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Wind your neck in, Stanley!

It was disappointing to read Stan Collymore’s column in The Mirror newspaper today. The former Liverpool hitman basically stated that Manchester City should make Virgil van Dijk their number one transfer target this summer. This is poor form from a former Red and a view shared with me by an authentic Liverpool legend: John Aldridge.

I’ve always had mixed views about Stanley. As a Liverpool player, the partnership he formed alongside Robbie Fowler was one of the best I’ve seen as a 44-year-old Liverpool supporter. (Jesus, I was in my mid twenties when I started KopTalk. Where has that time gone?!). The duo scored 42 goals between them in the 1995-96 season and they played a huge part in that famous 4-3 win over Newcastle that season. Their partnership was something special and had Collymore’s head been in the right place, he would have achieved far more in his career. The lad has endured a miserable time with mental health issues throughout his life and it would appear that is still the case today. Let’s hope that one day he can overcome this ongoing battle.

Stan CollymoreAs a controversial character myself, I tend to like people who are a bit different, people who are maybe willing to say a thing or two that sparks a reaction, people who don’t toe-the-line and who speak their mind. Collymore certainly falls into that category.

Many will think that Collymore’s piece today is purely to gain attention, I would disagree. When he expresses an opinion, I believe he does so because it’s what he genuinely thinks and not because he’s trying to get a rise out of someone. Ironically he once said that the £75million Liverpool paid Southampton for Virgil van Dijk was “absolute madness” yet today he’s urging City to invest £150million and a couple of players to try and secure the signature of the Liverpool defender. You gotta laugh.

The Liverpool centre-back is priceless in my eyes. I genuinely wouldn’t accept £500million for him. I’m serious. How much of that would you have to spend on centre-backs before you’d find the one that was a close match? Is there even such a thing? At some point you have to stop placing a valuation on your best players. Like Aldo said, we are building and not demolishing. VVD is one of the best players in the world. He is a Liverpool legend in the making. As far as I’m concerned, VVD is Liverpool’s skipper in all but name.

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Following his retirement from the game, Stan was at his best when he was on the wireless. His footballing debates, points and arguments were usually refreshing as he challenged and didn’t just follow a script. He was a great broadcaster. I say ‘was’ because I’m not really sure what he’s up to today. I know he tried to go independent by broadcasting via his own app but I think that bombed. If I’m wrong, please correct me. I know he was doing a bit for RT (formerly Russia Today) which is a Russian international television network funded by the Russian government but I’ve not really followed him of late.

Stan Collymore

I know he’s a high profile figure on Twitter with his football views but I’m always had to unfollow him after a few weeks of following him. Then I miss him, follow him again and then unfollow. It’s just a cycle that I get caught up in with Stanley. It’s a shame really because, like I say, I enjoy his views. However, he is extremely passionate about racism. What’s wrong with that? Absolutely nothing and I’m sure that Stan has had a torrid time with racism throughout his life. However, at times, I can’t help but think that he actually causes more harm than good with some of his rants about racism. I also feel he’s a bit of a hypocrite as he often pokes fun at ‘Yorkies’ and the like and allegedly uses regional origins to dig at some sections of the football community that have obviously got on his case at times. Unless you follow him, you probably won’t understand what I’m trying to convey. As a white guy I’m sure I have no right to even comment on racism. That’s what I feel the response would be from him any way. I deplore racism in all forms but I also can’t stand it when people look for racism or find racism when it’s not actually there. Does that make sense?

Stan has been subjected to a lot of abuse online because of the past ‘mistakes’ that he has made. I don’t really want to comment on those but if you put yourself out there, you’re always going to get people bringing shit up from your past and let’s be honest, Twitter can be a cesspit. It’s hard to feel sorry for someone who has done wrong but I have often felt a bit for Stan. I know, I know, I’m probably a div and no I don’t condone any of his actions where he has let himself down, I’m just a soft guy and I’m very forgiving when I feel there is genuine remorse which is probably not a good trait to have these days as I think it’s the expected norm that we should be be offended by everyone and everything, forever. There must be no second chances and everyone who does wrong must be strung up to die after Twitter has passed judgement first, of course.

I loved Stan as a footballer and I love the fact that he’s a character in the media, but I didn’t love that article today. When you have represented Liverpool Football Club (and probably any other club), surely you should have some loyalty towards them? By all means criticise your former employers when necessary, I’m not talking about censoring your views, but at a time when Liverpool fans are seeing some stability that some of them have never seen in their lives if they’re young pups, the last thing we need is someone rocking the boat by suggesting that your main title rivals should step in with a big for arguably your best player. This is why Stan will never be looked at in the same way that fans look at Aldo.

John AldridgeAldo immediately jumped in with a ‘Hey! That’s not right, Stan! You’re supposed to be one of us!’ kind of comment but that won’t bother Stanley. It just shows the gulf between two former players’ attitudes and how they conduct themselves and how they manage their relationships with the fans that idolised them. As much as I liked Stan as a player for Liverpool, he’d never come close to Aldo, someone who gave 100% unconditionally for the club, someone who would have run through a brick wall for us and who would die for the cause. Aldo is one of our most proudest. How I missed his contribution to the Liverpool side that I watched when I was a kid. When Stan left Liverpool it was inevitable and accepted. When Aldo left, it was wrong and I, like Aldo, was left broken.

I am by no means a Stan hater. I’m just trying to express my honest feelings. He is, as you can see by my mixed feelings about him, a character. In summary, I enjoyed his football and I rated him as a player. I’ve enjoyed his radio shows and I think he should be a regular fixture on national radio when it comes to discussing football. I accept him for who he is although I can’t handle some of his views about racism no matter how delicate the subject is. Rather than engage in such debates, I just unfollow and walk away. That’s because I respect his right to his views no matter how wrong I think they often are.

I’ll always appreciate what Stan did for us a player and I’m sure I’ll check on him every now and then as I usually do. I just wish he’d keep a lid on his views about Virgil van Dijk at a time when we desperately need a steady ship.

Duncan Oldham

Duncan Oldham
KopTalk Editor

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