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Assessing the top seven
Apologies if I’ve missed a mailbox on this but it seems we are a bit short on fans telling us ‘this will be our year, look who we’ve signed, everyone else’s signings are sh*t/old/over-priced etc’, so I thought I’d try and drum up some fuel for that…
Arsenal have been Arsenal. Wenger just repeating the same old guff as he does every year, probably to the day. So, you Gooners are going to start with the same squad as last year pretty much. Last year was your big chance for the title, no chance now but fourth-placed trophy is probably a banker.
Chelsea – not signed much and given last year’s disaster they probably won’t be much of a threat to the title. Can’t do as bad as last year so that’s a bonus eh? Champions League places will be tough.
Liverpool – busy signing lots of squad players. Could field an 11 of reasonably talented midfielders. Should see them put a couple of top teams to the sword but their first 11 hasn’t improved much so their league form and position won’t change much either. Will probably scrape into the top six.
Leicester – They seem to have done some shrewd business and not lost too many players (yet). Second-season syndrome likely to make this season tough for them but they might at least be fighting for European places if this season’s highly deserved European excursions don’t screw them up.
Man City – Surprisingly quiet on the transfer front given. Pep may be a good manager but he has a lot of work to do to turn his bunch of under-achievers into a consistent winning team – should be up there, should be favourites but I wouldn’t tip them for the title.
Man Utd – Have made some good signings and may well benefit from Jose trimming the first-team squad as there are too many squad players who are’t quite good enough. Champions League nailed on and may even be outside challengers for the title if Jose can do what he does best and find a way of grounding out the results early on while he builds a team.
Spurs – Not much change there either. Their ‘nearly’ winning the title last year was about as close to Liverpool ‘nearly’ winning the title the year of Gerards slip so expect them to settle back into their comfort zone of the also-rans positions.
Jon, Jo’burg (I hope this is enough to rile up a few fans as I’m sick of the politically charged moral high-ground assuming mailbox – proper footy is coming back soon, we don’t need to talk about that other sh*te here)
Feeling dirty about Pogba
I wrote in two months ago about the lack of United’s ‘Hollywood’ signings particularly during the Ferguson Era. I had an itch for United to spend big I hated seeing players like Hazard, Lucas Moura etc. go to other clubs because we didn’t want to fork out but now, only two months later, I think I feel ‘dirty’ at the prospect of United paying £100 million for Pogba. I’m just so unsure. I cannot believe it. I wanted this but now all that is going through my head:
One part of my brain is saying:
I understand we are in a market that is vastly inflated but come on, he doesn’t even want to come back! we would be better of paying £40-50 million on a James, Pastore etc. which would make so much more sense! Heck, Di Maria at £56 million sounds sane now! I’m just lost for words. He’s not even Ronaldo or Messi! Or even a Bale or Neymar. He flopped at the Euros! we don’t need him!
The other side is saying:
He just signed for Adidas who happen to pay us c. £700 million to make our shirts – it’s a marriage made in heaven, it’s clearly a marketing decision agreed by the big suits at United and Adidas as some sort of joint venture. He will sell shirts, bring us more revenue and keep us at the top when we quite frankly don’t deserve to be there (on footballing terms on the pitch). He will keep the MUFC beacon shining when Rooney is wheel barrowed out – oh yeah, he can play a bit too so what’s to lose? We got the cash, use it!
At first, it sounded amazing – a sense of, ‘great we are back in the big time!’ but as the weeks have gone by, I just feel sick thinking we are doing the exact opposite of what we first ‘preached’.
Why can’t we just be normal! Who even proposed £100 million in the first place! Now even if we drop the interest, any other player is going to be worth at least £15-20 mill more as they know we have money to burn.
We should have bought Hamsik for £40 million and called it a day. The transfer window was going so great and now we are stuck with this brainf**k of a transfer until August 30th at least.
AA MUFC GLA
Mahrez and Arsenal could be very happy together
After Ranieri’s latest comments on the whole Riyad Mahrez to Arsenal speculation, is it a stretch to say that perhaps, Mahrez has made up his mind and decided on a switch to north London?
Ranieri has been (literally) begging Riyad Mahrez to stay at Leicester City for the past couple of days. Telling reporters that if he had to move to the Gunners, he will spend his days on the bench and would be lost in a team of ‘stars’. This is a sheer desperation plea to try and keep him and very far from the truth.
