Collymore’s column: Erling Haaland criticism unfair, Bukayo Saka cheated for penalty, Sir Jim Ratcliffe getting tough at Man United and which Premier League players could be on the move in the summer

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In his exclusive column for CaughtOffside, former Aston Villa and Liverpool attacker Stan Collymore discusses some of football’s biggest talking points, including Erling Haaland’s recent criticism, Bukayo Saka’s questionable on-field decision-making and which six Premier League could be on the move soon, plus much more.


Erling Haaland criticism unfair…

After L’Equipe, the voice of football in Europe gave Haaland a 3/10 for his performance against Real Madrid on Tuesday, along with Roy Keane’s League Two jibe, maybe it is time a fellow striker told it as it is to both and stated a couple of obvious things rather than jump on popular bandwagons.

Firstly, the kid has scored goals in every team he’s played at. Lots of them too. Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, he’s done it in three very different environments. England, Germany, and the Champions League, all while being a relative rookie. Finally, and for me the point Keane and L’equipe are desperately missing, is the type of goals he scores.

He’s an over-the-top guy by trade, look at his Dortmund goals and you’ll see pace, running in behind and a stellar finisher. I wondered whether City would suit him, especially as most teams who face them sit back denying anyone space except for a fox in the box. City bought him anyway, he toggled a switch in his mind and hey presto, broke all records by being a fox in the box. Is he a great “player” beyond his goalscoring? No, not yet, but his ability to learn, grow, and be unfazed by criticism will undoubtedly get him there.

Leave the kid alone, neither Keane nor anyone at L’Equipe could lace his boots at the same age!

Erling Haaland in action for Man City.

Cheating is cheating, Bukayo…

When Bukayo Saka missed his Euro penalty at Wembley in the final against Italy, I briefly went over to him in the families section post match and just said a few words of old man’s wisdom. Something along the lines of “your time will come” and indeed, his time is now.

But with power and spotlight comes responsibility and the righteous outrage over what I saw as a player take the ball to the keeper and instead of going around him, then slotting the ball home and scoring a crucial Arsenal goal, he took the easy option, the option Harry Kane also takes for club and country, and that’s to “win” a penalty.

Bukayo Saka collided with Leon Goretzka during Tuesday’s Champions League quarter-final against Bayern Munich.

Although you’re not actually winning anything, what you are doing by taking this easy option is robbing the fan in their seat a chance to see you do something they can’t on a pitch, you’re robbing the sport of a potential iconic Champions League moment, and most importantly, you’re robbing yourself of the opportunity to utilise the skills you work on all week, the skills that should have gone around the keeper and slotted that ball home.

All because nobody in the game has the balls to call it out for what it is… Cheating.

Back to the future for Sir Jim Ratcliffe?

I like the fact that Sir Jim Ratcliffe and INEOS are wielding the axe at Manchester United. It shows that the stench of failure around arguably England’s biggest football club will no longer be tolerated.

Make no mistake here folks, whether John Murtough jumped or was pushed, the outcome is the same… Underperformance will not be tolerated. United being a cushy job for a few years to fill your salary boots with millions for what can only be described as a decade of abject failure, isn’t happening anymore, and I for one cannot wait to see what kind of people, what kind of winners line up for United off the field.

I do wonder if United have a few of their own, and what the new look club will do with them. I’m talking about Messiuers Neville, Keane, Scholes, Butt, Giggs and co, all kept on the sidelines in recent years with only the emergency ripcord being opened for the comforts of yesteryear that they bring being opened in emergencies. But if Sir Jim is smart, he’ll tap into all of them winners mostly on and off the pitch , there’s no reason why one or all couldn’t have a part to play in a new and vibrant Manchester United.

It wouldn’t be for nostalgia, all of those guys could pick up the phone to anyone in the game for the benefit of United, so watch this space, I have a feeling in my water that at least one big name may get some sort of call.

Six possible Premier League bargains…

We’re getting towards the end of the season and then the interminable “who’s going where?” will start so I may as well start us off with six players.

Six players that if they don’t move this summer will all be showing a distinct lack of ambition.

Firstly, Amadou Onana. He could add steel and intellect to any top six side’s midfield. He’s still only 22, but is a colossus of a man who is only going to get better when surrounded by better players.

Jarrad Branthwaite. Heir apparent to Harry Maguire for club and country? Just be wary of the “English “ levy on his price and any potential suitor should get a very nice deal for a player who could be a mainstay for some years top come.

Ivan Toney. He’s a no brainer for any top six club, and without a goal in his last seven starts, could be a bargain.

Ivan Toney in action for Brentford.

Murillo. He’s versatile, aggressive, quick and a genuinely good reader of the game. Whether Forest stay up or go down, he’ll be a tough one to keep.

Teden Mengi. Sure, he’s not long left Old Trafford to ply his trade at Luton but I can’t be the only one who’s noticed that he has all of the background, the ambition to leave United at 21 to go it alone. I’ve been really impressed by his performances and i’m sure he’ll be on several “big clubs” radars. He’s played for England at every age level so will have had an A+ club and international grounding. Personally, I’d drive him to Villa Park tomorrow if Unai Emery fancies it.

Illia Zabarnyi. Bournemouth already paid a hefty sum for this player. It hasn’t been all wine and roses, but that’s expected when he’s Ukraianian and the impact of the war in Ukraine on their players cannot be underestimated. Nevertheless, there’s two positions that clubs in the top six are desperate for – good central defenders, and spending £24 million on him will certainly be good business because I reckon the Cherries can double, or even treble, his valuation in the next two years.

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