MX23RW : Tuesday, October 20 09:04:58| >> :60:1114:1114:

In Off The Post: Sam Matterface's say on the weekend's Premier League action

In his weekly Sports Mole column, Sam Matterface pays close attention to the Manchester derby, Aston Villa, Jose Mourinho and Watford.

Manchester Derby has to be for everyone



I made a quip while commentating on the Manchester derby this Sunday. Our touchline reporter at talkSPORT - Dom McGuinness - had read out the attendance of over 75,000 and I retorted with some degree of devilment: "But how many are from Manchester?"

If you had been listening to the whole show, following Stan Collymore and I on Twitter, you would have understood the context.

The Manchester derby, like many big Premier League matches, is now a global event.

When I fought my way on the train to Manchester from London on Sunday morning I was surrounded on all sides by Manchester United and Manchester City supporters from every continent.

Euston was a gateway to Manchester for hordes of fans and the morning trains were rammed with supporters wearing replica shirts and scarves.

Fans arrive at Old Trafford ahead of Man Utd's Champions League qualifier against Club Brugge on August 18, 2015© Getty Images

There were thousands. They weren't from Moss Side and Salford. Some were Londoners, some were from Shanghai, there were a couple from Boston, from LA (there were a lot of Americans). I was followed in the coffee queue by a 32-year-old from Auckland and I sat with three South Africans on the train.

Stan was in the carriage further forward, and it was standing room only there. One of the South African gentlemen on his table had paid £500 to a United "fan" to buy his season ticket for the day. Others had paid so much more.

You see this at Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal too. I've done it in Barcelona, Miami and New York (although I purchased my tickets legally and at face value!). I'm sure some of you have too. In this country they are not so affectionately known as "football tourists" by "real" fans.

This is not fair. You can't wish your club to be competing on the world and European stage and then whinge because you don't like people turning up to support them from far and wide. It's football globalisation. The catchment area has been expanded.

All Premier League clubs have embarked on a commercialisation strategy that is designed to prick the interests of those in Thailand, China and Nigeria as much as it is in Salford and Swinton. They need these fans to compete with the NFL, La Liga and the Bundesliga. They have to draw them in and that means selling them tickets as well as shirts.

A general view of Old Trafford is seen prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Aston Villa at Old Trafford on April 4, 2015© Getty Images

As fans of the Premier League we have to embrace it. Liverpool certainly need to, in order to get back on an equal financial footing with the others, and their strong brand should be a gold mine. But it does mean that in the future the Merseyside derby might have a more eclectic crowd, and there's nothing wrong with that!

What is not right is touting. Buying a season ticket at a club just to sell it at 10 times face value is not just fundamentally wrong, it is also against the terms of the purchase. It can often leave someone who has travelled thousands of miles locked out of the game they have come to see. That is criminal.

It has to be policed better. I know the Premier League are doing their level best in this area, but we don't want to get to point where everyone is paying ludicrous money to get in. No-one should be!

There's a joke that the South East empties when United play a big game at home, but in truth they are coming from a lot further than that. It means the game has global appeal and that is something to cherish. Ripping people off is something to stamp out.

Randy far too handy with the axe

I used to be a restaurant manager in McDonald's. I have also run a radio station or two in my time. I haven't run a football club (yet!?) but the principle is the same when it comes to hiring.

If you are consistently hiring staff and then firing them within a very short time-frame the problem isn't necessarily with the staff, it is with the people doing the hiring.

McDonald's had a problem with this 20 years ago. They were constantly turning over staff and the cost of hiring and firing was becoming ludicrous. They came up with an innovative way of recruiting staff.

It was more thorough and it was more analytical. It allowed you to see someone's behaviour in different circumstances.

Aston Villa's US owner Randy Lerner looks on before the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and West Ham United at Villa Park, Birmingham, West Midlands, England, on August 14, 2010© Getty Images

The results were significant. Turnover dropped, costs went down, staff stayed longer and the restaurants were better for it because the people working there were more experienced. Everyone benefited.

Aston Villa owner Randy Lerner is on his eighth manager since sacking Martin O'Neill. He has a hiring problem.