Mahrez would easily walk into this Arsenal side. Any Gunner would replace the likes of Theo Walcott or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with the pacey winger. If his previous season is anything to go by, he can contribute more to our goals than those two combined, and he also delivers on the defensive front. Something which Walcott has been criticised for.
On the contrary Claudio, I don’t think Mahrez will get lost in this team. I think he will shine and be one of the stand-out performers. Ranieri knows this, Mahrez knows this, Arsenal and Arsene Wenger know this. Perhaps it’s time to cut out the desperate pleas, accept the 40m bid and everyone will be happy. It’s safe to say Leicester can invest in a replacement with that kind of money.
Tip a loanee please…
Thoroughly enjoyed the breakout stars feature, and was super pleased to see Jordan Pickford get a mention. He was excellent for Preston on loan and I really think he could be a future England international. It was no surprise when he was called back to his home club.
He’s a really wiry goalkeeper, and at Championship level stood outout as one of the best in the league. His shot stopping is incredible – like, De Gea good. He doesn’t always look like he knows how he stops the ball going in, but his reflexes are incredible and he made some double saves last season that defied belief for North End.
Plus he did this against Burnley:
So it got me wondering; can any Championship fans tip a loanee for big things this season?
Joining Johnny’s team of comrades
To start, I just have to say kudos to John Nicholson and his article on football finance. It is something that has been starting to make me hate the game I love, and you summed up exactly how I felt better than I thought I could have. I have no doubt that during the next week, the mailbox will be riddled with letters debating the much more serious side of football, mainly racism and money, so I’m going to continue with this trend.
Since the Pogba transfer fee was touted in the media and we had our potential ‘100 Million Man’, my workplace has been debating the fee on a daily basis. The general consensus is that it’s too much money for what he is worth, but sure f**k it, it’s not our money. (Even though some of it technically is, although if you spend it on a ticket or jersey etc surely if ceases to become yours and becomes United’s). However my argument was that with 100 million, United could probably pay someone to clone Pogba (or an entire team of Pogbas) from one of his old boots or jock-straps rather than actually spending 100 million to buy an actual human being.
And here in lies the point, we clearly value one (overrated?) human being more than thousands of others because he quite good at his profession which has the ability to make a bunch of other people very rich. It’s capitalism at its finest, and football, especially Premier League football is the epitome of everything that is wrong with capitalism. And John is right, this will not change until we change our views on this issue. We cannot sit by and watch while Jordan Ibe is being bought for 15 million pounds (for a few reasons) and thousands of people are actually dying from being poor. Literally dying. How can we as people, who most of us will never been in any sort of position to spend 100 million of one purchase, continue to justify this? How have we let it get this far?
And this leads to the other big issue of the day, racism. Not to say that the problem with money in football comes as a result of racism, but it’s continued existence survives partly because of the institutionally ingrained racism in our society, as a whole. We don’t really care (even if we say we do, like me, but we do nothing about it, like me) about the poverty in the world because it’s not happening on our doorstep and it’s not happening to white people nearly as much. We do not care much about children dying everyday in Africa because of hunger and poverty because we expect it to happen there, because that idea that Africa is poorer than us is ‘normal’ to us because of our (well not mine but I’m not blaming the British solely, generally white people) colonial past set up that way of life, which we have come to accept as ‘normal’.
We need to change the world for the better, and although football is fairly low down on the long list of priorities of things that need to be fixed in our world, hopefully something as ridiculous as this possible transfer fee will be the wake-up call we so desperately need to allow everyone see how bad we have let things come.
Néill (give the money I want Arsenal to spend on Higuain to help fix the world and trust Chuba), Ireland
So you don’t do anything because you can’t change it?
So John decides to write an insightful opinion piece on the inequalities and absurdities prevalent in football and life in general, at the same time as having the temerity to make money off the very industry he apparently dislikes and people decide that he should either stop biting the hand that feeds him or don rags and live the life of a hermit, so that his timely missive is validated in the eyes of those that find his position to be one of hypocrisy. Either that or they just don’t give a sh*t either way about what he said or what others had to say on the dog whistle-like racism that is threaded into the fabric of football parlance, both in print and on the terraces.
