Is there any new injury news?
No news. Yesterday we just recovered after the game and today we have the first training session so we’ll see how everybody is today.
Any chance of Tomiyasu being fit?
There is a chance, but we don’t know. We’ll see again in the training session how he’s feeling.
Why has he taken so long to come back?
Because he had a recurring injury around the same place. After that you have to be a little bit more cautious sometimes.
Is Emile Smith Rowe good start?
He was fine again. He had a little issue before the game but he’s been fine the last two days so hopefully he can have some consistency and momentum.
It’s a quick turnaround between Liverpool and Aston Villa. What have you been able to do in the gap?
Try to recover well mentally and physically, eat well, sleep well. Yesterday just spend time recovering and make sure everybody is fit to play the match, to get one day to prepare the game and to be ready tomorrow.
Do you stand by your comments about it being an unfair schedule?
I do because I’m talking about the Premier League. I heard some comments about mixing up being away in Europe and how it’s nothing new. It’s nothing new to me, but I’m not complaining about Europe, I’m complaining about the Premier League and how you schedule games in the Premier League. When you are in Europe it’s a different story. What I’m comparing is the Premier League and it’s very difficult.
You have to do it again with the Chelsea and Manchester United games next month
Yes. We’ve been the only team that has been scheduled like that and I’m not talking about Europe because some of those teams are going to be involved in Europe.
You have four players in the England squad. How does that make you feel?
Very happy. Really happy, especially for the boys because they deserve to be there. They work so hard and I know how much it means for them to represent their country. As a club, I think we have to be very proud that our players are in the front line and being noticed. It’s been a long time since that happened so I think it’s a good sign.
What do you put it down to?
Their efforts, how much they want it, obviously their quality, their ability and what they’re doing performance-wise to get the attention of the England manager.
Do you feel Ramsdale is the best goalkeeper in England?
He’s there now and he’s going to be fighting for a place. Knowing Aaron he’s going to be pushing it very hard because it’s one of his biggest dreams. Then it will be down to the coaching staff and the manager to decide who should be there in goal.
How has he reacted after his error for the Jota goal vs Liverpool?
He was gutted after the match and it’s normal because he’s so competitive. He needs to realise that this is going to happen in his career. If you’re going to play for the national team probably you’re going to have a moment when you do something and then instead of some part of the country it will be the whole country (who are criticising him), and if you want to be at the top for 10, 15 years you have to be prepared for that. It’s about how you react in those moments.
How do you think he will react?
Top. He wants to be there the next day, he wants to go and practice, he wants to see. He’s very critical of himself so sometimes he needs help to put things into perspective and for him to realise how much he has contributed to the team,
How much will a top four finish mean to you?
When we do it I will tell you. It still hasn’t been done, there’s still 11 games to play and a lot of things will happen. That’s what we’re preparing for.
Four of the next five are away from home. Does that show you how tough it’s going to be?
Very, because every game in the Premier League is difficult to win and we’re going to be playing incredibly difficult matches like the rest of the teams. The good thing is that we have some games in hand still. It starts on Saturday and performing like we did against Liverpool for the majority of the game. If we do that, we’ll be close to winning football matches.
What have you made of Aston Villa under Steven Gerrard?
Very good. He’s changed some positive things, he’s changed the shape that the team is doing. He’s brought a different energy to that stadium again I think and I’m very impressed with what he’s doing.
Is Coutinho their danger man?
One of them. The team activates a lot of things when he’s on the ball and in dangerous areas. He has contributed a lot in their attacking phase so obviously it’s something we have to bare in mind.
What do you think he does so well in the Premier League?
His ability to create goals and chances and unlock spaces when they don’t exist. That’s a quality that he had and he did consistently when he was with Liverpool something he did consistently when he was at Liverpool.
Nine months ago people were criticising you and the decision to sign Ramsdale and White. How much have things changed?
Every decision we make at the club is with a lot of thinking behind it, a lot of work and always thinking positively to the outcome that we want to achieve. It’s great to hear people’s opinions and people might be judging it early, but you have to stay calm and believe in what you’re doing if you’re clear and convinced with that.
After that anything can happen. This is football a player can adapt, a player can get injured, a player can maybe not feel comfortable with what you’re asking him to do. There’s a lot of unknown quantities before you have the player with you in the club, but we always do what we can to try and think forward and imagine how the future will be with those players. I’m happy that with the majority of them it’s been good.
Does Ramsdale and White being called up to England show that the work and training you’ve done is paying off?
Yeah but it’s down to the players at the end. They have this quality, they have the mental strength, they have the ambition and that’s things that we really took seriously at the beginning. When you have conversations with those players, sometimes without asking, it comes from them what they want to achieve, what they want to be in the football world, how they think they can help our club progress. With those two I was very convinced.
You played against Steven Gerrard a lot of times in the Merseyside Derby didn’t you?
A lot of times. Unfortunately a lot of times!
How good a player was he?
He was a terrific player. Really intelligent. He had everything. He had the quality, he had the goal threat, he had the leadership, the presence on the pitch. It was tough.
He looks like he’s turning into a good manager too doesn’t he?
I think he’s done very, very well. What he did at Rangers is remarkable and I don’t know if he gets the credit that he should because I played there and I know how that club works, how he turned it around and what he’s doing at Villa. I think so far he’s done really well.
You both took different paths into management. Was his more of a gamble going to Scotland?
I don’t know he went straight there. I don’t know how he thought about the opportunity and how they communicated with him or how he feels about the experience.
What do you make of people who say you should accept the way TV companies schedule games given the money they pay for them?
There is no question about that. They can do it, it’s good. They can do it, we have to accept it. I accept it, we’re going to play. It’s about how can we do it to be more fair and to have equality in every game. Again, this is out of Europe, Europe is not counting here so the Europe talk is nothing to do with this conversation, it’s nothing do with Europe.
There have been a lot of discussions with the Premier League over scheduling
Because the first thing is to protect the players. We have mentioned many times can we please avoid doing Wednesday night and Saturday morning and travelling and all those kind of things. I understand that they have the commitments and the TV, we all understand that. If you do it once, OK, but don’t do it twice because we still have to put the fixture for Spurs, what are we going to do? Are we going to do it for a third time? Are we going to be the only ones to do it? You can accept that but you don’t want to be silly either.
Have you got any concerns about when the Spurs game will be reschedule?
Yes. Because I don’t know and we’re not going to be decisive and it’s going to be very important.
Will you be talking to the league about it?
That’s nothing to do with me. The club has to be arranging those conversations.
Will you guys get a say?
Hopefully. I doubt it, but hopefully.
Was Coutinho ever someone you looked at signing in the past?
We looked at many different players with qualities that he had and at the end we went for a different option.
Were you worried about Ben White’s price tag when he came to the club?
You always have concerns when you pay big sums of money because you want to protect the club’s investment and maximise it and bring potential and bring players to bring things right away and you want players who can perform at the highest level.
But you always have doubts because they have to come here, they have to integrate, they have to carry (a price tag) on their shoulders and it’s the first time they’re going to do it. They don’t have any experience doing it, it’s something new, so you have to help them go on that path, on that time and try to absorb everything new that’s happening to try to get the best out of them.
You’ve been very solid from set pieces. How have you managed that?
I think the whole team. It’s the commitment that everybody has to have to fulfil their roles, the discipline you should have to do it the way we’ve done it. We want to maintain that or improve it.