In The Zone - Ruud Gullit

In The Zone - Ruud Gullit

Speaking to GamblingZone, Ballon d’Or winner and ex-AC Milan and Chelsea star Ruud Gullit spoke about dressing room leaks against Erik ten Hag and thinks Newcastle will struggle in the Champions League next week.

- Carlo Ancelotti is the greatest manager of all time

- Man Utd can forget about Zidane

- Santiago Gimenez suits Arsenal for a January move

Q. What do you think of Chelsea's new signings, the likes of Mudryk, Caicedo, and others?

RG - ''I still have to see how Chelsea's new signings pan out. When you come to Chelsea, you have to show how much you want to be there. 

“I think there's a lot of potential in these new signings. They're struggling a lot defensively, though, and I think people tend to start with a roof when they're building a house, ignoring the foundation. 

“Look at how much money Pep Guardiola has spent on defenders! He knows it starts from there. Liverpool did the same thing - they're playing so much better since Trent Alexander-Arnold moved into midfield. You need defenders who can play. It's always so difficult when you don't have that, and that's why those clubs have spent so much on their defensive players. 

“Nowadays, you need goalkeepers and centre-backs who can play from the back. That's the backbone of your team. Liverpool were at their absolute best when they were incredibly strong defensively and had midfielders who could tear up the opposition. They struggled a bit last season due to losing that edge, but we're starting to see it return with Trent moving into midfield and adding more quality there. It always starts from the back - not the roof! Strikers need to be fed chances by the players behind them. Clubs should always consider the players at the back and make that area their priority. 

Q. Chelsea travel to Goodison Park to battle an Everton side in decent form despite their points deduction. What are you predicting for that?

RG - ''I feel for Everton, and I think everybody feels a bit of sympathy for them. I also like Sean Dyche as a coach. He knows the game very well and he hasn't always had the best players to work with. What he does with his team is fantastic despite that. People tend to forget that. 

“I want Everton to stay in the Premier League, and I wouldn't mind if they got a result against Chelsea! I say that only due to Everton's situation, though. I'm still a massive Chelsea supporter and I want them to win! However, I have sympathy for Everton and I want them to stay up.''

Q. Do you have a score prediction?

RG  - ''I want Everton to win! I'm sorry to all the Chelsea fans! I like Dyche. I'd like to see Everton stay in the Premier League. 

“It's a tough one as I'm such a huge fan of Chelsea!’’

Gullit backing Everton to beat Chelsea

Q. You spoke about Erik ten Hag being under pressure earlier. He's also facing several rifts in the dressing room. Thoughts?

RG - ''Reports of dressing room leaks will be Erik ten Hag's biggest concern. When I was at Milan, nothing ever came out. That's why we were always so solid. 

“Leaks aren't good for the team. Players may think things like this can help them, but people always suss out who's responsible for it. You're in big trouble after that happens. 

“It also hurts your chances of joining another club, as they'll know what kind of guy you are if you're comfortable leaking things. It's not good.’’

Q. Is there any way back for players after they start leaking information?

RG - ''Whether there's any way back for players after they start leaking information depends on the terms the person was on. The coach will know who's leaking it, and the players will find it eventually. It's the worst thing a player can do.’’

Q. How would you have dealt with a player leaking information?

RG  - ''If I found out one of my players was leaking information, then I would have waited for the right moment before I dealt with it! 

“That's what managers should do. They know how it works. A manager is always right when they're getting results.'' 

Q. Do you mean waiting for the right moment to move them on, or confront them about it?

RG - ''The manager should always wait for the right moment no matter what action they take. You could take big actions or small ones. It depends.''

Q. If Ten Hag were to leave, one name linked with the club would be Zinedine Zidane. Would that be a good move?

RG - ''Zidane replacing Ten Hag is not going to happen! I don't think he'll do that. Zidane will wait for the French national team.''

Zidane won't be going to United

Q. Why do you think Zidane doesn't want the Man United job?

RG  - ''It's just a gut feeling I have. I had the same feeling when I heard reports of Jude Bellingham joining Liverpool. It was never going to happen! Especially when Real Madrid expressed their interest. 