In response to Oliver (‘Why are terraced houses in Teesside 100k and not 50k John? Is a cottage in Northumberland cheap at 500k, or is it over-priced by 100k, 200k or 300k?’) Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland, Dave (hypocrite but at least I know it) LFC, Stu, London and anyone else published over the last few mailboxes who wish to turn a blind eye: It is that kind of handwringing (as you put it) and/or general acceptance of the status quo (Correct me if I’m wrong, but you yourself seem to dislike things as they are?), that means f*ck all is ever done to make things the way they can and should be.
James F, BCFC KRO
The future of football in a big money world
Moving aside from the moral angle of money in football. An issue I haven’t seen covered in all this talk, is where does it leave global football in five or ten years’ time? Just look at what’s happened in the last 10-15 years….
Chelsea and then Man City in the Premier League were the first examples of billionaires buying into clubs and investing heavily to generate success and they showed the model works. Chelsea’s brand value from 2011 to 2016 increased from £658m to £1.661bn. Man City give an even better illustration having gone from 291m to £1.921bn. What’s a few £100m in investment with that type of growth??
Many readers will have strong opinions about this and when I was out working in Italy earlier this month, I was amazed at the level of hostility towards these ‘rich English clubs’ corrupting the game. They were the first crack in the wall which has now been well and truly knocked down by the inundation of money into the sport.
While the Premier League as a whole is probably the richest league now driven by the TV deal. You could say it’s also just the trend setter showing to big business the huge amount of money than can be made with the right level of financial investment in a relatively short period of time
The MLS has almost been built from scratch and started by offering fading European stars one last hurrah on high wages. Similarly, the new Chinese Super League is doing the same thing (and will now be shown on Sky Sports). There are huge Asian and North American markets which are only now beginning to buy into football. The business sides of exploiting them is why new clubs are created and stupid money thrown about to rapidly build up a brand. Let alone why current clubs go on pre-season tours and big money matches overseas.
So the question is not whether money is morally reprehensible in football, but If money is allowed to run its natural course then 5 – 10 years from now what does football look like? What about the rest of the European leagues who are already struggling with a handful of clubs holding most of the existing money? Will the next generation of players care about playing for ‘big clubs’ with 100+ years of history, when they can earn £500k a week in China or America to achieve their ‘dream move’?
In order to keep the money coming in to compete in a global transfer market where players move for £100s of millions and gargantuan wages to feed the constant need for success. Will teams start to play games abroad during the season? If a team has a global fanbase of millions and that’s where the revenue comes from. How much do local fans and the negligible income from gate receipts matter to corporate types in their offices on high where a few million is a rounding error? I can already see the arguments for how they need to look after their ‘global’ fan base and bring the club into the 21st century and a new generation of football…
I don’t know where I’m going with all this and in short term most Premier League clubs are surely benefiting. I’d welcome anyone else’s thoughts on where money is taking football and what happens next. Though I can’t help but think that the summer of 2016, the new TV deal and Pelle becoming the 6th highest paid player in the world could be seen as a watershed moment in years to come.
Tom Saints (Imagine a new 2030 Global Champions League, with the best teams from Europe, Asian and N. America competing to be champions of the world? The broadcasting and branding rights for that would be unimaginable…)
Why Rooney cannot be dropped
As the (not so) Secret Footballer points out in a chapter dedicated to it in his book, he’s basically the key to over $200m in revenue yearly to Man U due to the ‘360’ degree deal with Nike and Adidas.
It doesn’t matter how crap he gets at football, he’s going to play as that deal is worth way more to Man U than the league and the champions league put together.
Welcome to football in the Teenies. It’s not even a meritocracy anymore.
Here’s the secret footballer’s own words (much better than mine!):
Matt L, London
This is my perfect moment…
Really enjoyed the ‘Single Moment Footballers’ article – I’m sure you’ll now be inundated with more so I thought I’d add to the huge pile of similar emails with this, a XI of single-moment players:
Jerzy Dudek – for the penalty shoot-out against Milan. If it’s not stretching the rules I’d also like to include his utterly ridiculous point-blank save from Shevchenko in extra time as well.
Marco Materazzi – for being headbutted by Zizou.
Gareth Southgate – obvious, and a bit sad, but nevertheless iconic.
Roberto Carlos – he did plenty of physics-offending things with footballs, but the Le Tournoi free-kick is still referenced and imitated today. And is still completely insane. And brilliant.
Sami Kuffour – I’ll confess, I’m a Manchester United fan, so I remember him slapping the Nou Camp pitch in ’99 particularly vividly.
