Collymore’s column: Most one-sided FA Cup final ever, another poor decision from Chelsea and more

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In his exclusive column for CaughtOffside, former Aston Villa attacker Stan Collymore discusses some of football’s biggest talking points, including why the FA Cup Final will be the most one-sided ever, the shambolic way Mauricio Pochettino has been treated, why the Premier League needs a salary cap and how Gareth Southgate has got his England selection spot on. 

Pochettino leaving is the poorest of decisions from Todd Boehly

It’s a bit weird isn’t it, after the bizarre season that Chelsea have had, spending millions of pounds, the kids not working out… and then they start to get results towards the end of the season, everything’s looking good and Mauricio Pochettino goes and has dinner with Todd Boehly and you think it’s all going to be alright, but before you know it the manager’s gone.

My understanding is – from a couple of people I know at Chelsea – that Pochettino basically wanted more control over things but the Chelsea hierarchy were like ‘the structure is the structure. This is the way that we want to do it. We’re more than happy with you having your input, but ultimately there’s other people at the club that we’ve employed who we want to do their jobs and be empowered to do their job.’

So my opinion is really simple.

Chelsea had a coach that’s really good with youngsters and who was starting to develop a style of play to be honed and refined. Putting things into perspective, Villa would appear to have had a 10 out of 10 season on the face of it, and finished only five points ahead of Chelsea who apparently had an awful season. I think it just goes to show how much potential there is in that Chelsea team.

It should be the least the least shocking news in football when a Chelsea manager gets the sack, but on this occasion it is, and it’s a real shame. I’m a big fan of Poch and I genuinely thought he would go on and get some success at Chelsea, over the next two or three years.

What it means for some of these younger players, I don’t know, but I think that if they get in a benign dictator as a coach, one or two might fall by the wayside.

It’s another incredibly poor decision from Todd Boehly.

Southgate has got it spot on with the England squad

I think that the England squad overall is basically good.

I think that probably over the last 12 months the narrative is that Jordan Henderson is a great person to have in the dressing room, a great tourist with fantastic experience, but you’ve got to have players that can go out there and do the business. When you go to Saudi Arabia, that tells you something about where the player’s form is at.

I would much rather miss out on the experienced head around the dressing room, which is a little bit of a myth anyway. They’re all senior players, they will all add something and there’s plenty of experience in the squad anyway with the likes of Phil Foden, Jude Bellingham and Declan Rice, despite their relative youth.

That’s without likes of Harry Maguire, Jordan Pickford, Kyle Walker and Kieran Trippier. So the good tourist thing that I didn’t buy really. I went with it for the last year because Henderson has been a good servant to the country.

In terms of Marcus Rashford, I think that we are so blessed in forward positions with an embarrassment of riches; Jack Grealish, Cole Palmer, Jarrod Bowen…

Depending on whether Gareth Southgate plays a 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3, it’s going to throw up an interesting conundrum.

Does he play Rice and Bellingham technically as holders with either having the ability to then move forward into the number 10 position, or does he put Phil Foden as the 10? Against Croatia, Foden played on the right of an attacking three, but he could also play centrally or to the left because he’s that versatile.

Rashford has the ability to be able to score goals and go on runs, but I just think on this occasion, it was quite refreshing to see Gareth say ‘there are players in this position that are playing better’ rather than the old chestnut of being ‘a valued member of the squad and he was unlucky on this occasion.’

Ultimately when you’re a player, if you’re getting dropped from squads, that’s what you want to hear – either that you’re good enough to get in or you haven’t had a great season and we’re going to let you down gently. I like that ruthlessness.

Overall with regards to the squad, I like the fact that Wharton, Eze and Ezri Konsa are coming in, whether or not they go to Germany or are just part of an extended squad.

The constant evolution is important as it puts players under pressure and keeps them hungry.

The most one-side FA Cup Final ever in prospect

Manchester United cannot win this season’s FA Cup Final.

Back in 19777, United stopped Liverpool doing a treble thanks to having hardened professionals in the team, but I don’t see anything in this United squad to trouble Manchester City.

People throw up statistics about Bruno’s creativity but there aren’t enough United players in form, whether it be their front three, midfield or central defensive pairing or the goalkeeper.

City would have had a bit of a break, they’ll have had their parties as we saw the other night and they’ll have got their head down. As derby games go, and I’m talking Liverpool v Everton, Arsenal v Tottenham or Man City v Man United in a cup final environment… this will be the easiest FA Cup final derby victory ever.

Last season City were still chasing a treble because they had the Champions League final to come after it. This season they haven’t so they can go out on a high. They’ve won the league, are in form and have got more options to score goals across the board than United.

Unless City have a spectacularly bad day at the office, and we take the view that anything can happen – as it did when United beat Liverpool earlier in the competition – then this is going to be a straightforward derby victory.

I can’t see anything other than a 3-0 win at least for City.

A salary cap would stop English football from dying

I think from my perspective the problem is that where English clubs will push back is when somebody will turn around and say ‘there’s no salary cap in La Liga, no salary cap in Serie A, no salary cap in Saudi… these are our competitors and we want to maintain a competitive advantage…’

The best league in the world wants the best players in the world but I think that common sense is coming to the fore in terms of how rapacious many clubs have been over the last 20 years – in particular Chelsea and Manchester City.

The Saudi ownership of Newcastle United has been the first club which has been stopped in its tracks from doing what it what it wants to do, because of Financial Fair Play, making their squad weaker going into a first Champions League campaign for years.

I think that a salary cap has been mooted four or five times but as you’ve already seen, 10 clubs including Villa, Forest and Bournemouth voted against it.

I can see the point of clubs saying ‘hold on, we want to be upwardly mobile,’ and that was Manchester City’s original argument. We’ve had a Champions League lock in from 1992, so by and large, if you were doing well around 92/93/94 and you were competitive, then it meant you were going to be in those top positions as the Champions League developed.

Fifteen years ago, Manchester City blew the doors off and said ‘we should be able to spend what the hell we like. We will spend what the hell we like and there’s nothing you can do to stop it,’ and the Premier League has been putting a finger in the dike ever since.

I do feel sorry for clubs with a vested interest such as Aston Villa as the greed and overspending of other clubs will punish them and the likes of Newcastle, West Ham and Brighton.

I do think that we’ve got to have some sort of wage cap, but one which does allow upward mobility.

If you look further down the pyramid it’s in a mess. Clubs are in a mess, finances are in a mess. We’re now getting so used to the sugar daddy coming in to haul clubs out of trouble, but what people are missing out on is the difficulty for all those other clubs that work on a relatively tight budget and cut their cloth accordingly.

So, from my perspective, the answer would be really simple.

Yes to a salary cap that allows for upward mobility, and when the independent football regulator firmly comes out of the shadows, we see who is fronting it, whether it has teeth and we make sure that the English football pyramid is sacred as an institution.

It’s not just of national importance, but global. The flow of players that get produced further down then get their opportunities to go up and play in the Premier League, and the flow of money made by the top trickles down as the Premier League continues to pay its fair share to the pyramid further down.

If we get that, we get the best of everything. We get our clubs competing in Europe, we get a decent competition instead of a cakewalk every year, we get clubs further down getting paid proper money for their players and we avoid the litany of bankruptcies and winding-up orders.

More Stories Erik ten Hag Gareth Southgate Mauricio Pochettino Pep Guardiola Todd Boehly