“Zidane to Manchester United is not going to happen. I'm convinced of that.''

Q. One player you'll know well is Timo Werner - who's surprisingly linked with a move to Manchester United. What do you think of that?

RG - ''I'm not sure if the reports of  Timo Werner joining Manchester United are true. Then again, it would be a matter of taking a player who wasn't good enough at one of your rivals. I can't imagine he'd be United's first choice! 

“It's all a bit strange hearing these reports. Some of them involve good players, but others involve players at the end of their careers. You need to look at players at their peak. We already saw Werner at Chelsea - he couldn't do it. I think it's a risk, and I don't think it's happening.''

Q. Newcastle play AC Milan next week. What are you expecting?

RG - ''I feel so sorry for Newcastle - the decision was unbelievable. I think they deserve something out of the Champions League. 

“Milan is, of course, my team. I hope they get a result, but let's look at what happened to Newcastle. There's a debate about protecting the referees, which is understandable, and people wonder why the referees aren't treated with the same respect as they are in rugby. However, we need to ask ourselves how often ruby referees make huge mistakes - ones as big as Man City and Newcastle were on the end of. 

“Players will stay calm if the referees don't make huge errors. Football is emotional. I still don’t think it’s right for players to react, but it's understandable. This decision could cost Newcastle millions! It could also cost them prestige. 

“It's the same with Man City - this could cost them the title or a Champions League place at the end of the season!

“We're all astonished by what happened in both games. I understand why players get frustrated! It takes two to tango, though, and if we avoid decisions like this, then players will stay calm. I agree that players can overreact, but I also think they need to set an example. 

“Both sides have to improve.’’

Q. Do you think Newcastle will beat AC Milan?

RG - ''I don't know what will happen between Newcastle and AC Milan. I've seen AC Milan a lot this season, and I know they can play. They're a good team. It's going to be difficult for Newcastle. 

“I feel sympathy for Newcastle. I thought they were unbelievably calm after the PSG game, but I'm not sure if that helps! Staying silent is considered boring, but contesting the decision attracts criticism! I'm not sure what people want.’’

Q. Do you rate the AC Milan side you played in above Pep Guardiola's Man City or Barcelona?

RG - ''We're in a different era of football now, and we shouldn't compare the AC Milan team I played in to Pep's Man City or Barcelona. The important thing is, we're part of history in football. Let's not forget the great Liverpool and Ajax teams of the past. We can't compare them. 

“What I like about all of these teams is how they all played attacking football. That's what gives you trophies. Attacking teams always stick around in peoples' memories. That's the good thing about these great teams - they were always on the front foot. It's so difficult to play like that, and they all serve as an example to coaches. Attacking football gives you glory.’’

Q. Santiago Gimenez has been linked with a move to Arsenal and Chelsea. From what you've seen, do you think he'd be a good fit for these clubs?

RG - ''I think Santiago Gimenez would be a good fit for Arsenal as Feyenoord play similar football. He'd be used to that and it'd be easier for him to fit in. 

“Chelsea are searching for identity at the moment, and Gimenez would be arriving into a struggling team. I'd rather go to a team that knows exactly what they have to do. Of course, I hope he's the guy to give Chelsea what they need. I don't know what Chelsea are at the moment!''

Q. Another player linked with a move to the Premier League is PSV's Johan Bakayoko. He's been linked with Liverpool, would that move work out?

RG - ''I've seen Johan Bakayoko play, and he's good. However, let's not pretend that every player will have a successful debut year in English football. It'll most likely be an up-and-down experience because they'll be playing against teams with wingers who are used to defending as much as they attack. 

“Take Chelsea's Noni Madueke for example - he was doing very well at PSG, but he's struggling in the Premier League. It's a different league. Look at where Manchester United and Chelsea are!’’

Q. Speaking of tough football, the Euro 2024 draw was made this week. Who do you think will win the competition?

RG - ''I think France have the best chance of winning Euro 2024 - they have three teams who can compete. I also like the way they play. 

“France will be in the same group as Holland, that'll be interesting.''

