Former Newcastle and Liverpool defender Jose Enrique recently spoke to Ben Mendelowitz of BestGamblingSites.com and touched on multiple topics of interest for the Toon Faithful regarding the ongoing form of the team, the impact of Eddie Howe on the squad, the future of Allan Saint-Maximin, and the controversial arrival of Anthony Gordon in Newcastle.
The Spanish left-back spent for seasons in Newcastle, achieving promotion from the Championship to the Premier League with the Magpies at the end of the 2009-10 season after getting relegated from the English top-flight division a year earlier when NUFC finished 18th in the 2008-09 EPL season.
Here are some excerpts from Jose Enrique’s recent interview and some of the thoughts he shared with BGS.
Asked about his reaction to Newcastle’s defeat of Southampton to qualify for their first final since 1999...
Jose Enrique thinks “[Newcastle] are fantastic in the way they play,” acknowledging that the squad now “have maybe three or four world-class players [in] Trippier, Bruno, and maybe Botman and Pope.” He also said that “they work as a team,” and that “it’s amazing how they work together, how they press together, how aggressive they are, and the way they defend as a unit.”
The former Magpie thinks what Eddie Howe has done “is unbelievable”, himself feeling “so happy for them and the fans deserve it as well after such a tough time under Mike Ashley.”
Finally, Jose Enrique is sure Newcastle “deserve to be” in Wembley for the Carabao Cup final on Feb. 26.
Asked about Sean Longstaff being part of this New Newcastle and the importance of featuring homegrown players...
Even though Jose Enrique arrived in Tyneside from Spain, he still believes that “it’s always good to bring young local players” into any team, but only “if they are good enough.”
According to the veteran, “bringing young players in from the academy who bring the history of the club with them” is something understandable, although he thinks those players “have to be good enough.” He added that for him, “Longstaff is doing really well,” and that he is “happy for him.”
Asked about how the accomplishment of winning a promotion to the Premier League compares to getting to a cup final...
While Jose Enrique didn’t play in any final during his time at Newcastle, he got a promotion to the Premier League in the season immediately following their relegation from the Premier League at the end of the first decade of the XXI century.
Jose Enrique thinks reaching a cup final “would have been a similar feeling to when [Newcastle] got promoted,” adding that “the happiness at that time was fantastic.”
“You can see that the fans now make it amazing for the players to play at St James’ Park,” said Jose Enrique. He experienced the environment as both a host and visitor (while at Liverpool), and he can confirm ”it’s a nightmare for any away team,” explaining that “from the first minute the fans will be on you and pushing their players.”
Jose Enrique believes Newcastle “play good football with Eddie Howe,” but gives rather large importance to the fans, considering their support “massive” and calling them “some of the best in the league.”
Asked about the arrival of Anthony Gordon from Everton for a large sum of up to €45M...
The Spaniard “loves [Gordon] as a player,” and he also has seemingly “spoken to him a few times in the past” making Jose Enrique also “like him as a person.” For Jose Enrique, Gordon “is a very good guy,” contrary to what the public opinion and perception of him would lead you to believe.
Jose Enrique thinks Gordon “is different to Almiron, but he is that kind of high energy, high work-rate player that Eddie is looking for.” The veteran said that signing Gordon “is a step forward for him and a great signing for Newcastle,” while also reasoning that the large fee paid for his services has everything to do with Gordon “being an English player” as he thinks “there is a premium” in pulling off such signings.
Touching on Allan Saint-Maximin, who has been out of the lineup for most of this season, and how the arrival of Gordon might impact his future at the organization, Jose Enrique obviously sees the conundrum getting down to “whether Saint-Maximin himself is happy being a sub,” as “he doesn’t think “Eddie is able to keep a player happy if they are not happy being on the bench.”
For Jose Enrique, ASM is “the best player in the team talent-wise” and he also thinks the Frencham is “world-class in 1v1 situations.” The defender, who knows very well how to deal with this type of player, revealed that he “doesn’t think I’ve ever seen Kyle Walker struggle so much against any winger in the world.”
“It’s a question for Saint-Maximin,” continued Jose Enrique. “Will he be happy coming off the bench? I don’t think he will and it is possible he will want to move on in the summer,” the former player finished.
About Newcastle’s chances at clinching a Champions League spot and winning the Carabao Cup...
“You need to ask the fans if they would rather finish inside the top 4 in the Premier League... or rather win a trophy?” wonders Jose Enrique. “The fans want to finish in the top 4 so you can be in the Champions League, which is amazing, but then winning a trophy is winning a trophy!” he later answered.
According to Jose Enrique, though, “right now, [considering] how Newcastle play as a team, they can beat anybody.”
“I think they have a big chance to win [the Carabao Cup],” said Jose Enrique. “The problem is they are not experienced in these situations.”