Everton midfielder Ross Barkley talks with Sportsmail's Jamie Redknapp
*Ross Barkley talks critics, England and role models with Jamie Redknapp *The Everton midfielder has come back into form under Ronald Koeman this year *Barkley is striving to become one of the first names on the England team-sheet *The 23-year-old wants to worry rivals Liverpool and catch them in the league
We are in The Pie Factory, a vast converted pastry warehouse in Media City, Manchester.
Vic Reeves, Johnny Vegas and Ricky Tomlinson all work here. Today Ross Barkley is filming a shoot for Sure deodorant, but not everyone is sure about Ross Barkley.
Jamie Redknapp is. Since 2011 in these pages, he has been pushing for Barkley to be given respect — from Everton fans, from England fans. This is what happened when the pair got together for a kick-about.
Sportsmail's Jamie Redknapp sat down in conversation with Everton midfielder Ross Barkley
Jamie Redknapp: It gives me the hump that people question you, doubt you. If I was your manager, I would build my team around you. Why do people look at what you can’t do, rather than what you can do?
Ross Barkley: We do that in England, don’t we? Look at John Stones, Harry Kane, Raheem Sterling, Dele Alli. Put them in the Barcelona side and they would look unbelievable. Technically, they are outstanding. Quality. As an Englishman, we should believe in that. John (Stones) is so good, as good a ball-playing centre half as you could wish to see. He will go to another level too. Gerard Pique, when he was at Man United, people talked about what he couldn’t do. So he goes to Barcelona, wins a load of trophies. You don’t hear them (at Barcelona) complaining about what Iniesta can’t do.
Redknapp: I heard that you self-analyse, so when you’ve had a poor game or a bad run, do you look at games and study your performances, ask questions?
Barkley: I look at my game, I look at other players. I look at people who play in my position. And I try to see what they are doing differently and what I could do better.
Redknapp: Like who?
Barkley: Players like Ozil, Coutinho, Silva. Players like Kaka. The masters of what they do. I look at their end product, their assists, their goals.
Barkley admits he takes on criticism and is always focusing on how he can improve his game
Redknapp: It feels like you have been around for ages, but you are only 23. How do you deal with the criticism? If I was on Twitter, I’d want to fight everyone. I couldn’t ignore it. If it was there on my phone, I’d have to look, even if I knew it was bad. That’s why I’m not on Twitter! It must be difficult for young players.
Barkley: I am on Twitter and Instagram. I post from time to time, but I don’t look at the criticism. Sometimes I might delete the app from my phone if the temptation is too great. It’s part of the game now. When I am being criticised, I work harder. That is the answer for me. I have high standards for myself and there was a time earlier this season when I knew that I wasn’t doing it, so I went away and worked and put in a lot of fitness time. You are rewarded for your hard work.
Redknapp: I’ve always been a big fan of yours. You came back from a horrific leg break. One doctor said you wouldn’t play again. Does that help you cope with the dips now?
Barkley: When I get criticism, I don’t put my head down. I want to prove people wrong. When you’re in hospital, when someone answers the question, ‘Will I play again?’ with the answer ‘no’, it gives you a resolve, a determination to prove that person wrong. I’ve got that within me.
Redknapp: If you were managing yourself, how would you get the best out of Ross Barkley? An arm around the shoulder or tough love?
Barkley: A balance of a bit of both. I like a bit of praise from the manager when I am doing well and then, if it is not going so well, don’t go overboard with the criticism.
The Evertonian reveals he looks to players like Philippe Coutinho and Mesut Ozil to improve
Redknapp: That goal (against Bournemouth), when you celebrated before it went in… I loved what you did. It divided opinion. Some people might think it cocky, but I thought it showed a confident player on top of his game. Afterwards, did you think, ‘That was a bit strong?’
Barkley: No, I was pleased. Look, I am at my best when I am enjoying my football and that was a sign that I am enjoying it. I wasn’t taking the mickey out of the Bournemouth team, I meant no disrespect. I didn’t plan it. It was instinct.
Redknapp: What was it like to be left out of the England squad this season?
Barkley: When I first saw the squad, my attitude was, ‘I’ll show you, I’ll prove you wrong’. That is my mentality. I want to play for England. I want to play well for Everton and be good enough to be called up. Playing for England means a lot to me. I want to be one of the first names on the team sheet, I want the England manager to see what I can do and what I am about. I don’t want to be dropped again, but I’ve got to get back in first!
Redknapp: What else do you have in your life? Do you play golf?
