In his exclusive column for CaughtOffside, former Liverpool attacker Stan Collymore discusses some of football’s biggest talking points, including why Man United are doomed with Bruno as captain, why Declan Rice is his signing of the summer plus much more.
Man United have no hope with Bruno as leader
It doesn’t take many players, it just takes key players to upset the apple cart in a dressing room.
The other day Marcus Rashford mouthed “what am I doing here?” after being substituted and yet, in his first year, with his personality and character as it was then, he would have been way down the pecking order in terms of influence.
Let’s be perfectly honest… if Bruno Fernandes is your captain, the dressing room isn’t exactly going to be full of characters. It’s not going to be full of Roy Keane types if Bruno is your leader.
I don’t believe there’s a lot of personality in that Manchester United dressing room, so the leaders of that dressing room will be Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, Bruno and Harry Maguire possibly.
Harry’s been a very good pro, but after his experience particularly early on in the season, if Rashford pipes up and goes “this is ridiculous, the man doesn’t know what he’s doing,” and two or three others like Bruno and Martial follow, the coup de grace would be Harry Maguire, a model pro, going “yeah you’re absolutely right, look at the way that he treated me earlier on in the season.”
I wouldn’t be surprised if those few names were the driving force of that dressing room and then added on to that you’ve got the likes of Jadon Sancho of course.
Ten Hag is on borrowed time.
Declan Rice has been the signing of the summer
Declan Rice has stood up and been counted. He’s not officially the captain of Arsenal, but he is a captain that leads by example. The clean sheets, the fewest goals conceded, the last minute winners… they’re all in Declan Rice’s remit and, for me, he’s been the most compelling summer signing.
Bear in mind he cost over £100m and he’s English – that comes with huge pressure, and yet he smiles, laughs and jokes, and he enjoys playing his football.
We’ve barely talked about his price tag, but we do with Jack Grealish because he arguably isn’t living up to it at Manchester City.
It seems to be water off a duck’s back to Declan Rice and he’s seamlessly knitted into Arsenal’s midfield as well as helping England to the Euros. Nothing has fazed him.
Pound for pound he’s been the best Premier League buy last summer and I think that it’s inevitable he someday becomes captain.
I know that Odegaard is very much liked at the club and by Mikel Arteta, but I do wonder if there was a minor little shift, whether Arteta has a rethink.
Watch this space…
Carragher was right to call Pep out
I don’t think there is a line for journalists and broadcasters to cross when it comes to comment, press conferences or interviewing managers.
There’s a line of respect for sure, but the vast majority of pundits these days want to stay on one side of the line because they don’t want to banned or blacklisted by the club.
I think there’s a way of making really good strong, solid points without fear and also where a manager can listen or watch that interview and go, ‘he’s made his point. I don’t agree with him, but I’m not going to pick the phone up.’
I’ve the utmost respect for Jamie Carragher and Gary Neville, and both their playing careers give them credibility as pundits.
Carra was well within his rights to make the points about Pep, and Pep was right to have a nibble back. It actually does show that Carra was more than willing to make those comments because he felt he was in the right.
Whereas a lot of sports journalists these days sit in press conferences and just laugh along with the latest jokes that a manager comes out with, and that’s why they’re not getting their questions answered to their satisfaction.
Vincent Kompany isn’t as bad as results suggest
Vinny Kompany is unique.
He came and spent most of his football career at Manchester City, winning everything as captain and he was such a part of the style of play which Pep Guardiola is a disciple of that he’s gone to Burnley and gone “right, this is the way it has to be done.”
He’s a very clever man with a BA in several different areas and I think he went off to Harvard Business School, and certainly did two or three things away from football.
He goes to a Burnley team that probably wouldn’t have been expected to get to the Premier League as quickly as it did under him, and for which he gets immense credit.
But I think that then when you go into the Premier League, using the Manchester City style of play… with the greatest of respect to him and the Burnley players, you’ve got to be a better team to do it.
During those first six weeks the die was cast. They were getting done by three, four, five because they were too open. The irony is that instead of just being the purist Pep disciple, he should have taken a look at Mikel Arteta.
Last season Arsenal were taking on all comers, laughing, joking, being expansive, expressive, scoring lots of goals… but this season’s version is clean sheets first.
If you looked at Arsenal statistics up until the Luton game, they had the most clean sheets, most wins on the road, fewest amount of goals conceded and that’s because Arteta knows goals win games but clean sheets win titles.
Will he be a great manager in the future? Absolutely. He’s bright, he’s able and he’s willing to take on new ideas and philosophies. I certainly wouldn’t put him in the ‘great player, crap manager’ bracket because I think with his next opportunity, hopefully in the Premier League, he’ll realise that clean sheets are as important as playing open expansive attacking football.
There’s no way the Boxing Day and festive fixtures should be scrapped
Boxing Day and the festive fixtures are a massive part of the history and tradition of English football. I know that from a broadcaster’s perspective because of working for Canal + in France.
People turning up in their Christmas jumpers and walking up to freezing cold stadiums, you go with your dad, your uncle, your auntie, your sister… they absolutely loved it.
For me, Boxing Day is a massive seller of the Premier League abroad, and that’s enough to absolutely maintain the integrity of the Christmas fixtures, though it’d be interesting to see what Harry Kane says at the end of the season having had a proper winter break in Germany.
On a separate note, I’m open to having the conversation about the 3pm blackout. The answer to those complaining about the blackout? The Premier League should have an app. That app could be geo blocked and those subscribing to Saturday 3pm games pay exactly the same as the match going fan on the day.
I think that the protection of those other clubs down the pyramid is equally as important as everybody tuning into Manchester United vs Liverpool at 3pm on a Saturday.
My ticket for Villa vs City was £45, but it was meant to be £63. So, if Villa vs Arsenal on my Premier League app was a Saturday 3pm game, subscription for that game is going to be the £63 that it would cost you to go to the game.
Then you would only have the hardcore Aston Villa fans willing to pay that kind of money and you could still maintain the integrity of the match going public.
Villa’s performance against City is one of the best of the last 45 years
If Villa’s performance against City isn’t the Premier League performance of the season, it will be one of them. It’s just a shame really that it wasn’t on Sky as a main game where more people could’ve seen it.
I think that what the Villa players did, extraordinarily well, was going out onto that pitch, feeling they could win against anybody. That confidence meant it was always going to be a difficult night for City, but I think it was just the incessant pressure that saw Pep’s side fall apart.
City possibly had five to six minutes in the second half where they controlled possession, before Villa dominated again.
I thought that John McGinn’s performance was one of the individual performances in the Premier League, Boubacar Kamara’s too. The closing down, not giving City a second and inflicting their own game on the opponent… intensity, physicality at times Villa players looked as if they were showboating and relishing the challenge of beating their opposite number.
I’ve been going to Villa for 45 years and it would certainly be up there in the top five or six performances I’ve seen from an Aston Villa team.
Players will want to come to Villa when they play like that, and also want to play in teams that are competitive. They want to be enjoying their football and if that performance is anything to go by every single Aston Villa player is enjoying their football to a nine out of 10 level.
That will go very far when it comes to keeping the likes of Douglas Luis and others.