Shearer Says: “Aston Villa fans are entitled to voice their opinion. When you flirt with relegation as often as Villa, the inevitable is going to happen”
Newcastle and England legend Alan Shearer has his say on the week’s footballing topics including the magic of the FA Cup, Aston Villa’s troubled times in the Premier League, Pep Guardiola and more…
Bumper audience figures prove fans still love the magic of the cup
I think it has been a great weekend in the FA Cup. There weren’t as many shocks as we had thought there’d be, but there was still some upsets, Swansea probably being the biggest one. Aston Villa’s run in the competition last season certainly seemed to galvanise them in the league, but it might actually do Swansea a favour going out so that they can focus on their league position.
The BBC were absolutely delighted with the viewing figures they got. They reached a peak audience of seven million for the Sunday evening match between Tottenham and Leicester, while on Friday night it was just under seven million for Liverpool’s trip to Exeter so it shows the fans are still in love with it and it is still a great competition.
I was at the other St James Park on Friday working for the BBC. Jurgen Klopp made a lot of changes to his team and they got away with avoiding what would have been a huge upset. Despite the draw, I was listening to Klopp after the game and he did not sound like he was too impressed with the result. He almost sounded like he did not want the replay or was too fussed about still being in the hat, but I am sure with hindsight he will be relieved to still be in the competition. The experience would have done the Liverpool kids the world of good but you just get the feeling Exeter will never get a better chance to beat the mighty Liverpool, irrespective of the team they fielded.
Financially it is a great result for Exeter and their fans because they now have a trip to Anfield to look forward to, and they will get a share of the takings for the game. I remember 11 years ago when they were about to go out of business and they got that draw at Old Trafford. The money they earned from the tie this time around should see them right for the next few years.
I am sure you will see Klopp put out a very different team on Wednesday against Arsenal, having said that, he still has a lot of injury problems to contend with. Arsenal will go there full of confidence and are on a decent run. They’ve recovered well since that disappointing defeat at Southampton, they got a good win under their belt in the cup so they will go to Anfield thinking they can come away with three points.
Dull & boring but Man United got the job done
One game which certainly wasn’t exciting to watch at the weekend was Manchester United’s home win against Sheffield United. Despite it being all dull and boring, ultimately, cup football is all about getting into the next round and they are there with that late goal. Nobody will remember that result for them if they get all the way to the final of the FA Cup and win it, but we are talking about it at this stage because it was again a such a dull performance.
I’m at St James’ Park for BBC Five Live this week where I’ll be covering the Newcastle v Man United game, Newcastle coming into it after their 4th defeat a row after losing to Watford in the Cup but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if Newcastle beat Man United on Tuesday.
Villa fans entitled to make their anger clear to see
The Aston Villa fans who stayed behind to make their feelings clear to the players and manager as they boarded their team bus on Saturday are entitled to voice their opinion. I can understand why they are angry. They have seen their team struggle for so many seasons now. As I have said before, when you flirt with relegation as often have Villa have done in recent years and sell your best players in the summer, then I am afraid eventually the inevitable is going to happen.
If they carry on as they are doing, Villa could see themselves in danger of breaking Derby’s record for the lowest points total in the history of the Premier League. They are a poor side who are just leaking goals at the moment. I am afraid it is all doom and gloom for them and I can’t give them any hope of staying up.
Southampton paying price for selling their stars
There was another defeat for Southampton at the weekend. They are certainly not in as good a position as they were 12 months ago. They were brilliant defensively last season and this time around they are not as strong at the back.
They obviously sold players in the summer and it is very difficult to keep selling your best players and reproducing results. There is talk already about the likes of Sadio Mane and Victor Wanyama looking for moves away from the club. Unfortunately that is what Southampton have done over the past few years.
Bournemouth right to strengthen injury-hit squad
Once the midweek games are out the way, a lot of clubs will start to get really busy in the window. Bournemouth have been very busy in the transfer window already. They brought in two strikers in the form of Iturbe on loan from Roma and Afobe who they have paid in the region of £12 million for from Wolves. That’s what they needed because they had such bad luck with injuries. To be fair to Eddie Howe, he has never moaned about it and has just got on with the job. He lost Callum Wilson and Tyrone Mings to long-term injuries, two of his best players. They did spend some decent money in the summer but 2 or 3 big injuries have hurt them. It looks like he has done some decent business though in the window which should improve their squad.
Spectre of Guardiola looms large over Pellegrini & City
Pep Guardiola has made it clear he wants to come to the Premier League in the summer. I just felt it lacked a bit of managerial etiquette to announce that midway through a season. It puts a lot of pressure on the managers at the big clubs in our league. It looks like his likely destination will be Manchester City so it puts pressure on Pellegrini in particular. It did not fool anyone City giving him a contract extension in the summer. The only reason they did so was to try and quell the speculation around Guardiola.
It looks like all the rumours around Guardiola coming to England have affected the players at Manchester City. When you look at what they have in their squad, they should be doing better than they are. However, they are still three points off the top of the league, in the last 16 of the Champions League, into the semi-final of the Capital One Cup and through to the next round of the FA Cup so there is a good chance there will be some silverware, but I still feel they are underachieving in their performances.
Yaya Toure has come in for some criticism this season for his performances. What I will say about Yaya is he has an incredibly amount of ability but we should be seeing it more often. We see flashes of it but we are not seeing it on a long run. That will be the most frustrating thing for Manchester City and their fans. That has been one of the problems for the team, and that lack of consistency could ultimately cost them the title.
New Real boss Zidane the best I played against
It was nice to see Zinedine Zidane get off to a winning start in his first game in charge of Real Madrid at the weekend. He is a lovely guy. I did a bit of work with him a few months back for the BBC and he was a pleasure to be around. He was the best player I ever played against. It always helps when you have the likes of Ronaldo and Bale to work with! It was good to see Gareth Bale netting a hat-trick in the match. Let’s hope his goals dry up before Wales face England in the Euro’s this summer!
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