As football finances lurch further out of control, do fans care at all or has winning at all costs taken precedence over common sense and morality?
Sheikh Mansour maybe a grabbing headlines with seemingly endless spending. He may yet buy the premier league title but it is all coming at a terrible cost to football as a whole. Transfer fees are exorbitant because one team are willing to break record after record with weekly wages regularly over £100k a week. And all of this during a recession. We should all be deeply worried but a possible change in the hierarchy of football in this country is compelling enough for now. At the other end of the scale, Liverpool and Man United are carrying huge debts. It is hard to swallow for many fans used to seeing them compete hard in the transfer market but the reality is that money is not available and it sits uncomfortably with most fans that American owners are ruining both clubs. How long, though, before another billionaire decides it’s time to invest in these great clubs. How will the fans feel then? It’s not the solution is it? But maybe that’s what it will take for both clubs to compete at the highest level. Maybe that’s what it comes down to now. This should sit even more uncomfortably with all fans, in my opinion.
City fans won’t care less and perhaps nor should they. Less than 5 years ago they were festering around the nether regions of the lower divisions and a world away from competing for the premier league title so these are truly exciting times. Does it worry them at all that they may be accumulating a squad of mercenaries who will cause untold dressing room unrest or is that part of the overall intrigue. Do they mind that they are fast becoming the most hated club in the UK. Not a bit of it if potential turns into success.
For the rest of us it has become clear that we all singularly want City to fail. In the same way as we all wanted Chelsea to fail when Abramovich arrived on our shores waving wads of cash in our faces. It didn’t take long for cash to turn into prizes but the situation was a little different. Chelsea already had a strong backbone and with clever investment and an outstanding, if arrogant, manager they gelled far quicker than most people expected. City have further to go. There is no spine. Even now they resemble a bunch of individuals all pressed into playing together with little in common except the lure of gold.
So what should we make of City’s rather convincing victory over Liverpool on Monday. On balance I think it says more about the deficiencies at Liverpool than the gathering momentum at City. Liverpool were truly woeful and Hodgson, famed for his tactical acumen in guiding Fulham to last season’s Europa cup final, seemed rather at a loss, a bit out of his depth maybe? Playing two strikers away from home was ill advised against a team set up to build from midfield and utilise their wide players. Liverpool were over-run and out-thought. City didn’t have to try too hard to settle in front of their hugely expectant fans but they will surely face tougher tests this season. The jury is still out.
Elsewhere it was a remarkable weekend for goals. Arsenal played the most attractive football. Drogba was irrepressible. Toon have a new hero at no 9 and United were uncharacteristically sloppy.
In the fantasy stakes, is there any other player in better form than Drogba? Well Gareth Bale, maybe? What is it with the Welsh and left sided wingers? He’s had another stormer in the CL qualifier tonight too. An absolute must.
My other tip is Kevin Nolan. He’s down as a midfielder but is playing as an auxiliary striker. He looks good value on this basis.
There are some tasty looking ‘home bankers’ this weekend for Chelsea, Liverpool, Spurs and United. We could witness another avalanche of goals. Long may it continue.