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Jose Enrique exclusive on Tuchel sacking: "I did not see this coming."
Charles Metcalfe
Charles Metcalfe
September 7, 2022

The start of this premier league season has been unlike any other in recent memory, with unexpected results occurring on a weekly basis, and fantastic individual performances all around. We’ve sat down with ex Newcastle & Liverpool player Jose Enrique to find out his opinion on Liverpool’s misfortunes, Newcastle’s opportunities, Tuchel’s sacking, and much more!

If you want our predictions for the Premier League then click here.

Do you think Arthur Melo’s loan at Liverpool will be a success or was it a panic buy from the Reds?

The reality is that it is a bit of a panic buy because it was on the last day of the transfer window.

I don’t think they were going to make that signing, but because of what happened to Henderson I think they had to make the signings.

If Henderson wasn’t injured, then I don’t think they would have brought anybody in.

I could be wrong, but I don’t think it would have happened.

I know Arthur pretty well from his time at Barcelona and watching a lot of the games.

Quality wise he was compared with Xavi whilst he was at Barcelona, but then I’m not really sure what happened with him.

After that he made a very strange transfer to Juventus, so I would say it’s a good chance for him.

Obviously, the injury record is there, but the quality is there as well.

The problem he’s going to have is the intensity that this team plays at, maybe not right now but the intensity they play at is normally very high.

That’s just my doubt about him, obviously if he can match that intensity that Klopp plays then he will be a good signing.

But Thiago took a year to adapt to the style of play, so it can be difficult.

In terms of talent, he’s a wonderful and incredible player, when he was at Barcelona you didn’t take the ball off him.

He’s only going to be able to play that football if he stays fit because like I said the intensity at Liverpool is a lot higher.

It’s the big question mark around him really, but I hope he turns out to be a good signing for Liverpool.

Do you think Virgil van Dijk should’ve been sent off against Everton for his tackle on Onana?

People think because I played for and support Liverpool that I won’t be honest with my opinions.

For me, you have to check the VAR and all of the angles and for me it’s clear it was a red card.

He’s higher than the ankle and there was a chance he may have broken the leg of the Everton player.

So, if I’m honest, I think it was a red card.

From the angle that we saw it looks like he’s just above the foot, but when you see every single angle on VAR, it looks like a red card to me.

What have you made of Andy Robertson’s situation this season with Klopp regularly subbing on Tsimikas this season in games? (also started over Robertson vs Everton)

I think you could say the same thing about Trent as well, they’ve both been subbed a few times this season in games.

The reality is that Klopp is making those changes because they aren’t quite performing as well as they can do.

It’s not just them two, the whole team isn’t having the best time right now, so Klopp is trying new things.

But it’s not normal to sub your fullbacks that often in my opinion, I’ve never seen something like that in my life.

Obviously, something is not going well, but if something is going to get back into this team then I would definitely say Robertson.

For me, he’s a player who always gives and tries his best, obviously the way the team are playing isn’t helping at the moment.

They aren’t performing the way they should be which obviously isn’t helping, so Klopp is trying new things.

Kostas Tsimikas is a very good player, but there is no comparison with Robertson for me.

Robertson is on another level, look over the past few seasons how many assists him and Trent get in this team.

Those numbers are not normal for a fullback, they’re unbelievable stats.

That’s even without playing with a proper number 9, obviously they have one now and we have to wait to see how that might impact things.

I’m sure Robertson will get back to his best, but maybe the fullbacks are something Klopp isn’t happy with because he keeps changing it.

That’s the reality right now for both fullbacks, not just Robertson.

How big of a signing will Alexander Isak be for Newcastle – are you surprised clubs in the top 6 didn’t bring him in?

100% I was surprised.

I do a lot of lives on Instagram after games and I follow La Liga a lot, actually Isak was a player I was talking about over a year ago.

I said he would be the perfect to compete with Firmino for a starting spot last summer, obviously it’s different now because Liverpool brought in Nunez.

It’s a surprise to me because he’s already a player who has a lot of ability with the ball.

