TONY CASCARINO BLOG: Tony Cascarino, former Chelsea and Rep. of Ireland striker, shares his thoughts on the English sides’ success in Europe, and the difficulties facing his former club in keeping their star player.
English transfer policy behind European successes
Looking back on what’s gone on this week in Europe, people will look at the four English teams making the finals and think these teams have spent lots of money and that’s why they are where they are.
To an extent that’s true, but if you look at the transfer fees that have been paid over the last couple of seasons, it’s the other European clubs that have spent the really big money.
PSG spent a world record fee on Neymar and then Barcelona replaced him with Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele for over £200m, both of whom haven’t lived up to expectations.
These clubs have gone for the best individuals, whereas the likes of Manchester City, Liverpool and Tottenham have built teams, with players who perhaps aren’t quite at the peak of their powers yet, but have the capacity to grow and improve.
Teams are winning things now because of the work rate of the entire group, not just by the fact that they have brought the supposedly best players on the market.
It’s been an astonishing few days and I think it’s really shown that we’ve got three of the world’s best managers in the Premier League.
Jurgen Klopp, Mauricio Pochettino and Pep Guardiola have been given time to grow their teams and of course they’ve had to spend money, but they haven’t gone out and spent crazy money.
They’ve added when they’ve needed to and that obviously helps, but what they really deserve credit for is the fact that they’ve improved a large proportion of their squads.
Both Georginio Wijnaldum and Moussa Sissoko have gone from being part of the Newcastle side that was relegated in 2013 to being pivotal in both Liverpool and Tottenham’s triumphs in the Champions League this week.
The rise of both shows the difference these managers can make if given time to mould a squad of players and I think we are very lucky to be witnessing such an illustrious group all at the same time.
Plenty think this could be the start of Premier League dominance on the European stage. Personally, I don’t share that view because the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid will almost certainly come back fighting.
They’ll surely see the way the English clubs have achieved their success and use that as the blueprint for how they are going to rebuild.
You just have to look at Coutinho, who looks a shadow of the player he was at Liverpool, to see that you can’t just go out and sign a bunch of individuals, you need a squad.
Players you can rely on time and time again, not just those who will turn up when they feel like it.
These clubs have got to be realistic, if the player is too expensive, have we got an alternative?
We mustn’t forget that Guardiola turned down the opportunity to sign Alexis Sanchez. Pep clearly knew he was a top player, but he didn’t want one big name upsetting his squad and potentially harming the route he in which he was trying to take his team.
The sooner the other European clubs adopt this approach, the sooner I think we’ll see them challenging for major honours again.
Liverpool rightful Champions League favourites
Even though it’s a final, and as we know, anything can happen in a final, I still think Liverpool are the better team.
They’ve shown in two games this season, as well as the significant gap between them in the league, that they are the superior side and with the likes of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Andy Robertson all potentially coming back in, they are the rightful favourites.
A loss would be much harder to take for Liverpool and Klopp than Tottenham. If they were to go another season without a trophy, then of course the questions are going to be asked.
He’s created a team that is so good on the eye, as well as being so tactically sure, so personally I don’t see how he won’t win trophies at the club.
The progress the team has made under him is quite staggering and it would be such a disappointment if his reign at the club was described as a failure because he hasn’t won anything.
It would be travesty if someone as good as he’s been for the club, the supporters and the city would end up without any silverware.
Hazard would be a big loss for Chelsea
If Eden Hazard does leave Chelsea, they are really going to have to rely on their young players like Ruben Loftus-Cheek to step up and fill the big hole he’ll leave.
It’s very difficult for a club to keep a player of his quality when they aren’t challenging for the biggest trophies and the title on a regular basis.
The big problem for Chelsea is that if you’ve got players like Hazard, who should be regularly adding trophies on their CV and their not, they have to leave for the benefit of their careers.
If you’re taking the winning out of them because the club isn’t good enough, then in my opinion, they have every right to move on.
The longer he stays at Chelsea, the lesser the chance Real Madrid will want to sign him because football is becoming younger and younger.
I’m not sure Real Madrid will want to pay astronomical sums for a 28 or 29-year-old, when there could be younger and probably better value for money options on the market.
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