Exclusive Interview with Don Goodman: Beale a 'Baby', Moore to Ignite Ipswich, Rogers Not Right for Villa
“Michael Beale is a ‘baby’ compared to Tony Mowbray, Kieffer Moore is perfect for Ipswich Town, and I have no idea why Aston Villa want Morgan Rogers – he does not have Premier League ’star quality’”
In an interview with CasinoAlpha, Sky Sports’ EFL expert and former Wolves, Sunderland and West Bromwich Albion striker Don Goodman looked ahead to this weekend’s Black Country Derby, reflected on Michael Beale’s underwhelming start to life at Sunderland and reacted to reports linking Aston Villa with Middlesbrough starlet Morgan Rogers.
First up, a prediction for the Black Country Derby. Do West Brom have a chance against an impressive Wolves outfit?
DG – “Logic says Wolves will win, based on the chasm that exists between the Premier League and the Championship.
‘Look how good Burnley were last season and they’re struggling week in, and week out. There’s a chasm at the moment between teams in the Premier League and Championship sides like West Brom and Sunderland.
“If it was Leicester against Wolves, Ipswich against Wolves or Southampton against Wolves then I might be able to make a case for one of those sides. At the moment, however, I’m struggling to make a case for West Brom, other than the fact that it’s the FA Cup and anything can happen. That’s the best I’ve got for West Brom fans.”
How can WBA hurt Wolves?
DG – “They’re (West Brom) creative and inventive when it comes to set pieces. I don’t know whether Daryl Dike or Brandon Thomas-Asante will start, or even both. But they’ve got the physicality and the running power to unsettle Wolves a little bit.
“But I do think they will need to capitalise on a half-chance or set-piece and will have to put in the perfect defensive performance to get over the line. It’s a big ask.”
Which players do WBA need to be aware of? What is Wolves’ biggest threat?
DG – “Without question, it’s the attack of (Pedro) Neto, (Pablo) Sarabia and (Matheus) Cunha. They’ve also got full-backs that can dribble and carry the ball, they’ve got midfielders that can do the same, even Max Kilman, who used to play futsal, can dribble, let me tell you.
“Ball carriers in football hurt opponents probably more than anything else. If you’ve got somebody that can beat a man, then all of a sudden things open up because somebody in the opposition has to decide to either stay with their man or go to the ball. Wolves have got ball carriers in abundance.
“Neto is just incredible. I’m seeing a completely different person in Cunha this season, what a player he has become. If he starts to finish the chances he gets more regularly than Wolves won’t be able to keep him for much longer.
“They’ve got star quality which, because West Bromwich Albion are a Championship team and have financial issues, don’t have in comparison. Therefore, West Brom will need to do it the ugly way, the workman-like way, and maybe even the lucky way.
“To give West Brom fans hope, I keep on saying it’s the FA Cup and anything can happen.”
Last time we spoke, you said Ipswich Town could not afford to lose both games against Sunderland and Leicester. They didn’t and remain in the top two, how significant are these two results?
DG – “To get four points from matches against Sunderland and Leicester City is absolutely massive. They conceded the first goal in both games but managed to dig deep and highlight why they are going to push the top two all the way and might well be in it.”
“What I like is that they got through two super-hard games and their next two Championship games are Preston North End away and West Bromwich Albion at home. They’re hard games, but not as hard as Sunderland and Leicester as a combination and they’ll be going into them with massive belief.”
“After that, they’re into a run of nine games against teams in the bottom half. Their record against bottom half sides is won nine, drawn five and lost none. They have a great record against those teams and have nine consecutive matches against some of them. If they can get some points against Preston and West Bromwich Albion, I think by the end of those nine games they are going to be in the automatic promotion spots or within striking distance of the top two.
“So, those four points against Sunderland and Leicester were absolutely enormous.”
Ipswich fans disagreed with your comments about them being ‘under pressure’, what do you make of their reaction?
