In his exclusive column for CaughtOffside, former Aston Villa and Liverpool striker Stan Collymore discusses some of football’s biggest talking points, including Chelsea’s mismatched squad, why Man United are not title contenders, David Moyes and Frank Lampard’s potential sackings and why Newcastle United may get rid of Eddie Howe, even if he delivers Champions League football next season, plus much more.
Todd Boehly must decide Sterling, Havertz and Ziyech’s Chelsea futures…
I watched Chelsea play Man City on Thursday and I thought Denis Zakaria was excellent but aside from him, overall, they remind me of Man United from a few seasons ago.
They’ve got two ageing players in Thiago Silva and Cesar Azpilecueta and at the other end of the spectrum, they’ve got the likes of Mason Mount and Reece James. They’ve got to build around the next generation and that’ll take time. So I think Todd Boehly should consider giving Graham Potter the summer transfer window and allow him to buy some top-quality 21 to 24-year-old players to supplement the likes of Mount and James.
They also have big decisions to make on some players – Raheem Sterling for example. Do they stick or twist? I don’t think he’s doing anywhere near enough to warrant having a long-term future at Stamford Bridge. The same with Kai Havertz and Hakim Ziyech. I think all those names will be surplus to requirements come the end of the season.They’ve got to get where United were when they hired Erik Ten Hag. They need to get rid of the ageing players and some of the big-name superstars and actually focus on building a solid footballing team that is young, hungry and capable of developing together. If they do that, I think they’ll be so much better placed to win silverware two or three years down the line as opposed to this mismatched squad that might just nick a trophy here and there.
Boehly may well be sitting down asking himself ‘should I just sack Potter, bring in another manager and spend loads more money?’ – Because if he is and if he does that, I don’t think it’ll go in his favour. That model of hiring and firing doesn’t really work anymore. The only club that may be the exception to that rule is Newcastle United.
Newcastle will consider sacking Eddie Howe, even if they qualify for the Champions League…
As I just mentioned, Newcastle United may be one of the only clubs able to hire and fire their manager at will and that’s because they have endless amounts of money to spend.
Don’t get me wrong, I know Eddie Howe is doing an absolutely phenomenal job there but if the Magpies do qualify for the Champions League, I’m sure the owners will at least have the conversation about sacking him and bringing someone else in with pre-established European pedigree.
In terms of Howe’s experience of managing a club competing on multiple domestic and European fronts, he doesn’t have any. Maybe the owners will say ‘he’s done so well, we’ll give him a chance’ – but I do really believe they’ll consider parting ways in favour of a manager who has the experience that Howe lacks because if you’re Newcastle United and suddenly you’re in the Champions League, why on earth wouldn’t you consider going out and trying to bring in a top, top manager?
I think it’d be incredibly naive of Newcastle United’s owners to not consider sacking Howe if they qualified for the Champions League.
I want to stress though – I really hope that wouldn’t happen. I’d love Howe to be given the chance to try his hand at the Champions League if he gets Newcastle that far but I certainly wouldn’t be surprised if it did.
Man United are not title contenders because they’re not good enough…
I’ve seen a lot of talk recently about Man United being in the title race, but sorry folks, not for me.
I think there is zero chance they end up seriously fighting for this season’s Premier League title. I don’t think they’re good enough at the moment to put together a 10-game winning streak. They also don’t have the squad depth like their Manchester rivals do.
When I look at this United team, I see the seeds of what Arsenal have done and that is having a manager in Erik Ten Hag who prefers developing his squad’s younger players, and I think that philosophy will guarantee two things – progress, but also inconsistent performances along the way.
Ten Hag doesn’t look like the type of manager to push for huge signings in an attempt to drastically change his plans for his squad either, so it’ll take some more time for them to mount a genuine title challenge.
In terms of what would be a successful domestic season this year, I think top four would be mission accomplished. It’s worth saying as well – my take on this wouldn’t change even if they do go out and beat Man City later this month because let’s not forget – we’re only halfway through the season. There is a very long way to go and I just don’t think they’re good enough to put together the kind of run required to sustain a title challenge. Simple as that.
David Moyes could become a victim of his own success…
They’ve not won in any of their last seven games, in all competitions and that’s very worrying – very worrying for David Moyes indeed.
He’s long enough in the tooth to understand that results decide a manager’s future, so he’s got to turn it around and quickly.
The only thing that may be going in his favour at the moment is the fact that a couple of seasons ago, if I remember rightly, they had an awful run of six or seven fixtures, including games against most of the top four teams. It was an incredibly hard run and yet they picked up a fair few points and that little spell gave them the momentum they needed to go on and eventually qualify for the Europa League.
So the question now is was that squad good enough all along to challenge for a European place and are they underachieving now, or did they massively overachieve and they’re actually relegation contenders? – I think the reality is neither. They should consider themselves somewhere in between.
If Moyes is given more time and sees the season out and West Ham finishes ninth or higher, he’ll keep his job and go again next season, but a 10th to 12th place finish will put him on the line and anything below that will put the writing on the wall.
Frank Lampard’s Everton job is on the line…
Everton are in a similar position to West Ham.
Frank Lampard’s position there is precarious, to say the least, but the club’s problems extend far beyond the manager. Their owners are in a mess and their squad isn’t as good as its been in the past.
I think if Lampard had been given the money, power and influence that Steven Gerrard was awarded at Aston Villa and still got the same results, he’d definitely have gone by now.
I think what Everton sees in Lampard is a new-ish manager with good ideas and someone who has potential but they also recognise that he is facing huge problems, some of which are out of his control, but there’s no denying his job is now on the line.
The FA could do so much more to help English managers…
On the subject of Lampard and Gerrard – I actually think there’s a much bigger picture with those two.
I personally don’t think they should have been gifted the Derby County and Rangers jobs. I know fans will argue that both did a decent job in their respective roles, but they were only given those jobs because of their playing careers and that may not actually be their fault.
The FA, through their St George’s Park training facility, could be doing a lot more to help English managers.
Lampard and Gerrard, prior to starting their careers in management, should have been at St George’s Park five days a week for three years and done an intensive Golden Coaching qualification and that’d have put them in good stead to go into management and be a success because Gerrard, in particular, went into the Villa job with absolutely no coaching philosophy, he basically just said ‘right, I’m Gerrard, I’ve had an amazing career and you’re going to listen to me’ and the modern-day player just won’t buy into that.
Lampard, on the other hand, has been given a near-impossible job to do at Goodison Park and doesn’t have the know-how to deal with the kind of situation he finds himself in, and managing these scenarios could have been taught through a proper management course – the same way the likes of France and Portugal prepare their next generation of managers.
I do genuinely believe these shortcomings by the FA are why we’ve never seen an Englishman (or English woman) lift the Premier League, and that is a real big shame, because we’re seeing huge developments with England’s youth and senior International teams but not their managers