LEADING THE WAY: Chelsea are the runaway Premier League leaders
IN HIS latest BoyleSports blog, Stan Collymore looks back on the winners and losers from 2016. Collymore says that the Premier League so far has been average.
“The fact that the best side in 2017 currently didn’t qualify for Europe this season, and the reigning champions didn’t have Europe the season of their historic triumph tells its own story. That squads generally can’t cope with the demands of the league and continental competition, so let’s stop kidding ourselves that this is a premium football competition, it’s not, it’s a premium grind and battle over nine months, which is great, but the standard of technical football, individual skill, outrageous character and belief in players and teams in 2016 was poor and viewing figures bear that out. As the money goes up, the quality is going down.”
Speaking about reigning champions Leicester City, Collymore adds: “A superb achievement and proof of my thoughts above, namely that graft, graft and more graft with little dollops of quality in the Premier League will always, always usurp pretty patterns and over thought chalkboard football philosophy.
"I’d have been frankly embarrassed to have played for one of the big boys and let a team finish above me who were relegation favourites, but team after team, even the big boys were happy to play Leicester, show no fight and get their arses handed to them.”
Collymore hits on how none of the 'super managers' from abroad have impressed him yet. “I’m all for the very best coming to show us different things but there isn’t one of the super managers who’ve yet convinced anyone of anything other than they can work with a huge budget! How cool would it be to stick Conte into Blackburn, Pep into Charlton, Jurgen into Ipswich and let’s see exactly how good they are!”
The former Liverpool player also reiterates his support for Gareth Southgate as England boss. “I’m glad Gareth Southgate is our new manager. He’s done the knowledge, worked with the Under-21s, is certainly no yes man (intimated by fans who’ve never met him and I can only presume think this because he happens to be well-spoken) and may just be the guy to prove that English coaches can be flexible, forward thinking and adaptable enough to get England playing some good, fast-paced football with the hallmarks that made English football successful back in the day. Attention to detail, use of physicality, no little ability and a strong will to win.”
What fans can expect in 2017? “Lower prices, a return to sensible kick off times, Investigation into price fixing of replica kit. A change in Premier League CEO and a recalibration of its values and practices.
"The end of one or two broadcasters calling all of the shots to UK based fans. A price war on subscriptions on the back of the above point Premier League 2 which will revitalise and recalibrate the four divisions. Or the bubble will burst. You can feel it already, we all have this season.”