Everyone was expecting Southampton to struggle this term after their summer exodus. Has their brilliant start surprised you?
Yeah it has a bit. Obviously they lost a few players but have reinvested pretty well and with Ronald Koeman coming in things are looking good so far.
With the season now 7 games in which new signings have impressed you in the Premier League?
Sanchez has been brilliant at Arsenal and Di Maria is looking good at United. At our place Pelle is exciting and at West Ham you’ve got Valencia and Sakho so there’s few who have come in and had decent starts.
And which team do you think could be a surprise package?
I don’t think there will be a real surprise and the teams with the most money will top the league. So it’s a real achievement if any team from outside that top seven can break into that. At the moment Southampton are looking most likely but Swansea and Villa both had good starts with the latter tailing off in the last few games due to some tough fixtures. They’ll need to bounce back again.
Liverpool seem to be under-performing so far, especially in comparison to last year. Is it just a post-Suarez hangover or are there most pressing concerns at Anfield?
Losing the guy who pretty much averaged a goal a game last season will have a big effect on any team. They went out and spent the money on a lot of players but you can’t buy another Luis Suarez so there’s going to be a reaction to that. Plus of course the lad they are relying on to score the goals – Daniel Sturridge – has been injured the past few weeks and Balotelli hasn’t really clicked into action for them.
Can you see anyone but Chelsea and Manchester City challenging for the title?
No, I said it was between them at the start of the season and nothing I’ve seen so far has changed my mind. I did say I fancied City but after seven games it is Chelsea who have really been impressive.
In the decade since your retirement football has changed in many ways. Do you have a pet hate about the modern game or, conversely, is there a change you’d like to see introduced?
I’m a big fan of technology in sport. If it leads to less mistakes then I’m all for it. We’ve obviously got goal-line technology now but I’d be prepared to listen to ideas to take it further. There is a particular bugbear of mine which can be sorted without any interruption to the game and that’s when a goal is scored by the time the team who have conceded have taken the kick-off we’ve seen about three replays of the goal. So in that time the referee and his assistants have enough time to check themselves whether it was offside or not. I can’t see why that cannot be brought into play and take the pressure off the officials. It’s an extremely tough job and mistakes are made. They could be eradicated very easily.
Looking ahead to the England games this week how do you feel about the expanded qualifying groups? Is there such a thing as too much international football?
Possibly. I think expanding the groups was a wrong decision to be honest. For the bigger teams qualification is now a formality.
With that in mind do you think this gives Roy Hodgson a chance to blood some peripheral talent in the group games now or should he always select his strongest XI for each game?
It gives him a great chance to experiment with players who might not have much experience and would struggle in a tense, tight group. There is very little pressure on the players now which offers plenty of room for experimenting.
You played six times for the England B side, a fixture that never really took off. Is there any merit in bringing it back?
Not really because we’re barely got enough players to fill the England squad so trying to find another 23 would be hard going.
I’m not sure that’s the way to go and it was never really taken very seriously. I scored a hat-trick in one of those B games before the ’98 World Cup and wasn’t selected for the squad which says it all really.
A player who could feature for England in the near future is James Ward-Prowse. How highly do you rate him?
He’s suffered with injuries in the past few months which is a shame because this was a big season for him. But he’ll come back again strong and he’s one of the best deliverers of a set-piece since David Beckham. He’s got a lot about him and will go far.
We’re here today through the Carlsberg Fan Squad’s Ultimate England Experience event, where you’re putting on the ultimate pre match event for football fans. Who was the biggest lightweight of all your former team-mates? The one who’d declare that he loved everyone after half a shandy.
That’s probably me actually! I was never a big drinker but you did have some funny people after a couple of Carlsbergs who were very good entertainment on a night out. Ian Dowie, Timmy Flowers, guys like that…
I would love to go for a drink with Ian Dowie….
(laughs) Yeah he was certainly a larger than life character who would come to life after a couple of drinks.
If the Saints continued their fantastic form and secured a Champion’s League spot on the final day of the season with a last-minute winner….how would you react in the Soccer Saturday studio?
I don’t think I’d be in the studio! I’d be down St Marys to celebrate. That would be the most incredible thing to happen to the football club since the FA Cup in ’76 so there would be some serious ‘reaction’ going on there.
Matt le Tissier joined Ian Wright, Paddy McGuinness, Jeff Stelling and the Carlsberg Fan Squad to put on the Ultimate England Experience for 1,000 fans at Wembley. The Carlsberg Fan Squad aims to make football BETTER for fans by listening to real fans, celebrating what is great about football and improving the experience of being a fan. Follow @CarlsbergUK for weekly Premier League ticket giveaways. That calls for a Carlsberg!