Gus Poyet Exclusive


After Chelsea’s weak performance against Everton, can they still rival Man City & Liverpool for the title?

Difficult to say, Chelsea's level is not clear yet, I think they'll sign more players. Last year I was sure Chelsea would challenge after winning the Champions League and signing Lukaku, but it's too early to say.

They need something extra, I don't think they're as good as they were two years ago.

People say Raheem Sterling may be the signing of the summer, do you agree?

Sterling has been very important for Man City, but it depends on what position he plays at Chelsea. Sterling was always a wide attacker, cutting in coming inside, finding spaces, waiting at the back post, If he plays as a striker, Chelsea will need to create a lot of chances.

Is Koulibaly a good replacement for Rudiger? Do you think he can play until 37 like Thiago Silva?

Koulibaly is a very good replacement for Rudiger, I think he is a top player.

He has suffered a bit with the pace of the Premier League, with cramp against Everton.

But Koulibaly is so calm, composed, strong, both footed, great in the air, he's got all the attributes and he's settled down very quickly. I think it is easier for defenders to settle down quicker than midfielders and forwards, but Koulibaly is a very good addition.

Do you think the arrival of Marc Cucurella will hinder Ben Chilwell’s minutes this season?

The question is will Cucurella play left wingback, left centre half or left fullback in a back four? 

That defensive left-side for Chelsea has been strange for the last few years in terms of decisions. They had Kennedy, Emerson, Marcos Alonso, Chilwell and now Cucurella. Something is not right and Thomas Tuchel is looking for something very specific which might be Cucurella. 

The left wingback position is very covered, I am a big fan of Marcos Alonso, he always ends up being the one playing, scoring and producing goals and doing his part in the system.

Cucurella is a top player, he knows how to play in the system, it looked easy for him.

With Fofana linked with an £85m move, are Chelsea spending extortionate amounts in the market?

It is a lot. The centre half positions do need to be covered with the departures of Christiensen and Rudiger. 

Chelsea still need to sort out the striker situation now Lukaku is gone. Sterling will not be their number nine.

It is logical for Chelsea to look for another centre back, but £85 million? It's difficult to say because the market is crazy when you want certain players. Too spend that much money, the player needs to play week in week out for the next four or five years like Virgil Van Dijk.

Glen Johnson said Lukaku is the worst signing in Chelsea’s history, do you agree?

I respect his opinion, but I did think Lukaku was really good in his first six or seven games at Chelsea. Something happened on the inside, including the interview with the Italian news which showed its consequences, there was no way back. 

I can name a few worse than Lukaku, but I will not, out of respect.

Would signing someone like Aubameyang be a good move?

No doubt. Aubameyang would be perfect. He looks happy and back to his best scoring goals. 

I do not know why this summer Chelsea and Barcelona are constantly trying to sign the same players and steal from each other. They are not similar clubs, but they are trying to buy the exact same players.

But I can't see the Aubameyang signing happening but I would be happily surprised.


Many - like Brad Friedel - believe Spurs are dark horses for the title, do you agree?

I love Tottenham, but it is still Man City and Liverpool. They need to drop their standards in order to raise them. 

If I was a part of Spurs, I would not aim so high, but I would aim for top three. I would say 'let's challenge Chelsea'. Tottenham know what the manager wants and Conte has been backed this transfer window, Tottenham have a great squad. Heung-Min Son and Harry Kane did not score and Tottenham still scored four goals. Tottenham look very good, but the Premier League season is long.

This World Cup season could be an advantage for Tottenham, because it's different. Take advantage of the winter break. Who knows, it will be different, because teams will not be consistent with the World Cup break. 

We will definitely see a better Tottenham. 

Conte is building quite the squad, do you think in Son/Kane/Richarlison they now boast the best attack in the division?

It's one of the best. Let's see how Darwin Nunez plays for Liverpool, but Tottenham's attack is very strong.

I am very pleased for Conte, because other managers like Mourinho and Pochettino were not backed in the transfer windows. We had to see if Conte would be another Mourinho, but it was clear from the first month, you have to give Conte players or he will leave. I'm very pleased for the club, fans and the coach. There's no better feeling than being backed as a coach at a football club.

Do you think Richarlison’s arrival could hinder Kulusevski’s minutes? Even after his brilliant performance against Southampton?

They will alternate, there is plenty of games. They will need to be ready. The biggest difficulty for Spurs was finding that player who will share the striker position with Harry Kane, but nobody wants to wait until Kane gets injured.

However, Richarlison can play wide also, it is a good buy. 

I say in my teams, especially when I was at Brighton and Hove Albion, you can't say that you even have a little cold because someone will take your position right away. The Spurs attackers will need to be careful and keep fit, but it is good competition for the squad.

Kane is surely a frontrunner for the Golden Boot, do you think he has the edge over other strikers like Haaland and Nunez?

Haaland will score for fun. Only thing that will stop Haaland is injuries. Nunez will have more chances as he settles into the Liverpool system.

Kane will always score, when he scored 20 goals in his first proper season, you could see he will always compete for the top scorer. Kane will be up there with the rest.


Conte said that Spurs, rather than himself, made the decision to sign Djed Spence, was that the right move?

There is two perspectives at a football club. Coaches, me included, is what you need then and now, then there is what the club needs to last for four to five years. 

