Window shopping and window-dressing!
Window shopping and window-dressing!
It was two in and two out for Villa this week as the transfer-window clanged shut, and brought the agony of unrequited transfer lust to a whimpering end. Out went Luke Young and Jean Makoun to QPR and Olympiacos respectively and in came Jermaine Jenas and Alan Hutton to balance things out, and the fact that the deals consisted of two loans and two monetary transactions, either way, made for perfect symmetry.
But it seems Villa definitely gained from their game of swappy, as, although Kyle Walker had shown himself to be a good’n, Hutton is probably a better defender. And, while Jean Makoun was blessed with obvious attributes (although not reaching fruition at Villa), Jenas’s ability to get from box to box (presuming his legs are still fully functional), provides a bit more of what Villa need, in the engine of the team, than the Cameroon kid.
So a decent bit of business for Villa me thinks, even if the squad still looks too small to be effective on all fronts.
The fact that Villa’s deals were both with Tottenham, did provoke a few jokers to suggest that Villa are quickly becoming a feeder-club for the Lilywhites. Three deals in a row, hardly makes it a certainty but the idea of Randy Lerner swapping Goldberg jokes with David Levy, in between their football talk, is just too delightful to ignore.
Spurs are an interesting case in point, as regards trends in the Premiership. Despite their much bruited promise to spend big, after their Champions League qualification, it has never really happened. They actually seem to be selling players, and with no striker seeming to be fully-functional down the Lane, I was amazed to see Peter Crouch moving to Stoke, where no doubt he’ll be expected to head on or in, a few of those long throw-ins. In moving Crouch replaced John Carew, who had moved on to West Ham. Crouch himself being bumped by the arrival of loanee Adebayor.
As ever, the football carousel must make a turn.
More interesting is ‘Appy Harry’s decision to retain the services of Luka Modric, very much against his will. Having seen the affect which the Cesc Fàbregas transfer saga has had on Arsenal, it will be fascinating to see if Spurs can successfully defy the general prejudice that keeping want-away players, is a bad idea.
We’ll see, but the fact that Modric cannot now, ever have a poor game without inviting the accusation of sulking, makes it doubly difficult for the lad.
The question of who loans whom to who, seems to establish a pecking-order. Chelsea loaning Yossi Benayoun to Arsenal, and Man City loaning Adebayor to Tottenham, seems to demonstrate who they consider their immediate rivals to be. This relationship certainly must apply to Spurs and Villa too.
Its a very strange period the Premiership is going through, as except for Chelsea, Liverpool and Man City, no club seems that keen on spending money. Newcastle have most of the £35m they raised from selling Andy Carroll, unspent, and Arsenal are buying players they don’t really want, to try and salve the misery, caused by their recent humiliation at Old Trafford.
You get the impression that Wenger hates caving in to pressure and buying players, who he does not consider exactly right for the club.
Everton have no money at all and the rest, just seem to be biding their time, for when the financial fair-play rules kick-in and the playing field levels out, if not entirely, then substantially.
Historians will probably recall, that the way the West broke the Soviet Union, was to pressure them into spending more than they could afford on defense, or so it goes – the same seems likely to apply the Premiership. Wenger, Villa and many other clubs, just do not want to play such a self-destructive game, the likes of Man City have set up, but that does not mean that failing to participate does not invite huge pressures from fans who want instant gratification.
A club can only build a ground with a potential of creating a high turnover (building a large number of corporate boxes) and then pray that they can somehow produce the sort of football product, which can fill that ground. Debt is excluded from the fair-play regulations because all the top CL clubs have massive debts. Only spending too much on wages carries a sanction.
So it is feasible to go into debt and build yourself a potential cash cow of a stadium, and stay within the rules. But its more logically feasible than practicable. The best thing to do is to get the government to build you a stadium and lend you the money to finance it, like West Ham seem to have done.
But despite the fact that this piece of regulation permanently excludes Villa from the Champions League, it still puts them in a very decent position as regards challenging for domestic cups, if they get the right draw and the big clubs have bigger fish to fry. Having the seventh largest turnover in the country, is still bloody good. And while the likes of Arsenal, Man United, Chelsea, Man City, Liverpool and Tottenham, need two good teams to maintain their status, Villa only need one good one to pursue their domestic competitions.
While the regulations set in stone the difference between Villa and the elite clubs, they also set in stone, the gap between Villa and the rest. Its not exactly what dreams are made of but Villa still find themselves in a very enviable position.
This will have to do us for the time being – if you want a properly regulated and competitive league, you have to go to Germany where laissez-faire is not such a national characteristic.
Talking of Germany, I notice that it is the ten-year anniversary of England’s famous 5-1 victory over the Hun, this week (1st September 2001) – doesn’t time fly? Despite it being a mostly empty victory due to what followed – Germany’s appearance in the World Cup final – just the thought of England’s amazing win can still bring a lump to my throat.
The amazing thing is that when you look at the team, so many of the players were so young. Emile Heskey 23; Ashley Cole 20; Steven Gerrard 21; Rio Ferdinand 23; and Owen Hargreaves 20. It was a false dawn and like every England manager who followed him, the hype and expectation which that famous
result generated, just became a monkey on his back.
Just as talk of Champions League at Villa, has become for those who hold the purse-strings at Villa Park.
Thus the awkward silence.
Keep the faith!