The band's bass player hails Brian McDermott's impact at Elland Road and believes Italy may stand a better chance than Germany and Spain at the World CupGoal spoke to Simon Rix, the Kaiser Chiefs' bass player, about Leeds United, England's World Cup chances, and why italy may be the team who will run Brazil and Argentina close this summer.
Let's start with Leeds, it’s a bit of a messy takeover isn’t it?
Everything with Leeds is messy, it’s how we always do business.
Do you hope it goes through?
I hope so, well, do I hope so? I honestly don’t know. Usually, I’m strongly opinionated, I was very, very anti Ken Bates for instance, I’m glad we got rid of him, he was rubbish. But with the Italians, I’m not convinced with how brilliant he is for the club.
He’s come in, he hasn’t come in…he’s not come in, but he’s signed two of our best signings for years, loans obviously, but still it’s a statement of intent. I’m delighted with those, especially with [Jack] Butland, that’s ace, you know what I mean? Someone who might go to the World Cup, you don’t get that at Leeds...any more.
Equally, you don’t want the sort of thing we’re getting with Birmingham, they are a bit knackered now, with the wrong person taking over.
How do you rate Leeds’ season so far?
Average [laughs]. Yeah, very average. I think it’s a shame. We’ve got an okay side. If you watch us against the better sides in the league, Leicester and QPR, you know, most of the good sides in the league, we’ve played them and competed. I think we were decent. Ross McCormack has got 23 goals but no one else is scoring any more goals. Hopefully Connor Wickham might be the answer.
How confident are you of keeping McCormack this summer?
Errr, it’s football isn’t it? It’s hard to know with footballers. People sign new contracts and then they go to Real Madrid for millions of Euros. You never know but he seems committed. He seems very settled, he’s been made captain, he’s the star player.
He’s seen a lot of his team-mates go on elsewhere, like [Robert] Snodgrass has gone to Norwich and done well. But say, [Luciano ] Becchio, is the best example, he was a folk hero at Leeds, he was getting his name sung for 45 minutes of the 90 but at Norwich he doesn’t even play. So I think that’s a lesson, moving on is not always the best thing for your career. if Becchio had stayed at Leeds he would still be a hero. So, I think McCormack likes being the main man at Leeds and I think he needs a bit of help. To answer your question, I think he’ll stay.
And are you happy with Brian McDermott?
Yeah, I like him. I haven’t managed to meet him yet, which is a shame. I’ve met all Leeds managers apart from Dennis Wise since [David] O’Leary, I think. But I’m looking forward to meeting him.
I liked him at Reading, I thought he was good, exactly what we need, he’s solid, gets the best out of the players. He knows he’s not going to get the world’s elite players, but he builds good team spirit, he’s a very honest man, I think. I was disappointed when he got sacked and then, well, reinstated. I think he’s the right man for us right now, I think he can get us up.
You’re eight points off the play-off places, do you think that’s too far away?
It’s hard. This league is crazy. I thought QPR would take the p**s out of this league. Because they’ve got so many good players, and they added to it, they got more in the transfer window, more Premier League footballers. People who could easily play in the Premier League. But it’s not happening. They lost one star player and it’s taken the whole shine off the whole team.
It’s proved anyone can beat anyone. Like I said before, I think Leeds have done all right against most of the teams despite not having the most superstars in the world. I think eight points is a long way, we need other teams to slip, or have bad luck, but I think it’s still possible.
[Leeds have lost two consecutive games in the Championship since the interview]
Wigan were on a run of four straight wins and they were bumped into a play-off place…
Yeah, you just need a good run. One of the reasons I like Brian McDermott is because Reading, when they went up [in 2012], were way off the pace in January. They made a couple of shrewd signings, including Jason Roberts I remember, and went up. They just went on a winning streak.
And that’s what you need. Stay with the pack and then at the end you’ve got to be strong.
Who are your pick to get promoted this season?
Leicester are looking good. At the beginning of the season I said QPR, Nottingham Forest and Leicester. And I think they’ve all got a reasonable chance.
Best player Leeds player you’ve seen live?
