Thursday, May 19, 2011

The unpalatable truth behind Manchester's football triumph

It would be a hard-hearted football fan who begrudged Manchester its double celebration at the weekend. Man U’s record 12th title under Ferguson confirms his reign as being the most dominant English football has ever seen. City finally inched out from their neighbour’s shadow with a deserved FA Cup final victory on the same day. But looking beyond the cheering crowds of delighted and relieved fans, the two triumphs represent a more sobering and disturbing truth.

City first. They bought their day in the sun. Ending the barren spell without a trophy took unheard of spending by a rich family with no prior connection whatsoever with Manchester or the football club. The winning goals in both the semi-final and final was scored by YaYa Toure, who was lured to City by a reputed £10 million a year salary. The club’s wage bill is now bigger than United’s, second only to Chelsea and clearly will never be properly sustainable – City lost £121 million last year.

Does this matter? Football’s big club prizes mostly go to the richest and why shouldn’t some nouveaux riche horn in on the trophies? If billionaires from the Gulf and Russia hadn’t come along to buy success then that probably would just have meant Man U and the “usual” big clubs would have been even more successful. Their largesse has also attracted some real superstars to the Premiership and boosted English clubs’ record in Europe. Sad to think though that clubs without a sugar daddy are seemingly doomed to play for scraps, although it should be remembered that Stoke made the Cup Final and Birmingham won the League Cup.

The red half of Manchester is celebrating a 19th league title. As ever the manager deserves huge credit for getting a far from vintage United squad over the line. Most commentators have pinpointed Wayne Rooney’s new contract in the Autumn as the turning point. The argument goes that he has made all the difference in the second half of the season and Fergie was right to give him the new contract when many – including a lot of fans – had lost patience with his sleazy antics, perceived greed and alarmingly poor form.

It’s hard to fault that analysis. Rooney has not set the Premiership alight in 2011 but has recently been effective in that space between an inconsistent midfield and an inexperienced striker (Hernandez). More importantly there is no one else that could have done the job; he has been the missing link during the title run in, although credit too belongs to the heart of defence and especially Van der Sar in goal.

So shovelling £35 million at Rooney last year was a smart piece of business but it still leaves you feeling uneasy. Here is a player who dragged his family and club through the tabloid mud, openly played his employers off against other clubs to get more money and offered up only half a season of reasonable performance (11 league goals including penalties). United fans will know that paying Rooney off was a vital part of title win number 19 but I doubt he will ever join the real legends of Old Trafford like Charlton, Robson and Giggs.

No comments:

Post a Comment

OctoFinder Blog and ping Spanish Insight - Blogged