Glen Johnson has played over 360 times across some of England’s biggest clubs since making his debut for West Ham, and the full-back went on to play 54 times for England – representing his country at two World Cups.
We sat down with the former Liverpool, Chelsea, and Stoke player to talk FIFA, the next Chelsea manager, and plenty more.
Out of all your former clubs, which dressing room was the most into FIFA?
Probably Liverpool. Many of the guys were into it, especially José Enrique, Daniel Sturridge, Raheem Sterling and most of the youngsters involved in the first-team squad.
Do you remember the first FIFA game you appeared in?
I don’t remember, but it probably would have been FIFA 2004 when I joined Chelsea.
Onto football, what are your thoughts on Mauricio Pochettino closing in on a deal to become the next manager of Chelsea?
I believe it’s a fantastic appointment. You need a manager that’s worked with big names before, knows the Premier League and clearly has the right approach for getting the best out of players. Chelsea need to rebuild this team from the ground up and Mauricio isn’t going to be able to produce magic overnight, so as long as Mauricio is allowed to have an input on and off the field then I believe Chelsea will bounce back and they can start building the foundations like Liverpool did when Jürgen Klopp first arrived at Anfield.
If Mauricio Pochettino is forced to deal with what he has at his disposal in regards to Chelsea’s squad next season, if the club have to curb their spending this summer, then do you believe the quality of the squad at Chelsea, under the right stewardship, are capable of being successful next season?
Yes I do. Their squad is good on paper and despite their position in the league table, from some of their performances this season, you’d believe that Chelsea weren’t too far away. For whatever reason, they have a 30-minute period in every game where they’re completely non-existent, which is odd. I believe under the right guidance that there’s enough talent in the squad for Chelsea to bounce back next season.
Do you believe that Chelsea could even challenge for the Premier League title next season?
Challenging for the title would be a stretch, but I believe they could finish amongst the top four or five teams. Other fans are fixating on Chelsea being in a relegation battle, despite the fact they’re not, but this is just a freak season for them. There’s obviously been a lot of change at the club, but once those players start enjoying themselves again, then they’re more than good enough to win games.
If you were to make a prediction, where will Harry Kane be playing his club football next season?
I think he will remain at Tottenham. I know he’s been linked with reuniting with Mauricio Pochettino at Chelsea, but he’s not going to risk his legacy at Tottenham to move to a club where he’s not going to win anything either. That would be even more embarrassing for him. If he’s not going to win anything anyway, then he may as well stay at Tottenham and clinch every record he possibly can. I believe he will only leave Tottenham for Real Madrid, or any other foreign team that’s guaranteed to win their domestic league.
Do you believe that Chelsea would represent a step up from Tottenham for Harry Kane?
It would be in the sense of where the club will be in a couple of years’ time, but as for where Chelsea are right now, then no. It would be a sideways step. Harry can’t wait around for that as he’s almost 30 years old, so he won’t want to wait three or so years for a medal, even though it could be sooner than that at Chelsea. I believe working with Mauricio Pochettino again would excite Harry, but I’m not so sure that we will see them reunited at Chelsea.
Barcelona wonderkid Gavi could be available on a free this summer, if his club fails to register him as a first-team player. Chelsea have been linked with a move for the Spanish playmaker and AS has claimed that the club’s officials met with Gavi and his family to discuss a move. Now if Gavi is available on a free this summer, considering that he’s one of world football’s brightest prospects, do you believe Chelsea should do all they can to sign him?
Yes, 100 per cent in regards to how great a prospect he is. However, I don’t believe this is a move that will materialise as Barcelona aren’t stupid and they won’t allow a player of his quality to walk out on a free. I can’t imagine that a player with his potential can just walk out of the club for nothing, but if it did actually happen, then every man and his dog will want to sign him.
Chelsea are reportedly interested in Crystal Palace’s soon-to-be free agent Wilfried Zaha. Do you believe he would get gametime at Stamford Bridge and do you believe it would be a smart bit of business by your former side if they’re to sign Wilfried for free this summer?
I’m not sure, it’s a tough one. One week he looks like a world beater and then for another three or four weeks, he does zero. I don’t believe you can do that at a top team. He can get away with it at Crystal Palace because he’s a big fish in a small pond and he probably gets away with it a bit too much. You need to be more consistent when you play for a top team, but on his good days, then of course he’s good enough to play for Chelsea. I don’t think it’s a move that Chelsea need to make.
Do you believe that Aston Villa’s Ollie Watkins has shown that he’s good enough to play for one of the Premier League’s best teams?
I do believe he could be good enough, but I just think he has a bit to prove first before he makes a move to one of the Premier League’s biggest clubs. The guy clearly has good movement, knows where the goal is and has the composure to finish, so I do believe he could secure a move to an even bigger club in the future if he can kick on even more.
Do you believe that Sam Allardyce can save Leeds United from relegation?
He’s certainly got a track record for saving clubs from relegation and then disappearing. That’s what he’s been doing for years. God knows what he will have Leeds United doing between now and the end of the season, but they realistically only need two wins to stay up and considering how well-equipped Sam is for being in a relegation battle, nobody knows how to save a club from this position better than him.
Which three teams do you believe will be relegated from the Premier League?
Southampton, Everton and then I’m torn between Nottingham Forest and Leeds United. I believe Leicester City will be safe with Jamie Vardy, James Maddison and Harvey Barnes, so I believe they can even kick on a bit between now and the end of the season. If I had to choose a third team to get relegated, then I’d probably have to say it will be Nottingham Forest and for the bottom three to stay as it is currently, but it could easily be them or Leeds United.
Liverpool are linked with a move for Brighton’s Alexis Mac Allister. In your opinion, would Mac Allister be a good alternative signing to Jude Bellingham, with Liverpool said to be out of the race to sign the Borussia Dortmund midfielder?
He’s a fantastic player and has kicked on from the success he had at the World Cup. I don’t believe it’s a case of it’s either him or Jude Bellingham because I don’t think they’re similar players. You can never have enough creative players and finding a player that’s shown they can perform in the Premier League is another bonus, so I can see this moving happening.
Do you believe there’s any chance of Arsenal still winning the Premier League? If not, do you believe they bottled it or are Manchester City just too good?
Arsenal were playing so well to get themselves in the position that they were in a few weeks ago. They were winning games when they weren’t playing too well, which we all know is the hallmark of champions. Manchester City were always going to be on their coattails and when they and Arsenal faced off last week, two sides competing for the Premier League title, if you hadn’t seen the league table then you’d have thought Arsenal were 12th. You can’t go into your biggest game of the season and concede a goal after seven minutes. That’s not the sign of champions. From that moment they got bullied by a team that knew they were better than them.
I do believe that Arsenal bottled it a little bit, which is such a shame to say as they’ve been great this season. They deserve a lot of credit as nobody expected them to have been competing for the title for as long as they did into the season, but I believe Manchester City will be too difficult to peg back now.
Do you believe Arsenal missing out on the Premier League title can have a negative impact on their squad going into next season?
In the long-term, it could be good for them because nobody believed they would finish second before the start of the season, so that team will ultimately be happy with the clear progression they’ve made this year and it will give them greater foundations to mount a challenge next season and they’ll be hungrier and desperate to improve. If they had won the title this season, then they may not have had the same hunger to go out next season and win it again.