Barkley: No, I tried it and I don’t like it. I watch box sets and football, I train and I play. That’s it really. I watched Barcelona last night (Wednesday). I like watching foreign football. Sunday I watched PSV v Feyenoord. I watched Juventus v Napoli (on Tuesday). I’m trying to pick up things, different styles. I watch PSG in France. Different leagues have different ways of playing. I’m obsessed with football.
The 23-year-old says being left out of the England fold left him wanting to prove himself
Redknapp: As a kid who were your heroes?
Barkley: Paul Scholes and Frank Lampard. Goalscoring midfielders. That’s what I have always had my eye on being, that’s how I want to be remembered as when I finish. I’ve got a way to go.
Redknapp: I’ve always thought it’s hard for younger, local players in the Liverpool cauldron. I thought it about Steven Gerrard and Robbie Fowler. There is no escape. The fans will always demand a lot. How do you cope with that? Do Everton fans give you a fair deal?
Barkley: Yes, I get a fair deal. I know how it works. If I was a fan, I’d be the same. That is what I’d expect. I’d demand more from local players. So if I’m not on my game, I know what to expect.
Redknapp: They are with you at the moment...
Barkley: I’m digging in with the goals and the assists and everyone can see that I am enjoying my football.
Redknapp and Barkley break for a quick kick-about during a commercial with Sure
Redknapp: Have you fulfilled your own expectations?
Barkley: Yes, I’d say so. I played for England when I was 19. I set myself the challenge to play for England before I was 20. But I haven’t won anything yet and I want to win things. You are defined as a player by what you win. I’ve won nothing. No trophies. That’s something I want to change.
Redknapp: I like hearing you say that. We’re here on a shoot that comes with all the trappings, but for you it’s not about what you earn...
Barkley: No, no! I want to be remembered as a winner. I want to win trophies. That’s why I play football.
Redknapp: What is a reasonable expectation of an Everton fan for their club? And for Ross Barkley?
The England international speaks with Daily Mail sports editor Lee Clayton (L) and Redknapp
Barkley: From me… I’d expect goals and assists. I want fans on the edge of their seats, being excited, watching me beating players and creating chances. As a fan of the team I’d expect us to finish in the European places. It doesn’t look like we will finish in the top four this season, but that’s what we should be aiming for. We are unbeaten since the start of 2017 and we look like a proper team.
Redknapp: Your team looks like it is good fun to play in. I like the look of Everton. A good blend.
Barkley: This is the most exciting time since I came to the club. There is no room for complacency, everyone is on it. But there is an enjoyment about our work too. Like a proper team.
Redknapp: As a Liverpool fan, I am nervous about Everton. The gap is getting smaller. You are hunting them down. Do you think you can catch them?
Barkley: Yes. That’s our goal. They started well, now they have hit a bad patch and we’re in a good run of form. The manager has brought in quality, we have young and hungry players.
Redknapp: The manager, Ronald Koeman... you are too young to remember him as a player, but how has he helped your game? He could pass a ball!
Barkley wants to give local rivals Liverpool cause for concern and catch them in the league
Barkley: I’m too young to have watched him play, but I know he was a good player. The older staff at the club tell me how good he was, not just with his passing but that he could put his foot in as well. You can see that in training, when were doing drills. If there is a ball to be won, he’s on our backs if that doesn’t happen. I feel I am more aggressive in games, I am trying to win the ball. That’s through the manager driving us on.
Redknapp: He was quite strong on you earlier in the season. Did you feel he was picking on you?
Barkley: We spoke about it. He told me that he believes in my ability and that he expects more from me. I could see he was trying to push me to another level.
Redknapp: I’d want you to get double figures of Premier League goals every season. Like a Frank Lampard, or a Steven Gerrard.
Barkley: I need to work at it more. And I am. I am working on it all the time in training. If we are playing five a side, I am focusing on hitting the back of the net all the time. I got double figures last season, this season I haven’t got enough. I need to get more goals.
Redknapp: Who is your toughest opponent?
Barkley: (without hesitation) Mousa Dembele. He doesn’t get the recognition he deserves. He’s a top player. The way he protects the ball, passes the ball. He’d get more praise if he scored more goals.
Mousa Dembele (R) is by far the toughest opposition Barkley has faced, the midfielder admits
Redknapp: And Dele Alli? Could you play together for England? The idea excites me.
Barkley: Yes. No question. I see him as a box-to-box midfielder and I like to play in the No 10 position. We could play in a midfield three and it would get the best out of both of us. He’s a very good player. I am looking forward to playing against him (tomorrow). It will be a good test of where we are as a team. We’re on a good run. I want that to continue.