IN all my years as a fanatical football fan, I can’t ever claim to have witnessed such a mad bonkers close season like this one.Every year we shake our heads in utter bewilderment at the staggering sums of money that move between clubs. Each year that passes, the EPL shatters it’s own record for the total amount spent on transfers and each year individual transfer records are decimated.
The arrival of eccentric billionaire owners at Chelsea have certainly contributed to the total gross increase spent on players with Chelsea alone having spent one billion GBP since the takeover.
Not all the clubs are willing to go into this ultra-mad spending frenzy although Liverpool did forget their frugality for a while in their dog fight with Chelsea for Moses Caicedo. They will be glad I imagine after the initial embarrassment of losing out on the Caicedo deal that they ultimately didn’t tie up funds that could be utilised a lot more effectively in bolstering the squad.
Manchester United meanwhile are as usual their own worst enemies as they manage to always score own goals in the transfer window! For starters, all their actual transfer targets are for whatever reason made public before Man United themselves have even made contact with the club or player! This results in the process of their every single acquisition being played out and dragged out in front of the entire world for an eternity resulting not only in the possibility of the transfer target being poached by a rival, but also manifesting in a substantially higher amount paid by them than initially budgeted for.
This inevitably amounts to them having a mountain to climb in the last few days of the window which they have in recent times failed to ascend as their purchases of overpriced flops Antony and Sancho quite clearly demonstrate. This window has been no different with close to 200 million GBP spent with no noticeable improvement.
This 2023 version of Manchester United cannot rely on its historic reputation any longer to entice players over to its embattled old decaying fortress. Hampered by profit-driven owners who care little about the success of the club, Manchester United cannot hope to compete with the elite EPL teams if they continue to operate as an amateur run institution with little professional planning and an ownership unwilling to release the right money when necessary.
There is no point in being linked with every available player on the market as Manchester United invariably are and then either paying foolishly high amounts to bring in average players or failing to bring the right ones in because you couldn’t raise the money. They will be relieved that Sofyan Amrabat had patience in abundance and waited for the move to Old Trafford to eventually happen as the Moroccan’s arrival is so crucial to turning their season around.
Manchester City by contrast couldn’t be run any differently. The Citizens are on another wavelength when it comes to how they conduct their business.They seldom openly mention or flaunt their potential targets in advance and their new acquisitions are brought in with a degree of stealth, effortlessness, clinical effectiveness, concorde speed and some might even say ruthlessness.
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Mattheus Nunes who arrived from Wolves became City’s fourth major signing of the summer after the arrivals of Josko Gvardiol, Mateo Kovacic and Jeremy Doku.Incredibly I swear that the first I heard of the impending move of Nunes to Manchester was towards the end of last week while similarly, the first I heard of Doku’s move from France to England was a couple of days before he duly arrived. On the other hand Cole Palmer, their young protege who scored the vital equalizer for Man City against Sevilla in the European Supercup was disdainfully dispatched to EPL rivals Chelsea without even a hint of notice or compassion! It’s their way of running their club, of doing business which puts them head and shoulders above everyone else on the planet.
What we see when we watch Manchester City on the field is as close as possible to the almost seamless perfection with which their entire club is being run.Turning my attention elsewhere I see a circus at Chelsea, a failed mission statement being carried out at Manchester United, a couple of stingy owners with the tightest of purse strings at Spurs and Liverpool, with only Arsenal amongst the other big boys displaying signs that their club is being run in a manner that suggests that they will be able to compete with Manchester City in the short term.
Before I get taken to task by Newcastle fans, I must agree that currently there’s a feeling of unity and direction that pervades St James’s Park. I can’t help but feel that there’s a plan in place that is going to prevail.
You saw it last season in their steady rise up the table, you witnessed it in their stable calm pre-season business and you felt it in the mood at the stadium even as they succumbed to early season defeats. There is a monumental change taking place in the North East with a little help from their friends at the Saudi Public Investment Fund.
It’s the very same fund behind the Saudi Pro League that is starting to make even the wealth of the EPL appear mickey mouse minuscule in comparison. The names of elite players that have chosen to make Saudi Arabia their new home now reads like a who’s who.Contrary to the early misconception that the Red Sea destination would only appeal to those approaching retirement age, the Saudi Pro League is also enticing a generation of world class players in their prime with a few more top flight years in them.
The latest to be seriously contemplating one such lucrative move is none other than Liverpool’s Mo Salah and there is every possibility that it could happen by September 7, (the Saudi Pro League transfer deadline day). It’s eminently possible that the frustrated sulking Salah who stormed off the pitch at Stamford Bridge was already showing the signs of someone who’d had his head turned by the Saudi approaches and wanted to desert his Liverpool teammates to join the great desert trek to the now not so deserted footballing oasis of Arabia.
If he takes the plunge,he will join up with his former Liverpool teammates Fabinho and Henderson in such entirely different surrounds and in a land where no matter what lofty heights he reaches, he can only ever become the second most popular Mohammed of all time!
The Saudi people’s Salaat (Arabic for prayers and pronounced almost like Salah!) will have been answered, Mohammed Salah’s Salaat will have also been answered (the poor little fella will reportedly earn £1,5 million a week!) Not to be outdone Liverpool meanwhile will be most grateful that their Salaat has been accepted as they stand to pocket a fee for the sale of their thirty one year old Salah that could stretch to an astronomical £200 million!
The Saudi League astonishingly has during this transfer window managed to succeed in captivating the attention of all the football world.It’s unbelievably only nine months since Cristiano Ronaldo made what most observers felt was an ill fated move to Al-Nasrr.
The word out on the street is that the Saudis have no intention of easing up, in fact they are supposedly just warming up! If that’s really the case, I cannot even begin to imagine what the next summer transfer window will be like!
The EPL, La Liga et al-you have reason to be concerned! In fact if I could offer a suggestion to the presidents of Real Madrid and Barcelona who stand alone as the last two remaining members of The Super League Project; why not put in a proposal to join the Saudi Pro League. Now wouldn’t that be something!
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