John Barnes talks sense. Anyone who has listened to interviews with John Barnes on racism in football and society, everything related to Liverpool, England's international tournament prospects, and perceived controversies will understand that it is wise to listen when John Barnes has something to say. Thankfully, John Barnes has been talking quite a bit recently on quite a few matters of interest and that's a welcome break from such an unusual conviction in the transfer market by our beloved Liverpool.
John Barnes on Adam Lallana.
Brendan Rodgers' desire to add Adam Lallana to the list of his early transfer window additions is clear for the world to see. The impasse reached with Southampton makes a deal unlikely before the World Cup but Rodgers is a determined chap so a deal for the England international is not dead yet. It won't be a deal completed quickly or cheaply but Barnes believes there is logic in going for Southampton's captain.
"I like Lallana and he can play a number of different roles," the Liverpool legend said. "He can play behind a frontman, he can play wide, he can play central. Of course he's English which is good. Brendan is trying to implement this British thread throughout the team which I believe in. I think he would be a fantastic signing for Liverpool."
John Barnes on Jordan Henderson.
Jordan Henderson has been one of the stars of Liverpool's unlikely title push last season and his development led him to more than just an England World Cup call-up. Henderson is looking like a likely starter for England against Italy in Roy Hodgson's first World Cup game for his home nation. In the same piece in the Liverpool Echo, John Barnes believes that Henderson's place in England's squad is undoubtedly justified but can Henderson make an impact for England?
He is one who can work hard, defend and he's strong. That's what Roy likes. Brendan Rodgers has to take a lot of credit for Jordan's development. It's the same with Raheem Sterling and Daniel Sturridge. You can see how they have benefited from working with him. But of course Jordan is playing for England rather than Liverpool. Will he be able to play the same way for England? We don't know. But with his energy, I think he could be very important in Brazil.
John Barnes on England's World Cup Prospects.
A lot of chatter has surrounded the young players selected in Roy Hodgson's England World Cup squad. Playing in a World Cup in Brazil will be unforgettable for any player and John Barnes has experience of being a young player in a World Cup for a country with unreasonably high expectations that could put undue pressure on callow shoulders. A veteran of World Cups in 1986 and 1990, Barnes believes that this World Cup is "probably a bit too soon" for England but Euro 2016 will be a fair target for England's current and future crop of players to truly display their blossoming talents and expects "nothing" from this tournament.
Paul Scholes has recently declared that England should try to play like Liverpool in pursuit of success, which is flattering considering the Scholes' excellence as a player and status as a Manchester United legend. Barnes correctly pointed out that this is difficult to do with the type of manager England currently have even the former Liverpool number 10 may have underestimated Raheem Sterling's defensive capabilities and threat in a low-possession game-plan.
It is okay to say ‘go and attack teams' but you have to be true to yourself as a manager. If Roy Hodgson is not an attacking manager then he can't implement that style of football because it's not his way. He has to do what's true to him. If that means playing five in midfield, working hard, defending well and counter-attacking then that's what he has to do. You can't ask him to be like Brendan Rodgers. He has to be himself. At Liverpool, they have probably 70% possession per game. England don't. They play differently. If England don't play that way how are they going to ask Liverpool players to play like they do for their clubs? Why play Sterling if you are going to have 30% possession? You might as well play James Milner who is much better when the team doesn't have the ball. You can't look to players and say ‘do what you do for your club' if that's not the way the team plays. It's like asking Diego Maradona or Lionel Messi to go and play for Wimbledon in the 80s and do what he does.
John Barnes shared other thoughts on England that are worth going through irrespective of whether his views are completely accurate. It's always refreshing to see a Liverpool legend provide honest and intelligent analysis that serves to educate and illuminate. Liverpool really need to find this man a prominent role at the club.