How to buy Bruno Fernandes for £4m. But first of all, some Project Restart nonsense…
Obviously now is the time – with the resumption of the Premier League up in the air – to decry the possibility of a European Super League. Or it is if you are Martin Samuel of the Daily Mail anyway, who does a leap of epic proportions in his latest column.
He takes the nonsense idea that the Premier League could ever take place without relegation – and it must be stressed once again that this idea has never been mooted by anybody in any Premier League meeting – to argue that the bottom clubs are now so powerful that the big clubs could never break away to form their own elite league.
We told you it was a leap.
‘In the absence of a title race — and last season’s battle was an exception, because over the last 10 campaigns, the average winning margin has been 6.8 points, or 8.2 over the last seven seasons, rising to 9.75 across eight seasons if we factor in a conservative 20-point winning margin for Liverpool this year — it turns out few people really care who finishes fourth.’
Does it? How the bloody hell have you got there? Judging by the TV viewing figures, we would wager that games between the big six – whether for first, third, fourth or sodding eighth – are of far greater value to the broadcasters than a relegation battle. It’s just that Manchester United and Chelsea have not been briefing newspapers that they could pull out of Project Restart unless fourth place is off the table.
‘The reason the little clubs must play out an artificial season in jeopardy, they are being told, is that Sky will withhold the money without relegation. Big money, too. Hundreds of millions. So 20 clubs are important after all.’
Sky have already served notice that they will withhold money to the tune of £340m because the season has been significantly disrupted by a lack of fans and a change to scheduling. They will withhold more if further changes are made – like curtailment, a lack of relegation jeopardy or a withdrawal of Champions League incentives. Sky believes that 20 clubs are important because they paid for 20 clubs.
And if a European Super League was formed from 16 clubs and they paid for the TV rights to that European Super League, they would then think that 16 clubs were important.
Or, to labour a metaphor, Mediawatch would be pissed off if all the toffee pennies were taken out of its box of Quality Street but that doesn’t make them as valuable as the delicious purple ones.
‘Mid-table mediocrities, like Arsenal, are the irrelevance, even Manchester City, when 25 points adrift in second place.
‘Once the league is won, attention turns to the bottom three, or six, and the fight for survival. Except those clubs are repeatedly told they are worthless, that they bring nothing to the party, that they are being carried by those at the top.’
Sorry but that is bollocks. Relegation is interesting but the back pages of newspapers in April and May – often after the title is won – are dominated by talk of Champions League qualification. And if Manchester United face Tottenham on the final day of this season with a top-four place at stake, it will undoubtedly attract more viewers than any of the relegation scraps.
‘Yet now the money is on the line, the truth is emerging. The Premier League — any league — is nothing without relegation. It’s moribund. It’s a bore. Everyone says it.’
Absolutely. But it’s all part of the game’s rich tapestry; football needs relegation but it also needs the ‘mid-table mediocrities’ that bring in the fans. Arguing that Aston Villa are more powerful than Arsenal right now is nonsense.
‘The reason the clubs at the bottom are being pressured to complete their fixtures with the very real threat of economic catastrophe hanging over them is because, without this, it is catastrophe for all.
‘If the elite’s reasoning is to be believed, it transpires there is limited interest in the fight for European places, probably because that is pretty much a victory for the accountants.’
No, it’s just that the fight for European places is not being used as a political football by certain clubs who want the Premier League to fight against the use of neutral grounds.
‘Whether Chelsea finish fourth or fifth is of interest to their fans but the wider world, not so much — in the same way, we are not greatly consumed by the scrap between Sevilla, Real Sociedad, Getafe, Atletico Madrid and Valencia in Spain.
‘Some will end up in the Champions League, others will end up in the Europa League. Some will be richer this summer. And that’s all it is.
‘Turns out, Premier League relegation is a bigger selling point than the awarding of cheques. Turns out, take it away, and the broadcasters aren’t paying.’
Because nobody has talked about ‘taking away’ the awarding of cheques, Martin. Nobody is talking about ‘taking away’ relegation in public either, but that’s not stopped thousands of words being written.
