Ollie Watkins scored a sublime goal as Aston Villa won 2-0 at Arsenal in the Premier League

Ollie Watkins is having a brilliant season and is in irresistible form. He’s on fire.

He had a little bite back at me the other day about observations I had made, seemingly forgetting that I’ve praised him endlessly. 

Ahead of last Sunday’s game at the Emirates, I said I thought Arsenal were a better side than Villa, would beat them and would be able to deal with Watkins. 

That wasn’t me diminishing him, I just thought Arsenal were a better team.

But on the day they weren’t, Villa were and he put in an outstanding performance of application, commitment and quality.

Ollie Watkins scored a sublime goal as Aston Villa won 2-0 at Arsenal in the Premier League

Ollie Watkins scored a sublime goal as Aston Villa won 2-0 at Arsenal in the Premier League

The Aston Villa forward has been in excellent form this season and deserves all the plaudits

The Aston Villa forward has been in excellent form this season and deserves all the plaudits 

Watkins deserves a place in the England squad at the Euros after shining at Aston Villa

Watkins deserves a place in the England squad at the Euros after shining at Aston Villa

I hope Gareth Southgate picks him – and Ivan Toney – for the Euros this summer.

Much is made of him starting his career at Exeter but all that shows is that English football is working because a great talent can find his level and flourish.

Watkins has put in the hard work and is an honest, decent professional. He’s a credit to himself and deserves everything that comes his way.

English football is becoming a mess of its own making

A sense of chaos appears to be engulfing English football.

From Financial Fair Play and Profit and Sustainability rules leading to points deductions to problems with VAR and the quality of our referees. From the ditching of FA Cup replays to endless arguments about the iniquity of revenue distribution and the imminent arrival of an independent regulator – the only domestic league in world football to adopt such a thing.

Everywhere you look, our game seems to be in a mess of its own making.

We have these all-consuming, badly thought through decisions that lack strategic thinking. It’s a concerning time because the result is this perception of chaos that seems to stalk our game.

We’re losing sight of what football is meant to be about which is entertainment, sporting excellence and meritocracy but now it’s increasingly about accountants and lawyers.

A major change to the FA Cup will see all replays from the first round onwards scrapped

A major change to the FA Cup will see all replays from the first round onwards scrapped

This sense of chaos is hardening attitudes but it’s not yet turning fans away. What it’s doing is perhaps solidifying people’s discontent and allowing radio shows to be inundated with enraged callers but that’s what football does, it brings out emotions in fans raging against the system. If people weren’t invested, they wouldn’t be bothered but there clearly is growing frustration with the direction of travel.

Football needs to fix itself. It needs clever, strategic, grown-up thinking and better communication. This challenging period needs not only big thinking but big thinkers. It requires proper leadership to deal with the problems we’ve got. 

Somewhat tragically, but almost inevitably, these issues have opened the door to the legal profession who are seeing opportunities to charge clubs left, right and centre. This isn’t what sport was built for but it’s what sport has become because at the centre of it all is economic, business and financial globalisation and these things come at a price. Football’s thinking is sometimes behind the curve of the industry it has now become and has to be better.

It’s not irredeemable or beyond rehabilitation. The problem is that the FA have abdicated responsibility as de facto regulator and, as a result, have no control because we know they are a bunch of weaklings, as we saw when they allowed Nike to design that absurd St George’s cross on the back of England’s shirt. 

Football needs clever, strategic, grown-up thinking and better communication, says Mail Sport columnist Simon Jordan

Football needs clever, strategic, grown-up thinking and better communication, says Mail Sport columnist Simon Jordan

The FA waste their time with such nonsense rather than dealing with the big issues. But that ship has sailed in terms of the FA, there is no hope for them. They have been emasculated and have no solutions to the really big problems. And by the way, I’m not sure the Premier League’s Richards Masters is strong enough either.

The consequence is that we’re letting lunatics run the asylum. That’s what happens when there’s an absence of leadership, a vacuum where people don’t lay down strategic, proper thinking.

But I have faith that football, out of necessity and after such enormous acts of self-harm, will get itself some counselling and emerge on the other side.

With FFP, I’ve always been an advocate for it because I felt it would be a mechanism to help control football’s hyper-inflation but it isn’t really doing that. It is clear to me now that it is the ultimate form of protectionism. Ask yourself who are the people making these rules? When you work backwards from that you start to work out why these rules were brought in and the motivations behind them.

It’s pulling up the drawbridge and making it virtually impossible to break into the elite. It is strangling football and investment and it worries me. Why are we forcing this economic asphyxiation on our game? I understand we’re trying to protect community assets but the economic model of football has changed. Now we’re saying, let’s shut down investment because we perceive it to be bad.

Now of course some of this chaos is ensuing because sporting sanctions are attached to FFP and nobody likes it. We’ve opened Pandora’s box where people can take legal remedies to resolve sporting matters. The result? More chaos.

England's new shirt features an altered design of the St George's cross, which has a red, navy blue and purple design - causing anger among many supporters

England’s new shirt features an altered design of the St George’s cross, which has a red, navy blue and purple design – causing anger among many supporters

Then you move into refereeing and VAR. It was right to bring in VAR but you’ve got to bring the best version of it to enhance the game, not detract from it. You cannot have a situation where corruption is pretty much alleged by a football club because some bad decisions were made in the VAR room.

