Tottenham being knocked out of the Conference League has some panicking for the future. And Stan Collymore is done with Marcelo Bielsa again.
Those celebrating Tottenham’s exit from the Europa Conference League – including Tottenham fans themselves – will be incredibly embarrassed when they see this story from The Sun website:
‘Tottenham’s Conference League KO sees Prem clubs slip below French & Dutch giants in Uefa rankings in huge seedings blow’
Well that is both ‘huge’ and a ‘blow’. There is no doubt about that, particularly when the opening two paragraphs explain how the demise of Tottenham ‘has seen English clubs slip behind their French and Dutch counterparts in Uefa’s rankings’ in a ‘slide’ that ‘could deal a huge blow to Premier League seedings in future European competitions’.
That Premier League ‘slip’ and ‘slide’ means they are less than 0.3 coefficient points behind Ligue Un and Eredivisie in the 2021/22 season so far specifically.
Tottenham will see their own ranking suffer, of course – it ‘could see them get a lower seeding in future competition draws’ – but the idea that ‘English teams could feel a knock-on effect down the line’ and ‘in the long-term, this may threaten the Premier League’s four Champions League spots’ is, quite simply, b*llocks.
1) The Premier League has a current rolling five-year ranking coefficient – the system on which Champions League place allocation is decided – of 99.783. La Liga is next on 89.885. That is a massive gap to second place, and the top four leagues all get four Champions League places. Ligue Un is fifth on 56.081. There is not even a vague chance that they catch the Premier League any time soon, if ever.
2) England still have six clubs involved in European competition (only Spain have more, with seven). No country has more teams in the Champions League last 16, with the Premier League boasting the first, third and fourth favourites to win the entire competition.
3) The Premier League has a better current coefficient for the 2021/22 season than La Liga, Serie A and Bundesliga, who comprise the rest of the top four member associations. If one team being knocked out of the Conference League could ‘threaten’ England’s four Champions League places, what does that say for Germany’s prospects when Union Berlin and Wolfsburg have been eliminated from European competition altogether already?
Put it this way: Chelsea, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and West Ham could all lose their next European knockout games and England would still be comfortable coefficient leaders. That tends to happen when it is based on the last five years and there was an all-Premier League Champions League final and English Europa League runner-up literally not even seven months ago.
That scaremongering article is made even funnier by these extracts from a piece Martin Lipton wrote for The Sun on December 6:
‘THE Prem big four have made mincemeat of their Champions League rivals.
‘But across the rest of Europe it is the sound of falling giants that is echoing.’
But what of the coefficients, Martin?
‘It has been easy street for the Prem quartet – helping to extend English football’s huge lead at the top of the Uefa coefficient table.’
‘It all puts the English group stage canter into perspective. We really are producing the best teams in the world.’
Yeah but Tottenham are out of the Conference League so the Premier League had better prepare to lose a Champions League qualification place, ‘best teams in the world’ or not.
Considering Pep Guardiola is doing pretty well right now, Stan Collymore has to turn his Daily Mirror opprobrium to that other unbending ‘football zealot’: Marcelo Bielsa.
He is ‘done with the excuses Leeds fans are coming up with to defend their Messiah’, which will undoubtedly be difficult to take for said Leeds fans.
A brief glance at their list of injuries suggests some of those ‘excuses’ are quite fair and legitimate, but Collymore’s wider point is, of course, about that stubborn sod whose ‘bloody-mindedness’ might get Leeds relegated.
‘How, after a 4-1 against Arsenal, a 7-0 against City, can you not put your hands up and say I will revise my style and show a little pragmatic streak?’
Maybe he has. He wouldn’t have to tell you, Stan. And if he doesn’t, it’s probably because Bielsa has faith in the approach that has delivered him great success, and won’t let one bad month undo all that.
Also, ‘pragmatic’ doesn’t mean what you think it does. It’s not a synonym for ‘defensive’.
‘We should not be painting him up there with a Shankly or Ferguson or Sacchi.’
Mediawatch finally finds something to agree with. Now just to find literally any one person who is ‘painting’ Bielsa as ‘up there with a Shankly or Ferguson or Sacchi’.
‘The notion that you don’t ever change from a core set of values despite what you are seeing on the pitch almost deserves you the sack at some point.’
Absolutely. Remember when Liverpool handed Jurgen Klopp his P45 at the start of March?
‘Why, aged 60-odd, did he think having such a small squad was prudent, given this league is like a Grand National – exhausting, with loads of hurdles?’
Because he guided a small squad to ninth last season.
The best bit is Collymore wondering whether it is ‘worth suggesting to Bielsa that an old dog can be taught new tricks. Otherwise Leeds could go down, although I don’t think they will.’
In summary: Leeds fans are stupid for continuing to back Bielsa, who absolutely has to change his style but probably won’t go down anyway even if he doesn’t.
Leeds by example
Collymore is also incredibly eager to get one particular point across:
‘Leeds have invited me to their training ground to see what Marcelo and the club are all about, which is very kind, and I’d love to go.’
Then… let them know?
‘I’d love to take up that invite to Thorp Arch, see training and pose some questions.’
Mediawatch gets the sense that Collymore is happier to weirdly flex in his newspaper column about being invited to watch Leeds train, than he is to actually watch Leeds train.
Elsewhere, Collymore has some shots to take at the entire concept of Chelsea:
‘It’s an absolute disgrace that Chelsea named only four players on the bench for Sunday’s 0-0 draw at Wolves.
‘Why? This is a club with 22 very talented players out on loan, a vibrant academy and a huge squad.’
Not sure those loan players could be recalled specifically to sit on the bench over Christmas. And that ‘vibrant academy’ was perhaps not deemed necessary to risk suddenly exposing to a COVID outbreak across said ‘huge squad’, from which only Lewis Baker, Charly Musonda and their combined 35 career Premier League minutes, were available but not picked.
‘The club insisted COVID had decimated the squad – they were seven players down – and they were left with no choice. But that’s why we have academies and a 26-man squad.’
That’s not really why we have academies – to suddenly fill a squad at senior level despite no prior experience at that level and no chance of actually playing.
‘The fact Chelsea CHOSE to not put a full bench out is worthy of a fine.’
It is truly important to keep perspective in such uncertain times, so thank you, Stan. And good luck to whoever tries to fine Chelsea for not making three teenagers sit on a bench for 90 minutes while Thomas Tuchel quite understandably ignores them because he has no sodding clue who they are.
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