As the English Premiership goes cash crazy, will Scottish football forever be left looking “over the fence” at its rich neighbour?
At the time of writing, English Champions Manchester United are attempting to thrash out a £16million deal for Blackburn Rovers defender Phil Jones. On the very same day, heading across the M62 to Liverpool, Anfield boss Kenny Dalglish simply has to cross the Ts and dot the Is on the £16 million signing of Sunderland’s Jordan Henderson.
In a world of football that boasts household names such as the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo - as well as Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard on these shores - you’d be forgiven for asking…….WHO?
The mega bucks signings of Jones – a hulking, no nonsense 19 year-old centre half – and Henderson – a creative, box-to-box midfielder in the mould of Gerrard himself – paints a frightening picture of the spiralling transfer fees most in the modern game, and Scottish football in particular, will struggle to compete with. Ever.
The transfer window north of the Border this summer will mostly consist of clubs thrashing out free transfer and loan deals while continuing to count every penny coming in and going out of their respective clubs.
But in England, it is another world altogether. The English Premiership has gone mad. Money seems to be no option.
Take both Jones and Henderson, 20, for example. No one can doubt their potential after an explosive season in the “world’s greatest league”. But to be the subject of huge transfers this early in their careers is ridiculous. Especially as they have achieved nothing in the game.
Defender Jones made his debut for Blackburn just two years ago in the 2009/2010 season, making just 9 appearances for Rovers’ first team. Last season he added a further 25 games to his Rovers’ career, earning plaudits for his performances. He has yet to play for England’s first team, making just five appearances for the U21s.
Henderson is slightly more experienced. Slightly.
He made one appearance for the Black Cats in 2008 before being sent to Coventry on loan. On his return to the Stadium of Light, Henderson became a mainstay in the side, notching up almost 100 appearances in two seasons between 2009 and 2011. He has received one cap for England, and is still just 20 years-old.
Despite both being in the early years of their respective careers – in Jones’ case, he is slightly more experienced than an apprentice – they are set to sign for two of the biggest clubs in the world for the grand total of £32 million. Compare that to the money that both Celtic and Rangers have splashed out for their ENTIRE current squads and you get the picture.
Compare this current situation to that of just under 20 years ago when Manchester United splashed out £3.75 million to prize Roy Keane away from Nottingham Forest in 1993. It is frightening.
That fee was the British transfer record at the time and similarly a controversial one despite Keane having three years’ experience in England’s top league, two appearances at Wembley and two losers’ medals under his belt. But at least Keane had experience and had grabbed a foothold in the game under the stewardship of Brian Clough at Forest before he was subject of a big money move. Now though, both Man Utd and Liverpool are set to sign players seemingly worth FOUR times more than Keane but having achieved much, much less.
So what does the future hold then for the rest of world football and, in particular, the Old Firm in general? Where does this madness stop? And will clubs such as Celtic and Rangers still be able to compete in ten or twenty years time when, for example, the average transfer fee south of the border has jumped to, let’s say, £50 million?
Who knows what the future holds. But when Manchester United and Liverpool can splash out a combined fee of over £30 million for “potential”, it doesn’t bode well for everyone else hoping to catch the occasional diamond that falls from the big boys’ table.
Sports Soundoff's Guide To The 2013-2014 English Premier League
- King K.A.N.
The English Premier League is back and for a soccer fan, it’s returned not a moment too soon. After all the intrigue of the off-season and the transfer window, with people coming and going, with Gareth Bale’s flirtacions with Real Madrid, with Wayne Rooney deciding he doesn’t wanna play under David Moyes and with Luis Suarez trying to fight his way out of Liverpool, is been exciting. Still yet, the games and the action on the field is what makes the EPL the best show on grass, and this season is destined to be a fantastic one.
That said, being the resident snob when it comes to “the beautiful game” here at the Sports Soundoff, I’m guessing it’s my turn to break down how I see the Top Six breaking down, as well as give you readers, my people if you will, a few things to watch as the EPL comes to us here in America live on NBC Sports and around on the globe on your respective cable stations.
Get excited folks.
The Top Six:
- Recently, I moved into a new place, a new condo. In doing so, I had to buy new furniture, bought a new set of China, and some decorative pieces, like lamps, night tables, but the thing that annoyed me most was this waste basket I bought from HomeGoods. It’s silver, it has a dent in the lid, but it was the only thing they had, so I was blessed with having to buy a broken piece of home accessory. I’m being passive-aggressive, and I probably shouldn’t have bought it, but it was 7 dollars.
I still spent more than Arsenal did in this transfer market.