DG – “It’s easy for the fans to have that opinion but believe me, the pressure is on the players because they are in a situation where they can get to the Premier League. The fans’ opinion is perhaps a defensive mechanism and they can take it as a free hit and all that but believe me, their players will be desperate to get to the Premier League.
“Their (Ipswich) ambitions now, after 28 games, are to get to the Premier League. Before a ball is kicked, they might have aimed to knock on the door of the play-offs, but ambitions change.
“There are some teams at the bottom of the table whose ambitions are now to avoid relegation, when at the start of the season they may have hoped to earn a spot in the play-offs. The further you get during a season and the closer you are to achieving what you set out to do, the more pressure increases.
“They are right in one aspect. Whatever happens from this point, it will still have been a brilliant season. So if they want to say that, then fine. But to say there is no pressure is wrong, there is pressure and it seems to me that they actually thrive on pressure due to the amount of points they’ve won from losing positions.
“I also love Kieran McKenna and think he’s got a massive future. Not just because Ipswich are second, but I’m also looking at the players he inherited in League One. They are now some of the best in the Championship and that’s down to his coaching, he’s improved them individually 20%, 30%, 40% from where he picked them up. That tells me Kieran McKenna is going very far in the game.”
Do the Tractor Boys still need a striker? Any recommendations?
DG – “I’m sure they are trying but the market in January is awful to deal in, we also could name 10 other clubs that want a striker and are shopping in the same market as Ipswich.
“Sam Gallagher has been mentioned, Jay Stansfield has been mentioned, but, for me, I think Kieffer Moore would be absolutely perfect for Ipswich Town. He’s a lot better than what people give him credit for, they look at the size of him and think he’s just a big lump but he’s a lot more than that. He’s got a great touch, holds the ball up, makes great runs and scores goals at this level. That’s exactly what Ipswich Town need.”
Sunderland fans are not happy with Michael Beale. Without taking his predecessor’s dismissal into account, how do you rate Beale’s start to life at the club?
DG – “It just hasn’t been fluent. Under Tony Mowbray, win, lose or draw, it was fluent and you could see patterns of play. Players were playing with freedom, confidence, and on the front foot.
“It might be a case of Michael Beale asking them to do the same things but they’re not and struggling to cope with the pressure. When the hierarchy decides to replace a very popular manager with somebody who doesn’t get their pulses racing and is coming off the back of what is perceived to be, for whatever reason, a failure at Rangers, the pressure is on the new man to get results very quickly.
“He lost his first game 3-0 against Coventry and must have been thinking ‘Oh my goodness.’ They managed to get a win against Hull away from home which was a big boost, but the draw against Rotherham was disappointing given where they are in the table. Even the win against Preston on New Year’s Day, the first half was convincing but the second wasn’t, they didn’t even muster a shot! The home defeat against Hull was awful and Ipswich were better than them last time out.
“It’s been a very, very difficult start. The mood around the ground has changed but I don’t blame Michael Beale one iota in the same way I didn’t blame Wayne Rooney at Birmingham. The buck stops with the hierarchy. It’s not like Sunderland had lost six in a row or anything like that, then you can acknowledge that a change might be needed. It was the same at Birmingham when they released John Eustace.
“The hierarchy have had a disagreement on transfer policy with Tony Mowbray, from what we’re led to believe, and ultimately that’s resulted in them letting him go, which none of us in football could understand. They’ve made their bed and now they need to lie in it.
“Now they’ll be saying a few prayers before every game, hoping Sunderland can turn their fortunes around very quickly because if they don’t, then this hierarchy is going to have a very awkward conversation and decision to make in five or 10 games time.”
Including Tony Mowbray’s start at Birmingham, does it show you how big a mistake it was for Sunderland’s owners to sack Mowbray?
DG – “Only time will tell if they have made a mistake. I have to remind people that Tony Mowbray’s appointment after Alex Neil left wasn’t the most popular appointment, but he got off to a good start and got the fans on board quickly. They could see that the style of play was the one they were going to enjoy, win, lose or draw and they embraced it.