My favourite ever Leeds player was David Batty, which I’m sure is an unpopular choice with everyone who is not a Leeds fan.
But, he played a holding midfielder before everyone else, before everyone knew what it was. It’s a northern thing I think. He got the ball and passed it to someone else who had more skill than him to score the goals. I think everyone remembers his penalty for England [in France 1998 against Argentina] but the thing is no one else had the balls to take it. He shouldn’t have been taking it but no one else had the guts. That’s why I think he’s a great player.
Sticking with England, how do you rate our World Cup chances this year?
We’ve got a tough group. We’re playing in a tough place, apparently. No team outside of South America has ever won the World Cup in South America, that’s the stat isn’t it?
It doesn’t really bode well. The game [against Denmark] didn’t do much to encourage even the most ardent England fan, I don’t think.
We’ve got some decent players, I think it’s a transitional time at the moment.
I feel like I get behind them a little bit more. There was a period of time where it was just a load of Manchester United and Chelsea players and it’s hard to support a team that’s a culmination of players from your two least-favourite clubs.
But now there’s a few Liverpool players, few Southampton players, it makes it a lot easier to support them.
Do you think we’ll get out of the group stage?
That didn’t sound very convincing.
I would like us to do well. I would love us to win it. I don’t think we will but getting to the quarter-finals would be a great result for England, and progress.
I like Roy Hodgson so I don’t want him to lose his job. So I want him to do well enough to keep his job.
But, it’s very tough. Uruguay are playing almost at home. Italy, I think, if any European side are going to win it, it might be Italy, because they’ve got a very good balance. It depends on [Mario] Balotelli’s temperament I guess. But it makes it quite a hard group to get out of.
Would you have a wildcard pick in the England squad?
Errr. Who do I like. [Pauses]. I don’t know, actually. Is Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain going to go?
I like him. I think he should go.
I think it’s difficult to Roy Hodgson to do it. Bearing in mind that we’ve got such a tough group, such a tough ask, is this the time to take a couple of risks and take some young players to give them the experience of being out there?
The likes of Ross Barkley?
Yeah. I forgot about Barkley, he’s ace.
So you’d stick with Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard?
I wouldn’t take Lampard, I'd take Gerrard. I like Lampard, he’s been solid for Chelsea and for England for so long but I think you’ve got to change at some point. I think it’s time for a change.
Even Gerrard, I think, it’s weird, for some reason I think he should still be in it. I was thinking about it earlier on, you know where we had a really big golden generation, or whatever they were called?
Yeah, kind of…
A good player in every position but almost all of them are retired now. Maybe it is time we just forget about that generation. Even though they were the most skilful group, they didn’t really do much, did they?
Going back to Leeds, that Leeds team that got to the semi-final of the Champions League, they did it on pure youth and exuberance. They were all over everybody, they got in everyone’s faces, pressing all the time, and I think sometimes that goes a long way over experience. Just stick people in there and let them go for it.
Who’s your pick for the World Cup?
To win it? The boring answer is Brazil because I think they’ve the best chance.
I saw a funny thing, Argentina have got an amazing set of strikers, well, they’ve got an amazing team really, but it was 0-0 [against Romania].
It’s whoever takes the chance. I think Argentina and Brazil have the best chance. As I said, out of the European sides who could win it, I’ll go for Italy.
Over Spain and Germany?
Yes. It’s a slightly odd choice but Italy are there or thereabouts.
Apart from the last World Cup when they went out in the group stage and didn’t win a game.
I’ve chosen to forget that. They’ve won it when no one has expected them to.
Germany, obviously, I think are amazing. Bayern Munich’s success helps Germany do well. They’ve got millions of midfielders but who is their out-and-out goalscorer?
It’s looking like it’ll be Miroslav Klose…
I don’t want to say that’s Germany’s weakness because they are very good, it’s been proven you can win lots of things nowadays without a out-and-out striker but that’s why I don’t go for Germany.
Spain - they’ve won it all already, their hunger might have gone.
New album "Education, Education, Education & War” is released on March 31, 2014 http://www.kaiserchiefs.com