World Cup years give all club managers a real dilemma. Do you try and recruit all your transfers before the tournament or do you wait until it’s over?
The fact is, every WC is the world’s biggest advertising brochure for players, especially from less high profile nations. Anyone having a good tournament will immediately be on every manager’s radar even if he’s not been so before. Playing well on such a stage is proof of your quality – or at least, it usually is.
The name Djemba Djemba may prove otherwise. Trouble is if you wait until it’s over, the prices of anyone half decent will have rocketed but if you buy someone before it all kicks off, he could get injured and be out for a few months or he might play so poorly that you begin to question your purchase before he’s even arrived.
The players themselves don’t want the distraction of transfer talk during a tournament – hence we have the likes of Fabregas and Gerrard saying they’re not even thinking about their future until the end of the World Cup. So what is a manager to do? There has been relatively little transfer activity so far, and with only a couple of weeks to go till the opening games, it looks like most are holding off until after the tournament.
With only around a month between the end of the World Cup and the start of the new season, it guarantees it will be a frantic July this year and the performance of players throughout will be crucial in gearing what transfer activity there is.
However, as United’s purchase of Djemba Djemba and Kleberson proved, it’s easy to be over impressed by what you see at a World Cup. A winner at international level doesn’t always make a winner at club level; its two different kinds of game. There are always those players who seem to thrive on an international stage where there is often more time on the ball and you’re surrounded by better players. When transferred to a club, they have neither of those assets. Similarly, those who look lost on the big stage could be useful players week in week out in the chill of a December gale.
Due to the globalized nature of football, there are very few hidden gems anymore. Anyone playing at any decent level is likely to have been scouted by more than one club already. However, the World Cup has a special kind of glamor to it. It can make or break a player, often quite unfairly. A manager has to try and see through the veneer and gloss of this, the biggest of stages and see who can do a job for them away at Blackpool on a wet Tuesday in February. This is where the best earn their corn.
We live in fascinating times.