“Tony Mowbray, when you compare him to Wayne Rooney and Michael Beale, in terms of experience, matches coached, and time on the grass is a world apart from Rooney and Beale. That counts.
“Although he’s over 60, Tony Mowbray was probably a coach ahead of his time. Now we’re going into an era where most coaches want to play a possession-based game but he did that back when he took the job at Hibernian, which attracted the likes of West Bromwich Albion and Celtic.
“He’s always been a forward-thinking, attack-minded, coach that wants his team to attack games. When you compare him to Wayne Rooney and Michael Beale, there’s a chasm in experience and in pressure situations, which is what he inherited at Sunderland, what Sunderland are in now, and what Birmingham are in now, it counts.
“Wayne’s lack of experience cost him. Had Wayne Rooney spent the same amount of years in management that Tony Mowbray has, then I’d have no doubt he would have done much better during his time at Birmingham.
“Dare I say it’s the same for Michael Beale, who is a baby when it comes to coaching and experience.”
Alex Pritchard has been linked with a move to St. Andrew’s – how would you evaluate that potential move for all parties?
DG – “It’s mind-blowing. He’s (Alex Pritchard) 30 and I’m asking Sunderland to swallow their pride and get two or three experienced players in the building for the short term and Sunderland are on about letting one of them go. I just find it mind-blowing.
In terms of what he offers, his delivery, attacking prowess, experience and influence off the pitch, it’s mind-blowing to me that Sunderland would consider letting him go at all.
“It would be Sunderland’s loss and Birmingham’s gain.”
Are Hull City the biggest winners of the January transfer window thus far? Fabio Carvalho signed, with a move for Ryan Giles also in the pipeline. Does this make Hull City favourites for the play-offs outside of the top four?
DG – “Fabio Carvalho is going to get better and better as he becomes match-fit.
“Ryan Giles got 11 assists in the Championship last season, and 10 the season before, so it’s a no-brainer. If Hull City, or anyone in the Championship, can get him, then they’re getting an assist machine. You’re getting a player who, if you give him half a yard, will get it out of his feet and whip it into a really dangerous area. The quality is going to be there, he would be a massive addition.
“They’re just one point off the play-offs and have a serious amount of quality in the building, including the head coach I should add. What they’re looking for is consistency, I think Liam Rosenior would argue that they’ve had consistency in performances but not in results, it’s hard to argue with that.
“In their next four games against Millwall, Swansea, Rotherham and Huddersfield, they need nine or 10 points from that little run. They are going to be a threat if they can do that and get Ryan Giles through the door.
“But they’re in a fight with a really strong West Bromwich Albion side, a really good Coventry City team and I do think Middlesbrough might improve to be the biggest challengers despite the recent results they’ve had.”
We discussed him slightly before. But Callum O’Hare is leading Coventry City’s play-off push. Does he rank among the very best Championship players?
DG – “He (Callum O’Hare) has started eight games this season and already has five goals and an assist. Before he got injured he was having an impact on games and the season before that he got five goals and eight assists.
“Without a shadow of a doubt, if Coventry City keep Callum O’Hare fit, this will be his best-ever season. Considering the impact he’s had on seasons in the past, that’s going to be very important for Coventry City.
“The problem then will be keeping him, but they don’t have to worry about that. Just let him propel you into the play-offs and worry about it in the same way you had to worry about Gustavo Hamer and Victor Gyokeres.
“It’s understandable that they couldn’t give him a long-term contract while recovering from injury as you’ve got to see if he’s the same player, but he’s even better and that’s a very rare thing. They’ve now got one of the most dangerous players in the Championship and the objective for Coventry is to keep him fit, and by doing that, I think they’ll be in the play-offs.”
Norwich CIty are now in eighth after seemingly falling away previously. What is the key to success for them?
