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Excited about Paul
I have been getting increasingly irritated (I’m at that age) by the negative opinions coming in all directions on Mr. Paul Pogba. From how much he costs, to people who saw him “at the Euro’s”, to United should be buying player “x” instead.
He costs what he costs. End of. I wouldn’t panic about it, because it’s not my cash; Real Madrid will probably end up buying him for £200 million in 2 – 4 years anyway. If we’re using the “Euros” logic, Joe Hart and Harry Kane can be valued at about £19 for the pair. But for some reason people are only applying that rule to Pogba. He is an amazing and very special player, and I can only assume folk who think otherwise, simply have no idea about him. United don’t need player “x” instead, they need Paul Pogba, and it’s for a very simple reason reason – he is one of an increasingly rare breed of midfielders who can breeze past their man. That simple trait is something that creates space for attackers, because a defender must come out to deal with him. If they don’t, he can carry on and take a shot, if they do, he has the opportunity to create a chance for someone else. It’s that simple. Look at his stats.
For about three games, until he realised Manchester wasn’t Paris, Angel di Maria looked to be that kind of player – and that’s why they cost top dollar.
So in conclusion, let’s all hope he comes, as it is a watershed moment moment for the league as a whole, and a sign of a bright future, having seen Real and Barcelona blown out of the water by a Premier League club… and let’s face it, he’s that good that he might not be around for too long. I for one can’t wait.
Arsene Wenger’s comments about Paul Pogba’s transfer fee are an ethical anchor in these depraved times. I just hope he doesn’t stop there.
I eagerly await his expression of morally charged ‘surprise’ at ticket prices rising at double the rate of increase in cost of living.
I am sure he can draw a direct line between Emirates paying 30 million a year for the privilege of having their name on a building and Donald Trump threatening to become a world leader based on a similar record of ‘investment’.
At least TV revenue has remained relatively stable since the 90s. Oh, I’m sorry, you said ‘billion’? The humanity.
I used to idolise the man, no joke.
I can only assume Wenger returns the vast majority of his 8 million a year wages as its “complete madness when measured against real life”
I’m guessing Pogba won’t be content with finishing 4th like the perennial loser so he’s already a step ahead in my book
Most expensive XIs
Interesting list of stats from the Stead.
That Bundesliga team is an absolute bargain. Stick them in any league and I would back them with a few of my hard earned pennies.
The Prem team not much cheaper than the Spanish league yet significantly lower in quality.
Proof, if we needed it, that the Prem ends up paying way too much for average players.
H, (Klopp can you buy us some awesome and cheap Germans pleasethankyou)
Reliving the Olympics dream
In this day and age, it seems like everybody from your average talkSPORT listener to your blizzard connoisseur and football weekly in between knows everything there is about football. But it seems like everybody is forgetting something – at least in the UK anyway.
This week sees the advent of the Olympic Football Tournament Rio 2016! After the mess that was Team GB in 2012, it is safe to stay that Olympic football is irrelevant to most of us and a obstacle to the main event – the Premier League. However, I would wager that it is more important away from these shores. I would also say that for those who hark back to the days when they discovered players before they blew up, those smug football manager players that discovered L. Messi before EVERYONE else, the Olympics is another port of call for the hipsters.
I have to admit that as a 30 something year old, I haven’t the time to preview the Olympics but I just want to take everyone back to the 1996 edition in Atlanta. Still catching up on sleep after suffering Roberto Baggio themed nightmares since 1994, I had high hopes for Nigeria in 1996.
Armed with players that most of us hadn’t yet hear off like the Nigerian/Turk Augustine “Jay-Jay” Okocha (hipster alert), Everton favourite Daniel Amokachi and future Premier League cult figures Taribo West and Celestine Babayaro, Nigerians went from 0-60 and expected Gold or death!
However, between them and glory stood Brazil and Argentina. The Nigeria-Brazil semi final went as most would have predicted for most of the game, with Brazil racing into a 3-1 lead courtesy of Flavio Conceicao and Bebeto. Seeing as this match started at 1am UK time, I felt that with a half time score of 3-1, there wasn’t much more to see and went to bed. However, about an hour later, I got a simple “its 3-3” wake up call. I got up just in time to see a replay of lanky fellow utterly bamboozle the Brazilian goalie Dida and score the equaliser on around 90 mins. The goal was followed by a celebration when he pretended to be what looked like a teapot. About a minute later, what still seems like a dream got even better when the same fellow picked up the ball 25 yards out, step forward then into immortality when unleashing an unstoppable drive from the edge of the box to defeat the nightly Selecao. Bebeto, Aldair and three ‘unknowns’ Roberto Carlos, Rivaldo and Ronaldo (look them up if you don’t know them…..), your boys took a beating! By the way, I would never forget the name of the Nigerian who entered the hearts of millions as he also went by one name (just like a Brazilian some might say) – Kanu.
Onto the final against Argentina who Nigeria had fallen on their sword to two years earlier in the World Cup. Could Nigeria win Gold against Argentina. Like team GB, the Argentina team was full of rejects who didn’t want to waste time on some minor game in the far away U.S. of A. Randoms like Crespo, Zanetti, Simeone, Ortega, Ayala. Never heard of ’em! The game was an anticlimax compared to the semi final but Nigeria still made two stunning comebacks with goals from Babayaro, Amokachi and Amunike to make take the game 3-2 and the Gold.
