Shearer Says: “How do you stop all three of Barcelona’s front line? It is the best I have ever seen in all my time in football.”
Newcastle United and England legend Alan Shearer has his say on the week’s talking points including Manuel Pellegrini’s gamble, Guus Hiddink’s achievements, Barcelona’s attacking threat and more…
Pellegrini’s gamble on City youngsters could backfire
Manchester City have more resources and money than any other team in the Premier League. At the start of the season their aim would have been to do well in four competitions. Up until Sunday, they were doing that. I don’t therefore understand why we are discussing their fixture pile-up. Clubs now have better facilities than they’ve ever had, they have sports scientists, better pitches, improved diets and bigger squad, yet all I hear is we need to rest players. I can’t work it out.
I know Manchester City were worried about injuries but every team has injuries throughout the season and that is why you have a big squad. Pellegrini put the kids in to gain some experience but it may turn out to be a bad experience. It can’t be pleasant getting battered 5-1.
You can’t put the blame on any of the City youngsters for the defeat, I thought they did the best they could. If anything you could point the finger at some of the experienced players that started. Demichelis had a poor game and the goalkeeper, Caballero, had a terrible game despite saving a penalty. In the first half City gave a good account of themselves but in the second half it was all Chelsea.
Pellegrini saw that game against Chelsea as his lowest priority in a spell where his side plays three games in eight days. They have a trip to Kiev to prepare for on Wednesday and then the Capital One Cup final against Liverpool on Sunday. Part of the team selection against Chelsea was Pellegrini sticking two fingers up to the FA, the Metropolitan Police and whoever else was to blame for staging that game on Sunday afternoon.
The worry for City now is if they don’t get a good result in Kiev and if they don’t win the cup final on Sunday, then that stance against Chelsea was for nothing. They got a favourable draw in the Champions League, especially when you consider who Arsenal and Chelsea drew. By winning their group, they have the luxury of playing the first leg away, with the return fixture being at the Etihad Stadium. This means they know exactly what they will have to do at home.
Hiddink doing what Mourinho couldn’t with Chelsea superstars
Manchester City might have had a chance at the weekend against Chelsea if that fixture had been three months ago. Unfortunately for them though they came up against a Chelsea side which was right at it. Their hunger, attitude and pace of their passing was superb. Fabregas was pulling the strings in midfield. He was able to pick his passes and he caused mayhem all afternoon.
The only Chelsea player who can be exempt from any criticism this season has been Willian. Once again I thought he was excellent against City. He has been without doubt the player of the season for Chelsea. He always has bags of energy and is so often their bright spark.
Hiddink has done very well since taking over from Jose Mourinho but let’s be honest, it could not get any worse. It’s not a bad situation to go into when you have a group of players with such high ability. He’s gone in and put his arm around the players and has told them they are brilliant and how great they are. The players have obviously responded positively to that and now they are producing the kind of performances that we should be seeing.
Looking at Chelsea for next season, I think they will need to strengthen and there are issues that still need to be ironed out. I saw unconfirmed reports at the weekend saying the deal was still for Hiddink to go at the end of the season so they will have to get used to playing for someone else. It would be no surprise if we had another top manager come to the Premier League for the job, maybe we will finally see Simeone make the move from Atletico Madrid.
One day a player will end up being blinded unless these idiots are stopped
The two incidents at the weekend involving fans throwing coins were absolutely shocking. I’ve been on a pitch as a player when that has happened before and it is so dangerous. It’s absolutely disgusting that some mindless idiots can do that. I’m all for fans expressing their opinions verbally, and you have to accept that as a player, especially when you go to opposing clubs. I can even accept getting verbal abuse from your own fans when you are playing poorly. But there is no way that any player should tolerate someone throwing a coin at you.
It almost seems that the more you highlight fans throwing objects at players and express disgust at that behaviour, the more these disgusting people want to do it. We showed the incident with Chris Brunt on Match of the Day on Saturday evening, and were all shocked and appalled. You would then think that because of us showing it, it wouldn’t happen again. But instead it happened again the following day at Chelsea. It just goes to show that the people you are dealing with who are doing this are mindless thugs and idiots.
One day a player will end up being blinded unless this is stopped. That is the severity of what we are dealing with. You could see from Chris Brunt’s face on Saturday that he was bleeding under his eye. He was rightly very angry. One of the good things about the Premier League is that fans can get so close to the players and to the action at grounds. They are almost able to share the experience with the players whether that experience is good or bad. It would be a real shame if we had to put nets up to protect the players because of a handful of thugs. You just have to hope that these incidents are found on CCTV cameras and the people responsible are caught and banned from every ground in the country. You’d hope that would then act as a deterrent.
Crowd pleaser Payet could sell out Olympic Stadium
Dimitri Payet has been superb throughout the season for West Ham, and he was absolutely superb again at the weekend against Blackburn. He has been a fantastic find for the Hammers and it just goes to show that there are still bargains out there. We often hear that it takes foreign players a while to adapt to the pace and the power of the Premier League, but that has not been the case with Payet. He has taken the league by storm. West Ham have got the move to the Olympic Stadium to look forward to next season and a player with Payet’s flair can sell that out on his own.
Barca front three the best I’ve ever seen
I am looking forward to Arsenal’s game against Barcelona this week. It is the standout tie for us. Arsenal will have to sit and pray that the Barca front three have a nightmare. How do you stop all three of their forward line? It is virtually impossible. It is the best forward line that I have ever seen in all of my time in football. Suarez has gone to Barcelona and improved their side, something you wouldn’t have thought was even possible. They’ve got such cohesion between them. Stopping one is hard enough but stopping all three is some task.
I’m looking forward to seeing how Arsenal approach the tie. Unfortunately for them it is a two-legged game. They may stop them at the Emirates but then they have to go back to Barcelona. Maybe Arsenal fans see it differently, but I don’t fancy their chances over the two legs.
Fingers-crossed I’ll have a Cheltenham Festival day to remember!
Willie Mullins is going to make the decision about our horse Augusta Kate on whether she will run in the Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival a week before the race. He’s confident she will give a great account of herself in the race. Hopefully we will have a day out at Cheltenham to look forward to!
My knowledge of horse racing is not great but I love the day out and the fun that comes with it. I’ve never sat on a horse and I have no desire to do so. I watched Victoria Pendleton fall off her mount last week and she is very brave. I’ve had enough broken bones during my football career and don’t want any more of that!
Do you agree with Alan’s views? Then why not head to Coral and place your bets on the latest Champions League and Europa League action this midweek?