Fun to watch? Chelsea spending this year has actually been pretty disgusting

Editor F365
Chelsea co-owners Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali

The backlash to the Chelsea spending has arrived in the Mailbox, where we also have thoughts on Arsenal, Man Utd and more…

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Cry more? Chelsea spending is just insane
As the dust settles after an insane transfer window, I think it is natural to reflect on what has happened.

One club, in six months, has spent over HALF A BILLION pounds on signings. How can anyone other than petro-state clubs compete against that? What is the point of FFP if they can throw money around like that on a whim. Remember, they wanted to spend more. They outspent entire LEAGUES, added together!

Now the Chelsea fan response to this is understandably ‘cry more’ – as you will see under any social media post bemoaning their spending. This is who they are as a club, they love to splash the cash, ever since Roman. And I get it, if it was my club spending money like that, I’d be pretty hyped too. But surely they see the hubris of such a thing. No club will now accept anything less than top dollar from your bids, you’ll never catch a bargain or create a world class player. You’ll merely ship them in. Again, who cares if you’re winning, right?

I find it sad that a league that prides itself on being competitive is going down the same path as Italy, Spain, Germany and France. No one wants to watch a product where the outcome is one of 3. Personally, if the Premier League don’t step in, they will irreparably harm their product. They may think the selling point is the glitz, the glamour, the millions spent, but it’s not. It is the teams, the fans, the passion that draws people in to the Premier League. And they’re selling all of that off to US billionaires and Petronations.

As an Arsenal fan, would I have liked to sign Mudryk and Caicedo – of course. Am I disappointed we didn’t pay £80 million for a player who was £5 million a year earlier. Not at all. Do I think Mudryk will go on to be a superstar, I do, but I think it insane to pay almost £100 million for a player with the same amount of goals in the last four seasons as Gabriel, our centre back.
John Matrix AFC


…A few years’ back, I lived next door to this old guy in Balham who, basically, had a nervous breakdown and literally threw all his belongings out of the front door one rainy Sunday night. The next morning, he twitchily headed off to Selfridges to buy replacements for them all – TV, washing machine, video recorder, crockery, clothes, the lot – where the staff, concerned by his erratic behaviour and crazy spending, called the police, and he was subsequently sectioned. So whilst F365 finds Todd Boehly’s recent shopping spree ‘fun to watch’, I have been reminded of more serious times.

And whilst I’m not suggesting that Todd is experiencing some sort of crisis (although it’s felt like that at times), I do believe that, considering the dark state of the global economy – and the UK’s in particular – there’s something rather unsavoury about the football media’s general attitude that “buying lots of expensive players is good” and that clubs who haven’t spent exorbitantly have underperformed. I’d have thought that ‘losing’ in the transfer window meant ‘losing’ a key player, missing out on a favoured target to a rival or buying a complete dud, but no, success in the media’s eyes seems to be all about the number of players you bring in and whether they break some sort of transfer record.

And it doesn’t matter whether a club actually wants a certain player or not, or if that player’s club are willing to sell him, if some pundit or (grimace) ‘YouTuber’ thinks that they’re a match then NOT signing him gets framed as a missed-opportunity or failing on the club’s part. It’s crazy.

Worse still has been the unspoken favouritism shown towards the bigger clubs and the general excitement displayed when one of them attempts to pick off a smaller club’s best players. Sky Sports have been particularly bad on this count, clearly hoping that Chelsea or Arsenal would do Brighton a ‘huge favour’ and take Caicedo off their hands and then getting incredulous when they didn’t accede to the player’s wishes and sell him. How dare they turn down that much money – even if it might totally wreck their season!

The whole general tone of Sky’s recent reporting of the transfer window has been quite nauseating, particularly those pasty old white guys they’ve had, sitting round a table day-in-day-out, portentously over-analysing every rumour as if it’s the most important thing in the world right now (clue: it ain’t). How they managed to spend so much time discussing Chelsea benchwarmer Jorginho’s transfer to Arsenal yesterday (where he will essentially play the same role) was hilarious, and purely down to the fact that NOTHING ELSE OF NOTE WAS HAPPENING.