DG – “David Wagner would argue that they’ve only lost two out of their last ten games (prior to Leeds game), winning five and drawing three. Their last two wins were against teams just above them in West Brom and Hull, which will give them confidence.
“The problem I have with Norwich City is that they’re just so unconvincing, I see them dominated for long spells, like in the Hull game, but they’ve got players like Jonathan Rowe and Josh Sargent, who can nick a goal for you out of nowhere.
“They just don’t dominate games in the way I think you have to in order to get promoted from this league. Whether they can change that when players get back from injury is another question.
“I don’t fancy them to get back into the top six but you just don’t know. I think their performance levels have to increase if they are to make a genuine challenge. But they’re only two points off the play-offs and credit to David Wagner for having them there.”
Aston Villa want Morgan Rogers. Can he make the step up to the Premier League? How big of a loss would he be to Middlesbrough?
DG – “I’ve got to be honest, that link just blew my mind. I just don’t see it yet, but he’s (Morgan Rogers) only 21 years old, so he’s got time on his side.
“I haven’t seen what Aston Villa have seen, I didn’t see it in his loan spells at Blackpool and Bournemouth and I haven’t seen it at Middlesbrough this season but he’s recorded six assists, which means he’s making an impact. Maybe I’m being a little bit harsh.
“Fair play to him, I do think that when you come through the Manchester City academy system, you are held in higher regard. He’s got ability, no doubt about it, but I haven’t seen the consistency and Premier League star quality yet.”
Kevin Nagle, owner of Huddersfield Town, has raised eyebrows due to his full-time reactions to results on X. What do you make of his behaviour and what impact could it have on Darren Moore?
DG – “I would say an owner getting involved in any way publicly is one of the most selfish acts an owner can do. That is not an owner thinking about his football club, thinking about his players, thinking about his head coach.
“I don’t like it, I’m not on X, and I’m told I get abused quite a lot so I haven’t actually seen his tweets, I’ve heard about them and my best advice to him is to stop it because it’s not doing anybody any favours.
A word on Danny Rohl, is the job he’s doing at Sheffield Wednesday going under the radar? But do they have enough to survive?
DG – “He’s (Danny Rohl) doing a brilliant job. I’m seeing a massive improvement in them. When he took the job there was no chance they were going to survive, I don’t care if he was Pep Guardiola, there was no chance they were going to survive. You have to applaud what he has done.
“There’s still a five-point gap but it was a lot bigger than that when he took the job. Their last two defeats have put them on the back foot a little bit. They beat Hull before that and Preston, too, so they are capable of beating the better teams and have given themselves a fighting chance.
“When you go to Hillsborough, the fans can create a fantastic atmosphere and be the difference between winning games and not. They’ve got cup finals coming their way, and they need to take six or seven points from their next three fixtures against Watford, Huddersfield and Birmingham City. They’re certainly not teams playing as well as the two teams that have just beaten them in Southampton and Coventry City.”
Portsmouth’s form has tallied off a bit with Peterborough, Derby and Bolton hot on their heels, they have a reputation for starting well and falling off, can you see that happening again this year? What do they have to do to get back on track?
DG – “You need to find belief, confidence, self-motivation as an individual, self-motivation as a group and work hard on the training ground. You don’t become a bad team overnight, it’s just been a terrible run for them.
“Their (Portsmouth) last seven games have been difficult but they beat Fleetwood in their last game and that’s how form can turn. You need a win and then build on it by not losing the next game. They’ve got Port Vale away which isn’t easy, Oxford away which isn’t easy but they’ve got to be picking up points.
“They’re under pressure now and it’s almost been self-inflicted. If the teams below win their games in hand they’ll be out of the top two. It’s not a given as they’re all feeling the pressure it seems apart, from Peterborough and maybe Bolton.
“The top five are fighting for two automatic promotion spots and with that comes pressure. Portsmouth will know that they cannot afford to slip up and the teams which deal with the pressure best will get promoted.
“They really need to beat Port Vale and with back-to-back wins, they’ll feel like they’re up and running again.”