Karel Poborsky – for creating another moment, a la Roberto Carlos, that was imitated by schoolchildren everywhere for a long time afterwards. With varying degrees of success.
Ricky Villa/Archie Gemmill – I wasn’t old enough to have witnessed either of these goals at the time, but I’ve seen them both repeated dozens and dozens of times. They also both have a strange symmetry – at either ends of the pitch, but both a slaloming dribble followed by a dinked finish.
Ronny Rosenthal – even today, a missed open goal is usually called a ‘Rosenthal’. Harsh but inescapable. Much worse misses have failed to gather the same level of infamy, for some reason.
Roy Essandoh – another obvious choice, but what a remarkable story. It wasn’t that long ago but seems like it’s from another age entirely, due to a) the money in football nowadays precluding anything like it happening again, you’d think, and b) its audacious use of Ceefax.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – see Sami Kuffour for why this one resonates with me. He was brilliant, but no player could ever outdo, or become anything other than totally entwined with, ‘that moment in Barcelona’.
Marco Boogers – apparently a striker, which surprised me. Thanks Wikipedia. Lived the fantasy of thousands of Liverpool fans by mowing down Gary Neville. Then disappeared.
A celebration to match the player
In response to Turiyo Damascene, Alan Shearer’s one hand in the air celebration is equally as dull as his punditry so maybe a goal celebration does reflect one’s personality.
James Harley LFC (Ronaldo’s statue of a god celebration thing he does definitely reflects his arrogance)
Different kinds of tw*ts
Calling someone a bald/ginger/French/etc tw*t is always, for want of a better word, ‘bad’.
Either you are inferring that being bald/ginger/French etc makes you a tw*t, or you’re bringing up an irrelevant attribute while calling that person a tw*t, which implies you see both being bald/ginger/French and being a tw*t as a negative.
Racist, sexist and homophobic language is not accepted while other ‘bad’ generalised insults are, because people from ethnic minorities, LGBT people and women suffer from a power imbalance. I’m sure others can elaborate more eloquently on the subject than I can.
Oliver Dziggel, Geneva Switzerland
…Mathew (white, so this probably all counts for naught), Arsenal FC, is a million miles off the point with his email claiming using the term black tw*t is not necessarily racist.
The reason someone might append the word bald or ginger to an insult is likely because it’s perceived as being a a physical feature that is different from the ‘norm’. If we think about it in playground terms, bullying stems from the idea that people are different physically or otherwise. The word ginger may be used to turn their insecurities about being different on them and ‘hitting them where it hurts’ so to speak, isolating them from the social group.
Jumping back to the grown-up world (as much as Twitter can be described as such), picking to append an insult on the word ‘black’ heavily implies the abuser thinks that physical feature is an abnormality, a sign of weakness and above all else, something the victim should be insecure about.
I’m not defending persecution of people who are ginger or bald by any means – this is all wrong. But to deny referring to someone as a black whatever is not racist is a ridiculous point to make. And don’t even get me started with what he included in his parentheses.
…Matthew, how often do you hear “hard-working twat”, “talented twat”, or “right-footed twat”? Referencing a characteristic as a part of an insult is clearly an attempt to belittle and denigrate the person for having that characteristic; it is used exclusively with characteristics that are perceived as negative by the person using them. Those mythical tweets you’ve created are absolutely anti-bald, anti-ginger, anti-French. And yes, calling Sterling a black twat is absolutely indicative of bigotry. Unless you can find just as many tweets that reference a clearly positively perceived characteristic within an insult then referencing them is clearly an attempt to insult the person they are aimed at. The only difference is that for various socio-historical reasons, anti-bald, anti-ginger and anti-French bigotry are not considered as important as anti-black bigotry. It’s up to you to decide whether that is right or wrong, but that doesn’t magically make the anti-Sterling tweets not racist and they can’t be excused because they are coming from ‘standard angry d*cks”. It’s worse that that seems par for the course, not better.
As has come up in the recent mailboxes, just as important as overt racism is the more insidious and subtle forms. If we defend rather than stand against what is clearly a race-based insult, what hope do we have against those hidden forms.
Thralk, NUFC (Black and White Army)
…To help Mathew find the line. It’s typically at the point where the discriminating factor has been used as an excuse to enslave, kill, systematically put down or otherwise engage in horrible behaviour.
I don’t recall a genocide of a people based on their follicles.