Ferguson called me while I was on holiday in America. Tottenham spoke to me and asked me if I wanted to stay, which I did.

So they had to give me a new deal in order to get rid of the clause in my contract knowing that Man United were about to make an offer. I think Blackburn Rovers were interested, too, as champions.

I remember reading something from Sir Alex which said the only player he wanted to sign that summer was myself. It felt great reading that. I was enjoying my football at the time, both at club level and internationally.

I didn’t want to leave the club but when Sir Alex called, he told me he was having a problem with Andrei Kanchelskis so he’d be moving on. He’d already spoken to Paul Parker about playing with me. Parker said ‘get him here if you can’.

I was more than happy to go up and have a chat with Sir Alex. I think if I’d have gone up there and spoken with the manager, had a walk around the stadium and all of that, I might have signed.

But the next day Sir Alan Sugar and Gerry Francis had me go and see them and basically wouldn’t let me leave until I signed a new deal.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Levy is feeding lines out to the press

I don’t know for sure but it wouldn’t surprise me if Daniel Levy is just being a bit clever and leaking things here and there to the press about Harry Kane, his holiday and not turning up to training, because Harry’s a good egg. He’s a really good guy.

If he moves on to Man City, he’ll be able to deal with whatever reaction he gets but he wants Spurs fans to love him because he loves them. He appreciates they’ve been so good for him.

It wouldn’t surprise me if Daniel is leaking this information out there to make Harry look bad because fans are reacting to it.

Once that information about holidays and training and refusing to travel is out there for the public, it’s hard for people to forget about it.

People then start to question his loyalty and that’s not nice. But it might make him reconsider his decision and he might end up staying.

After watching the game on Sunday, if you chuck Harry Kane into the mix, all of a sudden we’ve got a really exciting season ahead of us.

In my own experience I always believed better things were around the corner for Spurs while I was playing for the club.

I didn’t win what I wanted to win; I wanted to win everything and I see a lot of that in Harry Kane now. He wants to be challenging for Premier League and Champions Leagues.

The one thing I don’t want to see is things ending ugly because he’s given so much for the club.

If he wants to go, I think we should give him that opportunity. We showed at the weekend that we’ve got plenty of other top, top players at the club. We just need to use the money wisely to replace him.

How to spend Kane funds? Bring in Coady and Jimenez

If I was part of Tottenham’s recruitment team, I’d be looking at Conor Coady and Raul Jimenez all day long – not least because of Nuno Espirito Santo’s links with Wolves.

You see it happen, a lot managers will go back to their old clubs because they know what they’re getting and those are two players who would absolutely improve the Spurs squad.

Coady has proven himself to be a top, top centre-back a player who loves to defend. There aren’t many of those around these days; they all think they’re Franz Beckenbauer and they all want to ping the ball 60 yards, rather than simply defending.

Raul Jimenez, Wolves

I’m a little bit worried by the partnership of Eric Dier and Davinson Sanchez. Don’t get me wrong, they’re very good players but Conor Coady is a different class.

Dier is a great leader but he is susceptible to an error. Sanchez is quick but I don’t feel totally safe at times when I watch him alongside Dier.

Jimenez is a great, great player. Fingers crossed he can get back to his normal self with no future injuries or complications – and if he’s available, with or without Harry Kane in the team, I’d love to see him in a Spurs shirt because I think he’d just add so much to that team.

Title race is between Man City and Chelsea… Man Utd & Liverpool will make up the top four

For me, Chelsea are going to be the only team that really pushes Man City this season.

On paper you’d say Man United have probably got it in them to sustain a title challenge but you can’t help but wonder whether they’re going to have problems with Paul Pogba again as the season progresses.

Defensively they can worry supporters at times and I think they’d really take a hit if they had one or two injuries to key players.

I think they’ll be better than they were last season and that’s not to say they’re going to be winning the league because I still see Chelsea putting in a real challenge with City for the title.

I think Man United will finish third and while I’d like to see Tottenham break into the top four, I do think Liverpool will bounce back and sneak into the top four ahead of Spurs.

Liverpool will obviously be favourites between them and Spurs to finish in the top four, so I’d go with them to round out those Champions League spots.

Of course I’d like it to be different and Tottenham’s performance on Sunday gives me a real sense of hope that Nuno Espirito’s side can give it a real good go.

On paper you’d say Man United have probably got it in them to sustain a title challenge.

Lukaku is the signing of the season

I’ve got to say Romelu Lukaku is the signing of the season, for me.

He’s such a strong addition to an already-impressive Chelsea side. He’s a great buy for Chelsea and what they’re all about.

To have a player like that come in, someone who can lead the line as he does, is a brilliant piece of business.

I think he’ll also give Timo Werner the opportunity to play off of him at times.

We all saw how much he struggled to lead the line last season for Chelsea so Lukaku coming in really does take that pressure off the German and I think we could see the pair of them thrive as a result. He really is a great signing for them.

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Author

Stuart Walker