Interview with Les Ferdinand MBE: “Newcastle is an Unbelievable Place when the Team is Doing Well”

HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens

Les Ferdinand, one of the English Premier League’s greatest strikers, was recently part of the HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens media launch to promote the return of the tournament after several year’s hiatus. Ferdinand is currently the Director of Football at Queens Park Rangers and a respected global ambassador for the beautiful game. 

Ferdinand was so impressed by the tournament’s organization and the facilities on hand that, upon the withdrawal of Wolverhampton Wanderers, he arranged for Queen Park Rangers to fill their slot.

Les Ferdinand MBE With Trophy – Photo – HK Citi Soccer Sevens

Ferdinand was happy to give his views on his own experiences in Hong Kong, the incredible title battle between Arsenal and Manchester City as well as Newcastle’s recent resurgence. 

At the start of the interview, Ferdinand went onto discuss the parallels between Arsenal’s title challenge and the Newcastle side, when he played on Tyneside, which pushed Manchester United all the way in the nineties. 

“It is pretty funny, as at this moment in time, we are looking at Arsenal and Arsenal are in the same predicament as Newcastle were when I was there as they (Newcastle) were in front (of the league) and looking like they were going to win it whereas we had Manchester United chasing us while Arsenal have Manchester City so I am seeing similarities at the moment but for Newcastle they have had a fantastic season.” 

Newcastle have completely transformed on and off the field in a short period of time and Ferdinard believes the team has not reached their full potential yet and will only continue to grow. 

“When the investment came in everyone expected Newcastle to be in the top half of the table but they have got themselves to a cup final and now they are third in the league (at time of interview) and if they can finish in those champion league spots then what would be available for them in terms of players that they need to sign will take them even further next season.”

In one of the most incredible results in recent EPL history, Newcastle hit a flurry of early goals against Spurs and Ferdinand said it was a bizarre experience to view.

“Yeah, one of my former clubs was Tottenham. It was a little surreal as I was traveling out here (to Hong Kong) and after five minutes when Spurs were three nil down then I went “Wow, what is going on here?” but Newcastle played fantastically well and it was a stark contrast to how they played the other week against Aston Villa.”

Football is the life blood of Newcastle and the ups and downs on the field are matched off the field as the city and its people live and breathe football and Ferdinand credits the success to Eddie Howe and his forward thinking and innovative management style. 

“Yeah, you know I was fortunate when I played there (Newcastle) for two successful years and once the football is going well then it takes the whole city with it; then no team would want to to go to Saint James’s Park to play with that atmosphere. Newcastle is an unbelievable place when the team is doing well.

Credit to Eddie Howe because I think when the new owners came in, I think everyone was looking to see if they were going to make a change in terms of the management and they saw that Eddie Howe wasn’t just getting results but he was improving players and some of the players we thought would leave are now thriving at Newcastle so I think they would still be very strong next season.” 

Ferdinand with all his experience in football is well placed to predict the outcome of an incredibly tight 2022-2023 EPL season and said Manchester City are favourites to lift the title. 

“The title is in Manchester City’s hands and it is Arsenal’s to lose and I think the game this week (Man City Won) is going to be absolutely pivotal but that’s the reason we love the premier league as it is so unpredictable.”

Ferdinand was part of the England team that played a Golden Select XI in 1996 as their last friendly before Euro 1996 and he recalled how the negative press that the team generated in HK actually spurred them onto greater success. 

“You know we left (Hong Kong) in disgrace really because of what happened off the pitch but we all came together and it galvanized us. We had a siege mentality, where it was the rest of the world against us and it worked very well for us!” 

HKFC Citi Soccer Sevens

VENUE:  Hong Kong Football Club, 3 Sports Road, Happy Valley

DATE:  Friday 26 to Sunday 28 May, 2023

Free entry for all on Friday 26 May and free entry for children under 16 years old all weekend. Single day tickets cost HKD$120 and weekend passes are HKD$200.

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