In his exclusive column for CaughtOffside, former Liverpool attacker Stan Collymore discusses some of football’s biggest talking points, including VAR’s latest horror show, Ollie Watkins’ England-worthy form, Marcus Rashford’s stop-start performances and which player Mauricio Pochettino is continually playing out of position, plus much more.
Get VAR out of the Premier League NOW!
I was a big advocate for VAR. I really wanted to see it introduced into the Premier League because I thought it had the potential to make our game so much better, but I was wrong. I’m happy to admit that I have since changed my mind and would like to see it removed. It is absolutely killing the game. It has drained virtually all of the excitement and passion out of the sport, not only for the fans but also for the players. I don’t know about everyone, but I certainly watch games now and even when a belter of a goal goes in, I struggle to get excited because you never know – someone’s bollack hair might be deemed to be offside. It really is pathetic.
For the marginal improvement in correct decisions, and it is marginal, it just isn’t worth it. VAR was never supposed to be the main character in this show, it was introduced to stop the pub conversations about what decisions were right and what decisions were wrong, but it’s made it all so much worse. All we talk about now is VAR. There is more focus on the technology and the constantly adapting and changing rules than on the actual 90 minutes of action. I don’t care if the Champions League use it, or if it’s been a success in the World Cup, get it out of the Premier League now!
Ollie Watkins for England? – Absolutely!
Ollie Watkins is in great form and he managed to bag his hat-trick against Brighton and Hove Albion in front of an onlooking Gareth Southgate. There is no way Watkins cannot be considered for an England call-up later this month. It’d be his eighth senior cap and he deserves it.
Of course, Harry Kane, who is banging them in for Bayern Munich, is still going to be the country’s main man but he cannot be our only dependable striker. We need options and back-ups, and Watkins, in my opinion, is the best of the rest – at least right at this very minute.
England have two international matches coming up including a friendly. If Southgate doesn’t want to risk playing him in a European Championship qualifier against Italy on 17 October, then he should give him a chance against Australia the week before.
Marcus Rashford is walking a Manchester United tightrope…
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Marcus Rashford is in dire form. His season hasn’t yet started and his head is very much down. It’s clear by now that Rashford is a confidence-player. He blows hot and cold with very little consistency to his game.
He’s a couple of weeks away from turning 26 years old; he’s no spring chicken and it’s very unlikely that his game is going to dramatically change – he is what he is. So if I were in charge of Manchester United’s technical performance analysis, I would be advising Erik Ten Hag to stick with him for so long, probably another two or three more games, and if he continues to misfire, drop him.
I would certainly be looking at a new left-sided winger in the summer though, and I would want a player to come in and look at Rashford and say ‘I am taking your spot and you’re never going to play for this club again. I’m the main man now.’ because I think it could be really easy to discourage and overwhelm Rashford and effectively end his Old Trafford career. He’s far too nice. If he stopped playing now, would he be considered a United legend? – Absolutely not.
Enzo Fernandez is not a number 10…
Chelsea play Fulham tonight and although we don’t know what Mauricio Pochettino’s starting lineup will be, it’s likely he’ll ask Enzo Fernandez to play in behind the forward again. I rate Pochettino a lot. He’s a top manager but I think he’s getting it wrong with Fernandez. I don’t understand the obsession of playing him as a number 10. He isn’t a number 10.
Fernandez is at his best when he’s playing a deeper role and allowed the freedom to travel between boxes. At the moment, he’s being penned into a very small area of the pitch and it’s restricting his best attributes.