That would be fine and dandy if this was 2004 and this team was the Invincibles of Thierry Henry, but they are not and they haven’t won a trophy…OF ANY KIND in years. Beyond that, they’ve raised seat prices as if they had, go out making claims that they have around 250 million to spend, but they’ve gone about it in a maddening way because rather than spend it on anybody worth a shit, they’ve sat on it in a smug way trying to play that game that “forward-thinking” sports organizations play, trying to spout off “Sabermetrics” and “Advanced Scouting” rather than splashing money, necessary money on someone whose going to make an impact.
And when they do spend like, like they attempted to do for Luis Suarez who had a $ 40 Million release clause? They bid 40 million and 1 FUCKING DOLLAR. Who does that. You told us flat out you have $250 Million and you, like a cheap ass, bid $40 Million and 1? For what reason? For some smug satisfaction and to prove a point? You’re a fucking moron with your boxing glove hands, Arsenal. Crocodile arms that can’t reach your wallet aren’t going to help you lift trophies and certainly aren’t going to help you when the fans are tired of paying exorbitant prices for a second rate team who only cares about turning a profit and not turn a team into a contender.
At this point, you might as well call Arsenal what it is. Arsenal is a feeder team to better clubs. Van Persie to United. Fabregas to Barca. Nasri to Man City. It’s how shit works there and it’s embarassing. You’re taking the youth of one of the best youth products in England’s new generation in Oxlade-Chamberlain, Walcott and Wilshere…and you’re wasting it because you want to keep the purse strings tight. You’re a fucking moron if you’re running the board and doing that.
Best case? You’re hoping nobody is as good as advertised and that the game against Aston Villa was an anomaly. You’re hoping that Olivier Giroud is healthy and Jack Wilshere doesn’t get hurt again.
Worst case? They have a mediocre team with a thin back line and a shaky goaltender, having brought nobody in to make a difference as they finish outside of Champions League football and make a mockery of the supposed money they have while raising ticket prices yet again. In short, Arsenal is fucked because for too many years they’ve been trying to fuck their fans by not putting a competent product on the field. Now you pay.
- I’m a Liverpool fan, so this may be biased, but the team itself is kind of shit. They have one really good player in Luis Suarez, two good-potential-to-be-great players in Phillippe Coutinho and Daniel Sturridge, an old legend in Steven Gerrard, and a bunch of other players who either don’t live up to their ability or are still too young to be judged adequately. They’re a mid-table team and will be that for a few years, but they did well in the transfer market picking up Iago Aspas and Kolo Toure, who if nothing else, gives them a solid centre back to stabilize what was a shaky back line last year.
Best case? Suarez stays, your youth develops, and Simon Mignolet ends up being an upgrade over Pepe Reina. Coutinho continues to impress, Sturridge matures and the bulk of your core goes at the same time.
Worst case? Suarez leaves, probably to Arsenal who are trying to lure him, you are left without a marquee player, your youth takes a step backward in their development, and or you find yourself with a Luis Suarez who doesn’t want to be there and ends up poisoning the chemistry of the team.
Either way, there’s enough talent here to make a run at fourth and a Champions League spot, but not enough experience to lock it down. There will be slip-ups, but Liverpool fans need to be positive because the Brendan Rodgers era is starting to turn it around. It was always meant to be a marathon with the youngsters on this team and the amount of them….not a sprint.
- They’re the most interesting team in the EPL this year if only because the drama that surrounds them and this Bale saga that continues to drag out almost endlessly and unnecessarily. Still, Tottenham is a one-man team because of Gareth Bale and the team took strides this year to change that, surrounding him with a boatload of talent in hopes that he stays and this team finally makes the Champions League.
Thing is, the siren call of REAL CHAMPIONS LEAGUE FOOTBALL and not just the possibility of it has Bale looking elsewhere, even with the additions of Roberto Soldado who scores 24 goals a year like it was easy, Etienne Capoue who was a stud in Ligue 1 last year, and Paulinho who might end up being the signing of the season in the EPL.
Best case? Bale stays, you finish 4th and you manage to play Champions League football for the first time in…ever. Soldado pays off, Vertonghen solidifies a back line, Hugo Lloris doesn’t look afraid to play goal and Paulinho is everything you expected.
Worst case? Bale leaves. Soldado ends up being a $45 million dollar bust and you’re playing in the Europa League again.
On paper, this team is scary and has all the talent to final get over the hump. Soldado may not be particularly great, but he’s proficient, having scored 59 goals in 101 appearances for Valencia in Spain, and not for anything, in the EPL, 24 goals in a year is the difference between the glitz and glamour of a Champions League spot…or the disappointment of playing in the second-tier Europa League with all the other teams that finish 5th or 6th in their own respective leagues.
It’s Top 4 and Champions League or bust.
