R.F.Wilson reports from London: I’m no expert on football, although I don’t really understand how anyone can be an expert on matters relating to a bunch of people pushing the ball for 90 minutes, but I have a few observations of my own on what’s going on in the English Premiership this season. You know, top clubs spending a fortune on foreign players and then coming up with some pretty pathetic explanations of why they don’t win points or demonstrate an exciting game on the pitch.
Take the so-called ‘crisis’ engulfing Chelsea, with Jose Marinho having lost his bravado all of a sudden after going around and behaving like he’s already won a triple. His team lost in the European Championship to Basle, soon after the Blues had lost in the Premiership to Everton. We now hear that Marinho has held a crisis meeting with his team at their training camp, discussing the situation. And, more ominously for him and the others, Roman Abramovich, that great authority on the beautiful game, paid a visit recently to the dressing room, to talk to the players, through a translator, while avoiding to undermine his manager. Not yet at least, but everyone knows how short Roman’s fuse is.
It all looks and sounds like a farce to us, non-experts on football. Especially as we remember well how Marinho ‘excelled’ during his first spell at Chelsea, while depending on Didier Drogba delivering the crucial goals. If Drogba were not there, Marinho would have probably lost his job first time round even quicker than he did.
Look, I’m no expert on football, like Jamie Redknapp, but even I can see that the obscene money showered on Chelsea by Mr Abramovich turned it into a poisoned chalice. Until the Russian billionaire owns the club, it’s got no proper future. Even though Chelsea did win their last match yesterday in a shambolic way and are now top of the league. But it’s a bit like the economic recovery in Britain. It will last only until the government continues to give unlimited money to banks and publish false statistics. Then it’s back to the recession.
And Arsenal is another club that makes us, non-experts on football, wonder whether it’s all not some strange game. Arsene Wenger, the manager, has not won a single trophy in the past eight years, is once again promising to demonstrate determination to win some silverware. And everyone nods and buys this rubbish. How does that work? For the past eight years Wenger has been saying exactly the same thing. But this time it’s different, we are told. Because, laughably, Arsenal has finally sorted out their ‘financial pressures’, building a new stadium and all, and can now get down to the business of winning. Whom are they kidding? Wenger has overstayed his welcome by at least 8 years.
And then there’s Manchester United and the Wayne Rooney saga that has been dragging for months, supposedly keeping Man U fans on their toes: will Wayne play for their beloved club or not? Well, we amateurs see it like this: Rooney may be a good player but a star he ain’t. No foreign club ever seriously thought of buying him. Outside Man U he is no big deal, as his non-achievements in the English national squad prove. And just because his agents wanted to use a bit of blackmail, to get their client a better deal, well, they have pulled it off just fine but it’s got nothing to do with football. And the new man, David Moyes, is no Alex Ferguson, so it’s not going to be easy for the club this season.
Tottenham Hotspurs have blown 100 million smackers on buying footballers this season, having sold Gareth Bale for £85 million, even though he was not worth even half of that amount, but will they be serious contenders for the league title? Experts say yes, but we, non-experts, have our doubts, because English teams tend not to gel well when they buy too many foreigners. Not to mention that Tottenham could have kept Bale, to have at least one great player in Britain where the Premiership seems to be taking all that diversity thing way too seriously, while forgetting about developing local talent.
Manchester City is another club that is foreign owned and has been spending like mad during the transfer window. Again, the same problems arises. Man City were tipped to win the title last seasons by the experts but as it carries the same curse as Chelsea it might not achieve that.
The big problem with the Premiership, as I see it, is that the top clubs have gone absolutely bonkers over spending millions on new players and pay them way, way too much, while the English FA, a collective of shifty-eyed individuals looks the other way while battling racism and homophobia on the pitch and in the stadium stalls. An absolutely useless entity, if you ask me, that FA.