Oh and notice that at no point in the entire column does he mention Manchester United. Because he absolutely knows that blows his argument right out of the water.
Apologies to the old men shouting at clouds but more people care if United finish fourth than if Bournemouth or West Ham are relegated.
Get a bloody move on
‘It’s not as if they are being asked to put out the Chernobyl fire,’ was the stand-out line in Mark Irwin’s Sun column about getting footballers back to work on a football pitch as soon as possible. He couldn’t see what all the fuss was about, with a global pandemic causing thousands of deaths a minor obstacle in the way of some lovely footy.
He is now back and writes impatiently:
‘AFTER sixty days of stumbling around in the dark, football is slowly emerging blinking into the daylight.
‘For the first time since the national game was plunged into lockdown on March 13, we finally have a clearer idea about which direction we’re heading in.’
‘Finally.’ Because of course the Premier League should have had a contingency plan for a global pandemic. Why were they ‘stumbling around’ when the solutions have always been obvious? Just kick the bloody footballs. What’s the worst than can happen barring more deaths and stuff?
‘The Government has done its bit by clearing the way for professional sport to return behind closed doors in June – but supporters won’t be admitted until ‘significantly later’.
‘With the best will in the world, football probably won’t be able to start counting gate receipts again before the end of the year.
‘The Premier League clubs can either grasp the lifeline which has been thrown to them, or they can simply continue squabbling all the way to insolvency.
‘The choice seems to be an obvious one but we should never underestimate football’s ability to shoot itself in the foot.’
Yes, football could yet ruin football by deciding that football is not quite as important as life and death.
‘Man Utd could have saved £51MILLION on Bruno Fernandes deal if they’d waited six months, Sporting chief admits’ (The Sun) sounds like one hell of a story. It lured us in. *click*.
It’s particularly interesting because The Sun have always insisted that Fernandes cost just £55m. Are they now saying that they could have signed such a wonderful player for just £4m? That really is a story.
And then it turns out that Manchester United could only have saved £51MILLION if they had foreseen the coronavirus pandemic and waited for values to be slashed this summer by some indeterminate amount. Which might have been a difficult sell in January.
And even then, the exact quote from the ‘Sporting chief’ reads:
“Fernandes was sold for £68m in January. Today, what would he be worth? Maybe £17m? £27m? Nobody knows.”
‘Nobody knows’ but…
‘Manchester United could have signed Bruno Fernandes for only £17m right now… £51m LESS than what they paid for Portugal superstar’ (talkSPORT).
‘Man Utd could have saved £51m on Bruno Fernandes transfer – if they’d waited’ (Daily Express).
While the Daily Mirror brings us page after page of insight about the possible re-start of the Premier League, their website knows which side its bread is buttered…
‘How Kylian Mbappe ‘responded’ to Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp phoning his dad’
So many things to discuss here…
* The quote marks! Quote marks are for quotes and yet no f***er has said ‘responded’. Because that would be weird.
* It’s not an established fact that Klopp phoned the father of Kylian Mbappe. If you are going to put anything in quote marks, make it ‘Jurgen Klopp phoning his dad’.
* His ‘response’ (‘flattered’) is being reported by the same publication (le10Sport) that claimed this alleged phone call.
* This story is four days old.
* What the Mirror fail to mention is that Mbappe may be ‘flattered’, but he still wants to join Real Madrid. Not that anyone will let that get in the way of pretending the best young player in world football is about to join Liverpool. There’s a few more miles in this nonsense yet.
Hammers to fall
How kind of the Mirror, by the way, to take the time out to shit up West Ham fans with their back-page illustration of how the Premier League table would look if weighted home and away, despite literally nobody suggesting that the Premier League could be decided that way.
Indeed, the Mirror themselves described this scenario as ‘extremely unlikely to happen in the Premier League’ just a few days ago.
CAPITAL letters of the day
‘Newcastle’s £300million Saudi takeover facing more delays over PIRACY accusations sent to Premier League’ – The Sun.
We could not keep away from the camera for long so we made a Football365 Isolation Show. Watch it, subscribe and share until we get back in the studio/pub and produce something a little slicker…