Both Argentina and Brazil, the obvious favourites, knocked out in the quarter-finals of the Copa America, on penalties. Argentina, the hosts, by Uruguay, a very old foe from across the River Plate, Brazil, after dominating the game, by outsiders Paraguay.
And for Argentina, none other than Carlos Tevez, after being on the very brink of costing Corinthians a fortune in his yearned for return to South America, being a penalty misser. In parenthesis one is moved to wonder again how great a player Lionel Messi really is, and to what extent he relied on the brilliance in midfield just behind him of Iniesta and Xavi.
On the face of it an Argentina team with Tevez, Messi and Barca’s Sergio Aguero, another on the point of changing clubs at huge expense, should have waltzed, or perhaps tangoed, its way into the Final; there, notionally to meet Brazil. But it didn’t happen, which underlines the true beauty of football that it remains forever unpredictable.
However much they’ve pocketed, Manchester City are sure to miss the prolific Tevez this season, even if his successor as skipper for City Vincent Kompany insists that life goes on.
“He’s a great player but players come and go, it happens in football,” he said. “The team is bigger than any player.”
I’ve never been able to subscribe to that philosophy. What would the great Real Madrid teams, winners of the first five European Cups in a row, have been without the the propulsive, ubiquitous presence of Alfred Di Stefano? Or Argentina of the 1986 World Cup without Diego Maradona, Aguero’s father in law? You could, on the other hand, argue that even without the injured Pele, the world’s arguably greatest player of all time, early in the 1962 World Cup tournament, Brazil still won the trophy.
Though Kompany insists that another famed, expensive but so far much less effective attacker in Edin Dzeko will at last come on form, there is no doubt that Tevez, that travelling, gifted mercenary – who wants, he says, to be closer to his children though he is reportedly divorced from his wife – will be seriously missed.
Spend, spend, spend, however is the policy of City, who still more than oligarch-owned Chelsea, now financially dominate the Greed Is Good League.
If a man is judged by the company he keeps, then it was somewhat distressing to see on that Dispatches programme Alex Ferguson having such a plainly agreeable dinner with the unappetising Joe Sim. Ferguson, like Caesar’s wife, is surely above suspicion and we may probably discount Sim’s grandiose claim that they are “like brothers.”
Yet you wonder why Ferguson would want anything to do with such a character, even if we must certainly accept that Sim’s insistence that Ferguson would provide players on loan were he and his organisation to take over a club, is without basis.
In any case, what ultimate use could loan players be if the object, as Sim suggested, is reaching the Premiership? What help were they to Preston last season, when Ferguson’s son, Darren, was in charge, but, for all the help from Manchester United, the ship still went down? And to make Sheffield United with its £50 million plus debt and present lowly status a target beggared belief.
As for Bryan Robson, those of us who so admired him as a player and found him such a likeable figure over the years must be deeply disappointed by the figure he cut in the programme. To maintain that football today is no longer a sport but a business was a pretty feeble defence. The fact is that from time all but immemorial it has been both.
While the long list of so called “buyable clubs recited by Sim seemed largely the stuff of wish fulfilment. Finally, what object could there be in however surreptitiously, owning two clubs both of modest status?