He’s still young and he keeps getting better and better.

The only slight doubt I have with him is his physicality, he has height, he can score with both feet and in the air he’s really good, but just maybe with his body, he just needs to build it out a little bit.

I think that would help him compete with defenders a little bit more, but if he does that then I think he is going to be a very good player in the Premier League.

But I am very surprised that someone like Liverpool or even Manchester United weren’t looking at him because they’ve needed a striker for a while.

On the other side, it’s a very good signing for Newcastle and I’m excited to see how he does.

Newcastle have been excellent since Eddie Howe came in – do you think there’s a chance that they could potentially end up in one of the European spots?

The way they’re playing then they could sneak into a European place.

For me, Eddie Howe is probably the best signing Newcastle have made.

Obviously, the signings that have come with him have been unbelievable since January.

I don’t remember exactly how many points behind Newcastle were, but it looked impossible when he first joined the club.

But he did it and not only did they survive but they finished in a really really good position last season.

I believe the real target for Newcastle, and they’ll already know this, but top 10 would be a good place to finish.

Every season I believe they will grow and improve further little by little.

But with the team they have right now, I do believe they could compete for the European places because why not, they’re playing very well.

But if they finish in the top 10, then I don’t think the Newcastle fans should be disappointed because it takes time to get there.

The way they’re spending isn’t the way Manchester City and Chelsea spent in the past.

They haven’t gone after big names from the start, they’ve tried to build a team to first of all fight relegation.

Top 10 is 100% the target or it should be, but I do think they have the team that could compete for Europe.

It will all depend on how fit the players stay, how they adapt when they lose important players in key moments of the season.

It can definitely happen though in my opinion; I wouldn’t be surprised if they finished in a European spot.

Joelinton has had a transformation since moving to a midfield role, do you think clubs will start to monitor him as a potential option? Didi Hamann mentioned he would be a good signing for Liverpool last week.

100% he would be a good signing for Liverpool, but I’m a Newcastle fan as well so I want them to keep him.

There are other options Liverpool can sign, Newcastle need to keep hold of Joelinton.

But it was something I don’t think anybody saw coming to see him playing in the midfield.

The way he’s playing though is incredible, he’s a strange number 8 because he’s tall, strong and has that smell for a goal having been a striker.

He’s really gone for it in terms of his work rate and pressure he puts opposition players under.

He’s probably been one of the best players since Eddie Howe came in and he’s up there with one of the favourites in the eyes of the fans.

Before, a lot of people wanted to get rid of him because they thought he wasn’t good enough for Newcastle.

So, the change has been incredible, Eddie Howe deserves a lot of credit for it, but the most credit has to go to the player.

He had to adapt to the situation, and he had to give everything to prove people wrong and show that he can be an important player.

Definitely he could be a player in other big teams and even starting in those teams, so a move away could happen.

But I think it would be very difficult for him to leave Newcastle right now and with the players they’ve signed I think it would be silly for him to leave if he had the chance.

I believe Newcastle are building something special, so you’d want to be a part of that as a player.

How do you think they’ll get on away at West Ham this weekend?

If they perform the way, they have been doing then I believe they’ll win.

They have a couple of injury problems with Callum Wilson, whether Bruno Guimarães will still be out and Saint-Maximin as well.

But they obviously have Isak to take some burden off the attacking players who are unavailable.

I think the starting XI they have plus three or four players from the bench means they can compete against anybody.

They can be a difficult team for anybody to play, look at the game against Liverpool for example.

For me Newcastle was the better team for the majority of that game, I know in the end they didn’t get the points, but they’re performing really well.

I believe they can beat anybody so why not go out there and get the three points this weekend.

West Ham are struggling a little bit so far, so they should be looking to take advantage of the situation.

I hope they can beat West Ham and I believe that they will do it.

Anthony scored on his Man United debut, do you think he’ll impress in the Premier League this season?

To be honest, I didn’t know much about him before he came to the Premier League because I don’t watch much Dutch football.