I’m not going to criticise Chelsea fans for getting excited about their 142 new signings – or even for defending their club’s manipulation of the FFP rules; getting new, promising, young players is always fun and other clubs (with far shadier owners) have pumped money into their clubs at an astounding rate – maybe over a slightly longer period perhaps, but still…

But neutrals who are enjoying the Chelsea pantomime might want to reserve judgement until Boehly’s stance on the European Super League becomes apparent. If he funds Chelsea all the way back to the Premier League summit, then he will no doubt be a key player when the ESL project comes back around – as it inevitably will – and there’s no guarantee he won’t jump at the prospect.
Bob Stoker


Chelsea policy or pledge?
Everyone seems very surprised that Chelsea are wanging money around like drunken lottery winners in a casino. The most recent Winners & Losers reiterates this too… and points out that it’s all good, if clearly unsustainable.

But when the weirdest football club sale ever first went through, lots of reports stated that Abramovich insisted that £1.75bn was invested into the club – Chelsea even confirmed this in an official statement.

So, surely all we are seeing is the consortium making good on that pledge? Perhaps it was even time-bonded, forcing them to do it this fast?

It’s mental to think that Chelsea was not really sold for £4.25bn – which is clearly what the consortium were happy to pay for it. It was sold for £2.5bn with a pledge to invest £1.75bn. The only reason that was at all possible is because Abramovic was happy to massively undervalue the club at £2.5bn because he knew he was never going to see the proceeds anyway.

When you look at it like that, Abramovich’s “noble” insistence on an investment pledge has actually robbed the charitable foundation set up to take the £2.5bn sale fee and use it to help victims in Ukraine of £1.75bn! No wonder the new owners want to do it as fast as possible… before anyone starts talking about it.

It also means that it will all stop when the pledge is satisfied. Only then will we see the real policy of the consortium. No idea what that will be be… I wouldn’t be surprised if they just flipped it and sold up, as they will have taken advantage of the biggest gift in footballing history.
Rob Mosley


Murphy musings
Hello people of the 365, thought I would give you a few more thoughts now the transfer window has ‘slammed shut’ TM Sky Sports.

Paul Merson, where to start, so Arsenal signing 31-year-old Jorginho from Chelsea is a fantastic bit of business yet United signing 28 year old Sabitzer from Bayern is a panic signing and he can’t be any good as he doesn’t get any game time. Quite the take there Mr glass mountain and slippers analogy.

From my perspective Sabitzer is a great signing done with little fuss and no faffing about, very unlike previous United flounderings in the market.

Jorginho is a good player in the right system but is Arsenal’s system right for him? I’m not sure it is, Arsenal rely on quick passing and movement and I think he will slow the whole process down, does a nice Skippy penalty though.

On to Liverpool, Klopp deserves the chance to make things right after what he has achieved at the club but I’m not sure unless they get new owners he will be given the tools too succeed. The erosion of backroom staff has had a real knock on effect where as previously Liverpool strengthened areas which needed strengthening they seem to have just gone all in for shiny new forwards.

Andy Carroll, you Sir are a grade A Prick and the fact both the referee and VAR decided not to bin you after your first couple of assaults makes it all the worse, tried the entire game to cripple each and every United Midfielder within kicking distance.

Todd Boehly has basically gone all Harry Enfield loads a money waving his wad around like a 1980s Thatcher pin up, Portuguese fella? Have it LOADS A MONEY bish bash bosh.

And lastly Everton, Sean Dyche is unfairly painted as a long ball specialist when in reality the man worked miracles at Burnley where a board pocketed all the cash routinely sold off his best players and gave him a transfer budget of £20 and a packet of Walkers Crisps.

Stay safe and happy people.
Paul Murphy, Manchester


Arsenal fans don’t want to face reality of title fight
Lot of discussion obviously about Arsenal pivoting to sign a 31-year-old who might not be able to run after running into a brick wall in their pursuit of the eternal promise of Moises Caicedo.

All the reasons why the signing of Jorginho is basically fine and prudent stand up IMO but I think there’s something deeper than missing out on Caicedo in the minds of Arsenal fans.

Supporting a club that’s on a journey – a project, a process – is deep down an extremely satisfying experience. Because if you’re committed to the project, the actual results the team experiences are merely milestones on the way to a broader, shared goal. Moises Caicedo fits into that. An excellent player who might be a brilliant one in a few years’ time, he has unlimited untapped potential in the minds of Arsenal fans and represents another milestone in the rebuild and the process.

But here’s the thing, projects and processes are put in place to take you somewhere eventually: to win the league and maybe even the Champions League. What the signing of Jorginho says is that Arsenal want to win the league now, not in a couple of years.

