Clash of egos is City's Achilles heel, says Barnes

 

It may be 14 years since he left Liverpool, but the Anfield values remain. John Barnes, winner of two League titles and two FA Cups there, says: "Football is all about togetherness, spirit and players being on the same level." That is why he believes Manchester United can still finish above Manchester City this season and that two of his former clubs, Liverpool and Newcastle, will continue to prosper.

Barnes, 47, was last week unveiled as a football analyst for ESPN and will begin his duties at United's game away to Swansea in three weeks' time, expecting to find them fully recovered from the scarcely believable events at Old Trafford last Sunday. "Manchester City are playing really well but I've always believed the test of a good side and the mentality and the character of champions is when things are not going so well," he says. "I have no worries that United won't come back from that 6-1 defeat, because they have the character, as we've seen for the last 10 years. I remember United coming back from 2-0 down in key matches. Can City do that? They're playing well, winning in style, but Chelsea this time last year were doing the same thing."

City's flaw, he believes, is the very quality that others ascribe as a strength, namely the number of superstars – or super-egos – in the squad. "You can have too many star players. When a superstar coming off is being replaced by another superstar, then he sees him as a threat, someone who can take his position. When City players have come off I can see a lot of them haven't been happy because they feel under threat."

Perhaps the night in Munich when City were outplayed by Bayern and Carlos Tevez's fragile relationship with the manager Roberto Mancini finally collapsed offered a clue. Barnes says there will be other such critical occasions as the season progresses. "I can't think of a team that's gone through a full season without having any problems at all. Arsenal went unbeaten but even they had difficult games, where they had to come from behind to get a draw.

"There are always sticky patches. It doesn't necessarily mean defeats. It means games where things aren't going well, some star players have to come off, everyone's still pulling in the same direction, no one's arguing. So I reserve judgement on Manchester City until I see how they respond to adversity."

His other argument is that United and Liverpool are buying for the longer term and will find more stability than City. "I believe what's going to happen now is that players won't stay at clubs for so long, especially the foreign players. What Sir Alex Ferguson and Kenny Dalglish are doing is signing players they think will stay for years. Phil Jones, Ashley Young, Stewart Downing and Charlie Adam, they're not going to be looking to move anywhere else. Look at City now with Tevez, and what you get with foreign players who really have no allegiance to the club."

Barnes acknowledges that Newcastle, where he played for two years, have yet to meet the very best teams, but says they are an illustration of pulling together. "You've had Kevin Nolan, Joey Barton, Luis Enrique and Andy Carroll all gone and Newcastle have been better," he says. "Now they're all working as a team."

So, come next May? "I think Liverpool will be back in the top four. You can see that Arsenal are a bit inconsistent and Tottenham are similar. Manchester United will be first or second. Liverpool could pip Chelsea or even Manchester City."

John Barnes is joining ESPN as an analyst for their coverage of the Premier League and the FA Cup. Visit www.espn.co.uk/tv

News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Sport
Colombia's James Rodriguez celebrates one of his goals during the FIFA World Cup 2014 round of 16 match between Colombia and Uruguay at the Estadio do Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
news
News
i100
News
people
Sport
Antoine Griezmann has started two of France’s four games so far
sport
Life and Style
techYahoo Japan launches service to delete your files and email your relatives when you die
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor