Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Football Special - The Transfer window slams shut

I don't know what is wrong with me this year. I am really not that excited about the new football season. Am I starting to fall out of love with the game. Sure I've watched as many as I could, but for some reason, I just cannot seem to find much enthusiasm at the moment. As a Manchester City FC fan, I am still feeling upset about the departure of Roberto Mancini. He may not have been perfect, but he was a very "Manchester City" man. How on earth could anyone be pleased to see the departure of a man who delivered the first trophy since 1976 and the first League Championship since 1968?

We now have Manuel Pelligrini on the touchline. It is true to say that I haven't warmed to him yet. Maybe the defeat to Cardiff City on the second game of the season didn't help. Anyway, enough of my moaning about MCFC, what about the transfer window. Perhaps this sums up my current feelings about football. Gareth Bale goes to Real Madrid for £85 million. The total dealings are over £600 million. Pardon me, but I thought Spain was in economic crisis? We have papers full of talk of immigrants, calling the spongers, but a whole bevvy of second rate, overrated imports have turned up on massively inflated salaries. At the same time we see ever fewer English born players in the Premier League and an ever shrinking pool of players for the England team. Young players are left on the periphery as managers splash the cash to seek a quick fix.

Whilst these over payed imports turn up, grassroots football is struggling. Sunday League clubs fold, youth teams scratch around for pitches to play on as cities build flats on them all. If you want to see truly aweful behaviour watch the parents at any Under 13 football match in the higher leagues.

It doesn't surprise me to see such bad behaviour, when we have players like Suarez biting and racially abusing his fellow professionals. Then there is the price of watching football. How many working class people can afford a season ticket for them and their children. I know of two Arsenal season ticket holders who did not renew their tickets this season.

And what about the key moves and non moves of the window. Manchester City conducted their business with strange calm and professionalism, identifying most of their targets early and completing the business in time. Chelsea have seemed more intent on using the window to wind up rivals than actually buying anyone. United have behaved in a most bizarre fashion, betraying a huge lack of class with the dealings with Everton. I don't personally see Fellani as a Manchester United quality player, although Moyes clearly has a different view of how to win the Champions League to Alex Ferguson. This has ultimately cost them big time. Moyes missed out on one target and payed over the odds for the other. Arsenal have missed on all of their original targets, finally pulling a rabbit out of the hat on the last hour of the window. Ozil is a great player. Is he the answer to Arsenals woes, I suspect if this was the case, maybe he'd have arrived earlier. I suspect that maybe his signing was delayed by the Bale transfer. And as for Spurs, they have done well. They may have lost Bale, but they have recruited well. I believe the biggest winners were Everton, with some excellent deals and some cash in the bank. Liverpool have been quiet. Is it any coincidence that they are top of the league at the moment.

Last season the team who bought the most players was QPR and they were relegated. I don't believe it is wise to buy more than 3-4 players at any one time, unless you have to. By the time the team gells, you can be too far behind to catch up. Most Top teams have traditionally bought one or two players in the close season to strengthen, replacing players past their sell by dates. All we seem to have now is a merry go round, where the agents are the big winners.

Is this the season where football will lose its appeal? I actually doubt it. I suspect that when City play United, I will still feel the same, if City win 6-1 again, I will have my faith restored. Who knows. I do know that whatever happens, I believe the finances of football to be unsustainable. For me the golden era will always be between 1965 and 1982. Sure I am an old fart, but Nottingham Forest came up, won the League and then won the European Cup, England won the World Cup. I found an old program from a match between QPR and Manchester City. Every single player on both teams was someone I recalled with affection. We had characters like Stan Bowles, Rodney Marsh and Tony Currie adding flair. We had the hardmen such as "Chopper Harris" in defence. We had mercurial players such as Colin Bell and Peter Barnes, who could in a moment change a game with their brilliance. In 1982, we even had Watford FC get promoted and finish as runners up.

You paid next to nothing to watch the game. The "facilities" were rubbish, but you went to watch a game of football. I can remember when Manchester City bought Steve Mackenzie. I thought the fee was completely bonkers. Little did I know what we would see in the modern game. Had someone told me as I watched City Play QPR back in 1977 that they would be owned by rich Arabs, play in a new stadium owned by the Council, spend £88 million in the close season, and only have one English player regularly in the team, I'd think you were completely mad. It is sad to say I have become a grumpy old man !

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