Collymore’s column: Man United’s embarrassing dressing room, Mourinho’s return, pressure on Nunez and more

In his exclusive column for CaughtOffside, former Aston Villa attacker Stan Collymore discusses some of football’s biggest talking points, including the men children that are populating Man United’s dressing room, why Jose Mourinho is the right man to replace, ten Hag, what Darwin Nunez needs to do to win over the doubters, plus much more.

Man United’s dressing room is an embarrassment

The home dressing room at Old Trafford is filled with men children from front to back.

The whispers, the leaks, the soft centre, the lack of responsibility… How on earth did a club fine-tuned under Fergie, hard, streetwise, driven and ambitious become the excuse of a squad we see today?

Players coming off the pitch whispering and sniggering like six year olds is one of the most embarrassing things I’ve seen in, lets face it, a pretty embarrassing season for United.

Where’s the leadership? The desire? Bottle? All I saw were pristine white kits in the first minute and pristine white kits after 90 odd minutes, barely touched with sweat or blood or tears or grass.

At virtually every club I played for, when we played against Spurs, who were seen as a club of fancy Dan’s who loved to play but didn’t like to duke it out, coaches to a man would say “make sure they get those f**king lilywhite shirts dirty today,” a reference to the kit colour but something deeper. Something that said ‘when it comes to it, these fancy Dan’s wont fancy it.’

That was Manchester United at Crystal Palace; fancy Dan’s that simply didn’t fancy it.

The German model needs to find a home in English football

How can it be that one club in Europe spends a billion pounds to limp into a Conference League place along with a £5k one-off seat behind the dugout, and another team finds waifs and strays, hones young talent and has affordable food and beverage for fans?

Yes folks, that’s Chelsea of England v Dortmund of Germany, both double winners of the Champions League but that’s about all that’s similar about them.

We NEED a German model in England to avoid the continued greed of the Premier League. To reconnect fans with clubs and for us all to have belief in the English game again.

That can only come with a 50% +1% fan-owned model so that the club is always going to be put first, rather than the business.

An ownership model that listens, acts, and STILL remains competitive in Europe is the only way to protect our clubs, to allow them to compete, and to stop this obscene waste of money in English football.

The future is bright, the future is fan majority ownership!

It might be time for Darwin Nunez to leave Liverpool

I’ve been a high profile signing at Liverpool… for a club and national record transfer fee no less.

The pressure is relentless, the media constant, every game micro-analysed, and fans used to winning a lot always on your back when the going isn’t so good.

So, I understand what Darwin Nunez is going through.

The only question I’d ask him face to face, and one I answered in my own mind was, “do you feel you are good enough to score enough goals and create enough chances for your teammates?”

If he’s honest, he’ll know whether to stick or twist with the Reds and a new manager, as well as those doubting his ability.

Is he a Fowler, Rush, Torres, Mo or Suarez? No, of course not, but only he can answer whether he can do it or not.

Me? I had to completely change my game to adapt to Robbie Fowler who I knew who would outscore me, so I created a lot for him while scoring at a good rate too. If Nunez can do that then he has a chance to be a resounding success for several years at Liverpool, but if he doesn’t, then for him and the club he’s better off moving because there’s nowhere to hide at Liverpool and the intensity of the analysis isn’t going anywhere.

Forget Southgate, it’s time for Jose to return to United

I thought Jose Mourinho getting the United job when he did was completely the wrong move.

Attack, attack,attack was United’s history but the ‘Special One’ arrived and we saw the dark arts, s**thousery and sometimes turgid football in an era of progressive coaches like Pep and Klopp.

But now, it’s a whole new ball game.

Forget Gareth Southgate. I know him well and he won’t know what’s hit him at United should they go through a bad spell, criticism, and are in the spotlight on a weekly basis – not every few months when there’s an international or tournament on.

United need a leader again, someone willing to create an identity and a style of play, even if it’s not the most exciting. A style that competes, wins and weeds out the weak and immature.

I’m increasingly coming round to the fact that one man in world football still has that ability to galvanise and who would relish the challenge.

His name? Jose Mourinho.

Felix Zwayer should not be refereeing in professional football

By the time this column reaches you, Aston Villa will or won’t be in a European Final.

For me as a fan since 1977, who’s seen my club win the European Cup, the Conference League would be a nice trophy to win, and especially so for the younger Villains more used to Championship rather than Champions League.

I’ll have flown to Athens and back in a day to see my team play in a fine stadium in one of the world’s great cities, facing a club with a storied history in Greek football.

All set for fairness, the sporting ethos of the ancient Greeks and the best team wins over two games, right? You’d hope so.

My problem is with the referee, Felix Zwayer.

In 2005 he came forward as a whistle-blower in a German football corruption case and served a six-month ban (the others had life bans) for accepting a bribe. The six months would have been a ban if he hadn’t have come forward.

Although I’m living proof of redemption after wrongdoing, there is a huge difference between me writing this column, or appearing on radio or TV with an opinion, as opposed to a man found guilty of involvement in changing game outcomes who is then allowed to referee a major European semi-final.

Jude Bellingham was fined for criticising him, Xabi Alonso was withering of his performance and Bild, Germany’s sports paper, gave him the lowest mark a referee could get in a recent game.

He was 23 when the corruption happened and he’s now 42. Again, I have no problem with his redemption in terms of being a pundit, or teaching referees or admin somewhere in the sport.

But anyone over the age of 21 (unless they would get an opportunity to learn and move on, under probation) involved in performance enhancing drugs, corruption, illegal match fixing behaviour, or anything considered to be fundamentally detrimental to the integrity of the sport, should never be involved on the pitch again.

Sorry, it opens the sport up to all sorts of slurs and whispers, just English referees are surrounded over recent VAR decisions.

It whittles away confidence until none is left, like in cycling or athletics. I’m sure Zwayer is a good ref but not so good that we can’t find a referee without any stain upon his character.