This weekend finally sees the return of the Premier League, and David James has given his thoughts on the curtain-raising lunchtime kick-off between Liverpool and Stoke.
The former England international will be heading to Merseyside tomorrow - as part of the BT Sport team - where he will be talking to players from both sides.
“I’m up to Anfield, I’m going to do an interview with (Simon) Mignolet and Asmir (Begovic) hopefully as they come off the bus. Just a quick chat with them and then do some stuff pitch-side," the goalkeeper revealed in an exclusive interview with GiveMeSport.
Even at the age of 43, James continues to play and coach for IBV in Iceland. And getting back to the Westman Islands is another top priority that he will be juggling over the next few days.
He added: “I will travel down to Heathrow after the match and fly back out to Iceland because we’ve got a big game against Vikingur on Sunday.”
But before returning his focus to the Icelandic Premier League, the stopper had his say on the men that we will see between the sticks at Anfield, notably Liverpool debutant Simon Mignolet, who signed from Sunderland this summer.
“I’m interested in seeing Mignolet. I'm a little bit concerned actually, not in him himself, but with the way Liverpool have done things.
"They bought him for a big price - £9m is a lot of money in any era for a goalkeeper.
"But essentially they’ve taken away his competition in allowing Pepe Reina to go on loan," argued the FA Cup winner.
“As a young goalkeeper, one of the things you do is you’re fighting against everybody just to get your foot in the door, your hand in the door, what analogy do you want to use?
“He’s had a big move where he’d expect to have competition again and to progress again, and essentially the competition has been taken away from him.
"All of a sudden he’s been left on his own a little bit, so it will be interesting to see how he develops because what he did for Sunderland was obviously very good, hence the £9m price tag, and being an ex-Liverpool goalkeeper there is of course a bit of interest."
As a co-analyst for BT Sport, James will be able to use the knowledge and experience gained throughout his 26 year playing career to expertly assess Premier League goalkeepers this season.
Another of these he will focus on is Jack Butland, assuming that the new Stoke man plays that is.
The pundit added: “Also I’m just trying to think of English keepers who have been bought. (Jack Butland?) Oh yes but I question whether that is to play or to develop. Because I mean Asmir (Begovic) is a very talented goalkeeper.
“Again it is a testament to what is happening in the Premier League at the moment. Our next best goalkeeper in Jack Butland – after his Olympic heroics – goes and signs as a number two for someone.”
James also had the time to discuss the ongoing transfer sagas surrounding Luis Suarez, Wayne Rooney and Gareth Bale.
All three have been continually linked with a move away from their respective clubs this summer. But the keeper doesn't see players holding their teams at ransom as a new concept in football.
“I think it was Jimmy Hill back in the 70s who changed the contract laws with regards to players being able to move from club to club, and obviously the Bosman ruling in the late 90s added a little bit more freedom to players, but essentially it’s always been the same," explained the former Portsmouth goalie.
“If a player doesn’t want to play for a club he downs tools and gets a move, because as a manager or as a coach, you don’t need bad influences around the changing room.
“I’m not saying that any of the three players you mentioned there are going to down tools, but in a sense, the player has always had that amount of power. The more talented you are, the more power you’ve got arguably.
“It depends on the strength of the manager of course, and I think with Suarez for sure, Brendan Rodgers seems like a strong enough manager that if Suarez does stay then he’ll get Suarez participating in whatever Liverpool want to achieve.
“I think he’s a fantastic player Suarez, but I also think that Liverpool could be a strong side without him, or with him, but playing in a different way. It’s down to the manager more than anything.”
Suarez is still in the process of serving a 10 match ban that was handed to him for biting Branislav Ivanovic towards the end of last season, so he won't be able to help Liverpool get off to a flying start in the opening weeks of this campaign, which starts at home to Stoke City tomorrow.
David James is co-analyst on BT Sport’s coverage of 38 exclusively live Barclays Premier League Football matches. BT Sport is free with BT broadband, to find out more visit: www.btsport.com
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