There was a time when football managers were in charge of all the signings. These kind of signings are for the next managers who need versatile players who for more than one system rather than a specific player who will be useless to them in the future. There is a split, maybe 80/20 or 60/40, between what the manager needs and what the football clubs needs in terms of signings.

Djed Spence is a player signed for the future, he was impressive the way hes improved the last couple of years, now he is at the top level. I do not think he will be a problem because he has previously shown he is a player who will challenging for a spot and he looks a promising player.

What’s your prediction for Chelsea vs Tottenham? And who will the stand out players be?

It's a very tough game for Chelsea, being so early in the season, in a derby and Chelsea not looking at their best, it's more important for Chelsea to win.

If Tottenham win there's no drama, but if Chelsea lost now, it could trigger some crazy new panic signings in the last few weeks of the transfer window, and that is never good.

Conte knows what he will do, I'm not so sure what the starting line-up will be for Chelsea with their cramp and little injuries. It's a very important game for Chelsea.

If you were Eric Ten Hag, would you have left such a superstar like Cristiano Ronaldo on the bench?

It has been a difficult summer for Manchester United. After Mourinho left, it was clear the problem was not with the manager, but everyone still think it is. David Moyes, Louis Van Gaal, Jose Mourinho, Ole Gunnar Solskjear are all top managers, it's definitely down to the players now.

To be a Man United player, you need to have quality in all areas, technically, physically, tactically, but most importantly, mentally. Certain players that have been there for years are not coping with the situation well mentally. It's the players who play, not the coach. 

We're talking about Ronaldo again, but they lost because Brighton did their jobs. We need to stop thinking it's the manager's fault. I can't see how Manchester United recover, it does not look easy from the outside.

As a manager, would you currently like the chance to play a game versus this current Manchester United side?

No doubt, 100%. Brighton is a team that lost two very important players [Cucurella and Bissouma] who are difficult to replace, but they still looked like a team. Nothing was new with Brighton, they kept their identity of how they play with fluid passing and stretching the pitch which created chances. Nothing was new from Manchester United either, it was like watching the same team from last two years. 

The match showed you a team that is settled and work together without their main players, and the other team still has the same problems from a few years ago. Manchester United are not a good team at the moment.

Will Brighton be able to fight for a European spot this season? And just how good were they against Manchester United?

It is tough, not because of Brighton but because of the position. Brighton need a top striker, with all due respect to the forwards at Brighton who have done a great job, but they need a player who will score 20 goals in the league. They create enough chances for a striker to achieve that amount. 

Brighton need to know their level also, it's important to not lose more players, they need to keep they're good, consistent players like Cucurella and Bissouma. Brighton need to aim for mid table as long as they don't get anymore issues, then look to get five or six more points that might get you into Europe.

Also the much needed replacement of Bissouma, will Caicedo and Mwepu be good enough?

I hope so. After the performance against Manchester United, I think Brighton fans are a lot calmer and realise they are in safe hands. Let's hope they don't lose key players to injuries.

How good is Graham Potter? Can you see him managing a club who have a similar playing philosophy in the future, like Arsenal or Barcelona?

I hope he has a chance. That's what we ask for as a coach, give us a chance. When you prove yourself in the Premier League, going from fighting relegation to top 10, if he does it again this year, he deserves a chance at a top team.

Potter will not have time at the top, compared to Brighton where he can build his team over time. Potter can stay for life at Brighton, I know the personality and character Brighton are looking for and Potter is perfect. With all respect to the chairman, sorry, you have to let Potter grown if he wants to.

Leeds owner Andrea Radrizanni said that Bielsa would have got Leeds relegated if he wasn’t sacked, do you agree?

I do not know, it's easy to say now. Bielsa did not look like he was going to keep Leeds up because he would not change. Fortunately for Leeds, a club who needs to be in the Premier League, have Jesse Marsch now.

What do you make of their new signings such as Tyler Adams, Luis Sinisterra and their big £20 million signing Brenden Aaronson?

The problem is the players they lost. Raphinha and Phillips were the leaders and main players. The ones who came in need to perform quickly to replace them. Leeds played well against Wolves, but let's hope the players settle down because the Premier League is a hard league.

Do you think Sunderland will be able to build on their promotion bounce straight into the Premier League?

It will be difficult. The teams in the Championship are very strong. Watford looked tremendous, Burnley aswell with their coach [Kompany], Norwich too with Premier League players.

They should settle down in the Championship and then try to aim for as high as possible. 

Out of 24 team, 14 teams believe they can get promoted, which is unrealistic, Sunderland should not expect to get promoted.

Expectations when they don't seem reachable will disappoint the club and the fans, so I think Sunderland should calm down.

How important will it be for Ross Stewart to keep his goalscoring form in the Championship?

If you come from League One and go to the Championship, then score 20 goals, you won't be in the Championship for long. A Premier League team will most likely sign them.

The jump from League One to Championship is difficult, but Sunderland deserve to slowly get back to where they belong in the Premier League, the whole city deserves it.

What would be a good season for Nunez? Can he be the new Luis Suarez?

They are different players. Nunez has all the attributes to be a top scorer in the Premier League. The goal against Fulham will give him the confidence he needs. But it is easier to adapt to the Premier League as a defender rather than a striker. Nunez will have to deal with situations where he might feel like he's been fouled and the referee does not call it. Nunez will be knocked down many times, he'll be playing against defensive teams because he plays for Liverpool.

I am confident he will score lots of goals and I do believe he will be a fan favourite by the end of the season.


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