Merson Says: Early Liverpool title award would feel wrong
Plus Merson feels for lower-league clubs, and says Premier League should have made up games in hand
Last Updated: 17/03/20 7:22am
Paul Merson says awarding Liverpool the title early without winning it mathematically would feel wrong.
Merson gives his opinion on football's future after the coronavirus outbreak, how the Premier League could have ensured all teams had played 29 games, why he fears for lower league clubs, and also for the mental health of players...
'Early Liverpool win wouldn't be the same'
It's all well saying Liverpool are 25 points clear, but if I played snooker with my mate tomorrow, and I needed 25 snookers to win, and he said: 'The game has finished, there's no point playing on!' - for the next week or two, I'd be saying: 'But I could have won that!'
You really feel for them, waiting 30 years for a title. If it was Manchester City 25 points clear, nobody would care! Because they've won it already. This team hasn't won it for 30 years! This is like a film.
I really feel for them; even if you gave them the league now, mathematically it's not won. I know they've won it in essence, we all know that, but it's not the same! It's a shame.
'PL should have made up games in hand'
It would have been a very simple solution if everybody had played the same amount of games. They should have had the brains to ensure those teams who have played a game less make those games up behind closed doors before they shut the league.
The problem is the teams at the bottom, and in particular Aston Villa. Their game in hand against Sheffield United should have been played, and if we ensure everyone had played the same amount of games, we wouldn't have a problem. Everyone would be on 29 games, the good teams are at the top, and the poor teams are at the bottom. And that's it.
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How can you call a league now and say Aston Villa are relegated? If they win their game in hand, they're out of the bottom three. They won't call the league now, but they could have if everyone had played the same amount of games. Now we have the problem, now we're stuck.
On Thursday when the Premier League talk, they'll be stuck on what to do regarding Aston Villa. Villa are the problem! If Villa win that game in hand against Sheffield United, they stay up, and if Blades won that game, they'd be fifth, which is potentially a Champions League spot if Manchester City were banned!
'Premier League should help smaller clubs'
Liverpool had won it, we know that, but it's hard to say to Leeds and West Brom that they're up! Fulham have taken gambles on players - they've kept Aleksandar Mitrovic and Tom Cairney, they brought Anthony Knockaert in, they took these chances to try and get promoted.
Brentford next season - if they don't go up, they will lose their front three. I could run through every club and their problems. Most clubs have taken a gamble and financially this is going to really impact them.
But we're mainly talking about Premier League clubs or big Championship clubs. You have to remember, whatever happens, these clubs will most likely still be around.
When you go a bit lower, some clubs may well be finished. I was manager at Walsall 15 or so years ago - it's a good, well-run club. They look after their finances, they don't spend too much. Even back then, they could not afford two home games called off. Now we're talking about teams in a much worse financial position than Walsall.
The only way the teams can be helped is a bailout from the Premier League.
'Isolate clubs, then play behind closed doors'
What we could have done is put every club into complete isolation for a few weeks, and in a few weeks' time, we'll start again. We test them all after those few weeks, then we play all the games behind closed doors. All the games would be televised at all different times. But this is still a chaotic solution.
I don't think you can have 22 teams, promote West Brom and Leeds and then relegate five next year. And if they declare the season null and void, what are they going to do - give everyone their season ticket back because the season essentially never happened?
There's nothing to say the season has to start in August, that's just how we choose it. The Euros will be next year, so no silly England international friendlies, which buys six or so weeks, so we could start the season later in September and October.
Euro 2020 isn't happening. That's 100 per cent, for me. I wouldn't even have the meeting on Tuesday. I don't even know why they're having a meeting about it. There's no point.
The Champions League and Euros are simple - cancel them. They don't need to be played.
'Players' mental health could be an issue'
I wouldn't worry in this day and age about players getting mischievous, going out and drinking. I would have worried in my day and age!
In terms of their mental health, I'd like to think some of the players are getting together. That could be a problem, because isolation is the worst thing for mental health.
Isolation is the worst thing in the world - you have to talk to people. A lot of young players will be single, away from their families, a lot don't have kids and family, some may have partners - but that's it. You have to be careful with that. They are isolating, indoors watching TV 24/7, that isn't good