Shearer says: “Klopp will now know the size of task he faces at Anfield”
Stamford Bridge battle is must win for both managers
Chelsea versus Liverpool is always a big game but, given the circumstances this time around, it is huge. Although Chelsea went out to Stoke in the Capital One Cup, I thought their performance was much better. It is always a lottery on penalties and when your luck is out, it’s out. But Jose will look at the performance and see that his players showed a great attitude and he’ll be looking for something similar against Liverpool in their league match.
Klopp has been in long enough now that his players will be getting used to his methods. They will know what he wants and expects from them. If he is being honest, he’s probably disappointed with the squad he has taken over, and he will now know (if he didn’t already) just what a big job he has on his hands. There is going to be major surgery required to make them the force they want to be. In terms of the result, I can see Chelsea nicking this one because of what it will mean for Mourinho and they have home advantage at Stamford Bridge.
Vardy’s progress the story of the season so far
Two sides who have made fantastic starts to their Premier League campaigns are West Ham and Leicester. Payet has been the star performer for West Ham, while Jamie Vardy is shining at Leicester. It just goes to show the value of having a regular goalscorer in your team. Vardy has been scoring goals for fun and a top half finish now has to be the target for both clubs.
Having found his way into the England squad, if Vardy continues in this form, he will be in their to stay. However, it is a big ‘if’ because he has to do it over a long period of time before he can establish himself as an England regular. His goal will be to get into the squad for next summer’s Euros and what a fantastic story that would be, from non-league football to the England national team. That is what every club wants – to unearth an unknown talent from the lower leagues, but they are rare nowadays.
A few Leicester fans were probably disappointed by the appointment of Claudio Ranieri in the summer, however he couldn’t have done any better in his first 10 games. A season lasts for 38 games though, not 10, and I am sure there are going to be sticky spells for both clubs at some stage, but if they can remain in that top half it will be a great achievement for both, especially when you consider Leicester were nailed on for relegation with six games to go last season.
So much at stake means there’s no let up for Championship promotion chasers
The relentless schedule of the Championship makes it a long hard slog for every club fighting for promotion. If they are not playing a midweek league fixture, then it is one of the cup competitions, as we saw earlier this week. It really is a grind for managers and players. Chris Hughton is doing a fine job at Brighton. They are top of the league on merit and they have every chance of staying there if they can keep their best players fit. Chris is a good manager, who did a great job at Newcastle, and I’m glad to see him doing so well again with Brighton.
The prize for getting out of the Championship has never been bigger, which is probably why one or two clubs are spending a bit more, gambling to get out of the league. With tens of millions up for grabs for promoted clubs, it’s unsurprising that the Championship is so competitive.
I am really pleased that Hull stuck by Steve Bruce last season after they were relegated and its looking like a great decision, because they are right up there. Many other teams would have fired their manager at that stage, but Hull’s current form is an endorsement for sticking by your manager and going for stability.
There are so many big clubs in the Championship that have tasted Premier League football before – Derby, Sheffield Wednesday, Hull, Nottingham Forest, are all big football clubs who have been in the top flight, had success and are trying to get back to where they were.
You also have my former club Blackburn in there. The defeat in their derby game last week against Burnley wasn’t great for them but I am hoping they can pick things up. The club is incomparable now to when I was there, the financial power that Jack Walker provided has gone and the heady days of fighting for the Premier League title wont come back, but a win away at Leeds on Thursday will have given them a boost and like everyone else, they want to get back to the promised land of the Premier League again.
Sherwood paid ultimate price in results game
I wasn’t surprised that Aston Villa let Tim Sherwood go earlier this week. When you read reports that he only had two games to save his job and nobody from the club comes out to dispel the rumours, you knew the writing was on the wall. When the results then went against him the outcome was inevitable. Tim was my captain at Blackburn when we won the Premier League, so he is someone I know well and I would have backed him to turn it around if he had been given time. Ultimately now, chairmen feel they can’t hang around and wait for results because they cannot risk dropping out of the Premier League with the riches it promises next season. Tim won’t be surprised. He is a bright man and he knows the score. If you don’t get results, unfortunately that only leads to one thing.
I relished the physical battles with brilliant Adams
Tony Adams was the best centre half I ever played with and against. He was a great leader and organiser and we had some great battles over the years. He used to kick me and I used to kick him, but at the end of the game, we always used to shake hands. That is what I liked about him, he was a good old fashioned centre half, who also pulled his team together. I used to love a physical battle with a centre half and used to look forward to the challenge!
I also played with and against Paul Scholes and Gazza. Both of them had great ability and could do almost anything with a football. Scholesy went about his business the right way and could play with both feet, but probably the best I ever played against in that position was Zinedine Zidane. I don’t think I have seen anyone who caressed and could manipulate a football the way he did. He was just a genius at the game.
Nothing but admiration for winners Faldo and Botham
Growing up, outside of football, I loved golf and I really enjoyed watching Nick Faldo in his prime. He was a guy who was driven by winning and that is what kept him at top of his sport for so long. He was a winner. We have met at various times over the years and I have always found him to be be very approachable and talkative. I remember watching him at Augusta when he caught Greg Norman after being so many holes behind, it was brilliant to watch. Ian Botham was another sportsman I admired. He may have sometimes made headlines for his lifestyle off the pitch, but on it he like Faldo, was a winner.
When you have been lucky enough to play top level sport, you do admire the guys who manage to stay at top for so long. It’s hard enough getting there, but it is even harder staying there because everyone wants to knock you off your perch. That is why I admire the likes of Faldo and Botham. They got a taste of winning and had that hunger and desire to stay there.
Check out what Shearer said in previous blogs with Alan’s archives.