Collymore’s column: Luke Shaw is bang out of order, Liverpool should sell Luis Diaz and much 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 Luke Shaw is bang out of order, why Brighton deserve a pat on the back, why English authorities need to follow Spain’s lead and much more.

England’s poor form could mean a slow burn to glory… or glorious failure again

England manager Gareth Southgate

England’s poor performance against Iceland could be a perfect storm in terms of a tournament where the best teams always start slow and then move through the gears.

I watched Holland beat Iceland comfortably 3-0, they absolutely battered them by putting a lot of crosses in the box, but in terms of England at the moment, there are several players – John Stones and Kyle Walker to name just two – that obviously need minutes in their legs and aren’t going to get them until they go into games.

Jude Bellingham would have had a week or two off after the Champions League final to have a bit of party… Unfortunately, we don’t have six friendlies to play to give them and others the time they need.

I think that if we get to the semi-finals, for this group of players, that’s where they should be with a decent effort. Nine times out of 10 they should be semi finalists but if we have a good tournament, we should be looking to win it.

I don’t get involved in bookies odds and stuff quite simply because we’re in Britain and more people are going to vote for their own country than they are for others, but I do think there’s a very nice healthy dose of scepticism around the country which the Iceland result has only added to.

The weather is a bit flat still, we haven’t started the tournament yet… the expectation isn’t really there because people haven’t got used to the three games in a day which football fans love and which sets the tone.

I watched Portugal against Ireland and they look very, very good. I watched the Dutch, they look good. I watched the French, they look good. If we get to the semi-finals, we’ve got to be at our very, very best to win it.

At the moment, for me, it boils down to a few things. Several players are undercooked, one or two players are visibly ageing in front of our eyes, and we’ve had a mini experiment about who’s going to play number 10.

I fully expect by the end of the Denmark game on match day two, that we will be in a really good position to know whether this England team are struggling or whether we are slowly going through the gears on a march towards the latter stages and victory in the final.

Fair play to Brighton who’ve taken a risk with Fabian Hurzeler

Graham Potter effectively took a Swedish club into European competition, whilst Roberto De Zerbi was in charge at Sassuolo and Shakhtar Donetsk before heading to Brighton.

I think what Brighton have is quite an incredible ecosystem whereby the structure is very good, their recruitment is very good and their style of play is nailed on. You know that Brighton are going to get the ball down and they’re going to be productive.

Both of those seemingly left-field appointments worked, but the hire of Fabian Hurzeler, however, is a gamble.

Mitoma was a gamble at £2m, but you’d be looking at £50m-£60m to sign him this summer, injuries notwithstanding. That was risky, but we accept gambles and risks are part of the game where players are concerned, and weirdly not with managers.

A lot will be made that he’s seven or eight years younger than James Milner, but players know who the manager is. Players know who the head coach is and with that kind of youth and enthusiasm comes a lot of training ground minutes, and a relaxing experience in the structure around him.

I think it’s a really, really positive move. A massive appointment but for me it’s only the same risk and gamble as any player if it doesn’t work.

If it does work, it will break the mould for clubs hanging on to 50 to 70 year olds like Roy Hodgson. Clubs will say why do we need that experience when we’ve got a 31 year old here whose still got 20 to 30 years left in management.

He could break two glass ceilings in that there will be less reverse ageism in football in terms of management, and he can dictate that if you are American, you’re no longer seen as a Ted Lasso type who can’t be successful in English football. Good luck to him.

Luke Shaw is bang out of order

Luke Shaw

I’m a big fan of criticising managers because they ultimately make the decisions and it’s not unheard of, but I think that Luke Shaw criticising the medical stuff is bang out of order.

The reason why that is, is that the medical staff work their absolute nuts off for one aim; to try and get a player fit and healthy, and ready to play football.

I’ve never ever come across a medical person that says ‘you will play more often than not.’ They are a conduit between the player and the manager and they’ll say to the player, ‘look, you’re not ready for another couple of weeks yet, but the gaffer wants you back in a week. I’ll smooth it over and get it all sorted out.’

So I think that Luke Shaw’s making excuses if I’m being honest, and I hope that this isn’t going to blow up in England’s faces when he inevitably comes into the team on match day two.