- Oh Jesus Christ. Save us all from the madness. This team is great on paper. David Luiz is a stud, Eden Hazard is great and Oscar will join him relative soon in that same echelon where they both try to play second fiddle to Juan Mata, but there is just too many egos at this club for it to pay off. The only reason they even finish third is because the collection of talent is too great for them to lose anywhere near enough games to drop to fourth. Only talent alone, they should be Third at worst.
The thing is, talent is often derailed by ego and in Jose Mourinho, they not only have ego, they have the personification of someone in love with themselves. We’ve seen what his ego can do positively at Porto and Inter Milan, and we seen what it can do negatively when it gets out of control like it did at Real Madrid.
Best case? Mourinho doesn’t get in the way of his players. Worst case? Mourinho behaves like Mourinho, believes in that “Special One” crap and it’s Madrid 2.0.
2. Manchester City
- They’re too good. They’re too good, they’ve added Jovetic, Navas, Fernandinho and Negredo while still keeping Nasri, Dzeko, Aguero and a mountain more of talent that they’ve hoarded over the past two years and most importantly they’ve added a manager who is so good at managing players, egos and their own personal desires that many consider him the best living manager in the World right now. High praise.
Best case? The new additions along with the old mercenaries gel, they bag goals like crazy and Joe Hart’s precipitous slide into being a terrible goalie is held off another year as the defense’s old legs carry them into another Premiership winning season.
Worst case? They don’t gel at all. The defense gets exposed. Joe Hart is finally and inexplicably crocked way before anybody would have thought two years ago. City ends up missing a striker like Balotelli and Tevez because Negredo ends up being a bust and Jovetic can’t adjust.
1. Manchester United
- If City is scary good, then Man Utd presents a lineup that would promote horror film-esque screams for the opposition. Wayne Rooney drama aside, it’s entirely possible that this is the best collection of talent that Man Utd has fielded in recent memory. Robin Van Persie showed us today that any hope his exploits last year were a fluke…are unfounded and he’s just entering his prime at a recently turned 30 years old. Wilfred Zaha and Shinji Kagawa are going to make a ridiculously good tandem/platoon in the midfield and even if he wants out to Chelsea, Wayne Rooney is still the best thing to wear an England shirt right now.
David Moyes has always been a great manager, but now the man finally has the talent and the bankroll to sustain his talent and his abilities. Man Utd hasn’t really even been that active in the transfer market, but expect that to change before it closes. Meszut Ozil is being talked about heavily, as are a handful of others, so I’m willing to bet they aren’t done. Danny Wellbeck is still developing and looking great in a United shirt and David De Gea has shown the early jitters are nothing now that he’s the unquestioned man between the sticks.
It’s theirs to lose.
More after the jump!! Please continue reading, I know this is retardedly long, but I promise you it’ll be good!
This situation between Leo and RIver fan is disgusting:
1. River fans mad because Leo scored a goal against them. What the actual fuck??? It’s fucking football, yes, he is Argentinian but didn’t play against his nation but against club. So according to this, Spanish football players in La Liga or English football players in Premiership or whatever aren’t allowed to score goal because ohhh, they can’t score against clubs of their countries, it’s so disrespectful lmao, I can’t believe how people can be stupid.
And he even apologized when he scored and he didn’t have to….
2. We all know Argentinian football fans. If you win, you are God, they are making temple for you, if you lose, you are nothing, and they will probably come to your house to kill you (as Kun said to punch you lol), they are sometimes ‘’too passionated’’ about it. But it’s THEIR CAPITAIN, THEIR PLAYER. Spitting at your own capitain and player who took you to World Cup and Copa America finals!!! Leo owes them nothing!! They actually turned their backs when he needed them the most (River was the first club that didn’t want to pay his treatments). If I was him, I’d go to Spanish NT, be a World Cup champion and European Cup champion twice. But instead of accepting people who actually helped him, he wanted to play for his country, country where no club wanted to help him when he needed them, where half of population hates him and criticizes every step he makes, just because he is not Maradona, he didn’t come back with World Cup trophy like Maradona. Funny thing is that people know only 20% of story about Maradona and ARG NT. But who cares about if you are good person, or not, you have to be WC champion to earn their respect. Leo himself said that Argentinians (not all but good number of them) criticize all the time and act like they weren’t in WC and CA finals. I get obsession with Maradona and succes he made, but Maradona didn’t win WC himself FFS. That fucking moment when whole world respects him but his own people don’t.
I just hope Leo will retire from NT soon and leave us suffer, that is the only way for some Argies to start respecting him, just a little bit. But it’s Leo, he loves his country like no one else, he is mas argentino que dulce de leche, if he didn’t leave NT after CA 2011, he will never leave it. Funny is that fans think that finals hurt them more than him lmao. But anyway, again, HE OWES THEM NOTHING.