Tragedy chanting needs severe punishment

In his exclusive column for CaughtOffside, former Aston Villa and Liverpool attacker Stan Collymore discusses tragedy chanting, Gareth Southgate links to Man United, Nottingham Forest’s points deduction, and more. 

Play matches behind closed doors if tragedy chanting continues

Having stood on The Kop for Hillsborough memorial services and hearing the names of all that died on that day, seeing a grown man pretending to have his face pushed up against a barrier at the Man United vs Liverpool match last weekend disgusted me. How much have we moved on here?

We haven’t moved on enough in my opinion. It was very audible the “murderers” chant on Sunday, everybody could clearly hear it coming through their TVs. If the FA are serious about tackling this problem and seeing as this involves the two biggest clubs in England, I’d say kick one of them out.

The next time these two teams meet, if there are audible chants from around the ground about Hillsborough, Heysel or Munich; I think that club should play their next game behind closed doors, no matter if that is at Old Trafford or Anfield.

If it is done again after this, double it and then treble it until it is stopped. I think this would put an end to it in stadiums but it will be very difficult to stop it outside the ground, in pubs, and so on.

Man United’s next match at Old Trafford is ironically Liverpool and if I had my way, Old Trafford would be empty for that game. That would force every supporter from both clubs to think, ‘Is this worth doing?’.

Doing this once would be a massive story and it would do reputational damage to Man United, which could prompt their fans to stop as we can’t have a repeat of what happened at the weekend again.

The two things I want to see England try before Euro 2024

From Gareth Southgate’s perspective, the back five for England picks itself with Pickford, Walker, Maguire, Stones and Shaw all playing if fully fit.

The front three will likely be Saka, Kane and I think a left-footed Cole Palmer should be given a chance on the left during these next two games with Brazil and Belgium. He can naturally go around players, while both himself and Saka could switch wings during matches to give opponents something to think about as both are good enough to do that. So from my perspective, I want to see Palmer getting minutes.

Cole Palmer is having a great season with Chelsea

As for the midfield, how will England line up? Rice and Bellingham will start but do you put Mainoo or another holding player alongside the Arsenal man? or go with Rice and Bellingham and then Foden as a number ten? I think the time is right for the Man City star to be given that role for England.

He has been used in various positions by Southgate but I think he would have a massive impact being used as a ten. The Man City man would compliment Bellingham perfectly and would give Southgate’s team a lot going forward and flexibility, depending on whether the Three Lions need to go for a win or hold onto a lead.

You want to win these games against Brazil and Belgium, but it doesn’t matter. This international break is about getting the team right ahead of Euro 2024 this summer. As I’ve said, I want to see Cole Palmer used on the left and Foden in the ten, and if Southgate wants to experiment with anything else, this is the time to do it.

Gareth Southgate to Man United?

Sticking with Gareth Southgate, ESPN reported this week that the England boss has significant support within the new INEOS-led hierarchy at Manchester United to succeed Erik ten Hag as manager if the Dutchman loses his job at the end of this season

If Gareth wins the Euros, he will deservingly be in the frame, however, I would preclude anybody from going into a club job, especially one the size of Man United, who hasn’t been doing it recently. Southgate hasn’t managed a club or taken a team through a full season since leaving Middlesbrough back in 2009.

Is Gareth Southgate good enough for Man United?

I think a club like Man United should be targeting a manager who is currently doing very well at his club and has a strong body of work behind him, which includes winning trophies – preferably in countries such as England, Spain, Italy and Germany.

I could see the England boss being treated by Man United fans in the same way Liverpool supporters viewed Roy Hodgson. He has a good CV but they will always be perceived as not being very good as a result of being British, not playing the ball out from the back, and they don’t have that huge personality that many managers at big clubs have.

Therefore, Southgate would not be my choice for the Old Trafford hot seat.

Nottingham Forest should accept their deduction but rules need to change

An arbitrary line was drawn in 1992 with the creation of the Premier League and the Champions League and any team that played in both for the first six or seven got more money than the rest of English football and broke away. Just because that line was drawn, it gave those clubs a licence to print money and created a gap between the top and bottom clubs.

I believe that any club that has a significant number of charges against them should have the book thrown at them but I also understand the viewpoint that the likes of Man City, Aston Villa and Newcastle want to be where Man United, Liverpool and Arsenal are, and the only way to do that is to spend money, so I do have sympathy for them.

As for Nottingham Forest, I think they will be happy that they have just got four points as it could have been six or eight and that would have put them in real trouble with relegation.

I think they should just take the punishment as they are competitive in the league and they are just one point away from safety following the deduction, while other teams around them are also in poor form.

Can Nottingham Forest stay in the Premier League?

However, the rules now have to change to allow clubs outside of the “Big Six” to compete because those that are guaranteed Champions League every year are just creating a bigger and bigger gap. It will probably need to be done in the form of some sort of wage cap and only then will we get to see the best teams and a competitive Premier League throughout.

The problem with that idea is that a wage cap would need to be applied throughout Europe as the best players would just leave England. So maybe it is time for UEFA to make a decision. Then maybe we can see great clubs such as Ajax winning the Champions League again.

People are getting fed up with watching the same clubs win their domestic leagues repeatedly every season and then the same teams compete in the Champions League quarter-finals every year.

The rules at present are keeping the big clubs on top and in my opinion, two-time champions of Europe, Nottingham Forest, should have a fair shake at winning the Premier League as much as anyone else.

Let’s talk about the England jersey controversy

England’s jerseys for the Euros were released this week and there has been a lot of talk around the flag on the collar. It is multi-coloured, rather than the traditional white and red.

For me, I wouldn’t care if England’s home shirt is a full rainbow flag. However, whether it is a German, USA, French or Italy flag on a shirt, it should be in its original colours, otherwise, what is the point in having it on there? So from that perspective, Nike’s decision to do this makes no sense at all.

They have argued that is to commemorate an old England training kit while promoting inclusivity and unity, but fans have been arguing ‘Why haven’t you done this with other countries’ kits?’

Over a decade ago, the FA made inclusion a fundamental part of football in this country and it is applied across the board at all levels. Therefore, this situation with the flag is not as clear cut as ‘why is our flag not the original one and you haven’t done this with other countries’ kits’.

When it comes to this debate, I really don’t care as it is just a football kit, but the FA did go down the path a long time ago to make sure everybody feels welcome when playing football in England. If you start at that point, this all makes sense.

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