In his exclusive column for CaughtOffside, former Aston Villa and Liverpool striker Stan Collymore discusses some of football’s biggest talking points, including the worrying rise of violence among football fans, why Kalvin Phillips would be great for Newcastle United and the four clubs Marcus Rashford should leave Manchester United for.
Football is facing a major problem when it comes to fan aggression and pitch invasions…
I remember saying at the time, during Covid, once fans are allowed back into the grounds, there is going to be a perfect storm. Everybody was locked down for so long, the stewarding is passive – they don’t get paid enough, so why on earth would they want to be fighting people? – and of course, drug abuse. When you put all of those parts together and then allow fans back into the grounds, they’re going to go wild.
There is a younger generation, who is exposed to films like Green Street, which romanticise football violence. I have been involved with Southend United this season and it has been a massive eye-opener. The games at that level are almost breeding grounds for future hooligans. There are kids there, 13, 14, and 15 years old, congregating behind one of the goals and having shouting matches with the opposition.
There is also a nasty right-wing element creeping back into football. I remember a Nations League game in Portugal, Tommy Robinson was there, roaming around with his cohorts.
From a player’s perspective, unless all of this is nipped in the bud, we’re going to have a major problem.
When it comes to what happened on Thursday night with Patrick Vieira and a fan who invaded the Goodison Park pitch, I know him very well.
As a footballer, he was fiercely competitive, but as a man, he is very calm and very thoughtful. Very much how he comes across on the television.
I have watched what happened back several times, the kid he kicked was aggressively sticking a phone into his face and Vieira didn’t bite. Then that same kid said something and he reacted. You don’t have to be a genius to work out that somebody who is usually very composed has reacted to something very nasty that has been said.
All the regulatory bodies need to avoid this situation from happening altogether. They need to put things in place this summer to make sure it doesn’t happen again in the future. Even if it means bringing in a tonne of police for a season or two, if that is a bad look for the sport, so be it, but we need to get a grip of it and get a grip of it now.
Newcastle United should go all out for Kalvin Phillips…
Back to actual football – Leeds United’s Kalvin Phillips is going to an interesting one this summer. He has been linked with so many clubs, big clubs too.
Geographically, Newcastle United could actually have the edge when it comes to the prospect of signing him. Although most players are looking to play in London, Phillips is from the North and would probably want to stay in that part of the country.
A good signing for the Magpies would be a player who is within their wage structure, a senior England international and a player who can defend but also create a fair bit. I think Newcastle United should definitely try and go head-to-head with the likes of Manchester City and Manchester United. If either Manchester club are prepared to offer Phillips a decent wage, Newcastle United should go in and say ‘well, we’ll offer you a bit more’ because they can and ultimately, that is where their financial muscle will show over the next few years.
Like Kieran Trippier, coming from Atletico Madrid who had just won the La Liga title, he was a statement signing but one that also has a functional place in the team.
If they can get two or three of those players in every summer window, then in two or three years’ time, they’ll be in a great position to compete. If I was Eddie Howe, I would go into the market and make a statement.
It is time for Marcus Rashford to leave Manchester United…
I have nothing but admiration for Marcus Rashford. He has done so much good.
My thoughts on Rashford are that he is fundamentally a very good man, but putting that to one side, as a footballer, he hasn’t developed his skill set as a wide forward or a centre forward. He hasn’t learned to play with his back to goal as a number nine. He has gone stale. He is at a monster club with the highest expectations and one that continually comes under the most scrutiny.
Unlike Leeds United’s Phillips, Newcastle United for Rashford would be a little bit too soon. Although he’d be a big name signing, he isn’t playing well and clearly doesn’t have a lot of confidence at the moment.
In terms of attacking from the left and his dynamism, the Magpies actually have a better player in Allan Saint-Maximin than Rashford, and in terms of being an outright striker, they have a better player in Callum Wilson, I believe – so I would discount Newcastle United for Rashford.
I would also forget Arsenal because while Mikel Arteta is there, they’re just looking to be England’s answer to Barcelona. The Gunners are a club that when at their very best, looks to play beautiful one-touch football, but they’re very flakey, very porous and very weak. The biggest insult I could pay Arsenal is that they’re too nice and Rashford is nice – he doesn’t need nice right now. He needs to roll his sleeves up and work under a manager that will say ‘right, I am going to play you as a centre-forward and we are going to teach you everything you need to know.’
So when it comes to potential clubs for him this summer, he is going to need to look at clubs that are ambitious but most importantly have a manager there who will work him hard and make sure he has a clear position.
The fact is, Rashford made his senior debut over six years ago and we still don’t know what his best position is.
I couldn’t tell you, having watched Rashford play a thousand times, what he really does well, what he really does poorly and what his role in the team is anymore – that’s a damning indictment on Manchester United Football Club – so get out, Marcus.
The clubs that may suit him best are Spurs, for the prospect of Champions League football, West Ham, Wolves is also a no brainer and Aston Villa.
I think those are four clubs he could add significantly to.
He needs to find a home and become a hero again.