From what I saw in the game, he was very left-footed, very tricky and had an eye for goal.

He’s still really young and it’ll be about coping with the pressure of playing for a club like Manchester United.

The fans at the moment seem quite happy, but if things start to turn against the team again then it could become difficult.

Obviously from what’s happened in the past few years, a couple of defeats and people will start to turn again.

If he can handle that pressure, then he has the ability to perform.

But it’s like when they paid that sort of money for Sancho, he struggled in his first season.

When you spend that sort of money, eventually you’ll get it right, but I think the problem for years has been not trusting the manager.

It looks like they are doing that with Erik Ten Hag and I like the look of him so far.

Obviously, I don’t like to talk about Manchester United too much or see them doing well, but I like this manager.

I believe they can do well if he’s backed properly.

Manchester United is Manchester United, they will come back sooner or later, I’d rather it be later but they will come back at some point.

They surprised me in this transfer window because they’ve eventually brought in what the manager wanted.

They’ve not really done that with the other managers, so it did surprise me.

If they keep doing that and trust him, then they can build a really good team because they have the money to do so.

And if the team is doing well, then they’ll continue to spend.

Erik Ten Hag made a bold move making his players run after the Brentford defeat, are you surprised at the turnaround in the past four games?

I’m not a manager so I don’t know what’s the correct thing to do after something like that, but it’s worked.

That’s the reality of the situation and it’s clear to see it’s worked since then.

I can’t talk too much because I don’t know him, but it looks like Ten Hag is a very nice guy but has that different side to him.

He has that face where you can see him turning, after that Brentford game I can imagine he had some strong words for the players.

He’s showing his authority, if you don’t run against Brentford then you run the day after, and it’s worked.

The players are running, they’re pressing and they’re currently winning games.

There’s going to be tough parts and moments because I believe the Premier League is the toughest, I’ve ever seen.

I think any team can beat anybody and the only team really ahead is Manchester City.

That connection between Kevin De Bruyne and Erling Haaland is another level.

Apart from them, I think it will be difficult for everybody.

But going back to Manchester United, since that day it’s changed, and they’ve won all the games since.

It’s obviously a good thing right now, but it could be bad for the players if they lose because he might make them do it again.

Cristiano Ronaldo will be staying at United until at least January, what do you make of his situation over the summer and can he still be a big player for them?

If you don’t say that he can be a big player after what he’s done for so many years, even last season, I think is very silly.

He’s scored so many goals over the years, so you wouldn’t go against him.

It’s true that he’s getting older, so he isn’t the player he used to be which is normal.

He’s a goal scorer and that’s the role he needs to play.

The problem that Manchester United have now with Cristiano Ronaldo is things are going well and he will stay quiet whilst they’re winning.

But if results start to turn, then I’m not sure that it was convenient that he stayed in my opinion if he isn’t playing.

That’s the reality, he is a world class player and has been one of the best in the world for many years, so he isn’t used to not playing.

In my opinion he has to accept that he isn’t the player he used to be which can be difficult for a player.

The manager demands a lot from his players in terms of intensity and I don’t think Ronaldo can match that intensity.

He’s never done it in his career but he’s always been that go to player to get the goals, so you don’t mind him not running back.

Ten Hag doesn’t do that, so I’m not sure how it’s going to work out with Cristiano Ronaldo.

I believe that we shouldn’t write him off because I’m sure he will want to prove the doubters wrong.

But at the same time, I’m not sure how he fits in the systems with Erik Ten Hag and the way he wants to play.

It’s good to keep him because he’s a goal scorer, but if they start to lose games and he isn’t playing then I don’t think he’ll be happy in the dressing room.

If I was Manchester United, I would have sold him, but it was there decision to keep him.

Were Chelsea lucky to beat West Ham on the weekend after Maxwel Cornet’s goal was disallowed?

It was definitely a goal for me, it was a massive mistake from VAR.

I don’t understand how these kinds of things are allowed to happen.

For me, what I also don’t understand is players can make mistakes and they get punished with yellow or red cards where you are suspended and fined.