Sadly it isn't his only one. He also has a recruitment issue in the playing department, an obsession with ex-Arsenal employees, a disgruntled fanbase and a club that is in severe danger of relegation.

Reports suggest that he is going to hire Remi Garde, who may turn out to be fantastic, but Lerner's track record with management appointments would suggest otherwise.

Jose's job on the line against Liverpool?

No team has ever beaten Chelsea more times than Liverpool and if they win at Stamford Bridge next weekend I fear Jose Mourinho's second spell with Chelsea will be over.

First of all, let me say that you cannot argue with the results. They have been abysmal. Likewise, you cannot suggest he has behaved like an angel. You cannot say he has the full support of the dressing room with any real conviction, and you cannot say you can see a clear way out of the current predicament.

However, I don't think sacking Mourinho will be in the best interests of the club.

Chelsea won the Premier League and Capital One Cup last season - it wasn't that long ago. More importantly this is a club that have won five league titles in their entire 110-year history. Jose Mourinho won three of them.

They finished sixth after hiring Andre Villas-Boas, they scrapped to a top four place under Rafael Benitez and under Guus Hiddink and Roberto Di Matteo they were a cup team. Remember Big Phil Scolari? Crikey. Imagine what they would have achieved if they'd had stability.

A horrified Jose Mourinho watches his Chelsea side take on Newcastle on September 26, 2015© Getty Images

Mourinho is one of the best managers on the planet. Unlike Scolari, who used to pop off at 1pm, he works incredibly hard. Right now, he is going through the worst period of his career. Sir Alex Ferguson had tough periods, every manager does.

Between 1955 and 2004 Chelsea fans thought the idea of winning a league title was as fanciful as me becoming the next James Bond. It was NEVER going to happen. Until Mourinho burst through the door.

They won't win the league this season. So? They don't usually win the league. They may not finish in the top four? So? They were more interested in keeping out of the bottom four when I was a kid.

Yes there is a pressure to succeed at a club run by a billionaire, but it's also a football club that has had too many managers and is starting to re-hire the ones it's dispensed with! It's already disconnected with the fans once over the top job, they should be wary before doing that again.

You'd miss him if he was gone.

What goes up must come down?

Not always. Watford have applied themselves brilliantly since arriving in the Premier League and this weekend's 2-0 win away at Stoke had the hallmarks of a team that are determined to stay up.

I was taken on a tour of the remodelled Vicarage Road last week. It's a splendid little stadium with every possible need catered for.

The Pozzo family aim to build an environment where the players can thrive and have no excuses. It's working.

Watford's Spanish manager Quique Sanchez Flores looks on during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Watford at The Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England on August 29, 2015© Getty Images

The manager is a delight, too. I met Quique Sanchez Flores before the game with Arsenal and he talked me through the match as he saw it. He knew right from the off that there was a danger that the later the game went on his team could run out of puff, and it proved to be the case.

He also told me that these weren't the matches that would keep Watford up. Wins at places like Stoke will.

This article has been altered and we apologise for any previous mistakes.

Sam Matterface will be commentating on Everton vs. Sunderland on talkSPORT this Sunday from 1.30pm and taking your calls on the phone-in straight after.

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Mauro Zarate (2nd L) of West Ham United celebrates scoring his team's first goal with his team mates during the Barclays Premier League match between West Ham United and Chelsea at Boleyn Ground on October 24, 2015
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Tables
TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Everton5410147713
2Aston Villa44001221012
3Liverpool53111313010
4Leicester CityLeicester530212849
5Arsenal53028629
6Wolverhampton WanderersWolves530257-29
7Tottenham HotspurSpurs522115878
8Chelsea522113948
9West Ham UnitedWest Ham521211747
10Leeds UnitedLeeds52129907
11Manchester CityMan City42117707
12Southampton521289-17
13Newcastle UnitedNewcastle521279-27
14Crystal Palace521268-27
15Manchester UnitedMan Utd4202912-36
16Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton5113911-24
17West Bromwich AlbionWest Brom5023513-82
18Burnley401338-51
19Sheffield UnitedSheff Utd501427-51
20Fulham5014412-81

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