. LaLigaUK meets: Janusz Michallik - ESPN Pundit and Commentator
posted by Paul Wilkes (Editor) on 2012-01-28 10:30:00

Janusz Michallik is one of the best pundits in tv, he's analysis and thought process, helps set him apart from his rivals. Janusz is probably better known in America, but as a regular on ESPN UK's Press Pass, he gives his views on the global game. He kindly answered questions for us on La Liga and which players from Spain he would like to see Liverpool sign.

Do you think the fans and media take for granted how good this Barcelona side is ?

It is a special period for Barça and some just refuse to admit it. When you get to that level, it could be easy for some to look for things that aren't there. Dominating the game does not sit well with everyone and you always look to knock it. I think we need to enjoy it as they are writing history at the moment. Real Madrid has done it, Milan, United and others over the years. None in this way, with this much flair.

Does Pep Guardiola receive enough recognition for his tactical approach to the game ?

I think he does. With a team like this, he is smart to know that letting players beis the best approach. He is tinkering a bit now and we will see how this will work. I don't particularly like the way he plays Cesc high and wide at times. There game suffers without Villa (Sanchez can play there) and Pedro. For me Cesc should play in the middle and even though he has scored a number of goals I think it is difficult to press, chase and find width with him as one of the front three. Maybe on another level it shows that Pep is trying to evolve as a manager while looking for different ways of playing and different formations.

Would this be José Mourinho's greatest achievement, if Real were to win the league this season ?

I think it would be a very good progress with Real, but winning the CL with Inter (beating Barca in the process) was best in my opinion.

Question marks are often asked on wealthy owners in the Premiership, whether they are good or bad for the league, but are Màlaga just what La Liga needs ?

When you look at the financial problems in La Liga with a number of teams and the Television revenue inequality I think it is wonderful that Malaga does not have to worry about this. Perhaps if they become a success story, other wealthy owners will be encouraged to have a look towards Spain. Sharing the wealth in all countries is good for football in general.

Pound for pound is Unai Emery the best manager in La Liga for net spend ? And do you envisage him going to the Premiership in the future ?

Hard to argue with that. When you look at Valencia, their financial problems, having to sell Villa, Silva and Mata you could easily see a team that would crumble. That has not been the case as replacements have been found and Valencia continues to play well. I think Emery could get a look in England, but I see him at maybe Malaga or Real Madrid first when those jobs are open.

Can Diego Simeone make a real difference at Atlético Madrid or does there need to be change at the top before a manager can have a sustained success at the Vicente Calderon ?

We thought that without Jesus Gil there would maybe some stability, but as we know managers come and go as usual. It's frustrating to be a supporter of Atleti as they do spend money, but competing with Barca and Real is almost impossible these days. Maybe that pressure is somewhat unrealistic and forces people at the top to lose patience too quickly.

How impressed have you been with the project at Athletic Bilbao ? What has Bielsa added to La Liga this season ?

You know Bielsa. Discipline on and off the pitch, clear tactical vision. A pressing game that has won him plenty of praise wherever he has coached. It's just the beginning of the project although it has to be said that I did not think they would be 23 points behind Real (as we speak)

How disappointing is it to see sides struggle financially like Real Zaragoza and Racing Santander, could the Spanish FA do more to help ?

As I said before the TV money issue is a big one. Barça and Real take most of the pie, but you also have to look at how clubs are run. Mismanagement at Zaragoza is appalling and it is difficult to see how a great club like this could have gone into administration. Back to basics and a good salary structure is in order. A big club with a great support in a big city should not be struggling as much. Santander are a bit different as they are smaller and the amounts owed are not as staggering. Hopefully the new ownership will be able to reorganize. For me keeping up with the Jonses needs to change as clubs like Santander will never be able to compete with the big boys.

Can Levante achieve the incredible and qualify for the Champions League this season ?

They have done a great job this year considering the fact that they have very little money and the fact that they always look at relegation. They have found a way to entice veterans to come to the club at barely any cost and have used this to a great advantage in this challenging financial climate. Don't get me wrong, there is quality on that team, but I do not see a way for them to finish top 4. I am not even sure if that would help them. Money in I guess, but would most likely try to change transfer policy and I don't think that would do them any good in a long run. Group stage and out.

As I know you also have soft spot for a certain team on Merseyside, which players from Spain would you like to see at Anfield in the future ?

Jesus Navas would be a good addition to any club. Pace out wide, ability to take on and a decent cross. Technical and smart. Good in tight spots. As good as any on the right side. To flip it to the left side, hard to argue that young IkerMuniain from Bilbao has tons of talent and potential to fill a role on the left side. Both would fit the requirements at Anfield as they play football and know how to stretch the game (especially Navas), they would also add sorely missed creativity in the midfield. Always capable of pulling a rabbit out of a hat.

Finally, which is your favourite Gallagher brother Liam or Noel ?

Could not tell them a part. I am one of those guys that loves music, but can't tell who sings the songs. I drive people crazy when I ask who sings most popular songs.

Thanks for your time Janusz. You can follow Janusz on Twitter at @januszESPN and watch him on ESPN Press Pass in the Uk on weeknight's around 23:30 GMT.

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