Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool may be rampaging towards the Premier League title but former Newcastle United and Blackburn striker and league’s all-time leading goalscorer Alan Shearer on Wednesday wasn’t willing to call them the greatest team in EPL’s history.
Liverpool’s incredible form this season has seen them accumulate 79 points in 27 matches and that has sparked comparisons with the best teams to have graced the Premier League in the past. But Shearer who won the Premier League title with Blackburn in 1994 has his reservations.
“Liverpool are going to win the Premier League this season and they have played some phenomenal football but you can’t say that they’re the best team in Premier League history as they’re only about to win their first title,” Shearer told reporters in Mumbai during his visit as a Premier League ambassador for the ongoing Next Generation Cup.
“If they go on to win 2, 3 or 4 titles, then you can have a discussion,” he added.
The 49-year-old though reserved special praise for the Reds’ young right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold who he believes is among the leading English players to have shone in the league in the last few seasons.
“Alexander-Arnold has been a revelation,” said the Newcastle legend.
“He has been outstanding not just this season but also last season. It just goes to show the kind of rewards you can get for being brave and backing young players,” the former England striker added.
Having expressed concerns over the lack of opportunities for young English players in the Premier League in the past, the site of these players playing key roles for big Premier League sides has pleased the 49-year-old.
Chelsea have put faith in the likes of Tammy Abraham, Mason Mount and Reece James who are regulars in their first team. Similarly, Manchester United under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer have relied on their young players a lot.
Few other Premier League clubs like Arsenal and Everton have also placed faith on youth to deliver in key positions on the pitch with the likes of Bukayo Saka impressing for the London side and Dominic Calvert-Lewin being the main striker at Goodison Park.
However, Shearer believes the credit should be given to the players as much as to the managers for selecting them.
“I’ve always believed that if you are good enough, the manager will play you no matter what age,” Shearer said.
“There’s huge pressure in the Premier League to deliver results on managers and you won’t find them pick players just because they’re young. It’s great to see young players getting a chance in our league, but it’s also because they are good enough. It is reflecting in the amount of talent that’s there at the disposal of the England national team,” he added.
Shearer, who now works at a television pundit, has often downplayed England’s chances at major tournaments. However, he has the Three Lions among the favourites for the upcoming Euro 2020.
“I hope England are among those challenging at the end,” Shearer said.
“They have got three group games at Wembley and also the semi-finals and final there. Having played there during Euro 1996, I know the crowd can make a real difference. I think England have some of the best talents in Europe so why can’t they be favourites,” he added.
‘VAR will improve’
Apart from young players and managers, the other big change in the Premier League this season has been the addition of the Video Assistant Referee. The VAR system brought in to cut down on refereeing mistakes has split opinions and failed to deliver correct decisions on several occasions.
Shearer though believes the VAR is here to stay and will get better with time.
“It (VAR) hasn’t delivered in some areas and it has worked well in others,” the former Newcastle striker said.
“But it was always going to be a tough introduction for it and I don’t think it’s gone away. It’s here to stay and I’m sure it will improve next season. They have adapted it in a slightly different way and I think we’ll see the referees going to the monitors a bit more next season onwards,” he added.
Sergio Aguero recently broke Shearer’s record for Premier League hat-tricks but there’s some way to go for any active player when it comes to going near his goal-scoring record. The 49-year-old has 260 Premier League goals to his name and the next active player in the list is Aguero who’s 80 goals behind.
“I hope no one breaks it. I quite like to see myself at the top, to be honest,” Shearer joked.
“But I’m sure it will be broken one day. All records are meant to be broken. If Harry Kane stays fit, he has a chance. He’s a world-class player,” he said before signing off.