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Over the years, I have grown less concerned about transfer fees. Let’s be honest: there’s no such thing as a reasonable fee paid for any player at any level – it’s all exorbitant and ridiculous spending really. The only time I really get interested in transfer fees is in the context of our reported budget, i.e. if the fee we pay for for one player hinders us from being able to sign another player we also need. Harry Maguire signing for £80m is ridiculous but really speaking it’s no more or less ridiculous than Virgil van Dijk at £75m, or Neymar at £200m, or even £800k for Steve Bruce back in the day. I think people are far too hung up on fees these days, something I have also been guilty of in the past, but it’s all about context really. The only things that United need concern ourselves with are:
Is he better than the players we already had? On previous evidence there’s really very little concern in this regard; for both Leicester and England he has shown that he is a talented player quite consistently. It’s very early days in his United career but the signs suggest that he is, having played well in his first two matches and seemingly formed a reasonable understanding with both Lindelof and Shaw next to him. We’ll see more how that develops in the next few months and years, but he’s off to a good start.
Does he fit how we want to play? I would say quite obviously yes. He seemed to be one of only a very select number of players we wanted for that position, alongside maybe only Koulibaly, so he must fit the profile. From an observers vantage point, I would say he ticks the boxes: calm under pressure in possession, good in the air, good passing game are all things that Jones and Smalling weren’t.
Could we afford him? Again, obviously yes. At the start of the window then I would think it was reasonable to assume that there was at least in the £150m mark to play with and we subsequently brought in about £70m + recovered wages (which might even go up a bit more if Sanchez leaves this month). So again, this wasn’t really a concern.
All things considered, I don’t really care too much how much he cost us if he plays well consistently. His transfer fee won’t really dictate whether he’s a success – only his performances will. If he turns out to be bobbins then, sure, you can say it was a waste of money but that would still be the case even if he’d cost £8m. It would be different if we had gone and signed someone like Neymar for £200m or something, and clearly broken our financial structure, if he had then turned out to be utterly useless because then you’re saddled with an expensive mistake that will continue to cost you into the future (Alexis Sanchez, anyone?); we didn’t go beyond our means because £80m was within our budget, so the finer details of his price don’t really matter.
When I watch him play I’m not thinking “£80m player”, I’m just thinking “United player”. It definitely doesn’t matter to me how much we paid or whether or not he turns out to be better than Van Dijk because we don’t really need him to be; we only need him to be better than the players he has replaced and at least equal to the attackers he faces. I certainly won’t be counting the pennies any time he makes a mistake; Phil Jones has taught me the fultility of that particular exercise.
Let’s just enjoy Maddison
So F365 publish an article the other day slating Simon Jordan and Karen Brady for their words on Daniel Sturridge quite rightly. They don’t know him and as was said people within the game really respect and him and Klopp who has managed him for the last 4 years has said nothing but good things about him.
So it was to my great surprise that today I see an article from Seb Stafford-Bloor doing the exact same thing to James Maddison.
“It’s easy to criticise him. It’s also easy to interpret the way he looks and how he carries himself as an accurate reflection of who he is. As a bit brash, a bit obnoxious. Is that fair? Only people who actually know him can answer that, but it’s actually part of what makes him alluring. Jeremy Clarkson may not like it, but Maddison looks the part. He struts his way through warm-ups and has that confidentdemeanour on the pitch which makes him seem like a star in waiting”
So you don’t know the guy at all but to you he is “arrogant” and “struts around” in a warm up. Almost everything I’ve seen on him says he’s hard working and really wants to make the best of himself. He back’s himself but what footballer at the top level doesn’t?
Theres about as much consistency here as the handball rule for attackers and defenders.
Lets enjoy watching Maddison develop with starting the rumours of him being difficult and being the new David Bentley.
Why would you sign?
Question to the mailbox. I’ve kind of seen a pattern arise for players who sign for Barcelona or Real Madrid, and I was wondering what the mailbox thinks. Often, the clubs will go all out to court, tap up, and basically blow smoke up the backsides of any player they want, especially young players. Obviously, they have the prestige, any young player probably dreams of playing for them since picking up a joypad to play Fifa or Pro Evo, but how many of those players end up used, abused or discarded?
I’d say for every Ronaldo, there is a Dembele. Players who’s development takes a hit because the seductive idea of being a major signing for the world’s biggest clubs supersedes this. I think of Sancho at Dortmund, who has recently signed a new contract in spite of offers from United and PSG, and I think he has been smart. If Real really want him, or one of the other superclubs, they will have to make him a record signing. And unless you are a record signing, you will never have the club truly back you. Basically this is a round about way of asking, if you were a great young player, what club would you want to play for, and why? Even as an Arsenal fan, I’d want to go to either Dortmund, Southampton, Ajax, or Liverpool. Those are the clubs that seem to be properly nurturing talent IMO.
John (TRAITOR) Matrix AFC
I am sitting here stunned, and in absolute awe, of Ian Holloway’s brexit/VAR comments.
I’m not going to call it the stupidest, most Brexity thing ever said – but for anyone who doesn’t know how football’s rules get changed, please google ‘IFAB’ and take a look at how its membership and rules are structured.
While I was campaigning for Remain in the referendum back in 2016 I was told by a man looking not dissimilar to the esteemable Ian Holloway that all of us Remainers were traitors, as the EU had invaded the Falklands.
This is their world, we just live in it.
VAR was inevitable
How many times have you watched a match and an exchange, between commentators or in the studio, like this happens?’I think he might have handled that/fouled etc’
*watches frame by frame, zoomed in replay*
‘Yep, he has. I can’t believe the ref hasn’t seen it’
You get the gist. Technology has been used for so long as a stick to beat the ref with. And whip up the masses when a result hasn’t gone your way. This is one of the reasons why we have Var now, because of the constant outcry against a miniscule offence that you only spotted because it was reviewed several times, from several angles, at 1/10th speed. And then bitch and moan that the refs necessary snap judgement can be wrong. With that consistent level of undermining going on from fans, pundits, ex pros etc, Var was inevitable.
Anyway my question is this, for people opposed to Var, if you were told that Var would be scrapped but, to protect refs, incidents could only be reviewed from their viewpoint (or as close as possible) at full speed and only once, would you agree to it?
Kev (it’s the linesmen I feel sorry for)
Is this the year that Barcelona get ripped to shreds in La Liga and The Champions League?
The average age of this current 2019/20 starting 11 is 28.7yrs, that’s including the youngster De Jong and Griezmann, who is no spring chicken anymore at 28yrs old.
They have an aging Piqué, Busquets, Rakitic & Suárez, all over 30yrs of age (Messi is 32, but I think we can all allow him some leyway for being the football Messiah).
Add to that Démbélé being injured, Malcom sold to Russia and Coutinho loaned to Champions League rivals Bayern, and this team have a serious lack of pace. I think Valverde could be on borrowed time. Gone by Christmas is my bet.
(Anyone know how to type Rakitic with a c accent..?)
One more about the pundits
Phil Neville claims that footballers should get off social media due to the ridiculous abuse they get online.
But one thing that feeds this type of abuse is the overly strong opinions expressed by pundits towards certain players.
Could Phil speak to Gary and ask him to take a chill pill?