Brian GlanvilleWhisper it not but the Greed Is Good League this season have verged on mediocrity. Both Manchester City and Manchester United, who went head to head until the very last day, for all their relative wealth, were badly shown up in both European competitions. Arsenal, though they were much weakened by the loss all season of Jack Wilshere – as indeed were England – shipped an embarrassing amount of water both in the early and the latter stages of the Premier League. If Manchester City were to take the title, it must surely be said that they bought it, in the process utterly distorting the balance of the competition; still more than Chelsea with Roman Abramovich’s money, had done before them and to a substantial attempt continued to do. 

When you have enough money to pay Yaya Toure, the two-goal hero of the triumph at Newcastle, £200,000 a week. When you can enlist the dazzling likes of Sergio Aguero, Carlos Tevez, when he deigns to play, Silva, Barry, Dzeko and even the incorrigible Mario Balotelli, what should you do but win? And City very nearly didn’t do it. Dropping points galore to immensely less wealthy opposition. It has surprised me to see how some correspondents have actually lauded the way City have been able to spend such colossal amounts of Middle Eastern money. One was surprised too by the encomia for Roberto Mancini. What manager with so much money to spend could have failed to build a powerful team?

Embarrassing though it may be, one remembers how Mancini’s strange team selection in Munich, in the European so called Champions Cup, when he dropped an effective centre back to substitute him with one so far from match fitness condemned City to defeat in Munich. As for United, that 6-1 defeat at home by Manchester City was a shocking stain on their season. The fact that Ferguson felt obliged to exhume the 37-year-old Paul Scholes to reinforce his midfield said all too much about his team building programme. And then to throw poor Scholes on to the pitch as a far from match fit substitute, against all expectation, promptly seeing him give away the ball and a goal, was an embarrassment. Even if Scholes, so splendidly resilient, did quickly settle down to play influentially.

True, United did give Arsenal that 8-2 thrashing at Old Trafford, but in mitigation, one should remember that this was an Arsenal team packed with reserves! As for Tottenham and Harry Redknapp, an earlier splendid spell ground almost to a halt in the closing weeks of the season and the 5-1 FA Cup semi final defeat at Wembley by Chelsea was a dreadful humiliation, even if that scandalous Chelsea goal should never have been given by the inept referee, Martin Atkinson.

Yes, Harry was the People’s Choice for manager of England but I think he may have had a lucky escape. Even in retrospect, it is hard to understand how he condemned a plainly struggling centre back in William Gallas to persevere for the whole Wembley match, having been almost contemptuously brushed aside by Didier Drogba, who scored that first Chelsea goal.

Roy Hodgson, meanwhile, is still the object of what the scientist Pavlov might have called alternating stimuli. Varying from contemptible criticisms of his accent, to a despicable attempt by reporters who should have known better to cull negative responses at Bayern Munich from manager Jupp Heynckes and such players as Lahm and Schweinsteiger . The irony being, as it quickly emerged, that Roy could probably have managed the German international team had he not kept his bargain with Blackburn Rovers; destined to sack him anyway. So much for loyalty.

No, I cannot believe that England under Roy, or anybody else for that matter, will do anything of note in the coming Euros. Already team and manager have a ball and chain around the leg with the absence of Wayne Rooney, the sole English striker of real quality, from the first two games. If England get through their qualifying group with the resources they have it would surely be a substantial achievement.

Meanwhile, England fans will doubtless be reassured by an official warning that Ukrainian police could both beat and rob them. Happy days to come.

By Brian Glanville

 

  • James

    Well written article and the first few comments are typical of what I expect of EPL supporters…

    Man City not only bought the championship – but as was written, with the wealth and time they had to build a team they turned out to be mediocre, the point that seemed to go over the heads of the trolls. Chelsea’s EC win aside (memories of Greece in ’04 anyone?) the EPL is looking more fragile by the year. I look forward to next season.

  • Paul

    Brian is right, had City not been bought years ago, they would hardly have made it to the summit of English football..

  • Jason

    An intelligent article and so truthful, anyone who follows the premier league and still believes that they are somehow connected to it as a true fan is in complete denial.

    I liken it to Formula 1, where the rich owners and drivers fence themselves off from the masses they actually despise, the outside looking in have no input anymore. Maybe you all like paying the ridiculous season ticket prices to fund this madness.

    If the lower leagues of one and two weren’t so mediocre it would be worth going to see and feeling the interaction again but you sense they all would like to be in the same wealthy boat.

    Man City will have bought the league with Petro Dollars, it will look good in the gold leaf portfolio on the solid walnut desk of the owners. I’m not knocking the rich, they want to be successful, just richer than the next one and at all costs.

    Well written article.

  • Sean O’Conor

    A lot of the trolls don’t seem to realise Brian has been a major soccer writer since long, long before they were born and has unmatched perspective. Feel free to disagree of course, but do it respectfully. You’re not his equal because you can post on the same page.
    And City have plainly bought their way to the title, he is right.

  • Ticktock

    Utter drivel again, glad you’re maintaining your standards. Oh and take that photo off please, it just frightened my rottweiler.

  • Alex

    As it was said in the article,you could by the bunch of the players ,but failed to pick up the squad.So if the City will win it,it will be the victory.But i don,t think that they,re come for the ages on the top of the league.It will be really hard to stay there,or to repeat MU,s achievement.

  • Tom Mallows

    It is true money talks and always has done, but there was always an element of skill involved too. But City have taken it to another level, with obsene levels of spendingthat discounts traditional skills such as team building and coaching. Put me in charge and throw enough money at it and I will win them the league. To be honest I think City fans deserve some success given their struggles over the last 20 years, and a change at the top is a good thing after years of United dominance. It is just a shame that it had to be – and probably only could be -achieved in this way.

  • Simon Curtis

    A little sad for the old man of football writing to keep stooping to these cheap shots about City, when all that anyone in modern football does is try to outspend and outbid each other. Even Arsenal, in their new status as the football world’s nouveau pauvres have spent all that Champions League cash from the Greed is Good men at UEFA and FIFA, which has kept them above the rest for so many seasons. Now that City’s riches outdo even the money-drenched megaliths that play Champions league every year, season in season out, we have to start carping about it. A little pathetic, in my opinion. What should City do in this unevenly balanced football world, try and win trophies by lateral thinking? Dear me.

  • dan

    Why is it considered so disgusting and hollow when it is English teams spending money?

    Italian and Spanish clubs dominated the European transfer market. The likes of Greaves, Souness, Lineker, Gascoigne etc were all lured away from English football by money. Whats the difference? Serie A and Liga have been bastions of greed for decades.

    The amounts that Real Madrid have spent are enough to make Chelsea and City blush but they wont be threatened by UEFA with bans even though Madrid have been financed by the Spanish government whereas City and Chelsea have gone out in the real world to find investors.

    All of which points to the anti-English agenda of FIFA and UEFA. Some things never change

  • freddy

    what a nice article by a manchester united supporter

  • gordon wylie

    And they call Manchester City fans “bitter”, crass journalism at its worst