Roger Bennett

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Rooney: With Guardiola, England ‘could have won everything’

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Between 2000-2008, the England National Team had some of the best individual players in their positions in all of world soccer. Yet they never made it past the quarterfinals in any tournament they competed in, and the “Golden Generation” came to a relative end with England failing to qualify for the 2008 European Championship all together.

According to Wayne Rooney, in a sit down with Roger Bennett from Men in Blazers on the Wayne Rooney Podcast, had England had a better coach, they would have won it all.

[READ: USMNT Roundtable from the PST Staff]

“You look at our team ten years ago and we arguably had the best group of players in world football,” Rooney said. “Rio Ferdinand, John Terry, Ashley Cole, Gerrard, Scholes, Lampard, Beckham, Myself, Michael Owen. Our team then, if we had Guardiola, with that group of players, we would have won everything. No doubt about it.”

If you’re like me and you’ve enjoyed Rooney’s honest chats with Rog, it’s not super surprising to hear him speak this off the cuff about a major moment earlier in his career. There’s a lot to break down from this comment, though.

Rooney’s first manager for England was the Swede Sven-Goran Eriksen. Eriksen, when he took over England in 2001, was coming off leading Lazio – yes Lazio – to the Serie A title, and had previous success with Fiorentina, Roma, and Benfica in Portugal.

He was ultimately criticized for his lack of fire and emotion on the touchline, as he watched England get knocked out of the quarterfinals at both the 2002 and 2006 World Cups, and the 2004 European Championships. The 2004 Euros and 2006 World Cup exits were both on penalty kicks, both to Portugal.

Rooney of course was injured against Portugal in the 2004 tournament, and had been injured in the run up to the 2006 World Cup and wasn’t at his best for that tournament either.

Perhaps the biggest indictment against Eriksen’s leadership – and that of the managers before him – was that Paul Scholes retired from international duty at just 30-years old, despite being one of the best holding midfielders in the world. Eriksen had tried, repeatedly to somehow fit Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Scholes into a 4-4-2, with one forced to play along the wing, and Scholes apparently decided if he wasn’t valued enough, he’d quit while he was ahead.

You wonder if Guardiola, or any coach today, with the value played on a good holding midfielder, would have made Scholes the first name on the teamsheet.

Things didn’t get much better for England after Eriksen, and Steve McLaren failed to qualify England for the 2008 Euros and was run out of town, but the damage was done.

So could Guardiola have won the World Cup with the former Golden Generation? Perhaps. But Guardiola would have struggled to get all these individual talents – many of whom were rivals for their club teams – to play together and play for the flag on their chest.

Listen to the rest of Rooney’s chat with Rog below.

“In the Shadow of the Kop” series kicks off

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We have something very special coming your way for the final weeks of the 2018-19 Premier League.

Roger Bennett has created an extensive digital series called “In the Shadow of the Kop” which focuses on all things Liverpool FC as Jurgen Klopp‘s men are fighting to win their first-ever Premier League title and a first league trophy since the 1989-90 campaign.

[ VIDEO: Watch the full series, here ]

Intriguing interviews with star players and key figures at the club dig deep into why everyone connected with LFC cares so much about being crowned champions of England once again.

In the first episode (watch in full above) Klopp joins Bennett to talk about the connection between Liverpool and their fans, the pressure of a title race and how to deal with the history of Liverpool, his responsibility to the club and more.

Click on the link above to watch every episode in the series, as two new episodes will be released each week on Tuesday and Thursday on NBCSports.com and our NBC Sports YouTube channel.

Men in Blazers podcast: Breaking down the incredible scenes at Wembley

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Rog and Davo break down Manchester City’s Carabao Cup win and the insane scenes between Chelsea keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga and manager Maurizio Sarri. Plus, Manchester United and Liverpool’s injury-riddled draw in a rivalry game with massive title implications.

All of the MiB content — pods, videos and stories can be seen here, but to really stay in touch, follow, subscribe, click here:

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VIDEO: Previewing “Inside The Minds” of Klopp, De Bruyne

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Men in Blazers’ personality Roger Bennett is sitting down with two of the more colorful minds in football, one known for his wizardry with the ball and the other with a tactics board.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp‘s “Inside the Mind” interview aired two seasons ago, and Vol. II is coming this weekend, one half-hour before Man City’s maestro Kevin De Bruyne gets the Rog treatment.

The second installment of “Inside the Mind of Jurgen Klopp” debuts Sunday at 2 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

[ STREAM LIVE SUNDAY: “Inside KDB” | “Inside Klopp” ]

“Inside the Mind of Kevin De Bruyne” hits the airwaves Sunday at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Men in Blazers podcast: Swans’ Clement talks Great Escape

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Rog talks with Swansea City manager Paul Clement about last year’s Great Escape, leadership in times of crisis, and whether Gylfi Sigurdsson will be in a Swans strip next year.

All of the MiB content — pods, videos and stories can be seen here, but to really stay in touch, follow, subscribe, click here:

Subscribe to the podcast OR to update your iTunes subscriptions ]

Click here for the RSS feed ]