Psychologically I think that’s difficult for fans because the alternative to winning the league is of course not winning the league. Failure. Falling down at the final hurdle. That’s the alluring thing about projects, they’re conceptual in their construction until the time they’re not.

Arsenal should be favourites to win the league in four months’ time. Regardless of expectations of them at the start of the season, failing to do that now would be a failure. But the project has sort of reached its destination even if its ahead of schedule and fans need to psychologically adjust to that demanding tangible success, not the promise of potential a few years down the line.
Simon, London


…Took the World Cup off and only getting back into the football properly now, my own version of dry January I suppose after a football teetotal run to the Christmas. One thing that appears to have remained the same since the last time I was perusing the mailbox is that Arsenal fans are probably the weirdest bunch around, their celeb fans are not helpful on this front either.

Look, all football fans are a bit mad, Liverpool and their lurching on Klopp, FSG, Man Utd and their love of a returning legend (sadly it all appears to be settling down there), Everton who to be fair have every reason to be mad, Chelsea who appear to live on a pretty shiny gold plated rollercoaster, Spurs, who are Spurs. But the whining from Arsenal fans is quite frankly unbelievable.

For the last 15 years we had the Wenger is past it and wins nothing, then he wins some cups, but that is not good enough for a team of Arsenal’s stature, the whole structure needs to be ripped up and built again, but we want instant success too.

So Arsenal go off, get a plan, put a structure in place, build a quite exciting team and go off and get to the top of the table playing good football, and still there is whinging. Arteta jumps up and down too much / not enough, should have spent 100’s of millions on kids, not on players that are needed, no the other way around, etc.

It appears that after years of complaining that Arsenal should be at the top of the table a good portion of their fan base really don’t want them at the top of the table. There is a good chance to win the league this year, break even in the City games and it could be on. As Liverpool have shown in the last few years these chances are hard to come by and can disappear quite quickly. So Arsenal fans, row in together for once (ok not you Stewie) and enjoy the ride, being a football fan is mostly tedious so enjoy the ride while it’s there.
Mel – Dublin, Berlin, Athlone Town
PS. Having said all that the explosion of rage when it all falls apart will be good viewing too.


Feels like a pragmatic signing and that’s fine
I’m not sure if the Jorginho signing will work out.

But years ago, when I wrote into the mailbox asking for my Arsenal back – this is the Arsenal I was after. You see Arsene had this really annoying habit of going for a player and then if it didn’t work out, attempting to make do with what he had or sign an incredibly young replacement, who we hoped would put in the sort of performances that belie their years.

George Graham, on the other hand, was a pragmatist. He was all about recruiting what you need and cutting your cloth accordingly. It seems to be something Mikel has learned and I’m here for it.

There will be those who will call Arsene our greatest manager ever but George was the last Arsenal manager to deliver our greatest moment ever, a European trophy and the only Arsenal manager to win a league cup.

Think Nicolas Anelka and Wrighty – one gave us his peak years and is an Arsenal legend and the other buggered off to Real at the first opportunity. Sometimes Mr Right Now as opposed to Mr Might Be Good in the Future is the better choice.
Graham Simons, Gooner, Norf London


How did Crystal Palace do?
* There is something very Crystal Palace about being classed as neither a winner nor a loser in F365’s transfer window round-ups. Nonetheless, there is something encouraging about their business; their midfield has been struggling this season for energy, dynamism and guile, and the two deadline day arrivals should change that. Whether one plays or both, it should also ease the pressure on Cheikh Doucoure. Neither player has come at huge cost, at a time when the club has said it does not have lots of money to spend.

* It’s certainly an interesting, and very modern, approach. Palace have struggled for goals this season, so it’s understandable a lot of transfer window pieces (including from F365) have suggested signing a striker. However well this can work, strikers are notoriously overvalued, as anyone who has read Soccernomics knows, and the January transfer window is infamously a time of hyperinflated transfer fees. The combination of these presents the ideal opportunity to try a different approach: strikers don’t always conjure goals out of thin air, so efforts to improve service to them should also make a difference. In Naouirou Ahamada, Palace have a player Whoscored lists as a strong dribbler and distance shooter; the same site notes Albert Sambi Lokonga is very strong for through balls and generally a good passer.

* Not going to lie, but the main reason I like Albert Sambi Lokonga is because, along with Luka Milivojevic, it means the Eagles now have two players whose names fit perfectly to Philadelphia Freedom by Elton John.