Universally, medical staff in my opinion are not only a great buffer, but they would never ever, ever tell a player ‘you’ve got to be out there on Monday… You’ve got to train today…’

Those old school physios that came on with the magic sponges and gave you a kick up the backside… that’s changed now. I’ve known medical staff treating players with hamstring injuries, broken legs, calf problems, hernia operations, you name it, and despite them wanting to get back as quickly as they could, the medical team will have told them that the best time for them to come back is when their injury has healed completely and they’re ready to properly play football.

Ultimately, a player has a choice to be able to say ‘I’m not ready yet.’ The flip side of that is that there is the generation of players that won’t go on the training ground unless they are absolutely 100% fit.

I hope it’s not a warning sign for England. Luke Shaw saying he’s nearly there only for him to break down on match day two. It’s up to a player to say he isn’t ready and to talk to the physios and medical staff about getting him sorted.

Time could be up for Luis Diaz at Liverpool

Luis Diaz in action for Liverpool

I think Luis Diaz is obviously a talented player but Liverpool are not particularly short in attacking positions. If you look at Salah, Gakpo, Jota, Nunez and Diaz… they can afford to lose one, and if the choice was mine, it would be Cody Gakpo.

There is the argument that he gives Liverpool flexibility and can play as a number nine, and there haven’t been lots of rumours about him going which would suggest that he’s staying put for a season or two.

Diaz is an odd one because of his injuries, the situation with his father’s kidnap which was obviously very traumatic during the season… at times he looks world class but at others he struggles to get a foothold in the game.

It really does depend on whether Barcelona are prepared to pay £50m-£60m for him, in which case I’ll drive him to Barcelona. If it wasn’t a derisory offer and they offered a player in return aswell, for the new manager it might simply depend on what kind of player that they’re offering.

In the pecking order of strikers at the club, you’re looking at Salah then Nunez, then Jota, then Diaz and finally Gakpo, so the Colombian is in the bottom two. Man for man, I don’t think you’ll find any Liverpool fan will put Diaz in between Salah and Nunez, for example in terms of importance to the club.

So I have no problem with him going because he’s been okay, but I don’t think he’s been stunning. At Liverpool, if you’re going to win titles, you’ve got to be stunning. You’ve got to hit your marks, you got to hit your stats.

If Barcelona come along with a good offer and it allows Arne Slot to have the kind of funds to be able to bring in a player that he likes in a position that he wants, it makes sense for me.

English authorities must follow Spanish football’s lead on racism

Vinicius Junior

On Twitter, I remember the Premier League asking everyone to put black squares on their bio to show solidarity with their campaign against racism. It means nothing. Well respected broadcasters and journalists not tweeting for 24 hours with a black square. Oh, great. That’s gonna stop a racist from from being a racist.

I remember getting emails from the Premier League saying ‘I see you’re very critical of our stance on racism,’ and then being bombarded with a pie chart with how much interaction they had. It doesn’t work until the deterrent stops people from doing it.

I know what it’s like to be racially abused on social media, in a football environment from football fans who then get punished. One of them was a trainee lawyer at the time, one was a 15-year-old boy that told his parents and broke down crying and one was a Derby fan.

They were all taken to court, one had to wear a tag, one was fined and the other had to pay something like £100 in victim surcharge, money that they may not have had at that time. So from my perspective, it’s really simple.

If you take the next step and even give racists just a week in jail, it will make a difference. Nobody wants to go to jail. Anybody, pretty much most people, can pay a £50 fine and then become the guy that abused [insert black player here].

So, absolutely fantastic from the Spanish authorities. The punishment for those who racially abused Vini Jr. is 10 times more important than what the English authorities would do about it, because we have a background of virtue signalling in this country.

You look back when England played in Seville many moons ago and there was blackface etc., and I think that Spain has had a problem with acknowledging it. So this is big. It’s saying, you go to a football match and you start doing this, you’re gonna get a proper punishment.

Eastern Europe, which has a problem in football traditionally with racially abusing players, need to do the same and if we do, we then have serious tools to be able to eradicate it from the grounds.

Well done the Spanish Federation, well done the Spanish judicial system. England – time to follow.

More Stories Fabian Hürzeler Graham Potter John Stones Jude Bellingham Kyle Walker Luis Diaz Luke Shaw