Looking back at that Olympics – wow
-The squad contained star players but more importantly contained ‘unknowns’ that became legends. There are still nuggets that can be discovered before everyone knows about them. This was the birth of the legend of Kanu. Indeed, if we look at future editions, gold medal winners include players that would become world class players like Eto’o (top 10 striker of all time imo), Tevez, Messi and other medal winners such as Thiago Silva and Xavi.
-Clearly, the teams involved including Nigeria, Brazil and Argentina gave their all and players ran through brick walls for a tournament that was essentially a non-entity to many of us in the UK. They also identified the Olympics as important in its own right and ideal preparation for future international tournaments. Unfortunately, the Olympics is in the way now, behind the more important International Champions Cup (i think thats what its called)…..
Sorry for the long e-mail but I still believe in the romance of the beautiful game and this will help whisk people away to a far away land.
ma.solebo (Spurs….but with cheeky glances at Arsenal’s Kanu and Chelsea’s Eto’o when Spurs wasn’t looking)
It sometimes astounds me the lack of foresight in football in relation to young players. In the recent transfer markets the amount being spent on potential has been phenomenal yet very few clubs have tried to carve out a niche in the market. I am especially thinking about lower league clubs. Why do championship and league 1 clubs not play their Academy players? There must be at least 5 teams in each division that are strong enough to carry a young player while he develops without fearing to be relegated yet you continually watch them buy and play “proven” players at that level. There has been complaints about the quality of young players coming through but the players who have been trusted have demonstrated that they can cope and flourish. The value of these players then rocket and can help a club a develop other infrastructure. Crewe were always the team that used this model before the epl became a wash with money and Southampton have used this model more recently. Is there any other lower league teams that will be brave enough to follow their lead and benefit themselves and the game as a whole
Who’s pulling the strings?
I hope I’ve just overlooked it’s whereabouts, but it looks as if John Nicholson’s excellent piece, “Two Million Pounds Isn’t Cheap, It’s Obscene” has been pulled. I have already started a conspiracy theory page on Facebook, wondering who got the phone call and associated threats…
Money makes the world go around, and football clearly rotates accordingly, but John’s argument, that the game has become an obscene parody that spends astronomical amounts on players valued against no known scale, ought to get a wider audience.
This is not a rant against overpaid players – they are paid within the rules of this super-
Monopoly game, and good luck to them. But whether the game is morally or ethically sound is another question entirely.
Please tell me I’m wrong, and that the article is still alive and well. No stories about it going to live on a farm ( my hamsters would tell me if it arrived there).
New Zealand Spurs
The real story behind Xabi
The story of Xabi Alonso’s transfer is a good one but the choice of ‘story’ in the article was telling. As with the infamous rant, net spend, zonal marking and indeed the disrespectful game over hand gesture to England’s new manager, much of Benitez time at Liverpool has become an ‘accepted wisdom’ that doesn’t necessarily align with what actually happened.
When Benitez pursued Gareth Barry in 2008 no one was calling Xabi Alonso ‘one of the finest midfielders in the world’. This followed two underwhelming seasons where by his own admission he had not built on his excellent debut season and was feeling homesick. The bids from Arsenal and Juventus of around £12m reflected this valuation. Real Madrid were not interested and Barry was himself, riding high in a Villa team that was challenging for Europe.
Skip ahead a year and Alonso was imperious in the midfield of a Liverpool team that should’ve won the league that year and had dismantled Real Madrid 5-0 in the Champions League. He then became the hottest midfielder on the market and Real Madrid paid a record fee for a central midfielder to sign him – Liverpool very much wanted to keep him as well.
If it can be said that Alonso left Liverpool because of his relationship with Benitez deteriorating due to the flirtation with Barry, it could equally be argued that the drive to prove his manager wrong led to the best season of his career and got him his move for almost 3x his previous value.
So alternatively imagine if Jordan Henderson moved for a record fee to Real Madrid next summer after his best ever season because he was annoyed that Klopp had flirted with James Ward-Prowse this summer and you’ll be closer to reality…and yes, Liverpool would still replace him with Alberto Aquilani!
Lindsay Bell, Dublin.
Re Matt Stead’s “The five most expensive centre mids ever”
Rafa didn’t sell Alonso to Real because the latter was miffed at Gareth Barry being in the frame. Alonso had had a poor, injury hit season and Rafa was looking at options. Alonso flirted with Juve that summer (look up the quotes) then proceeded to have his best season for the Reds. Real came calling but Shabby ensured his God like status amongst the fans by blaming big bad Rafa. If he’d just been honest and said “Look Liverpool it’s been great, but Madrid are Madrid and I’m Spanish” I’d have respected that.
His love affair with Liverpool didn’t help him when he left Madrid. Did he want to come back to Liverpool? Did the club want him? All of which takes away from the real Real question: why did they ditch Alonso, a fan fave at Madrid too, while he was still at the top of his game??
Baz Foster, Glasgow