But with the referees there doesn’t seem to be that.

I know one of the officials isn’t refereeing this weekend from the Newcastle game, but that’s it.

It’s costing teams points and we’re talking about fine margins where teams could be relegated or win the league or are fighting for the European spots.

I understand human mistakes, but when it’s four or five people all making the same mistake and they have technology, then it shouldn’t happen.

It’s not something wrong with the technology, people point the finger at VAR but it’s the officials in charge.

If it was used properly then I think it would be fine.

West Ham were robbed of one point from that game in my opinion.

Last weekend there were many mistakes with VAR, at least three or four games had big decisions that they didn’t get right.

There will always be controversies in football because this is football, it’s the way the game goes.

But they need to start getting things right with VAR and I don’t know why it isn’t happening.

Maybe it’s the people not doing their jobs well enough at the moment because there are too many mistakes.

What do you think of the decision to sack Thomas Tuchel?

To be honest I didn’t see this coming so soon, but it was something you could see happening in the future.

He’s been talking in the press about some of the players and you could see the atmosphere wasn’t right between him and the dressing room.

Something was definitely going on and I believe he lost the dressing room which has meant he’s been sacked.

He’s spent a lot of money on players who he wanted to bring in and now he’s not going to be able to work with them which is strange.

But this is why I think there was something going on before.

I was surprised it was this early, he won the club a Champions League and he’s an amazing manager.

But if you lose a dressing room then it’s easier for a club to take one person out of that situation rather than a number of people.

It’s normal for players to be unhappy with managers, especially if they’re not playing but this seems to have gone further.

In some of his press conferences he had some digs at his players which may have gone into the dressing room.

It’ll be interesting to see whether it was the right decision and it depends on who comes into the club.

Sometimes it can have a positive reaction changing your manager, but I wouldn’t criticise Tuchel because I think he is a great manager, these things just happen.

Do you think Erling Haaland will break Mohamed Salah’s Premier League goal scoring record this season?

If he keeps doing what he’s doing then he could break everybody’s record, it’s crazy.

He’s on 10 goals in six Premier League games already, so the numbers are crazy already.

He’s an incredible player, but in that Manchester City team you have a lot of players supplying him with those chances.

I love him as a player, I wish he was at Liverpool to be honest.

He can break a lot of records and having Kevin De Bruyne behind you, who is the best player in the Premier League in my opinion will make him score more.

Those two linking up are going to cause a lot of problems if they can both stay fit over the season.

They’re going to be a difficult team to stop when you add in Bernardo Silva, Mahrez and Grealish as well.

Having that number nine who will score them the goals is huge, I think he’s signing of the season so far.

Between him and Gabriel Jesus because I like him as well at Arsenal.

But Haaland for Manchester City, he will take them to another level, and they could be well ahead of everyone else.

Who would you put as favourites for the Champions League this season?

Well Benzema was injured against Celtic so we’ll have to see how long he’s out for, that will be a key point for Real Madrid.

But Real Madrid are always contenders, especially if you look at what they did last season and the number of miracles they produced.

Liverpool in the Champions League I believe will always be one of the favourites because if they can get through the group stage then I believe a night at Anfield is difficult to cope with for any team.

If Liverpool go through the group stage, which they should do, then they will be challengers as well.

Manchester City of course have to be mentioned because they have Haaland, they haven’t performed at their best sometimes, but they’ve been able to get results.

They’re scoring a lot more goals than they should and probably conceding too many, but they’re getting themselves back into games.

They nearly got through to the final last year, so you’d think if their main players stay fit then they have a chance.

I hope they don’t win it because it’s the only thing Liverpool have against them at the minute with them having no Champions Leagues.

But for sure Manchester City will be contenders.

PSG are on fire as well, Neymar looks to be taking this season very seriously, but let’s see after the World Cup to see if he’s the same.

Messi and Mbappe are flying also, so I would say that those four teams are definitely up there.

Everyone is talking about Barcelona because of the signings they’ve made, but I think these four teams will be the favourites.

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