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Interviews

Dream Team: James Perch

7 April 2020

“When I heard of his passing, it was a really sad day. I used to sit next to him at Newcastle and we got on very well.”

James Perch pays tribute to Cheick Tiote in his all-time XI of former teammates, praising his ability as an all-round footballer and character as a person. The Iron’s number 14 also had a special mention for Jonas Gutierrez, who beat cancer and returned to the game.

Elsewhere in the team, the United midfielder tells us about two players who he believes had the ability to compete with the World’s elite, read on to find out who they are…

MANAGER: Billy Davies
JP:
“His man-management was excellent, knowing exactly how to get people going. I know it should be a given, but he used to get that extra 10 per cent out of players, and made sure all us players would run through a brick wall for him. He was great for Nottingham Forest, and us as a squad of players.

FORMATION: 4-3-3

GK: Alex Smithies
JP: “I played with him at QPR, he’s now at Cardiff City, but he was just top drawer for us.”

RB: Danny Simpson
JP: “He was a top pro when I was at Newcastle, he worked hard in training and always turned up in games, a model professional really.”

CB: Wes Morgan
JP: “We were both a lot younger at Nottingham Forest, but it was impossible to get by him one on one. Even 10-15 years ago I thought he deserved to play higher up, and obviously he’s gone on to win the Premier League.”

CB: Fabricio Coloccini
JP: “He was a ball-playing centre-half that read the game very well. He had a great pass, and could’ve played in midfield if he wanted to. He’s a good friend of mine, and worked very hard to learn English during his time with the Magpies.”

LB: Jose Enrique
JP: “He’s another one from my time at Newcastle, he was quick and very good on the ball, no one could really get past him. He went onto play for Liverpool which was a great move for him.”

DM: Cheick Tiote
JP: “Sadly Cheick passed away a couple of years ago, he was an unbelievable player. His intensity on the pitch was great, he could do everything, a bit like Kante! He was a great lad, and that goal against Arsenal was probably his best ever.”

CM: Yohan Cabaye
JP: “I remember when he came over from Lille, he was pretty unknown, but when he played for (Newcastle) he flourished. He went onto to play for France and rightly so, he was so composed on the ball and his passing range was a joke! He scored goals and earned his big move to PSG.”

CM: Ravel Morrison
JP: “I didn’t really get to see all of his potential at the time, but in training he was next level. We used to play ‘young v old’ at QPR, I was on the old team, and if he played for the young team, they won every single time. You can see why he had the hype at Manchester United. If he had a good mentality, he could’ve been incredible in the Premier League.”

RW: Kris Commons
JP: “When I was Forest he helped us gain promotion. He was very good technically, right-foot, left-foot, and could turn on a five-pence-piece. For a winger he was very strong as well, he wasn’t the quickest but always managed to a get a yard in front, to deliver a cross or shoot. He went on to do great things at Celtic too.”

ST: Papiss Cisse
JP: “I only played with him for 18 months or so, but when he came in from Germany, everything he hit went in! That season he played number nine for us at Newcastle he was unbelievable, scoring all kinds of goals. He was unorthodox, but he always found the back of the net which is what matters.”

LW: Hatem Ben Arfa
JP: “I’ve said many times how good he was. He could and should’ve been one of the top 10 players in the world, his speed, finishing and technique was world class. Much like Ravel, if his mentality was right he’d definitely have been up there. To witness some of his skills first-hand was a privilege.” 

THREE WHO MISSED OUT:
Jonas Gutierrez
JP: “I feel bad for leaving him out. He gave Newcastle 100% and more. The fans loved him for his determination, work rate and application to games. To come through his battle with cancer and get back playing, shows exactly what kind of character he is.”

Nedum Onuoha
JP: “I played right-back next to him at centre-half at QPR, so we had a good connection. He was quick, strong and popped up with a few goals. We used to nickname him ‘the chief’ because he was a true leader and captain.”

Callum McManaman
JP: “The season after we won the FA Cup at Wigan he was amazing. Played a major part in our Championship season and cup run, what he could do to defenders was silly. He was quick, his feet were rapid, and you never knew what he was going to do next.”


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