* A final word on Brighton & Hove Albion. For pantomime reasons I am required to dislike them but rivalry aside there’s a lot to admire about the way the club has lifted itself from the fourth tier to genuine contenders for a minor European place. The latest entry on the list is the way they resisted bigger club pressure on Moises Caicedo. It’s worth remembering that any valuation Albion placed on their contracted employee would have included the cost of replacing him. This is a self-perpetuating cycle because the more money they receive for their player, the more other clubs will expect them to fork out on a replacement. That said, the reaction from very online big club fans, of getting upset that someone won’t give them what they want on the exact conditions they stipulate, was some textbook incel behaviour. Have a word with yourselves.
Ed Quoththeraven


Pog days are over
In reply to Daniel, Cambridge, Man United now have a no dickhead policy (at last) so pretty sure ETH would have gotten rid of him anyway.


…Good one, Daniel from Cambridge. I won’t bite though, because you took the joke too far by suggesting that United should have taken Pogba on loan. You had me in the first half, not gonna lie. (You really didn’t).
Kim Johannesen, Copenhagen


What a difference half a season makes for Man Utd
It almost stretches the imagination as much as the memory to go back a mere nine months to remind ourselves what a sh*tshow Man United were under Rangnick. Performances were dire, players were demotivated, the best players were apparently considering their futures elsewhere, he was adamant that it needed 6-7 transfer windows to fix this team, and he consistently threw the team under the bus after every poor performance where we were spanked by teams across the league, from Man City, to Brighton.

If I look at the half a season (and it’s worth stressing – HALF a season) with ETH at United, here’s what he’s achieved. He’s changed the first team through high quality and successful acquisitions, improved existing players, gotten rid of egos, and created a strong team ethos. In the famous incident of the 13.8 extra kilometers that he made the team run after the Brentford game, the fact that he ran the distance himself as well, is the critical bit. Every criticism is of the collective and so is the praise. Always ‘we’, not ‘them’.

And this is being echoed by almost every player. And he’s started aligning the academy so that there is a more consistent pathway for players to make the move to the first team. Garnacho and Pellestri are on their way, and Kobbie Mainoo is the next up.

On the pitch, there’s a clear and improved the style of play – you can see the level of confidence and comfort on the ball, playing from back to front. United have become much less susceptible to the high press, and have the ability to both play through it or bypass it. There’s better defensive solidity, with players trained to focus for all 90 mins. De Gea no longer wins man of the match, though he still makes crucial saves. At the other end there is a consistent flow of goals. In January, we had 8 games, 20 goals, 8 goal scorers, and a variety of styles of scoring.

All of these add to something that might seem prosaic but is actually fundamental. United are now consistently beating teams that they should be beating. Commentators often say ‘you never know which version of xyz team will turn up on the day’. Increasingly with ETH’s United, you know what version of United will turn up regularly. A defensively solid team that plays for each other, with attacking fluidity and a number of different ways in which they can find goals. The performance against the top teams only underscores this.

To be fair this was the easy bit because there was so much that could be improved. The next step up will be harder. It’s also an amazing testimony to the difference a good manager can make and why clubs should arguably spend the most money and the maximum effort in appointing the right manager, and not reach for the lazy option of ‘was a very good player, so…’
Ved Sen (Jorginho at 12m is a steal nut presumably his salary makes up for it!), MUFC


On the actual football
Newcastle looked on fire for 20 minutes last night. After a day of clock watching and nervous build up and stress-eating hula hoops the relief at two goals in quick succession was immense. Fluid passing, movement, making space, and two really good goals. We tailed off when we had a big lead in the tie and Bruno’s red card made it jittery, but what an opening flurry to take control.

I’ve repeatedly praised Longstaff for his work ethic but assumed he was never going to quite have the final product to be a first time regular in the new era. I thought Eddie was being a bit too nice trying to play him continuously while St Max is on the bench and Joe L out wide. I thought we were desperate for a CM upgrade. Not for the first time, Eddie knows better. Two semi final goals don’t make Longstaff the answer to everything but they’re a hell of a moment.

We’re in a cup final for the first time since the 90s- since before I can really remember, since before Alexander Isak was even born…

Big 3 PL games without Bruno and with Shelvey gone, but I’d back Longstaff, Willock and Joe Linton to be enough midfield for Liverpool…

Well done Eddie.
Roger, Newcastle in London