Gullit backing France at the Euros

Q. Should Jude Bellingham be in contention for the next Ballon d'Or?

RG - ''Whether Jude Bellingham should be in contention for the next Ballon d'Or will depend entirely on him. He was in with a chance this year! 

“I like how quickly Jude has adapted to both the German and Spanish leagues. He plays with fantastic players and he has the best personnel around him. He's a huge asset for English football. He's the player you want to see when you go to the stadium. 

“If England want to win something, it has to be now. I don't know if they'll do it. I know the backbone will not be singing 'It's Coming Home'! English fans always start with that, and they shoot themselves in the foot! 

“It'll start again if they get out of the group stage! I'm waiting for that song.''

Q. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink recently expressed his passion for black managers getting more opportunities. Last year, you shared similar comments. Do you think anything has changed in that year?

RG - ''In my opinion, things have changed. Three years ago, the Royal Dutch Football Association expressed its need for help with diversity, and we formed a group of people and named the organization after Humphrey Mijnals, the first black player to represent the Dutch national team. 

“We developed a strategy over three years, and we've done really well. We have a woman in charge of the federation, and Nigel De Jong is the technical director. We also have Clarence Seedorf on the board. I'm happy with what we've achieved, and I'd like to see more of that in England.'' 

De Jong and Seedorf involved with Dutch football

Q. Do you think England are a bit behind in that respect?

RG  - ''I don't know the ins and outs, so I couldn't say that England are behind. I know about the frustration of certain black coaches, though. The only thing we ask is to get interviewed - nothing else. 

“Nigel De Jong was interviewed by the board of directors, and he got the job due to his credentials. He did a course with UEFA and went everywhere to learn how to run a club. That was his ambition, and he was interviewed as a result of his clear ambition. 

“In America, it's mandatory to integrate diversity into sport, and look at it now. There were no black quarterbacks for the longest time because people say they couldn't do it, but those people were wrong. There are also black coaches. It's about giving people a fair chance. 

“There are so many black players in the Premier League! We can participate in the sport, but we can't decide. It needs to change. So many teams have several black players, and I have a hard time believing none of them have managerial ambitions. Just give them a chance - they have the ambition. 

“Of course, not everybody will succeed, but let's not point fingers at that. Look at Gary Neville! He didn’t do anything, but he got the chance. Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard didn't succeed either, but they got the chance. Black managers need to be given the chance. 

“I read that Frank Lampard was reported for a job in America! We want those opportunities for everyone. Not every manager succeeds, but that doesn't mean that they're not good managers. Sometimes you just need the right break. I'm wondering why those coaches, who didn't do well, get the chances.

“Ultimately I think we’ve seen managers such as Neville, Lampard and Gerrard have been given more than one chance, yet black managers if they don’t succeed at the first attempt, the doors are closed. I can’t understand why this is.’’

Q. Do you think it will change, or will we still be having the same discussion in a few years?

RG - ''I hope it does change. It's a matter of giving people a chance in an interview. Talk to these managers and see what they have in their minds. You never know. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but that's the case with a lot of people.’’

Q. Eddie Howe's stock is quite high, but if he fails to win anything and fails to qualify for the Champions League, should tough questions be asked?

RG - ''Eddie Howe will know tough questions will be asked if he fails to win anything and fails to qualify for the Champions League. This is elite-level football we're talking about. The only thing managers are sure of is that one day, they'll be sacked. What Eddie did last year was fantastic, but that was last year and there are new expectations. The fans will be saying the same thing. 

“Everybody thought Newcastle would try to sign Mbappe, but they didn't. They bought sensibly and they've introduced homegrown players into the side. That's fantastic. Howe needs more time, but I'm not the owner! They'll be the ones who decide. They'll want instant success. What he's done has been fantastic.''

Q. Your old teammate Carlo Ancelotti. Do you rate him in the same bracket as Sir Alex and Pep Guardiola?

RG - ''I think Ancelotti is a bit bigger than Sir Alex and Pep due to the Champions Leagues he's won! He's top-notch, and he's the king of European success. 

“Both Pep and Sir Alex are a part of history, but let's look at what Ancelotti has achieved. He's the king of kings, better than anyone else, and I'm very proud of him


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