On redistribution, well that challenge has existed since 1992. The moment the hammer went down on the formation of the Premier League and the FA and EFL abdicated competency and responsibility, you were always going to have these problems. So now, with the introduction of the independent regulator, we’re going to strangle the commercial energy that has brought about the vitality of the most successful pyramid in world football.

Then there’s the FA Cup. I’m a purist and a great advocate for the Cup but ditching replays is no great crime. Any club that budgets for a replay is stupid because you’ve got no certainty for it. This confected outrage will be easily dismantled by bigger TV distributions. If the clubs moaning about it were given more money from the TV deals in exchange for giving up replays then bang, end of discussion, no more complaints. I value the FA Cup but we have to accept the world has turned and over-sentimentality gets you nowhere.

If people keep being told everything’s terrible in our game, they end up believing it. This self-flagellation we seem so keen on in this country has to stop. Other leagues around Europe have their own problems, I do not recall any of our big clubs being booted out of leagues like Italy or corruption allegations about undue influence on referees as in Spain so let’s not lose perspective.

Whilst we cannot claim this is our finest moment and must address these challenges, it’s wrong to suggest we are on the slippery slope to nowhere. Smashing ourselves to oblivion is not the solution. These are real world challenges and our response to them will define the future of our game.

Why I don’t miss being a football club owner

I was recently asked if I miss being involved in the game. As we approach the final weeks of the season when titles, relegation, play-off places and European qualification will be decided it got me thinking.

Football club ownership is a very difficult place to be and while the thrill of this stage of the season gets your blood pumping, it’s still something you have to sit back and watch unfold on you.

So, do I miss being involved? I certainly miss the influence football has and the lessons I learned could be better used than flapping my gums in the media, but no, I’m not harking to be involved again.

I watch with a degree of envy and relief these days. Envy, because I see the wonderful emotions the game brings but also relief because I wouldn’t want some of the challenges the game faces now.

I would like to fix them but as a football owner I wouldn’t be able to!

Being a football owner can bring a lot of challenges, which I experienced at Crystal Palace

Being a football owner can bring a lot of challenges, which I experienced at Crystal Palace

North London is red, but Tottenham need patience

It has been suggested that Arsenal under Mikel Arteta are similar to Tottenham under Mauricio Pochettino, a nearly team.

But it’s not a fair comparison. I said last summer that Arsenal would need to spend £250million to stand still and while they have stood still – I fancy them to finish second again – they are a better team now and competed well in Europe. The ownership model at the two clubs is different, particularly in the preparedness to spend money.

Arsenal fans will no doubt point to Arteta’s lockdown FA Cup win in 2020 but that was in the early months of his reign. This is his team now and have not, yet, won what they set out to win which is the Premier League title.

Arsenal are a better side than Tottenham going into Sunday's north London derby

Arsenal are a better side than Tottenham going into Sunday’s north London derby 

One thing is certain, Arsenal are back on top in north London but patience is required at Tottenham. If they finish fifth under a new manager and having lost Harry Kane on the eve of the season then they will have exceeded expectations.

They have flattered to deceive at times this season, raising expectations but everything at the club looks better than it did this time last season. Let’s see how Spurs get on next season after another transfer window before judging Ange Postecoglou, who has said he does not see a top-four finish as a badge of honour, he is aiming higher than that.

I’m expecting a very good game but my gut feeling is that Arsenal will win a derby that be a defining benchmark for both teams.

Tottenham need to remain patient with Ange Postecoglou as he continues to rebuild the club

Tottenham need to remain patient with Ange Postecoglou as he continues to rebuild the club

Stop complaining Pep, offer a solution instead 

I understood where Pep Guardiola and Mikel Arteta were coming from when bemoaning their schedules but that’s the rub I’m afraid, the price on the ticket.

Guardiola is a genius of a football manager, a remarkable leader of men but you have to accept it. If you’re going to take all the rewards – the praise, plaudits, benefits and financial remuneration, then now and again you’re going to have to accept these things.

Pep Guardiola is an example of a manager who moans but offers no solutions to his problems

Pep Guardiola is an example of a manager who moans but offers no solutions to his problems

No one’s getting shot running for a helicopter like in Platoon, they are playing in a football match and so I’m sorry, use your squads and rotate players.

This is what happens when you give managers too much power – they say what they want, when they want. They offer no solutions, but just complain about the problem. If they want to put forward a structured plan of how they see this working between broadcasters and clubs – and remembering they’re getting paid huge salaries because of those TV deals – rather than tell people how it doesn’t work then maybe that will be considered.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like

Things We Learned About Serial Killers After They Died

Going by the numbers alone, Samuel Little can easily be considered the…

Florida’s Attorney General Calls Starbucks’ Diverse Hiring ‘Illegal’

Not white enough for Ashley Moody and Ron DeSantis. Photo by Asael…

Child rapist who sexually assaulted his stepdaughter is allowed to stay in Australia

By Olivia Day For Daily Mail Australia Published: 03:29 EDT, 27 May…

Vape shops at war in Australia: Why so many are going up in flames

A violent war has erupted between motorcycle gangs and Middle Eastern crime…