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Arne Slot

EPL have bottled Man City decision 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 Villa need to grab their UCL chance with both hands, the shambolic way David Moyes has been treated, why the Premier League have bottled it against Man City, plus much more.

Villa need to grab UCL with both hands next season

Purely as an ex-pro, I don’t buy into this ‘I’d rather play in the Europa League or the Conference League’ because that’s usually an excuse for clubs worried about taking more than baby steps. Eighteen months ago under Steven Gerrard Villa were heading towards relegation so European football is great, but make no mistake – the financial uplift, the global stage, the ability to be able to get better players, to tie down your better players – all of a sudden becomes it infinitely easier.

When you’re in the Champions League players don’t need to look around elsewhere. What’s the point unless they’re going to Manchester City who are virtually guaranteed to win a trophy? Why would players want to go to a Liverpool or a Man United? Some clubs can’t offer Champions League football next season and are in transition too.

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Unai Emery, manager of Aston Villa

I think that it’s really important for Aston Villa to get into the Champions League and if we’re using this awful phrase of ‘branding and marketing,’ the club can reconnect with Asia, Australasia, the Americas, Europe etc. People will go ‘Aston Villa? I know them. That’s the club that Tom Hanks supports.’ It makes a massive difference.

Villa have got top four money in terms of the ownership but you can’t just go and blow half a billion pounds, which Villa would if they could. I’d like them to look around and buy three, four or five players that know what the Champions League is all about, but we’re not talking about 37/38 year olds like Thiago Silva et al.

I’m very comfortable with Monchi and his staff who have done a fantastic job, obviously, in terms of recruitment but they’re gonna have to go up a level now. If you get one chance as a club to get in the Champions League, take it and run with it. I’m very excited.

Shambolic the way West Ham have treated Moyes and Lopetegui is a disgrace

David Moyes had a pretty good run at West Ham, even if it’s been a real mixed bag at times. They’ve struggled in the Premier League but in Europe, they’ve been fantastic and winning the Conference League was a real high point. Do I believe that David Moyes’ time at West Ham is up? Yes, but the way in which West Ham have done it is absolutely shambolic.

All clubs talk to potential new managers behind the current incumbents back, that’s just a given, but in Lopetegui in particular, I think to myself are their better options out there and I think there probably are. The way that he walked out on Wolves was an absolute disgrace regardless of what promises he was made.

And that would raise a massive red flag for me because if he did well at West Ham then the likes of Liverpool and Man United came in for him down the road, because they’re teams that will have been in transition for years to come (maybe Chelsea as well), he would quite happily walk out on the Hammers as well. So I think their due diligence in terms of finding the right man has been appalling.

For me it’s really simple. I think that that West Ham need to have a long, hard look in the mirror and assess their conduct. David Moyes, for bringing the club their first trophy in over four decades and keeping them in Europe, should’ve been given a rousing send off. Club media doing an interview with him and asking about his experience with the club, what were his favourite moments and stuff like that. They did nothing. Not a dickie bird. He’s been dealt with very, very, very badly, particularly when you look at what other clubs do when a manager gets to the end of his tenure.

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Jude Bellingham is nailed on for Ballon d’Or

I want the Ballon d’Or to be given on sporting merit, but it’s not. Or at least it hasn’t been for a while. I think we’ve got to a ridiculous situation where the Ballon d’Or has become a subjective decision given out because of the emotional attachment and which is always going to reward players that have been in the game for a long time. Think of the Oscars and a Lifetime Achievement Award… the Ballon d’Or should not be a Lifetime Achievement Award, it should be an ‘in the now’ achievement award.

It needs a reset after the Messi and Ronaldo years, and now we’ve got the luxury of having Erling Haaland, Kylian Mbappe, Vini Jr., Phil Foden, Declan Rice, Jude Bellingham… a number of quality younger players that are playing for big clubs and are doing the business.

What Bellingham is doing really is arguably the greatest achievement by an English player abroad and I say that going all the way back to the likes of John Charles who had a massive impact on Juventus, Denis Law, Jimmy Greaves, Liam Brady, Steve McManaman, David Beckham…

Every week he’s been playing against the very best in the world and for a relative top-flight rookie to walk into that club with such confidence from day one is quite extraordinary. We’ve started to see him get forward that little bit more and score important goals, and he’s been the conduit for the rest of his team-mates at arguably the biggest club on the planet.

