On 27 May the last meaningful game (apart from the FA Cup Final) involving an English club will take place this season. That is of course the Champions League Final between Manchester United and Barcelona – a nice little birthday present for me. It will be an even better week for me should my team prevail at Wembley on 25th May. Aside from turning another year older, the thing that will get me down is the start of the aimless transfer speculation until the start of next season.
English newspapers really excel at making the summer without league football unbearable by linking every major player in Europe, to the ‘big four’ and Manchester City. Often it seems that football journo’s must sit round a table and throw out combinations of clubs and players due to the lack of real stories. It does seem to amaze me that if we were to believe the UK tabloids Valencia’s David Villa would have signed for each of the 5 clubs mentioned above 15 times over. Speculation that appears to be pretty darn pointless when we consider how many times Villa has been quoted as stating he has no desire to leave.
Chelsea and Liverpool will no doubt have busy summers adding players to their squads to challenge United for the title. Arsenal will as per usual be linked by the red banner tabloids to players that they simply cannot afford. United you may assume, may be a tad more frugal in the summer market.
One club’s name above all others will irk me like nothing on earth this summer, Manchester City. Let me state immediately i have nothing against the Citizens, but the transfer stories that surround them are just frustrating and stupid. This is not always of the club’s own making either, it is not rocket science to link a good-size club with an astronomical budget to the best players in the world – providing they are all paid 250k a week and cost least £80 million.
Perhaps journalists and City themselves will learn from the Kaka episode that money really isn’t everything – even in football. Kaka is playing for one of the giants of Europe, resides in the beautiful city of Milano and is very well settled with his wife Caroline – not exactly a girl you would kick out of bed for breaking wind. Let us also take into account the high wages he is already on, his hero status at AC, and the fact that the Rossoneri will challenge for honours on all fronts. OR the Brazilian could have gone to a club that hasn’t won the league since 1967/68 and cannot offer Champions League football. Offer any kid in the street to earn 200k a week and finish tenth in the league, or earn 80k and win the title, what do you think he would choose?
Dimitar Berbatov is another example of why City won’t be challenging any time soon. City – depending on what elements of the strory you believe, offered a higher bid than United and no doubt offered about twice as much in wages for the Bulgarian. They seemed to forget why ‘Berba’ wanted to leave Spurs in the first place, win major trophies and play in the Champions League.
City did prevail in landing Robinho from under Chelsea’s noses and his strike ratio in a light-blue is impressive – 14 in 30 games. However that ‘coup’ appears to be a one off. No doubt Robinho’s presence at the club will be used as bait during transfer negotiations with Europe’s top players, it didn’t work on Kaka or Berbatov though. This in mind it appears that no matter how much City will offer to the current Superstars of the game it appears they won’t be interested. A more realistic aim of the movers and the Sheikhers (see what I did there) at Eastlands is to adopt a more sensible approach in how they build the club.
Mark Hughes made a good signing in Wayne Bridge and I personally believe that is a good model to follow. Hughes made another pair of good signings in De Jong and Kompany, players who will improve the squad without selling 100,000 shirts in the Asia. Build slowly, improve the team gradually, blending youth and experience. What City need to forget about for now is eyeing a £150 Million for Lionel Messi and selling shirts with the names of flair players and superstars on the back of them. Should the Citizens start to sign good (not sensational) players from the lesser clubs domestically and the players in Europe who want to play in the Premier League, then maybe the club could start to aim for fourth place.
I fear however that ‘Sparky’ won’t be given time to do this.