He’s not the finished article by any means but show me another player that’s had a bigger impact on their club in terms of making them a consistent threat at home and abroad. You can’t find one. So it absolutely makes sense for him to be Ballon d’Or, and to do it at a club that can swallow you up and spit you out… I don’t think anybody else comes close this year.

Slot will suffer from being the first after Klopp at Liverpool

Arne Slot can speak English in the dressing room – big tick. A coach in a Dutch league that’s far from vintage – big red cross.

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Slot’s perspective will be to look at things and go ‘if I do half as well and keep these in the top four…’ and his ambition will likely be to win a League Cup or FA Cup and that’s it. Then in season two, he’ll look for Liverpool to be more competitive.

I think Liverpool Football Club have taken a pragmatic approach and decided that they’ll never get anyone like Jurgen Klopp and gone ‘let’s get somebody in that is at least competent and confident enough to be able to maintain the status quo and keep the club competitive.’

Arne Slot

Slot really believes he can do the job or else he wouldn’t say yes, but just like when Sir Alex Ferguson left Manchester United, David Moyes came in and everybody thought he’d do well. Moyes was very capable too but quickly realised that he couldn’t quite hit those high notes. I don’t think Slot will necessarily hit those high notes either. Why? Because it’s difficult following a Sir Alex, a Frank Sinatra, a Michael Jackson, a Muhammad Ali…

He’s going to be known in Liverpool history as the man that took over from Jurgen Klopp, a big, powerful and strong character and persona who had the personality, attachment and connection to the scousers that afforded him that ability to go the extra mile. It transcended just being the manager of the football club.

For me, honestly, Slot could go on and consolidate what Liverpool have, then once he has his feet properly under the table, he’ll need Michael Edwards to go and find two or three more signings like the Mane’s and the Salah’s of this world. Players in a decent price range but that won’t trouble the bank balance.

If that happens, he’s got a chance, but I just think that sometimes in football there are characters who are very difficult to follow.

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Premier League to blame for not dealing with Man City charges

Apparently (Premier League chief) Richard Masters is going to the Arsenal game this weekend to avoid having to give the Premier League trophy to a club that’s got 115 charges against it.

The argument over the charges that we’ve had from Manchester City Supporters groups – who will undoubtedly have been briefed by the club – is that the charges are too serious and too hefty over a number of different domains, to be dealt with quickly. Okay, I can go with that. 115 charges, take some more time…

Manchester City display the five trophies they won in 2023

However, the fact is that no one expects a weekly digest from Richard Masters. I fail to see how the Premier League could not have taken one of Manchester City’s charges, perhaps the most serious and focused on that as the headline grabber, then just get to the other 114 as and when.

I believe that Premier League have got it wrong because they haven’t dealt with one single charge and you can’t honestly tell me it couldn’t have been done in the same timescale as Everton’s and Forest’s punishments.

They could’ve then said to people ‘this is the gravity of the club’s situation.’ Whether it would be a three point, six point or 10 point deduction, that would have had clear ramifications for this season’s title race.

It would then be a template for dealing with clubs in the future because I’m sure that other clubs will fall foul of FFP sooner or later. Villa aren’t far off, and Newcastle may not be far off either.

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I don’t know what the outcome is gonna be because Manchester City’s lawyers are the best in the business, and when you have the best in the business you tend to get tangible results.

Remember that Everton and Forest could’ve gone down this season but haven’t because they still had enough in the tank despite the points reductions. The point is that they could have gone down – this season – because their cases were dealt with. Manchester City cannot not be champions of England if they’re found guilty, but they will be if results go as expected because the Premier League haven’t got their collective fingers out.

Richard Masters looks older every time he goes on TV and I think that the Premier League are under massive strain, dealing with a situation that has very significant complexities. I’ve got no confidence in them at all and therein lies the problem.

If the stuff around Roberto Mancini apparently being paid off the books is found to be the case, for example, that should be a demotion in itself. Every single player and manager is paid like any other employee in the business. If it’s proven that he was getting paid a contract worth £1m via PAYE and HMRC,, but was getting £8m sent to a business in Abu Dhabi… that should be worthy of significant sanction.

I think that’s what a lot of football fans feel is unfair and that’s when you get into all of this sort of conspiracy theory territory.

I know that clubs will try it on, so the Premier League need to fire a warning shot across clubs to flex their muscles and so everyone knows that they really do mean business.

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